- The tour seemed quite expensive for what you got. Although not expecting luxury, I was expecting hot showers at the end of the day. I only got that in the Hotel Sevilla in Havana. Even the cold showers were little more than a trickle. The tents, especially at the hacienda Codina, were not fit for purpose. Only one had a working zip. Since, from reading prior reviews, this seems to be a common complaint, I would have expected Explore to have taken action to improve matters.
I was prepared for the rather boring cuisine and the limited range of sandwiches but didn't expect to pay the tourist prices which were way above what the average Cuban could afford. I had read that most entrees in state restaurants are priced at about 2 to 5 CUC but our guide nearly always took us to places where prices were often 15 CUC and above. One of our first lunches cost 18 CUC - we were taken there en route to somewhere by the guide and offered no alternative. There was no menu and no mention of price until the bill came. Should Explore guides be doing this? They should be upfront about the places and give us informed choices of restaurants. We got better at asking about buffet prices in hotels (best value generally) but still didn't always get the chance to make our own arrangements. I feel that the guides should be trained to have our best interests at heart and not that of the Cuban economy. The trip is advertised as getting to know the real Cuba - not to be treated differently as a tourist!
The information about the Revolution was interesting but seldom was there any written explanation in English - not very useful unless your guide sticks with you and interprets from Spanish. It was very frustrating, especially at Che's museum, where our guide wasn't around to translate his letters or anything else. Not much point in visiting.
Highlights of the trip were the treks in the Topes de Collantes Nature ReservePark (despite the tents!) and the trek to Castro's hideaway. Also, the walk around Vinales was enjoyable and gave a true taste of the life in a farming community. Each local guide was very good and entertaining.
There were good parts to the trip and the group itself was very nice but for the reasons above, I can only rate the trip as I have done. There was no comparison with our first excellent Explore trip to Vietnam and Cambodia in 2015 with our wonderful guide Theo.
Published on: 21 March 2017