If you want to ride on a fancy bus and walk around with 50 people to standard tourist sites, this isn’t the company to travel with. If you want to become friends with your guide and feel part of the family where you stay, this is the travel website for you. Our week long private customized trip complied with US law but provided us with maximum flexibility to experience Cuba with the Cubans, to wander streets, to change our minds, to have serendipitous encounters, to come to better understand this island nation. We felt like we were traveling with relatives on our trip and recommend Cuba Travel Adventure Group to you.
The Sims Family, Iowa
Everything about the Parque Central was 5-Star and greatly appreciated. We visited three other high end hotels in the neighborhood and they didn’t appear to have any of the many lobby amenities of the Parque Central. My gardener wife had a great time at the Finca Jesus learning a lot of innovative gardening tricks in their luscious garden and the cooking experience/lunch at the connected Ajiaco was a lot of fun. The tour of the wonderful historic Obispo Street and Old Havana was excellent and the amazingly informative and charming Alpi was a highlight of the entire trip. That night our dinner at the roof of the Paladar Nao became a real downpour as dessert approached and turned into the first tornado that Havana had ever experienced. We saw the considerable ruins on the outskirts of Havana the next day and a couple days later a basketball sized meteor landed outside Havana. You hadn’t needed to stage these! We thoroughly enjoyed Fusterlandia, Museum of the Revolution, Finca Vigia, the Hotel Nacional, and Fabrca De Arte Cubano. We substituted the Capitolio for a couple of the suggested venues and were completely impressed with the remodeled interior. On our final night the Tropicana Nightclub Show was spectacular.
Walter and Dianelis, two lawyers from Santiago, assisted Cezar in showing us Havana. Walter is a walking encyclopedia with a keen memory of an unbelievable number of things he has read or experienced even in Europe. He studied in a small town in Germany that is only 10 miles from the even smaller town Ursula is from. As Dean of his university of law it is tragic that he needs to seek additional work. Doctors and lawyers apparently aren’t paid very much. However, as we’ve seemed to learn on this trip the only way to get ahead is to somehow get involved with the tourist industry or anything that allows tipping. It’s a real shame that socialism has shut down all the industries as we saw around Havana and that apparently 80% of the foods are imported to the island. With all the fertile fields, water, low wages, and conducive climate you would think Cuba would be exporting food goods. When I first arrived in Cuba I thought that there must be some way for this economy to improve if it became friends with the USA but by the end of the trip it was very obvious that quantum leaps necessary to improve will require completely new leadership and could take many many years to right the ship.
We thoroughly enjoyed both Cezar and our driver Leinier. For a couple days there was only the four of us in the car, we were developing a good friendship, and so we insisted that they eat with us. Cezar finally gave in and agreed so this arrangement existed for the rest of the trip. Cezar was a great guide and whenever we visited a site he was able to describe things very clearly. Also, he was extremely punctual at picking us up from events he didn’t attend. We highly recommend Cesar. Leinier doesn’t speak much English but he always had a friendly smile, has a very quiet sincere personality, and his driving was safe and comfortable.
Bill and Ursula, San Francisco, CA
Cuba Travel Adventures organized a ten-day research trip for professors from Davidson College. It was a remarkable experience, making it possible for us to meet Cuban academics, artists, and tobacco farmers, among others. We learned an incredible amount and also sang and danced and ate good food everyday. Our guides David, Daniel, and Ernesto did a superb job.
When subtropical storm Alberto left us stranded in Cienfuegos, they brought in salsa dancers to teach a class, then a local band to entertain us. It was the most memorable lemons-to-lemonade experience I've ever had. More than one tear was shed when we said good bye to them at the airport. I highly recommend CTAG.
Margaret R. McCarthy
Professor of German
Chair, Department of German Studies
Coordinator, Film and Media Studies Concentration
We cannot begin to tell you how fabulous our trip to Cuba was. From the moment we saw Daniel’s smiling face at the airport until we said “goodbye” every detail of our trip was exactly as it was supposed to be or better! The 2 places we stayed were lovely and the people who worked there were extremely hospitable. The restaurants and activities were obviously well planned and thoroughly enjoyed. Henry was a terrific driver and Daniel’s knowledge, compassion and sense of humor all made this a trip of a lifetime. The salsa lessons, dance clubs, tobacco farm (especially the ox cart driver), artists, farmers, food, RUM, CARS, music…..I could go on and on.
It was all wonderful. We can’t wait to tell our friends where to take their next vacation.
Thank you and your staff for your knowledge, suggestions and for coordinating this wonderful trip for us.
Myra and Irwin Schussler
Thank you so much for your kind help and good wishes. We couldn't have asked for a better agent.
Barbara & Steve - Check out their blog and photo!
My wife Katy and I did a 20 day trip to Cuba through Cuba Travel Adventures this last December-January. Manny and Caroline were excellent to work with and catered to all of our strange wishes and customized an itinerary that took full advantage of 3 weeks in Cuba. We started in Havana, made our way west to Vinales then drove all the way down to the extremely isolated city of Baracoa in Oriente, seeing so many unforgettable places, people and landmarks along the way. Our guide Cesar and driver Roly were incredibly fun and caring and it was obvious during the whole time that they went above and beyond to make sure we felt comfortable on the journey. All the accomodations in casas particulares were very tidy and it always felt like there were fun, eye-opening things to do everyday, but also the freedom to explore on our own if we wanted to.
Katy ended up coming down with a really bad case of strep throat while we were there and we were suddenly faced with the panic of dealing with illness in a strange place where we didn't even know how to go about getting medical care. Our guides immediately jumped into action making phone calls with Ernesto, and were able to get Katy in to see a doctor and a specialist immediately for treatment.
This illness, while painful and unfortunate at the time, really showed the true colors of this company and its employees and why we're so happy to shout their praises on here!
One thing that was clear and outstanding on our trip, Cuba is an unbelievably beautiful, soulful and complicated country. If you go there, you can book with Cuba Travel knowing that the very best people are looking after you both in Cuba and back in the states.
Cuba was awesome. We are so glad we did private tour. Cruise offered very little options to do stuff and really limited time there. We had no problems but cruise made it seem like we would. So thank you for taking care of us. It was very safe and easy unlike what you hear from cruise people and news. Daniel was amazing if you ever send anyone else to Cuba we recommend him.
And the cooking class was so awesome you should always recommend that. Way different way to experience culture and food. That and the trip to the spice farm was our favorite part of the trip.
The cruise ship made Cuba seem very difficult and dangerous. They gave out information often but told us it might take hours to get off or back on ship due to custom and visas, it took 30 min. They also changed times we were there. They really pushed their trips but they were high rates and we heard very limited. Our guide took us to some great private owned places not just government ones.
J. and K. Kruer (cruise clients - Havana day tours)
Easy to find the guide, Ceasar in Havana.
He did a great job.
The restaurants were fantastic.
Thank you for all your efforts in the arrangements.
Jack A. Powers
Dear Manny and Caroline,
We are home, relatively rested and still reliving the memories of our spectacular trip to Cuba! Thank you so much for the incredible itinerary....the sights, the timing, the locations were all perfect! It's hard to choose a favorite....every place, every activity is a contender!
Our group definitely enjoyed the New Year's Eve party at Odette's lovely home. That evening will be one of our most memorable NYE nights ever! The entertainment was spectacular, food delicious and hosts delightful. It was great to meet you, your wife and your very talented granddaughter, Manny!
Our lunch with the professor was most interesting! What a nice guy! And, so interesting to hear his perspective on issues and Cuba's future.
Caroline, thank you for all your efforts on our behalf. Everything went seamlessly and we appreciate your time and everyone else at the company that helped.
Finally, I think I speak for our entire group when I say the trip would not have been the same without our good fortune in having David as our guide and Yasnier as our driver! They were both spectacular, well-organized, hard working, genuine and have become friends of all of ours! Spending our week with them most definitely contributed to how wonderful our trip was! (If we want to send them a few gifts from the US, do you have any suggestions on how we could go about that? Could we get items to you before you go next time, Manny?)
Cuba is a wonderful country and we are all so glad we went....and happy we chose Cuba Travel Adventures Group!
Lynne C.... (and friends!)
Dear Manny, thank you so much for such a delightful trip to Cuba. We're home for 10 days already and every time I find myself thinking about our trip, I find myself smiling. Ernesto was more than a tour guide. Robin and I had so much fun traveling, singing, dancing, joking and just plain visiting with him, we'll not forget him. We felt very safe with him, he was always there for us. He was extremely helpful when I needed to go to the clinic; he stayed with us and even ran out and got food for Robin. He went over and above the call of duty in making sure we personally delivered the gifts we brought to Cuba from here.
I'd also like to express my appreciation to you for spending those extra times talking to me and reassuring me of the safety in Cuba, without that we may have missed the best trip of our life time.
Thank You and have a wonderful trip to Cuba starting tomorrow.
Connie and Robin
We had a wonderful trip. Cuba was awesome. We are so glad we did private tour.
Cruise offered very little options to do stuff and really limited time there. We had no problems but cruise made it seem like we would. So thank you for taking care of us. It was very safe and easy unlike what you hear from cruise people and news. Daniel was amazing if you ever send anyone else to Cuba we recommend him. Also the cooking class and trip to spice/fruit farm was the best thing we did all trip.
Please tell any who are considering a trip to Cuba about the extraordinary experience Diane and I had on the two week trip you put together for us. We spent 14 days getting to know our driver and guide. They were both very personable and eager to talk about life in Cuba. We covered over 1000 miles in the two weeks during which we developed a special relationship with both men. In fact, the driver introduced us to his mother, and then his brother and family who invited us for a meal in their home. We stayed in paradores, the equivalent of airbnb; families renting an extra bedroom to tourists passing through so we got inside many homes and again, had many conversations (Diane is fluent in Spanish) with different families. And as for safety: we never felt in any danger. For one thing, Castro confiscated all guns so unlike our country, it really is very safe. We found everyone to be friendly and hospitable; I have found that it is useful to have lots of small bills so that when a fellow dressed up as Castro offers to have his picture taken with him, it is easy to provide a tip; or we saw several very good "statues", live people immobile for hours... appreciated some money; and the many cafes with local bands playing fabulous Cuban music with a hat for donations.. it was good to be able appreciate their work by leaving donations.
Our trip to Cuba has left us with many very special memories. I would encourage any who are interested in this very interesting place to take full advantage of any opportunity to go. Thanks so much to you and your crew for making it happen.
- Kim and Diana Coit
Manny and Caroline - from the moment our plane landed in Havana, our trip to Cuba could not have been better planned and executed. We were greeted by two of your finest representatives, Daniel and Osvaldo, who guided us through a two week journey via the finest form of transportation available, a 70's VW van!
Without exception, every stop in every city included an excellent and well considered combination of accommodations, restaurants, education and culture.
More importantly, spending time with Daniel and Osvaldo clearly enriched the experience; their intelligence and caring nature gave us a much deeper and lasting appreciation of Cuba than we ever imagined. We are grateful to all at CTAG for creating a lasting memory.
We had a great trip to Cuba!
Cuba Travel Adventures Group planned an excellent trip for my husband and me. We learned so much and had a ton of fun. It was a great mix of intellectual stimulation with fun vacation activities.
We had some concerns about traveling to Cuba because of the natural and political storms of late, but Manny and Caroline at CTAG patiently answered our questions, and our experiences with our guides in Cuba completely removed any concerns we had. In the end, we felt especially good about traveling to Cuba to learn, to meet the Cuban people, and to develop friendships.
CTAG worked closely with us to personally design our trip to include areas that we were interested in - music, art, history, hiking, snorkeling, beach going, botanical gardens, current affairs, politics, mojito making, and exploring Havana, Cojimar, Viñales, Playa Larga, Cienfuegos and Trinidad. We had the opportunity to talk with a political science professor, a bass guitarist and journalists. We loved the live music and dancing at Fabrica de Arte Cubano and Club 1830 on the waterfront. We saw a bust of Abe Lincoln at the the Museum of the Revolution in Havana. We also saw some of Cuba's natural beauty through snorkeling and swimming in the Caribbean, hiking, horseback riding, visiting a family-operated farm, visiting an orchid garden, as well as driving along fields of sugar cane while listening to beautiful Cuban music. Music was everywhere in Cuba.
Our Cuban tour team was exceptional! Our guide, David, was fluent in English and willing to tutor us in Spanish, which we all enjoyed and had a lot of fun with. David was friendly, open, very knowledgable, and tireless, with an easy laugh. Our driver, Rainel, was so kind, conscientious, and friendly that he made our trip very comfortable and easy. They both worked tirelessly to make our trip wonderful. Ernesto, our very friendly and capable travel organizer in Havana, did a great job organizing our trip and joined us on a few occasions to connect and be sure all was going well.
Of special note - my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary in Playa Larga and David arranged for a local band to serenade us when we returned from dinner to our casa (surprised me!). The band sounded beautiful and we both felt the lead singer had the voice of an angel. It's an experience we will never forget. My husband and I had such a fun and memorable trip.
I highly recommend going to Cuba and having Cuba Travel Adventures Group organize the trip for you.
- Rochelle & Jay H. from Seattle
We had a great experience with Cuba Travel Adventures Group.
Manny Kopstein, the owner had alot of experience with traveling to Cuba. I had not found a lot of reviews on the company prior to contracting with them, but upon my initial conversation with Manny, I felt pretty comfortable with him so I moved forward with the planning.
We were a group of 25 and they had their hands full with us! I was the group organizer and I left nothing to chance. The home based team which included Caroline and Jodi, bless their souls, were the best. They were patient and very understanding of my constant questions and numerous follow-up emails throughout the planning process. We started planning the trip earlier this year and they handled everything with the exception of our flights. This included our hotel accommodations, tours, shows and meals.
We were scheduled to travel to Cuba 3 weeks after Hurricane Irma and we had some very serious and legitimate concerns about how things would turn out. Manny assured us that by virtue of their culture, travel to Cuba is sometimes a little chaotic, but that the aftermath of the hurricane should not add any more stress to our experience. He was in constant contact with his team in Cuba who was providing daily updates on the progress of the clean-up effort. Several conference calls later with our group where he provided us with those updates, we finally decided to move forward with the trip instead of cancelling our rescheduling. We were soooo glad that we did! Shout out to Manny for his willingness to get on several conference calls with 25 people and have 25 different questions (some the same, but just phrased differently) thrown at him. He handled it like a champ, although he is a little long-winded. :-)
Arrival in Cuba was seamless. The Cuba based team met us at baggage claim and got us right to our hotel (Melia Habana). Let me take a moment to express my sincere appreciation for our guides in Havana. Ernesto, Danny, Cesar and Osvaldo were the absolute best!!!!! Shout out to those guys because they made the magic happen! I cannot express enough, the gratitude that we have for them. They were first class. One person from our group got sick and was not able to join us for dinner one night. Danny was so worried about her that he got the restaurant to pack up her meal to-go. When we got back to the hotel, he had me call her on the house phone so that he could talk to her himself to ensure that she was okay! How's that for personal service! Also, we had been talking about the birthday of one of the guys that was in our group and the fact that he was turning 35. The guys must have overheard our conversation because on our last day they had gotten a birthday cake for him and surprised him with it! How very thoughtful of them! He couldn't believe that they took out the time to do that for lil ole' him!
The tours were amazing. We did everything from mojito, cooking and salsa classes, to riding in the 1950's vintage cars. That was definitely a blast. You havne't had a mojito until you've ad a "real" one in Cuba made with lemon juice, honey, a dash of club soda and RUM....lots of RUM! We also got the VIP treatment with first row seats at the Tropicana and premium seats at the Buena Vista Social Club. Other tours included the Partagas Cigar Factory, the studio where Nat King Cole recorded, the famous Nacionale hotel, walking tour of the Parque Central, the Fusterlandia and Muraleando communities and the local crafts market.
The food was beyond amazing. We ate at top notch paladars and restaurants. Fusion Nightclub and Restaurant, Ajiaco, San Cristobal and El Aljibe just to name a few.
Manny suggested that in addition to the resort that we were staying at (Melia Habana), we could get a flavor for the locals by staying in a hotel in downtown Old Havana. In my opinion, this was suggested because for whatever reason, he was not able to get us booked in the Melia for all 5 nights as originally agreed. But, the suggestion was a good one and we are glad that we did it. It was an older hotel (Hotel Sevilla), but it had charm and was right in the middle of everything. No, we were not given a refund on the difference, but he made up for it with other things such as the front row seats and 2 meals that he paid for that we were originally supposed to cover on our own.
Be sure that you get all of your expectations in writing down to the last detail. Get travelers insurance and pay special attention to the verbiage in the contract that advises you that the tours are a "menu" of items and could be changed based on what's going on in Cuba. You might want to negotiate some terms of your own that identify what type of compensation or substitution you can expect when things have to be changed. I failed to do this, but will know the next time.
Thanks again to CTAG and their tireless work in ensuring that we had the trip of a lifetime! Cuba is a beautiful country and should not be missed.
I very rarely write reviews, but really felt compelled to write one after our AMAZING experience with Cuba Travel Adventures Group.
Our trip was a spur of the moment, last minute idea. However, you never would have guessed. Not one detail was missed. We felt like the owners of Cuba Travel Adventures Group "heard" us and gave us the EXACT trip we were expecting - and more!
We had told the facilitator and owner, Manny, that we wanted a REAL WORLD experience for our teenager boys. We live in a very well-to-do area, so sometimes "the price of privilege" in our town needs to be balanced by REAL WORLD experiences.
This trip was just what the doctor ordered. From the VISA process, to the airplane reservations, to the arrival at the airport, to the wonderful accommodations - everything was perfect. From the daily private driver and tour guide taking us to baseball practice and games, which we requested, to the many real world sight seeing tours, to the humbling community service projects set up for us to experience - everything was perfect. To the jazz clubs, the night life, the many fantastic cultural experiences, both close to the residence and a few hours away - everything was perfect.
We felt like we got a little taste of "everything Cuba". The service provided to us from Cuba Travel Adventures Group was flawless, but the Cuban side of the trip was warm and lovely. Ernesto, Daniel, Osvaldo, Cesar - thank you for making our time in Cuba an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Private van tour with 24 hour service from our amazing guide, Daniel and our driver Osvaldo. 3 baseball practices and 2 games - baseball in Cuba? Awesome! Dinner at a government executive's home with a life sized roasted pig on the dining table, live jazz in the back yard and an opera performance in the living room - Wow! Tours of the city, along the Malecon, around the city via 50's American convertibles, and downtown Havana. Swimming in the ocean, exploring and swimming under a gorgeous waterfall after hiking, zip lining - so fun! Touring a farmer's home, private art collection, and eating lunch prepared from his garden and having him join us for lunch - and - horseback riding through the countryside, getting a tour of a 3rd generation tobacco farm and getting a lesson on how to roll and smoke a cigar from the farmer himself - very cool! Experiencing children's culture in a rebuilt neighborhood and attending a real Santeria performance - Exciting! And...well...a few other things that I don't want to mess up the surprises on...but oh-so-much-fun!
How do parents know when a trip has "touched" their son in the way that they had hoped it would? When he comes home and tells you how moving the experience was for him and that he wants to give back to the wonderful people of Cuba - someway, somehow. Here is an 8 minute video of how the trip touched my 16 year old son's life - in his words. (release of video on request pending family's permission)
I can't give a better review than that! Cuba Travel Adventures Group - thank you, a million times, thank you!
-Candace & Keith Nordstrom
Hello to CTAG People -
Other tours (Tauck, for example) will put you in hotels. The Cuba Travel Adventures Group works with and benefits the Cuban people. They will cater your breakfasts, (eggs and fruit, coffee and fresh juice) and it will be nice housing. You also will eat at "paladares" (beautiful restaurants in homes, the growing middle-class's booming new industry). If you were on a Tauck tour or National Geographic tour, you would stay in hotels, benefiting the government, ours was a very unique way to experience and meet Cuban people.
You will have a private guide and your own transportation and driver, we had a huge bus for our family of 5, with a fridge with bottled water, which was great. The house had a safe, and you pay for alcoholic drinks, everything else is included. We drank and tipped as much as we could, and barely spent half of the recommended currency, but we could convert it back at the airport.
There are great things to do, and Manny will intersperse a lot of cultural things to get the People-To-People visas, which for us, included lunch with a political scientist, dinner with a cool bass player in a hot Cuba band, and a tea at the American Embassy. These were all really great experiences!
Cuba is just about the most photogenic place I have ever been to, seems everyone looks better in front of a gorgeous 1950's American car, or a pastel-colored, dilapidated but beautiful building in that bright Caribbean light.
E. H., T.M. and family
New York City
Dear Manny and staff,
I don’t know where to start about our recent trip to Cuba. Everyone has agreed it was the trip of our lifetime! As I mentioned to you before, while in Australia I was involved in the travel industry and this trip far surpassed anything from Barcelona to Beijing. I want to go back again and bring my sister and maybe Lexie and Dylan .
Your staff, Rosbel, Freddie and Yves (sp) ( Youes??) were jacks of all trades. I have never met a more courteous, knowledgeable or articulate group of guides. Rosbel was so informative and knowledgeable. I loved talking with him about everything from politics and history to card tricks ( I even showed him a few). He taught Dylan to Rumba and I never saw him when he wasn’t smiling. We will all miss him. He is an asset…don’t lose him!!! Yves went beyond the call of duty. He did everything from opening doors to holding our bags while we took pictures. When we changed the itinerary he just smiled and said no problem. Even though the plane to Santiago was delayed he still smiled and reassured us everything would be ok. Freddie was the best driver as I am still trying to figure out how he got that van in and out of so many tight spaces. Always on time and very safe. Plenty of water and willing to stop whenever we wanted to. These are the guys that make Cuba Travel what it is.
You were correct when you said this was going to give us all a taste of the real Cuba. We went to the National Hotel for a short drink and it was like Disneyland. We enjoyed every part of the trip and if we had to do it all over again we would stay for 2 weeks. So much to see and do. The people were so warm and generous. I cant say enough about the experience.
I must tell you one quick anecdote. The last day in Rio de Pinar we were all a bit tired after the horse ride and ready to head home . We weren’t that interested in seeing cigar rolling but once the guy came out every female in the group rushed to watch him explain cigars. They ( and I ) agreed that he was the most gorgeous man they had ever seen. No a word was spoken while he demonstrated how to roll a cigar. Their mouths were agape…more pictures taken of him. After all was said and done he ,just like the rest of the people we met , was so interesting and we would not wanted to miss it.
I wish you luck and if anyone has doubts please tell them to call or write me.
Thank you once again. This was the best!!
It was a pleasure to meet you. I enjoyed talking with you and I hope our paths cross again, through travel or perhaps through baseball. Thank you for putting together a fabulous trip for us. It really was an incredible experience. Thank you also for your patience and flexibility with all of our schedule change requests, I'm sure that was challenging for you, Ernesto, Daniel, Alexis and Yunier, but you never showed it(at least not publicly). The five of you were outstanding, and much appreciated!!
My best for a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year, filled with Love and Light, and of course, Attitude!!
Dear Manny and Ernesto,
As I try with considerable difficulty to get back to work this morning, I wanted to share with you two photos. One is a picture of my favorite moment from the trip, when Ilan was catching for a young Cuba pitcher. The caption Ilan wrote on his Instagram post says it all: “Two cultures communicating through the universal language of baseball.”
The other picture is of a post card Alan and I found in a vintage shop in upstate New York this summer. The postcard shows the memorial to the USS Maine, which the Ambassador told us was destroyed in a hurricane; and now the Americans and Cubans have separate parts of the broken eagle, the same as the complete statute we saw at the Ambassador's residence. I sent it to the group with the heading “What we didn’t see in Cuba."
A sincere thank you to both of you for an incredible, once in a lifetime experience. On the bus ride to the airport, Jon Rubin passed around a notebook and everyone wrote their top 2-3 memories of the trip. Someone is supposed to type it up, and I’ll then send you a copy (or you can watch Yunier’s video of Jon reading all the comments). Probably more than half the people listed our guides as a trip highlight. It’s hard for any of us to imagine what the trip would have been like without Daniel, Alexis, and Yunier. We returned home profoundly touched by the people we met and the places we visited during a memorable week in Cuba.
With tremendous gratitude,
Please extend our thank you to all involved in our booking! It was perfect from start to finish. Aylin really did make our trip so special! She's an amazing person. So sweet, clever, and accommodating 24/7. - Kelly M., San Francisco November 29, 2016
"If you want an intimate experience of Cuba by immersing yourself in the culture of this extraordinary country, talk to Manny - the guy behind the curtain with Cuba Travel Adventures. I hold him personally responsible for the exceptional 2 weeks we had in Cuba last month. All we wanted was a good guide and a vehicle to get us from Havana to Vinales to Trinidadwithout complication. I was not certain this was possible, after too many people kept defining "personalized tour" as being herded on and off a bus with a small group of strangers, kept on a tight schedule and an even tighter leash. Enter Manny. I wrote to him, and he called back in under ten minutes, and his first words were, "How's this for service?" I liked him immediately. He made it clear he could create an itinerary woven around our interests, with the freedom to stray at any given moment from what we had planned for the day. No tight leash. No leash at all. Nice. Yes we could have a guide, and our guide would be well educated and available at all times, and the driver would be professional, and the car would actually run. (I specifically asked if the car would run, and maybe even for the definition of "car.") If you're having any concerns about the legitimacy of this company because there aren't a lot of reviews, let me put your mind at ease: I was a bear about researching them. I didn't like the idea of handing over deposit money and passport numbers to someone who might just be talking a good game; getting taken like that might put me in a bad mood for the next several years. Nothing to worry about. Manny handled my interrogation flawlessly. He delivered on everything I asked for and answered all my questions and kept a sense of humor and never lost his cool. At no time was the communication anything less than stellar - before and after we signed on the dotted line. Should I write about how deeply Cuba touched me? How much fun it was, how easy it was to fall in love with and how I was so often overwhelmed that I just needed to sit still and be thankful? Can I talk about the places we went in detail? Explain why we adored our guide and driver so much that even now, 3 weeks later, we still miss their company? Do you want to know that the paladars were superb and the locations breathtaking and the people far more beautiful inside and out than I ever imagined? Cars there tell stories. Buildings tell stories. The hosts at each casa particular, opening their homes and hearts to us simultaneously, redefined what it means to be gracious. The history, the architecture, the music, the soul. The talking trees at Finca Luna. Willie, who I keep telling myself actually exists - and his family actually exists - though I still think I dreamed it all. The baseball game in Vinales - unplanned, but perhaps not so unexpected (thanks Uncle Buddy, with memories of watching you play at Thillens Stadium). Yes, this was a personal tour. Very much so. No need for me to tell you what Cuba is like. You already feel the pull or you wouldn't be reading this. Have your own discovery, and be as moved as you want to be. Maybe all you need is a reliable way to get there and back, some solid recommendations, and a great guy with a fabulous company to bounce ideas around with and make it all happen. Work with Cuba Travel adventures. Talk to Manny. Note that while you are listening to him he is listening to you. This is someone who is as invested in your stay as you are. His love for Cuba, and the Cuban people, will be palpable. Just like yours will be, when you return." - Gail and Jeff
Earlier in July I went to Cuba with the Cuba Adventures Group and it was ideal. My sister and her son il law went from LAX nonstop to Havana. My niece and I went from Miami to Havana (45 minute flight). There was maintenance problems on this American Airlines charter. We got in 4 hours late. My sister was taken to dinner and we were taken to join them. Our guide had a hard time finding out when we would arrive but his smiling face was there at baggage claim.
The entire trip in Cuba was the best. Our own driver and guide. They were with us as late and again as early as we wanted to start. There was total flexibility. We decided to go swimming with the locals in a natural pool at the bottom of a beautiful water fall. No problem just went a little longer that day.
The bed and breakfast facilities we stayed in were as good as you could find any place in the world. The fresh fruit was especially good. Lot of it with fresh juice every morning.
When planning the trip they asked what I had in mind. I went over about 15 things. Several things were not practical and they helped me set up the entire trip. We did our own thing from Havana (took a second ride in a 1952 red V-8 conferable a second time as it was so much fun), To the water fall (mentioned above) to the Bay of Pigs (swimming and museum). Jon ended up short of cash. No problem he had it the next day thru Manny's contact in Canada.
If you want a outstanding trip use Cuba Travel Adventures Group.
- John H. Chicago, IL
I wanted to take a moment to give you some feedback on our recent long weekend in Havana. The trip was amazing. It was one of the greatest learning experiences of our lives. Ernesto did a great job of arranging activities and our guide, David, was absolutely wonderful. Our driver, Damian, was great. The accomodations at our casa were outstanding. The itinerary was good but the highlight of our trip was the interaction with the Cuban people. We enjoyed our time in Havana and we cannot wait to go back.
Thank you all at Cuba Travel Adventures Group for making the process a painless experience and arranging the itinerary with superb Cuban guides. I have already recommended you to colleagues interested in going to Cuba.
Thanks again, The Osbornes
Daniel and Rolando did a marvelous job for us on the recent trip I completed with my Grandson, Jack. Both men were so enjoyable and took care of our every desire. Jack and I both felt that the trip was more than we had ever anticipated. Please send Daniel’s address as I want to send him a book to pass on to a friend of his.
You and your staff are all wonderful and provide a great experience.
Vice-Chairman of the Board/CAO
(415) 901-4400 | www.malcolmdrilling.com
I had the opportunity to accompany my 14 year old grandson on a baseball trip to Cuba with the Cuba Travel Adventures Group this summer.
It was a life-changing experience as we were introduced to “inside Cuba” including warm interactions with the Cuban people.
Our tour was guided by a team of highly educated, articulate young men who informed us of Cuban history to modern day.
We had a lunch lecture from a University Professor and talks from private business entrepreneurs to communal farms.
We toured the highlights of Cuba and had first hand experiences with the culture in art, music, photography and dance.
We even got to ride in the classic cars and the horse and buggies
.Our trip extended outside the city of Havana to the countryside and the beautiful beaches of Valerdaro.
We visited the haunts of Hemingway (including his estate and boat), had tea with the new American Ambassador and enjoyed the performance of the famous Buena Vista Social Club.
A unique experience was delivering food to families with special needs children, bringing “state of the art” baseball equipment to the Cuban teams and interacting with the Cuban baseball players during meals provided after the games.
The dining venues chosen were of high quality and we were often accompanied with live entertainment.
We traveled in an air conditioned bus with a perfect balance of activity and rest. Every effort was made to accommodate our needs and comfort.
I recommend Cuba Travel Adventures Group for your next vacation and do it sooner than later!!!
- Grandparent on Baseball exchange tour (July 2-10)
Great trip. Thank you! Unique trip! To that extent I wouldn't change anything.
Thanks again, Manny, I appreciate all that you, Soo and your team did to encapsulate complexity and let the rest of us have a unique experience of a lifetime. I learned a lot about Cuba, though the more I learned, the more I knew that I did not understand! I had many meaningful experiences and connections, some sobering. I also enjoyed the fun and camaraderie that you made possible. All that in a week is really quite amazing.
Hi Manny, I didn't have a chance at the end of our travels to let you know how much Alex and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. It was truly the trip of a lifetime! I feel like we came away from Cuba having experienced a months worth of sites and activities. The ever changing itinerary, the guides, the food, the towns we visited, the accommodations, the Cuban baseball team, the bus, were all fantastic. We really appreciated your help guiding the group in the airports as well. I'm sure we'll see you around Tiburon. Thanks,
- Kirsten & Alex
"Thanks so much for arranging our amazing trip to Cuba, Manny! Bill and I had a wonderful time and we appreciated the great guides and drivers, the opportunity to see so many different areas of the country and learn about its history, the delicious food and the great experiences. Several friends have expressed an interest in visiting Cuba after hearing our stories, so I wanted to make sure I can pass on your contact information. Thanks again!"
- Sincerely, Cheryl Brady
May 29, 2016
Hi, Manny, Just to let you know I HAD THE MOST FABULOUS TIME IN CUBA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'll write or call with more detail when I return home and I will have more time to describe how amazing and terrific the trip was. Didn't however want to wait any longer to contact you and tell you how happy I was.
"You are a rare gift to the travel world! Many thanks, Denise.
"Manny; Just a quick note. We had an amazing trip to Cuba. Both our guide Raul and driver Rolando were fantastic. Many thanks to them and you and your team for the arrangements. - Best regards, Peter
From recent travelers - "Highlights... It's difficult to say because it really was a spectacular trip throughout. Ana was a big highlight. She really made the trip special. Talking to the professor was big. The day in the country was great. Making our own lunch and mojitos was very special."
Big, big kudos to tour guide Anita, or Ana, as she asked us to call her and Ernesto. We couldn't have asked for a better guide. She is now a friend for life and we are keeping in touch via Facebook." - Suzanne and Bruce
"Manny and Suzanne,
Many thanks for a super trip! Cuba is a wonderful country and the people are so friendly and helpful. We had so many experiences we will never forget. Andrew practiced his Spanish, and now I want to learn it too. The driver and guide were extremely good. Thanks again!" - Susan Roberts
"My Mom and I went through Cuba Travel Adventures Group earlier this year and had a great experience. At the Miami airport we easily picked up our charter flight tickets and then were off to Cuba. At the airport we were met by our guide and driver and started our journey. I can't stress enough how satisfied my Mom and I were that we decided to go on a tour with just the two of us. We were really able to get to know our guide and even met his wife, family and baby at his mother in law's home. It was experiences like this, that really made our Cuba trip special.
Anywhere we went our guide seemed to know somebody, and we were really satisfied with the restaurants and areas he recommended. All lodging was already taken care of when we got there. We stayed mostly in Casa Particulares which are peoples homes that they rent out. Every home we stayed in was clean, comfortable and safe.
Overall I think that if you want a more authentic trip to Cuba then this is a great company. It will offer more of an opportunity to see the Cuban lifestyle than being in a larger tour. We really liked both our driver and our guide. Manny was also very responsive throughout the booking process and called us during our tour to see how we were doing. We were in Cuba for 10 days and felt that we got to see a lot of the country with most of our time in Havana."
- Michael M. March 2016
"Manny and company at Cuba Travel Adventures Group put together a spectacular two week trip to Cuba for our small group of two couples. They provided a van with driver AND guide, augmented with local specialist guides who provided greater detail about localities and attractions. We stayed in private homes (casas particulares) on Manny's recommendation, and are very glad we did. We learned a great deal by spending time with our hosts, who were invariably open about their island's history, economy, and prospects.
Because one of our group is a frustrated botanist we focused on botanical gardens and outdoor excursions. Along the way we visited nine cities and learned a lot of Cuban history. Our primary guide was an absolute gem. He had over twenty years experience in the travel business in Cuba, spoke excellent English, and obviously loved his work. We shared a dinner one evening in Havana with a former Cuban diplomat, who was very candid in his responses to our questions. In Santiago de Cuba our local guide was a professor of law and author of books on the death penalty. We had fascinating discussions.
We hiked in nature preserves and natural parks, and swam in three waterfalls. We visited UNESCO sites. We immersed ourselves in the history of the island, from San Juan Hill up which Teddy Rosevelt (may have) charged, to the site of the troop train derailment in Santa Clara where Che Guevara turned the tides of the Cuban Revolution. We saw countless 1950s cars kept running by willpower and inertia. We saw blockish apartment complexes built by the Russians for factory workers.
We were very satisfied with our experience with CTAG, and have already recommended them to family and friends considering travel to Cuba."
- T. Brown, D. Gephart Group March 2016
"Suzanne and Manny
It was a trip of lifetime. An excellent adventure. Thank you for your organization and individualized planning. Your colleagues in Havana are a good team.
Highlights for us were:
1) The casa particular home stays which showed both hospitality, comfortable rooms and full breakfasts with lots of fruit.
2) A wide variety of activities from mountains to beach at a pace that was efficient – for the large amount of territory we covered
3) Many informative encounters with Cubans (partly due to Skip’s Miami Spanish). The Havana palador meal with Camilo Garcia Lopez-Trigo and the day and home cena in Santiago with Reinaldo Suarez were excellent. I exchanged botany with five local guides – especially at Jardin de los Helechos in Santiago.
4) Meals that were in very good paladares everywhere we went.
5) Manuel was a superior guide – experienced and fluent in English. We enjoyed his care thoroughly.
6) We learned a lot of history on the spot from the people who were there.
7) Our driver Yoandi was very safe and reliable. The Chinese van had good air conditioning and thus the two longer drives were tolerable.
8) And we must not forget what was perhaps our best day - cooking at Ajiaco and then the gardens at Vivero Alamar with our host Isis."
Thank you so much, Dale & Connie March 2016
"Manny, I keep hearing fabulous reports form the group about the trip, the success in the last minute adjustments, and the wonderful guides. Jan"
From a Travel Agent Client on behalf of her Clients: "Thank you so very much for taking such great care of the (client group).They absolutely had the trip of a lifetime!!! - Sharon March 2016
"You won't find a more patient and engaging guide than the team at Cuba Travel Adventures Group. We commend their can-do attitude, and willingness to always find a solution for any issue - big or small. They have an approach that draws out the very best out of everyone we interacted with."
So many enjoyable moments but here are our favorites:
The Paladars - especially La Guarida, Otramanera, the organic farm up in Vinales
Tobacco farm - especially since we could buy some!
Exploring Old Havana - so much charm and character.
Our interactions with the locals. For example: Our dinners where we were able to mingle with the owners and their families.
Singing songs with the lovely abuela at El Meson.
In sum, our fondest memories were the spontaneous experiences when we could interact with the Cuban people and just being able to absorb the atmosphere wherever we stopped on our journeys during our 10 days in the country."
"We really couldn't thank you enough for the amazing memories of our Cuban adventure!" - The JH/VH group
"An experience in Cuba that I can truly say has changed my life. Thank you!" - K.T.
"Thank you for introducing us to an amazing and unforgettable place! The timing was perfect and it was an incredible experience all around."
- A recent Cuba Travel Adventures Group member of a 15-person group tour
"Manny, You and your team made the dream of a 77 year old ballroom dancer come true! I was able to experience the Salsa where it was born, in Cuba. What a great adventure you made possible for me. You provided such a great support network in Cuba that I always felt safe, and I enjoyed once-in-a-lifetime cultural and dancing experiences with great Cuban people every day. My guides opened doors to a Cuba ordinary tourists seldom see, making for a fantastic Cuban fantasy." - Sincerely, C.D.B (June 2015)
"My family has traveled to many places around the world with me and nobody seems to show more attention for detail than you guys! Thank you for an amazing trip."
"Manny, Thank you for a great trip to Cuba.
Everything was good and your guide was great. He could not have done more for us. Young energetic knowledgeable, what more could we ask for.
Thanks again and happy thanksgiving." - Jerry (Family of four - Thanksgiving trip 2015)
"We have talked with so many people here in CO and in TX last week about our trip. Everyone is amazed that we were able to plan it for such a short time and that everything went even more smoothly than we could have hoped. We love Ernest! It was definitely a dream come true! " - VP and SP 12/21/15
"I just returned from a trip to Cuba with my 4 young adult kids (in their early 20s). I organized the trip entirely through Cuba Adventure Travel. I was able to work directly with Manny and Suzanne to completely customize the trip around our family's preferences. They worked with me to establish an affordable budget and created a terrific price fix excursion. We traveled with a young, energetic guide who spoke perfect English and directed our driver on our travels to several cities. We experienced home stays with very nice, clean accommodations, and were directed to some wonderful restaurants and bars in the evenings. We came away feeling as though we had a great sense of the people, their culture and history from a Cuban perspective. And music is everywhere! Don't miss the chance to visit this place while it is just beginning to awaken. Thanks for all of your help. It was great!" - Heidi 1/3/15
"We felt very fortunate to have found Manny and his group! I am 73, my husband is 75. We have traveled to central and So. American countries in the past, so we had pretty realistic expectations and weren't surprised at putting toilet paper in a trash can and drinking bottled water. Neither of us speak Spanish, but our 26-yr-old Cuban guide has an English degree from the university and we got along just fine. We were fortunate to have him all to ourselves, as we were the only ones booked with them the week we went. We found everyone to be very warm and friendly and felt very safe. We stayed in an apartment building in a Cuban neighborhood and walked around w/o our guide most evenings. Manny suggested we bring a flashlight, which we did. The food was wonderful. We loved seeing and riding in the old cars! We did quite a lot of walking, with our guide, as well, in Old Havana, etc. we also took a driving trip to Vinales with an overnight in a private home there. The trip and the accommodations were most enjoyable. Their itinerary is flexible. Some people like clubs, some favor museums, etc, but there is a lot to see and do. Our guide was most accommodating regarding what we did/didn't want to see or do.
Manny had all the paperwork - visa, charter flight tickets, Cuba health stamp in order and waiting for us in Miami, which made it very easy for us."
" Singing the praises of a great travel experience." Habana, 2015
"Manny and Suzanne, We want to thank you for a wonderful experience.! It was like going back in time. We got to experience a variety of places and meet different people. We can only use positive adjectives to describe the Cuban people. Warm,friendly,generous,are just a few. They are also very creative and ingenious in making use of materials and resources they have .I hope that with the thawing of relationships things will get better for them.
Our guide Yuri was excellent we would HIGHLY recommend him for future travelers.He was very flexible and accommodating .We learned a lot from him about the Cuban people their history and politics .We had a number of talks with him on all levels He has an interesting history and we thoroughly enjoyed him and our driver.
The casas gave us an opportunity to get to know families .The hostesses were all gracious and welcoming and provided us with ample good food. We are pretty adaptable , but after experiencing the first two casas it was quite unexpected how basic was La Moka casa .We do not know options at that location that may have been the best available . We look at it as an adventure and unexpected always happens. I am glad we did not get isolated in a large hotel removed from reality of life there.
It was truly a great time, we are so happy we went ! We would recommend traveling with you to people who want to experience real Cuba . Thank you again for a great trip!" - Penny and Tom Zarfoss
"Had truly the trip of a lifetime in Cuba. Decided to go to Cuba with a friend last minute over Xmas and New Year's and randomly found Manny's company. After a few emails and phone calls, we were on our way. Had our charter flights and visas organized with Manny on Gulf Stream via Aruba Air and were warmly greeted at the airport. From then on it was smooth sailing, it was just the two of us and we had an amazing guide and driver with us throughout the two weeks. It was great because our itinerary was flexible and if we wanted to stay somewhere longer or cut out somewhere else we could. And then we'd see the large busloads of tourists and we were so happy to get a tour of Cuba that was off the beaten path.
It was money well spent having Manny organize for this and I'd highly recommend it if you are wanting to do your own adventure of Cuba with a highly knowledgable guide and your own driver. Our guide was Manuel and we called him the mayor of Cuba because he knew people everywhere we went.
I hope you enjoy your trip as much as we did and go scuba diving if you can!" - Laurel W and Susan E February 2016
"My family and I just returned from a humanitarian trip to Havana, Cuba and the surrounding countryside. It had long been on my bucket list and Manny and his team at Cuba Travel Adventures Group made it happen. The trip began with a five hour delay at the Tampa Airport due to the Pope being at the Havana Airport. That, however, was our only snag. The people, the underlying beauty of the island, the old American cars…it was like stepping back to the 1950s. Our penthouse apartment was great with views of the Malecon and beyond. The trip exceeded all of our expectations. Thanks again Manny. The experience was priceless." - Randy Akers - two couples from Georgia March 2016
"Good morning, Manny! Cuba was amazing, and you were right about our guide. Oscar, was a complete pleasure. He made our trip fantastic. What a gem you have in him! Thanks again for all the coordinating. We have many friends who want to chat with us about Cuba after seeing all our Facebook pictures. I will be definitely referring them your way. Thanks!!!" - GWP 2/26/16
"Hi Manny, Suzanne, and the CTA team, Just wanted to let you know that we had a fabulous time in Cuba. Our guide (Nelson) was wonderful and extremely knowledgeable. He changed things on the itinerary around as necessary and added in a concert at the Fine Arts Museum and a trip to the caves in Vinales. Our drivers (a father/son team) were great too, and when something broke in the car while we were in Vinales, the son got it fixed quickly.
We could not have been happier with our trip and really appreciate all that you did to make it happen!" Thanks! - Jen & Mayank Seksaria 2/25/16
“This was a trip of a lifetime! We’ve traveled all over and this trip goes down in history as the best trip ever.
The driver and guide were wonderful. I would not change anything!" - Diana and Kim Coit March 2016
Hi Caroline, (I) want to tell you that we had an EXCELLENT time. We learned so much, while feeling completely comfortable in our surroundings. Your and your company did a great job in setting our itinerary and then providing all the services to support it. Can't thank you enough.
Olivia G., Texas
The staff that took care of us, prior to travel and during were all fantastic. Thank you so much for everything!!
Tony D., New York
I booked our overnight in Havana with Cuba Travel Adventures. We were picked up at the port because we came by ship. The driver and GUIDE were GREAT!! Loved our guide , he spoke perfect English and was so informative. After our second day we left like family. We stayed in a lovely apartment on the top with our own swimming pool.
We had great seats at the nights performance at Tropicana and our guide was right there to take us back to our apartment for the night
The next day touring was so fun and returned back to the ship!
I highly recommend this travel company!
If you are thinking about visiting Cuba- don't hesitate- just do it! My husband had voiced his desire to go to Cuba years ago. He finally contacted Manny Kopstein at Cuba Travel Adventures Group to discuss the details. We were able to customize our visit according to our likes, our expectations, and our priorities. He planned a once-in-a lifetime perfect vacation designed especially for the two of us. We didn't want to be part of a large bus tour so we decided on our preference of doing a personal tour. We had an excellent driver/guide, Ernesto, and a very personable knowledgeable guide, Ulises. We enjoyed the company of another guide for one of the excursions, Alpie who we had a blast with. They looked after us and took care of all our needs from the time we landed in Cuba until we (sadly) departed. They all surpassed our expectations!
We were able to do as much or as little of the itinerary as we wanted. It was our call. They were all very informative but added humor to make it fun and enjoyable. We absolutely wouldn't have changed a single thing.
We left Cuba with a lifetime of beautiful and spectacular memories. The Cuban people are very friendly, delightfully helpful, non-aggressive, and we felt safe the entire trip. We went the first week in February of this year (2019) . The weather was fantastic the whole trip. Day time temperatures were comfortably warm and the nights only required a light sweater.
Go ahead and treat yourself to a dream vacation that you'll never forget, I know we won't! Call Manny or Caroline soon, you won't regret it. Create your own paradise vacation. Thanks Manny so much!
Ron and Debbie S.
This was my first time traveling with Cuba Travel Adventures Group but it will not be my last. This was one of my best solo vacations ever. My Guide Alpi and my Driver Rebel, took real good care of me. I went to Havana to study with a Cuban Artist and to tour the city. I stayed 8 days in Old Havana in a lovely, quaint, immaculate apartment across the street from the bay. The sights, the shows, the tours, the meals, and the artist was top shelf. I studied with artist Felix Zoe Hermoso. He has exhibited world wide and I grew from my sessions with him. If you want a Different and Unique travel experience......you will not be disappointed using Cuba Travel Adventures. It's not your run of the mill tour group.
Just got to Cali about 6 hours ago from Cuba. I can’t say thank you enough. It was one if the best trips I have ever taken. The only thing wrong was I didn’t stay long enough. The guide and the driver were wonderful. Everyone was really. They took good care of us. Everything was planned well and our days were full. There was so much food at every meal. The cars. OMG. I never knew. I thought there would be about 100. There were thousands. It was the trip of a lifetime. Thanks again
Christine R., Hawaii