You’ll be intrigued, fascinated, and surprised by Cuba. This guide will help prepare you for your incredible adventure! Please read this carefully, and if there is anything we have not addressed, feel free to reach out at meetuptou[email protected]. Can’t wait to show you this amazing country.
Things worth noting
None of the activities featured in this trip require special training or skills, just a reasonable level of fitness and a willingness to participate. Stairs are prevalent in Cuban homes, and cobblestones and uneven roads are common. If you are in any doubt, please share these concerns or issues with your us so that your leader is aware prior and can pre-empt your needs.
- Visa and entry fees if applicable
- Travel insurance (mandatory for all travelers)
- Guide and driver tips
- Airport drop off
- Any meals not specifically mentioned in the itinerary
Your general Cuba itinerary can be found here or on the Cuba Meetup Tour webpage. Daily schedules will be given by your guide when you arrive in Cuba. Because the seasons, operating hours of inclusions, traffic, and many factors can affect the daily schedule, specific timing will be determined by your guide to give you the best possible experience. If you have questions about when to wake up, how long you will spend at a particular site, etc. please feel free to ask your guide at any time.
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Cuba Traveler Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travelers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any such changes once on tour.
You will meet your fellow travelers at a Premium Guesthouse in Havana on Day 1 of your trip. We have an expansive contracted list of guesthouses across the Havana neighborhoods of Vedado, Central Havana and Old Havana. You may request the confirmed starting location’s name and address once we are 7 days until departure. Remember, a complimentary airport arrival transfer is included, and the transfer driver will know the address of your assigned guesthouse.
Cuban Guesthouses (known locally as Casas) are more similar in style to B&Bs than they are homestays. Families do not necessarily live in the residence and most houses we contract are primarily a business. While some guesthouse managers and owners speak English, interaction mostly consists of gestures, smiles and ‘Spanglish’. Just like the residences in your own neighborhood, each casa is unique; expect there to be differences between the rooms you and your travelling companions stay in (generally we arrange things so that there are 1-4 group members in each house). Each room has a private bathroom with towels, and occasionally basic toiletries are provided. Premium guesthouses will not have electric shower heads and as with many developing countries, power cuts do occur on occasion, meaning that hot water can’t always be guaranteed regardless of the standard.
Fly into José Martí International Airport (HAV) anytime between 8:00am and 4:00pm on the tour start date. We recommend arriving before 4:00pm so you will be at the hotel in time for our welcome meeting at 6:00pm. However, we will pick you up at any time on Day 1, even if your flight is later. If fellow travelers arrive around the same time, we’ll bring you to the guesthouse together.
If you arrive a day or two early, the airport transfer is not included. Please email us directly if you book flights outside this window so we can assist with arranging a transfer and an early night in the guesthouse.
After collecting your luggage, exit through the main arrivals’ door. Look for a representative wearing an Ecotur branded shirt holding a sign with the Solo Female Traveler Network logo. You will be directed to your transfer driver who will know the address of your assigned guesthouse.
If you have other arrangements before joining the tour, the best way to get to the city from the airport is via taxi. The official taxis are easily spotted and charge 25 USD for a ride to the city for the 30-40 min drive, late night may charge more, up to 35 USD. There is also a shuttle bus that runs hourly from around 11am-4pm daily for $5/person, you can reserve it on Havanatursa.com.
You will end your tour in a Premium Guesthouse in Havana, Cuba.
You may request our confirmed finishing location’s name and address once we are 7 days until departure.
Finishing Point description
You are welcome to schedule your flight from the José Martí International Airport (HAV) anytime on the tour end date. We recommend staying for breakfast and departing before check-out at 10am.
Please remember that a departure transfer is not included, but your guide will be happy to help you arrange one.
Problems and emergency contact
While we always endeavor to provide the best possible experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your guide or leader straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognize that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction – if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still traveling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.
To contact us directly, email us at [email protected]. Please do not use this as an emergency contact, because with work hours and time differences, we may not see your message right away.
For any airport pickup problems, please contact our emergency number provided in your trip documents.
You are required to pay a non-refundable $500 deposit at the time of reservation. This non-refundable deposit confirms your Meetup Tour booking and you will receive a confirmation email detailing the terms of your reservation. Once the confirmation email has been sent to you, a contract will exist between us from the date we issue the confirmation invoice.
Please refer to your booking confirmation for specific dates, deadlines and details regarding final payments for your Meetup Tour. For standard Meetup Tours, the program fee balance payment is due 90 days before the departure date. SoFe’s payment system allows you to input the dollar amount for each payment you submit, so you are welcome to make as many payments in any dollar amount as you prefer before the final payment is due.
The final payment deadline is 90 days before the Meetup Tour start date.
If you have not paid the full balance, requested a cancellation and/or transfer by the final payment deadline, your credit card on file will be automatically charged the remaining balance of the Meetup Tour program cost. A $100 late payment fee will also be levied. Additionally, SoFe reserves the right to treat your booking as cancelled.
Can’t stop thinking about your adventure? Tell us all about it! We read each piece of feedback carefully and use it to make improvements for travelers like you. Share your experience with us by emailing [email protected]!
Before you leave
Food and dietary information
Food in Cuba has a reputation for being bland and lacking variety, however it has improved dramatically over the last two years. There are very limited snacks available in Cuba; convenience stores exist but are certainly not as prevalent nor sell the quantity or variety of snacks or junk food you may be used to at home. You may wish to bring your favourite chocolates, candy or healthy snacks like muesli bars.
Beans and rice are the staples, with cucumber, tomato and cabbage being the conventional ingredients for a Cuban salad. Chicken and pork are the most common meats served in Cuba, however fish and a variety of seafood is also frequently on offer. Please be aware that it is a cultural trait to serve meals larger than you are expected to finish, but be assured nothing will go to waste.
It can be hard to find a suitable place to eat while travelling in Cuba, as roadside restaurants tend to cater for large tour groups and either offer a fixed meal or a very limited selection of snacks. If you have dietary requirements, please let us know prior to departure.
Your group leader or representative will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic.
Spending money is a personal choice, and everyone will have different spending habits and needs. It is best to budget a reasonable amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities, and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need. Please have a thorough look at the itinerary and at what is included so you will be prepared for what isn’t included. Our Meetup Tour is very inclusive, however some meals and extras are not included. This guide should make budgeting a little clearer.
There are many opportunities to purchase souvenirs and handicrafts while on this trip, they can be a fantastic memento of your trip, and often these purchases help to support local artisans.
You must bring enough cash for the length of your stay in Cuba, bringing US$100/day/person for your stay in Cuba should be more than enough to avoid running out of money. USD & EUR are accepted in most places.
Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, etc. If you intend to purchase art, or if you enjoy spending a lot on big nights out, we would recommend that you take more than the estimated amounts. US travelers should always bring more than you think you will need since you cannot access your money while in Cuba.
We recommend you bring enough cash in EUR to last your whole time in Cuba. This is currently the best option and will provide you with the best value for money.
We advise against relying on ATMs to withdraw money in Cuba, as ATMs often don’t work for foreign bank cards. There is also a 3% fee charged on cash withdrawals from ATMs. Cards issued by US banks or banks affiliated with US banks are not accepted in Cuba at all; among others, this includes Travelex, Westpac and Citibank. Contact your bank prior to travel about using your bank card in Cuba.
You should still bring your debit/credit cards as you may need them for covering medical emergencies requiring large payment, at which time it may be possible to use them, but do not rely on them for day-to-day expenses.
CADECAs are the official government exchange houses that can be found in most cities and large hotels, but they are unreliable and offer unfavourable exchange rates. For this reason, we advise you exchange money upon the advice of your leader.
Euros (EUR) and US Dollars (USD) are the best currencies to bring to Cuba in the areas where our tours visit. These are the most widely accepted by locals therefore they can be used to pay directly to businesses or to exchange for CUP.
USD is accepted in private businesses in Cuba (such as restaurants and casas particulares) and for exchange to CUP. However, locals are not able to deposit USD cash into their bank accounts, so it could be considered less desirable than Euros.
We recommend you bring enough cash in EUR or USD to last your whole time in Cuba. We also recommend that you do not exchange any money into CUP until you have met with your tour leader. They can advise where and when to exchange to get the best rate.
There may be times when you find yourself exploring solo. When you’re out by yourself, if you’re happy with the services, providing a tip – though not compulsory – is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it’s of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many SoFe destinations.
Restaurants: Local markets, government and private (paladares) restaurants – round your bill up to the nearest 10%.
The official currency of Cuba is the National Peso (CUP, also known as Moneda Nacional M.N.). This is the only official currency currently used in Cuba. Cuban law states that it is illegal to remove any bills from Cuba so ensure that you use as much of your CUP cash as possible before departing the country.
Foreign currencies (especially USD and EUR) are also widely used.
Breakfast: If breakfast is not included, you can expect to pay approximately EUR5 in the guesthouses.
Lunch: EUR 5-8 for a set menu at a local eatery or a sandwich and a drink at a café. On the other hand, a lunch meal at a more tourist restaurant can cost between EUR10-15.
Dinner: At dinner time, your leader will normally recommend restaurants where you can safely try the local specialties of the region. Expect meals to cost between EUR15-20 for a main.
If you are on a tight budget, unfortunately Cuba doesn’t do much in the way of cheap street food other than pizzas which cost CUP100. Alternatively, If you want to try just the finest food at the finest restaurants, then you can expect meals to cost as much as in western countries.
Cuba enjoys subtropical weather with two very mild seasons. From November to April is the dry season where you’ll see cooler temperatures, though Cuba’s “cool” is still pretty warm. April to November is the rainy season.
Please note that Hurricane season is June to October, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. SoFe monitors these situations as they may arise, so that itineraries or activities can be amended as necessary.
passports, visas, and entry requirements
Most nationalities need a visa to enter Cuba. For most nationalities other than the USA, you will buy what is known as the ‘Green’ visa. Please check with your government and your airline to be informed on the best way to obtain your Cuban visa.
If you are a US citizen, please refer to the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website https://travel.state.gov and the U.S. Department of the Treasury https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/pages/cuba.aspx for the latest advice. All Americans traveling to Cuba need a visa, which is also known as a Cuban Tourist Card. The Tourist Card is valid for 30 days – so be sure not to purchase it too early. Luckily, the process is easy and doesn’t take long. Please see your options below:
1. Purchase your tourist card at the airport, through your airline. Most major airlines that fly from the US to Cuba will have kiosks available at the airport to purchase your visa at the check in counter. This seems to be the easiest and most common way that our travelers obtain their visas. However, not every airport will have this available. Please check with your airline to ensure that you will be able to purchase your visa at the airport.
2. Purchase your tourist card online. There are several online vendors that sell Cuban Tourist Cards, but to to be safe, I suggest purchasing through your airline’s website.
3. Purchase your tourist card through a Cuban Embassy in the US. You can go in person to a local Cuban embassy and purchase your card there.
Your visa should cost anywhere between $50 – $100.
Your chosen airline should have more information about the departing airport’s process on flying directly from the US to Cuba.
Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Cuba for the most up to date information. To enter the country, visitors are required to have evidence of sufficient funds for the duration of their stay, proof of travel medical insurance, as well as onward travel ticket.
US citizens travelling from the US must comply with the regulations set by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury. There are 12 permitted reasons for travel and by traveling with us, you would comply with the license category “Support for the Cuban People.”
If you receive an immigration card upon entry, please ensure you keep this safe as it may be requested at point of exit.
You need a valid passport to travel internationally. Most countries require that your passport does not expire for at least 6 months after the date you enter. We require your passport details 45 days before departure. When booking your Meetup Tour, please enter your name as it appears on your passport and contact us immediately if there are any errors.
We recommend taking copies of the main passport pages and other important documents with you as well as leaving copies at home with family or friends.
Currently, visitors to Cuba are not required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test to enter the country.
However, visitors are required to fill in an online declaration form. Public health measures including spot-check PCR testing at the airport and mask wearing remain in place.
Here is a tutorial for filling out the forms to get the QR code https://youtu.be/8aYeV6-KdHU.
Please keep checking with your government and airline about regulations regarding Covid, as they are subject to change at any time.
If you are a US citizen, Cuba requires visitors to have non-U.S. medical insurance, which is usually included in airline ticket prices on flights originating in the United States. Please confirm your coverage with your airline prior to arrival in Cuba and seek additional medical insurance if needed. If you don’t have insurance or if papers are checked at the airport and for some reason they are not accepted, you will have to buy insurance from Cuba’s insurance provider Asistur – which has a desk at immigration.
Travellers who are US citizens, living in the US or flying from to US directly to Cuba must be aware of the requirements for legal travel to Cuba. Due to the US embargo against Cuba, travel for tourism is not permitted, therefore your trip needs to be for one of 12 meaningful purposes of travel known as the “General License”. Most general “tourists” will qualify under Support for Cuban People “SCP” (515.574). You are required to maintain records to show that you have a full-time schedule of activities that result in meaningful interaction with individuals in Cuba, and that you are supporting private businesses during your stay. It is your own personal responsibility to meet the requirements, including keeping records of your daily activities and expenditures for 5 years after the trip. On these tours the guide cannot provide additional help or advice in complying with the requirements. If you are just
passing through the US on the way to Cuba, you should be aware that you will be asked to state a general license category, but it most likely isn’t necessary for you to maintain the documentation requirements. US immigration will seldom, if ever, ask to see documentation upon your return to the US, however we recommend you have:
1) A copy of your itinerary (included).
2) An affidavit or letter that clearly states your category of travel. You can request this from SoFe at any time.
3) Your documented activities and expenditures for your time in Cuba. Most people do this in a Trip Diary format or you can download a travel app.
The reality is that immigration of officials will most likely just ask what you were doing in Cuba – they are looking to hear “Support for the Cuban People” so be sure to say that first and have documents ready just in case.
Our tours are comfortable and very inclusive with premium accommodation. This means you can pack a little lighter. In fact, you will be carrying your own bags to the lobby or at the airport, and you will need to be able to manage.
You’ll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
The following is a general list to be used as a guideline. If you think you need more items, pack them.
It can get very hot and humid in Cuba especially in the summer months of June, July, and August, when lightweight clothing is recommended. In the winter months of December, January, and February, it can get colder, particularly during the evenings. It is recommended to bring a fleece top, jacket, or the like, for these months. A fleece top can also be useful on buses in Cuba where it can be quite cool due to the air-conditioning. Although the temperatures don’t get very low in Cuba (the all-time record is -1 Celsius), because of humidity levels and the fact that Cuban houses are not set up for cold weather, the cold, when it comes, can be hard to escape from. In general, however, during the day, the climate in Cuba is hot and tropical.
For footwear, some people can get by with just a pair of sandals. In summer, open footwear is definitely preferable, even in the evenings. There are some interesting optional day-walks, which involve walking over some steep and rocky terrain, so we advise bringing footwear that you would feel comfortable doing this in. For going out in the evenings, casual dress is acceptable everywhere, so there is no need to bring clothes or footwear especially for this, although some people may be more comfortable doing so. Despite their low-income levels, Cubans love to dress up smartly and fashionably whenever they can. There will be plenty of opportunities for swimming so be sure to bring your swimwear.
– Warm as well as light clothing. Cuba is often known to have hot weather, but it can get cold in the countryside, mountains and at night in the winter so we suggest you check the expected temperatures en route and bring clothing that you can layer
– Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through cities as well as bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings
– Sun protection – hat, sunscreen, sunglasses
– Water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5 liter capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world.
– Soft and/or hard copies of all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, travel insurance etc. and keep the hard copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a copy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary
– Reusable straw
– Electrical adapter plug
– Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes and Band-Aids
– Insect repellent
– Watch/Alarm clock or phone that can be used for both
– Travel beach towel
– Tissues &/or toilet paper &/or wet wipes
– Insect repellent
– Toiletries. We recommend you to take your own supply of shampoo, soap and toilet paper to use in the guesthouses and public toilets. We also encourage women to take their own supply of sanitary items as these items are not widely available for purchase in Cuba
– Despite their low income levels, Cubans love to dress up smartly and fashionably whenever they can. For going out in the evenings, casual dress is acceptable everywhere although one collared shirt for males is recommended, otherwise there’s no need to bring clothes or footwear especially for this
– Ear plugs to guard against a potential snoring room-mate
– Phrase book
Given the difficulty of securing basic goods in Cuba, surplus items that you have at home such as soap, shampoo, perfumes, sewing kits, toothbrushes and pens or pencils are warmly accepted. We do encourage you to discuss gift giving with your leader so that items can be distributed to organizations in need. If you decide to hand out gifts without the leader’s guidance, we suggest you distribute as a sign of appreciation after a genuine interaction, whether that be a conversation or offered help, rather than a means to create engagement. Please always refrain from handing items directly to children. It is not necessary to bring gifts for the guesthouse owners in Cuba; these are not a homestay experience and as they are a business they are most-likely run by some of the more well-off families who will be happy enough with just your good-natured presence.
For Cuba there are four associated plug types, types A, B, C and L. Plug type A is the plug which has two flat parallel pins. Plug type B is the plug which has two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin. Plug type C is the plug which has two round pins. Plug type L is the plug which has three round pins.
Cuba operates on a 110/220V supply voltage and 60Hz. Although the power supply in Cuba is mainly 110V, some of the newer hotels operate at 220V.
We always suggest bringing a universal power adapter.
The Guesthouses will offer to wash your clothes for you. This is a convenient and economic service and will cost between US$3-10 depending on the size of the bundle of clothes you give them. They will have your clothes back to you the next day nicely ironed and folded. It’s necessary to set the price beforehand, as some casas have been known to change comparatively exorbitant amounts.
You might need to wait for a two-night stop to make sure you get it back in time.
Travel insurance is mandatory on all our Meetup Tours. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are traveling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. We strongly recommend all travelers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company’s 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank’s name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
We recommend that you check your government’s advice in relation to the areas you will be visiting for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers.
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR CUBA
Cuba requires proof of travel medical insurance for entry and does random checks to ensure that arriving travelers are insured. If your papers are checked, and for some reason they are not accepted, you will have to buy insurance from Cuba’s insurance provider Asistur – which has a desk at immigration.
on the road
All tours with The Solo Female Traveler Network are accompanied by a guide who is with the group for the whole trip. The guide’s role is to be the local expert of the destination and coordinate a lot of the on the ground logistics. Our guides are the most experienced in their countries with in-depth knowledge and extensive local networks to make it a trip of a lifetime. Your guide will provide information on the places you are traveling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, and recommend great local eating venues. You can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. At SoFe, we aim to support local guides who have specialized knowledge of the regions we visit.
We use a range of accommodation that we choose based on season, group size, and availability. You may request the confirmed starting location guesthouse’s name and address once we are 7 days until departure.
The accommodation on this trip is entirely in privately owned guesthouses. These also go by the name of “casas” or “casas particulares”. Some of these resemble mini-hotels and others are more like family stays, they are a legal form of accommodations in Cuba and are licensed. For many of our travellers, staying in the casas is a major highlight of their visit. In general, this type of accommodation provides a great opportunity for travellers to interact with everyday Cubans.
While every casa is unique, with slightly different levels of comfort, the casas are consistently rated by travellers as more comfortable than 3-star hotels in Cuba. They provide a very different experience to staying in hotels. The rooms are basic but all very clean and quite comfortable, and the owners and workers will try to make you feel at home as much as possible. Our travellers have told us that they could not have truly experienced Cuba without staying in the Casas.
Most Cubans are very friendly and love to talk to you. In some casas the family members speak quite good English, while in others they are practiced at communicating with their non-Spanish speaking guests simply by gesturing and smiling. Overcoming these communication challenges is seen by most as part of the fun! Upon arriving in each town, the group splits up into different homes, with between 1 and 4 group members in each casa.
The rooms for guests are required to meet a certain standard of comfort for the house to obtain a license. Each guestroom has air-conditioning and a private bathroom with a hot water shower. Towels and soap are provided, although the towels are sometimes not as large as what you might be used to and sometimes the soap is missing. Often the host families employ people to help them do the work in the house, they will try to keep your room tidy while you are staying there. You can always ask them to refresh your room if this wasn’t the case, ask for some more toilet paper or soap if necessary, and they will be more than happy to help you.
Warning: The plumbing systems in Cuba (in both hotels and Guesthouses), are not designed to handle toilet paper, so after using toilet paper it is important to put it in the rubbish bin and not down the toilet as it will NOT be flushed.
In the base cost of the tour, a shared room is included. You may choose to upgrade to a private room for an extra charge as long as there is availability. Upgrading to a private room once in the country is more difficult and may result in a higher cost than advertised on the webpage.
Cuban Guesthouses (known locally as Casas) are more similar in style to B&Bs than they are homestays. The guesthouses (casas) we use are much nicer than your average Cuban dwelling and each room is unique. Regardless of where you stay, power cuts and breaks in hot water supply are sometimes unavoidable, as in any developing country – but we believe that this is all a part of the local experience.
Sometimes it is not possible to check-in immediately on arrival at some guesthouses, especially if you arrive before check in time. We can store your luggage and you can explore the surrounding area. Standard check in time is 4:00pm.
Standard check out is at 10:00am on the last day.
Extra nights at our hotel are available. You may have to switch rooms at the beginning or end of the tour. Contact us if you would like us to book extra accommodation or pickup transfers for you.
A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travelers are listed here. This isn’t an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. For most, they can either be organized independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested in the Group Meeting and they can assist.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed below have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organizing these activities. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Private air-conditioned vehicle.
a few rules
Most national governments provide regularly updated foreign travel advice on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government’s advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all destinations and activities on your trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while traveling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your jewelry at home – you won’t need it while traveling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however, during your trip you’ll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your SoFe itinerary, and SoFe makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgment when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it’s deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
While most of the tour, especially in major cities, will be with your guide and the group, petty theft is common in any tourist area. Do not walk around alone at night if it can be avoided and hold your belongings close on public transportation. Your local guide will give you some safety tips throughout your tour, and we suggest heeding this advice.
We suggest checking your government’s advice in relation to the areas you will be visiting for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers.
Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It’s expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
As of late, power outages have been common, particularly in the provinces. Sometimes the casa staff is warned in advance and sometimes they are not. Outages can last for a few to a several hours. As much as possible, the tour leader will notify the group of scheduled power outages so they can prepare by charging electronics and having flashlights accessible. It will help you to bring a portable charger, mosquito repellant, and flashlight/headlamp.
phone and internet access
Internet and Wifi in Cuba:
Internet is increasingly available in Cuba, and less costly than before. While it is still not common to have wifi in casa particulares, you will be able to connect to wifi points in different public places in the cities, such as plazas, boulevards, and in most hotels. 1-hour WIFI cards can be obtained in hotels and ETECSA (120CUP each). Often they are either sold out, or the line will be hours long to purchase a Wifi card, and locals make a business of offering them on the street for 2-3USD. Some hotels sell them at higher prices. The cards are valid for use at WIFI points all over Cuba so if you have time you can buy several upon arrival in Havana. Lines to buy wifi at ETECSA are usually long, or points of sale closed. The departure lounge areas at the Havana airports have WIFI so if you have a card with any credit remaining, you should be able to use this here while waiting for your flight.
Telephoning from Cuba
International phone calls from Cuba are very expensive, costing a couple of dollars per min (to Europe, Africa, and Australia). You can either buy a phone card from an ETECSA to use on public phones, or call from a hotel. At present in Cuba there are 250 and 625CUP cards available. The rates from hotels may be slightly more expensive but more convenient as you are not cut off when the card runs out and only pay the cost of the call. 119 is the code to make international calls from Cuba. Mobile phones work in Havana and other major cities, however, a significant proportion of your time will be in places where there is no service for mobile phones.
Cuban SIM cards and Global Roaming
Cuba’s only mobile phone operator, Cubacel, provides a tourist SIM package that you can purchase online prior to arrival for pickup in the Jose Marti airport terminal 3. The SIM costs around 30USD and includes 6GB mobile data, 100 min of calls, and 100 SMS messages, top ups are only for mobile data, not calls or SMS. It is good for 30 days after activation. Purchase the card on this site http://cubaceltur.com/#providers. You can pick up the SIM from the kiosk before passing through passport control or at any Etecsa office throughout the country. To rent a handset costs 6USD/day.
If you are using your own handset, for this to work in Cuba it needs to be unlocked, and function on the 900MHz band. You can get data on some foreign lines (including US) using global roaming although the costs are very expensive. Sending SMS from Cuba to another country depends on the receiver’s operator so you will need to check with yours. Most major US mobile phone providers allow texting to/from US numbers.
medical and health
All travelers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy our style of travel. Please note that if in the opinion of our group leader or local guide any traveler is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained while traveling.
As a rule we recommend you don’t drink tap water, even in hotels, as it may contain much higher levels of different minerals than the water you are used to at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn’t serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it’s enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Many hotels and lodges provide safe drinking water, while bottled water is another alternative. Water consumption should be about two litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.