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'Real' Cuban Tour Guide(s)... not a non-cuban Corporation ?

Vancouver, Canada
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'Real' Cuban Tour Guide(s)... not a non-cuban Corporation ?

Hi,

I am taking my 14 yr old daughter to Cuba and was originally planning to travel with a tour company (as per her dad's comfort level.), but all the companies I have located are non-Cuban. I want to directly support the Cuban economy and not a foreign corporation. We want to spend approx a month touring the country from Havana down to Santo Domingo and Santiago De Cuba ect. I want to experience off the beaten path Cuba with the safety net of a knowledgeable tour guide. Any ideas on how to hire a safe, reliable local Cuban guide to travel with us?

Thank you in advance for any and all suggestions

Calgary, Canada
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1. Re: 'Real' Cuban Tour Guide(s)... not a non-cuban Corporation ?

Do a search in the CUBA Forum for "Pototo". He has numerous references here and can make the arrangements you require. He will arrange an English speaking guide/driver and you can arrange the trip by budget.

You will get loads of suggestions shortly hours CDN vs. EU).

Havana, Cuba
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2. Re: 'Real' Cuban Tour Guide(s)... not a non-cuban Corporation ?

"touring the country from Havana down to Santo Domingo and Santiago De Cuba ect"

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You are aware that Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic?

Toronto, Canada
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3. Re: 'Real' Cuban Tour Guide(s)... not a non-cuban Corporation ?

i will give a bump for Pototo... he's by best fren in Habana... heck of a good guy!

Calgary, Canada
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4. Re: 'Real' Cuban Tour Guide(s)... not a non-cuban Corporation ?

Since you don't have experience travelling in a developing country then may I make a suggestion... 1 month is WAY too long for your first trip...

Good luck.

Cheers,

Terry

East London
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5. Re: 'Real' Cuban Tour Guide(s)... not a non-cuban Corporation ?

There is also a village called Santo Domingo near to the Sierra Maestra. I believe that it is used by people planning to climb the Pico Turquino.

nomadcrazychica
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6. Re: 'Real' Cuban Tour Guide(s)... not a non-cuban Corporation ?

Hi

I have worked as a Tour Leader in Cuba and even though I lead the tours from A to B I usually contract local Tour Guides in each area I go to. If you can´t find a guide that will travel with you for the whole of your journey you could just get yourself from one place to the next and then ask around for local guides at the Casa Particulares, they have an amazing network, it´s all about who you know in Cuba. I know an excellent guide in Viñales, I don´t think she travells across Cuba but she may know someone that does.

Rena

www.experiencetherealcuba.com

www.experiencetherealcuba.blogspot.com

Nova Scotia, Canada
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7. Re: 'Real' Cuban Tour Guide(s)... not a non-cuban Corporation ?

Rena, do you know if experiencetherealcuba is a commercial operator / travel agent based in Cuba?

There are some errors in information on that website.

There is incorrect info about use of credit cards (claiming that there is a 12% charge) as well as saying that there is a 12% commission on ATM withdrawals.

If a travel agent can’t get the financial stuff correct … it doesn’t exactly convey confidence. imho, of course.

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: 'Real' Cuban Tour Guide(s)... not a non-cuban Corporation ?

Hi all sorry for the delayed response(s)

Tsanbornca: Thank you I will search for ‘Pototo’ here on T.A.

DonTomas: Yes, I know that the Dominican Republic has a City Santo Domingo. Cuba has a town/village named Santo Domingo as well. It is in the Sierra Maestro mountains close to La Comandancia La Plata (The famous campsite where Castro, Che and their revolutionary army entrenched themselves during their struggles against Batista.). A must see for my trip.

DrunkInCubaNo: Thank you, also for recommending Pototo.

Martian24 (Terry): Thank you for your advice regarding my first trip to a developing country (I strongly hope that Cuba doesn’t ‘develop’, as I, like, the revolutionaries, believe that capitalism creates catastrophic imbalances in our world; with the ‘haves’ (top 2% of society), the ‘trying to haves’(diminishing working class) and the ‘have nots’ (that struggle day to day to survive.) I don’t believe a month is close to being enough for my first trip. I am a student of Sociology & have been obsessed with Cuba for years; I will embrace the culture shock & am no stranger to roughing it. In a perfect world, I would have many months/ years to engross myself in their culture. A girl can dream…..

TallyguyEastLo: Thank you for the Santo Domingo correction. I wish I had read your post before typing out my long winded one.

Renapapa: Thank you for your suggestion. I will have a look at the site you mentioned. However, I must have a guide with us throughout the trip; it is a stipulation of my daughter’s dad for her to accompany me on the trip. We have joint custody of her & that being what it is; we have to have the other sign off on taking her out of the country.

Madrugada54: Great catch. I haven’t looked at the site yet, and do not want to use a corporation. But even if it is run locally by Cubans, I would have concerns if the site is riddled with inaccurate information. Hmmmmm….

Nova Scotia, Canada
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9. Re: 'Real' Cuban Tour Guide(s)... not a non-cuban Corporation ?

To be fair … the experiencetherealcuba site may not be riddled with inaccurate information. It looks like Rena has a lot of really great information about the Trinidad area, and she might be a great resource. I do get worried about misinformation on the money-exchange end though, but maybe that is just me! Please don’t read too much into my comment - it's just a heads-up nudge!

Calgary, Canada
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10. Re: 'Real' Cuban Tour Guide(s)... not a non-cuban Corporation ?

Dear xentrick,

I'm afraid you're in for a BIG wake-up call... the Revolution ended a long time ago and MTV, Nike, iPhones and Hip Hop have arrived in Cuba, same as almost anywhere that's a huge tourist destination. Stay well away from the big cities and don't go anywhere near a tourist centre if you want to perpetuate your notion of capitalism not existing in Cuba...

More importantly, it's really unfortunate that you're forced to use a guide for the entire time.

1.) First of all because it's completely unnecessary.

2.) Secondly because that is such an intimate relationship that you're going to have to be EXTREMELY lucky to glom onto someone who'll be a good fit. Couldn't you at least work out a compromise with your husband that you use a guide/interpreter at each of your destinations instead of having one with you at all times? One guide 24/7 for the entire trip will be an enormous handicap that will be in my opinion be a huge detriment for you to really experience the country.

3.) Lastly, Cuba is no longer an exotic destination... there are loads of excellent guide books like Moon, Rough Guide, Lonely Planet, etc... there are several Internet forums/blogs that make it an easy place to research... the whole country is very safe and non-threatening... it has a very defined Gringo Trail with decent transport and accommodation options... tourist scams are simple and no big deal, almost to the point of being naively innocent (compared to most other developing countries)... if you're still nervous it's easy to have a local guide/resolver/travel agent give you a really nice comfort zone by setting you up with a semi-arranged itinerary so you're not completely on your own... etc.

Honestly, try to convince your husband to lighten up a little...

In any case you're going to have an extremely interesting trip and I really hope you keep a blog/diary of your experiences.

All the best to you.

Cheers,

Terry

Edited: 16 December 2010, 19:30