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Popular Walking holiday
Try a host of different activities in glorious Turkish surroundings.
This is a small group adult holiday. The group is usually between 4 and 16 in size, with an average of 12 like-minded clients booking individually, in a couple or as friends together.
Download the detailed trip notes for everything you could possibly want to know about this trip, including detailed itinerary and full kit list
This trip was absolutely excellent! Cuba is a fascinating, relaxing, colourful country with so much to offer. You see much more of the island than you would any other way, and the coach is comfortable and cool- a great way to travel (especially if your driver is Orlando!) I went as a solo traveller, and have never felt safer walking around on my own. The group I was with were really friendly, and the tour leader created a fun and laid back atmosphere.
Seeing Camaguey has to be the highlight of the trip for me - it was such a shame that we couldn't stay there for longer.
Our group leader was Jorge, who was absolutely fantastic. He made you feel instantly at ease, while providing us with so much information that we wouldn't have learned otherwise. Orlando, our coach driver, was also brilliant and took an active role in the tour.
The estimated times you spend on the coach in the itinerary are wrong - often it is MUCH longer, so take a book. Also, when you stay in the mountains it is really buggy. Make sure you have lots of spray and prepare yourself for cold showers.
This was the trip of a lifetime for me. If I could go back again tomorrow, I would do it again in a heartbeat!
Absolutely fantastic holiday. Beautiful beaches, charming and friendly people, gorgeous food, and the most excellent tour guide (Freddy) and driver (Juan Carlos) you could ask for!
I loved all of it, its so hard to say what was best, probably the cheap rum on tap?? I was awestruck by the natural beauty of the island, and how diverse each town and its people were. We had a fabulous group who gelled almost immediately and this undoubtedly improved the holiday. Every day was fun, even on long coach rides, where we watched Cuba pass us by, or chatted amongst ourselves, and often Freddy would find something for us to do wherever we stopped (even if it was just for ice cream!) I loved seeing how the coconut harvesters got up those tall trees, and seeing how they still do it well into their 90's! Be prepared to learn some serious salsa moves, we were out literally every night dancing with the locals.
Freddy was nothing short of brilliant, we never knew if things didn't go to plan because he always had a back-up plan that worked. I was never bored, everything was fascinating and both Freddy and Juan Carlos were hilarious, always cracking jokes and making us feel so at home. We know Freddy is stellar in an emergency because one of our group had to visit the hospital (you MUST try everything Cuba has to offer, its rude not to experience their first class medical care!) and he made sure everybody else still had a good time. Plus Juan Carlos has excellent taste in rock music and knows how to get a big coach up a steep hill, you know you're in good hands with these guys!
Take plenty of changes of clothes! I travelled in November/December and it rained more than I thought it would (although not unusual for that time of year) so we got wet a lot. Get a good waterproof jacket (resistant is not the same). We also stopped off at beaches and rivers fairly frequently, so pack several swimsuits and a beach towel (I did not take mine and my large scarf was a poor substitute). I found the walk in the national park was quite muddy so I would recommend trekking shoes over trainers. Also take LOTS of money because you will buy loads of souvenirs... and rum cocktails.
The food was excellent, I don't know why the trip notes said it would be basic. The pack lunches probably are, but we ate like Kings and Queens for the most part, you will never eat so much lobster as you will in Cuba!
This was a very enjoyable, well planned and interest packed holiday, which can be enjoyed on a number of levels. You can just sit back and soak up the tourist attractions: historic towns, beaches, countryside and revolutionary history which are provided in bucket loads, or you can delve deeper and try to understand the unique and enduring culture of the Cuban people. There are some long drives, but apart from one repeated section, the countryside is so interesting it’s never boring, and you can always “classic car spot” along the way. Both the food and the hotels were far better than I’d expected, and almost every night there were opportunities, if you wanted, to join in social activities with live music, dance and irresistible Cuban cocktails. Who could ask for more?
The diverse Cuban landscape, the buildings both magnificent and crumbling, and the amazing ancient American limousines, all provided inspiration a plenty throughout the tour, but the most inspiring aspect of all for me was the honour of meeting and socialising with the ordinary Cuban people, who are truly a race apart from those of other Latin American countries I’ve previously visited. Their joy of life expressed through their music, dance and close family culture is humbling coming from people who have so little material wealth.
Our group leader Tony was exemplary: he was polite, considerate, organised our tour to perfection, always solved any little problems that cropped up, and was a font of information for our numerous questions. However, in Cuba, you have to remember at all times that the group leader; the bus driver; the bus you ride in, and most of what you are taken to see are very much controlled by the Governments Tourism agenda. Working in the tourist sector as a Government employee with direct access to foreign tourists is one of the most coveted and lucretive jobs in the country, so don’t expect your group leader to express any opinions that might in any way “rock the boat”.
Take every opportunity to use your free time to look beyond the “Tourist Façade” being presented to you and you will be amazed and perhaps a little shocked by the real face of Cuba, where the vast majority of people live in very basic homes with few facilities and struggle to exist on a monthly Government wage that would only buy a round of coffees in a segregated tourist only café. In Havana walk 50 yards beyond the expensively restored tourist haven of Plaza Vieja and it’s like entering a parallel universe. Enjoying music and an impromptu dance session with locals in a Cuban bar is an unforgettable experience.
Be warned some of the older Colonial style hotels have rooms without windows. This caused concern for some claustrophobic fellow travellers. Thankfully an alternative normal room was usually available when asked for.
I should have taken other reviewers advice to skip the optional Vinales trip. We spent very little time seeing the unique natural landscape of the area, and an inordinate amount of time being taken to sales outlets for Rum, Cigars etc.
I booked this trip based on the 2013 itenerary because it was the only one of several similar ones by different operators that accessed the Eastern end of the island via the North coast. I was very disappointed that the route was changed in 2014 to access Baracoa via the South coast route through Bayamo and Guantanamo: the reason cited by the group leader, being that this road is better and therefore quicker. However the downside of this is that:1) You miss travelling through the unique scenery of the North coast which has a series of National Parks, including the Alejandro de Humboldt, a Unesco World Heritage site which is credited as one of the most biologically diverse tropical island sites on earth. 2) You have a very repetitive long journey by the same route to and from Baracoa, which takes up the best part of two days of the holiday. I suspect this change may be at the behest of the Cuban Government to focus Tourism more on the South Coast towns. It was disappointing that as well as the repeated journey in and out of Bayamo, we also stopped at the same places each way, including a stop for swimming and lunch at the same very dull beach, which was very unimaginative.
The Casa Particulares in Trinidad deserve special praise, and were one of the holiday highlights. I stayed in what amounted to a self contained holiday cottage which I shared with a fellow single traveller. We had two self contained bedroom suites, a kitchen, lounge and delightfull roof terrace, where the lovely owner served our morning breakfast. It was absolute perfection!
Havana has a great bar called El Floridita, which was a regular drinking spot for author Ernest Hemingway. I definitely recommend trying a strawberry daiquiri or two!
Another excellent bar is the Casa de la Música for a salsa show in Trindad. The live music and local dancing will conjure up images of the Buena Vista Social Club, with its lively and fast-paced jazz, rumba and salsa. Be prepared to dance!
Sophie Ashworth - Marketing
Souvenirs are available at all major cities and towns in Cuba. They range from wooden handicrafts, local paintings to the classic Cuban Cigar.
Havana has a souvenir market on a Thursday afternoon, which is great for local artists showcasing their work, however Trinidad seem to have the better quality souvenirs, especially of the hand carved variety. I would recommend Cienfuegos as the place to buy your cigars!
Dan Cockburn - Product Manager
Food in Cuba consists mostly of rice, fish, meat, beans and plenty of fresh fruit. You can't go to Cuba without trying the famous Mohijo or Cuba Libre, but beware that they don't use measuring glasses so they might be stronger than the ones you have tried at home! Fresh lobster served with salad is also a lovely treat if you visit the island of Cayo Macho. There is also plenty of safe bottled water available throughout Cuba.
Karol Rogacki - Customer Operations
It can get hot and sweaty here at times, so lightweight cotton (or quick-drying fabrics) is best as a starting point! Long sleeved shirts and trousers will help prevent mosquito bites, especially in the evenings when they could be buzzing around. You should also take a jacket and/or sweater for evenings, as it will cool down. Essential kit includes some sunglasses and a sunhat, along with good sunscreen. A lightweight waterproof jacket or rain poncho is optional, as you can get some tropical rain here now and again!
Karol Rogacki - Americas Operations
It's very easy to exchange money in Cuba as long as you have cash. I took sterling cash. You can exchange some money on arrival at the airport (maybe £100) or at the start hotel. Then you can exchange a bit more later on once you are about to run out of pesos. Most hotels (if not all) have exchange facilities and it won't take more than a minute to exchange cash. Some places will also accept credit cards (not debit ones though; credit cards can't be issues by an American bank).
Don't count on ATMs. There are a few in Havana, plus in other big cities but you'll spend some time walking around looking for them. It's best to take Sterling in £10 or £20 notes (not £50). If you have some spare CAD or euro you want to get rid of you can take it too.
Please see below average prices in Cuba - that should help you estimate the amount of money you are likely to spend.
Lunch - 8-15 CUC
Dinner - 10-25 CUC (usually 15-20; 25 for a lobster in Havana)
Beer - 1.5 CUC for a 0.33l can
Water - 1.5 CUC for 1.5L
Cocktails - 3-4 CUC
T-shirt - 10 CUC
Cigars - up to 20 CUC each for top end ones
Rum - 8 CUC for a standard Havana Club
Please remember to take extra money to cover the airport tax (25 CUC), tips and optional trips (prices in the Trip Notes).
Tips for keeping it safe? Just apply the same criteria you would at home, it's more common sense. Cuba isn't a dangerous or threathening place, and crime against tourists (and in general) is very rare. Most hotels have safety deposits and also most hotels have money exchange facilities.
Tipping is pretty much like here, for anything small if you like to give something. In better restuarants they'll add it to the bill, like here as well.
Any of the optional activities are decide locally and booked locally, so no need to do anything in advance.
I took a Universal Adaptor, which fits all plug types, and can be bought from Boots or similar for less than a tenner.
As far as I know you can easily take most electrical items into Cuba apart from GPS units. Officially it applies to all GPS' but in fact it more to do with stand-alone units and not the ones that are built in in a phone or a watch.
In the worst case they would confiscate such an item on your arrival and give it back to you on your departure (most likely you'd need to pay some fee for storage).
I have never come across anyone who specifically has had something removed, but I'm sure something like an iPhone or iPad would be ok.
Yes, lots! Cigars, maraccas, rum, lace, wooden carvings and definitely jewellery (I bought some lovely wooden earrings).
Gifts for local people
Anything like pens, crayons, colouring books are always appreciated. They also quite like any toiletries you don't want at the end of a trip, as these are quite hard to come by there, so shower gels, toothpaste, make up etc. Sounds odd, but it was really appreciated, and wasn't something I hadn't heard about before.
It wasn't anything threatening, but you could have someone just tap you on the shoulder in the middle of a city tour and ask for shampoo or toothpaste! It was mainly older and young people, and always very friendly. We collected the toiletries from the hotels and at the end of the tour just stood outside and had people swarm around to grab what we had!
I'm sure it's possible in the hotels where you stay two nights, although people in our group washed their own things. I think laundry can be expensive.
I would advise maybe taking some snacks like chocolate and biscuits from home, if you like those, as they can be limited in places.
Cubans are pretty eager to speak to tourists. If your Spanish is not too bad I'm sure you can have some nice conversations with them however if you only speak basic Spanish Cubans who speak English would probably want to switch to English. English in Cuba is spoken relatively widely.
Rachael Stone - Customer Services
Lucy Davies, our Base Manager in Cuba, has written an article where she takes you through a brief history of Cuba, old and new!
Also, staff member Sophie Ashworth travelled to Cuba recently and you can read her article here to get a personal viewpoint of the country.
Cuba unfortunately has very few ATM machines, making it slightly more difficult to manage your money supply while in Cuba. Cuba has dual currency system: Cuban Peso (CUP; it's unlikely you will ever need it) and Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC; the one tourists always use). It's best to take all spending money in Sterling cash (Euro or Canadian dollars will also be fine), which can be easily exchanged upon arrival in Cuba. Travellers cheques are accepted at major banks but incur a 5% commission, and some smaller outlets cannot accept them. Also, along with credit cards, they must have no association with an American bank i.e. Virgin Credit Card or American Express travellers cheques, as they will not be accepted anywhere in Cuba.
Sophie Ashworth - Marketing
All the staff at Exodus share a passion for adventure travel, and are always happy to answer any questions you may have. You can find an expert for the area you are interested in here and can contact them to get further information. If you don't see your specific country listed, please email email@example.com and they will get the answers you need!
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Trip Extension: If you would like to relax on a beautiful beach at Cayo Levisa or spend more time in charming Havana then it is possible to extend your trip. For more details please refer to our Trip Notes. Alternatively you can call our Sales team who will be happy to assist you.