We've been watching, and waiting, for the right time to start offering Wildland Adventures to Cuba and here's why we think the time has arrived...
1. Visitors to Cuba who engage in people-to-people tours now enjoy greater opportunities to plan more flexible and diverse itineraries fostering individual one-on-one interactions with Cubans from all walks of life.
Heretofore Americans traveling legally on people-to-people tours in Cuba were strictly limited as to the people they met, where they could go and what they could do. Now, as a result of enhanced tourism infrastructure throughout much of Cuba, more people-to-people exchanges are sprouting up in diverse regions and communities. For example, there are more private B&B accommodations especially in more traditional enclaves of eastern Cuba. This means that visitors can engage in thriving grass-roots community endeavors. Artists and academics, farmers and fishermen, musicians and dance troupes are all eager to share their stories.
2. New, individual, people-to-people visas open doors for visitors to participate in expanded custom, private (guided) small group travel.
As of March 2016 people-to-people licenses have expanded making it easier for us to offer custom-designed, individual people-to-people itineraries for a minimum of 4 persons. As Cuba embraces tourism, more and better infrastructure and specialized tourism services cater to small group travel. Our custom trips must still comply with people-to-people requirements including 5-6 hours of planned and guided activities. But the great news is that thanks to the input of our network of guides throughout Cuba, we have wonderful, new-found opportunities that we can adapt to individual interests. However, Cuba is an expensive destination, which means that there is a definitive cost advantage to traveling on one of our scheduled small group departures making private encounters with artists, dance troupes, writers, journalists and academics more affordable.
3. We can now bring our more authentic and intimate style of travel to Cuba thanks to the improved infrastructure of small and intimate accommodations including historic boutique hotels and private casas particulares minimizing time in large hotels.
There has been an incredible growth in the private sector catering to tourists, especially with private restaurants (paladars) and private bed and breakfasts (casas particulares). Casas particulares should not be considered as homestays because they operate as businesses; the accommodations have been modified allowing for more guest privacy (including private bath). However, the guest experience is not unlike a homestay for the genuine interaction you enjoy sitting around the breakfast table with enterprising Cubans who turn their homes into accommodations not just for the money but also because they love the connection with Americans.
4. The remote Cuban countryside and small rural towns are beginning to receive guests traveling into the less developed and more traditional side of Cuba.
Although we certainly do visit some popular not-to-miss sites in and around Havana such as Hemingway’s farm and Fusterlandia to name a few, we are focusing more of our time on less touristy areas. Tourism to Cuba is developing fast with cruise ship arrivals and very large mass tourism-style bus tours. That's why we go beyond the popular tourist enclaves of Cienfuegos and Trinidad and arrange our time as best we can to avoid large bus tours and cruise ships in these busy cities and harbors. Now we’re free to explore outlying nature reserves and rural communities that have only recently begun to receive American travelers. After all, our mission is to provide authentic cultural exchanges.
5. More of Cuba’s national parks and nature reserves are opening up for hiking, birdwatching and wildlife viewing, along with greater opportunities for active adventures.
Ecotourism, on the rise in Cuba, encourages guides and local outfitters to engage in new ways with visitors. We’re excited to share our cadre of local naturalists and adventure guides who are our people-to-people ambassadors into Cuba’s 263 protected areas, covering up to 22% of its land base, including six UNESCO biosphere reserves. More than ever before we have more territory available to explore Cuba’s diverse ecosystems and view its endemic and endangered wildlife species. We are already looking to add new opportunities to visit Cuba’s national parks with more active adventures such as zip lining, kayaking, snorkeling and diving, horseback riding and cycling.
6. Stay tuned for commercial flights providing more reliable service and a greater range of flight schedules with same-day connections from major US cities.
Several airlines are preparing to offer direct commercial flights from major US cities to Havana and Santiago de Cuba. The process of traveling through Miami to board charter flights is somewhat inconvenient and costly, typically requiring overnight hotel accommodations in Miami both coming and going. As the embargo loosens and commercial carriers take off in this market, we anticipate more frequent service, direct flights from major US cities and more competitive fares.
All good reasons to ‘Go Wild’ in Cuba now! Follow this link to review our Wildland Adventures in Cuba.