Our trip to Cuba was fascinating. This was our 5th trip with Wildland Adventures and we are happy repeat customers. We had a one-week window and we wanted something different so out of curiosity, we chose the National Parks Walking Adventure, plus we wanted warm weather. Grettel, the Cuba director, did a great job setting expectations for Cuba, which is really important. We were completely prepared for far more logistical hiccups than we actually experienced. The trip was educational and eye-opening, and much, much smoother than we expected.
Our Cuba guides were first-rate! Our trip leader, Roman, was born to do this. He did everything he could to accommodate us. He understands the guide/hospitality role as well as anyone I've ever met. He's one of those people with the gift of connection, and he works 24/7 to make sure his guests have the right experience. Our Cuban guide (Alexei) was also really great, and very open about the challenges facing Cuba. He was very patient and direct in our endless discussions about Cuban history and politics and his historical and political knowledge was deep. All of our local guides were uniformly fabulous.
The People to People experiences were all fabulous, from the choir in Cienfuegos, to the Zapata Park Administrator in Playa Larga and Tobacco farm in Vinales. We'll never forget sitting down with our hostess, managing to communicate, and laughing at Google Translate. The cities of Trinidad and Playa Larga were wonderful and a truly a "lightning in a bottle" moment was sitting on the patio of our casa/restaurant, 10 steps from our room and 5 steps from the beach, listening to a band performing on the beach for us and the patrons of the casa/bar next door. Watching Trinidad wake up and go to school and work from the rooftop of our Casa was also brilliant.
Our Casas Particulares (private homes operated like a B&B by enterprising Cubans) were wonderful and were more rewarding experiences than the hotels. In the context of the trip, it was interesting to see the difference between casas, joint venture hotels with European operators, and government hotels. It was all part of the education.
I have never been on a trip where the quest to better understand the social and economic lives of our hosts became the primary and most memorable experience of the trip. With a Wildland adventure, that's always an important part of the trip, but somehow in Cuba searching for this better understanding became the main part of the visit. If you want to experience Cuba put your expectations in a jar and leave them on the shelf at home and just go with it!
Parker and Lora Mason
Interested in traveling to Cuba? Read more Cuba guest reviews or view our Cuba Itineraries, including our brand new Art, Music, and Dance of Cuba trip! Give our Cuba expert, Grettel, a call at 800-345-4453 with any questions or read our blog A Closer Look At Travel To Cuba.