Cuba Guide Tour

Winning Tips

Though homosexuality was legalised in Cuba in 1979, much of Havana’s gay scene, like the best of its culture, is still underground. A great way to see it all is with a guide, and there can be few better than the hugely informative Yunior Crespo. A tour will probably start in the Plaza del Cathedral and end up with mojitos in the heaving gay bars on Calle 23, via an art gallery, a supper club and salsa dancing.

Viñales sunrise hike

While in Viñales this month we joined a group of four for a sunrise hike to Los Aquaticos organised by Villa Los Reyes (Salvador Cisneros 206C), a local casa particular. The views were stunning and we saw plenty of birdlife on the return walk. Our guide was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and spoke fluent French and English. The tour cost 15CUC (about £11) per person and we just booked it the day before.

Horse riding near Trinidad

The highlight of our stay was a seven-hour ride to a waterfall in the Valle de Los Ingenios, with turkey vultures circling above. Our guide Carlos collected us from our casa, and we followed him and his chestnut mare along the cobbled streets to join our group. We rode to a coffee plantation, and to a finca for lunch: plantain,congri (rice and beans) and fresh-pressed sugar cane. We swam in a natural pool under a waterfall while our horses rested in the shade of Cuban palms. Carlos spoke no English but the ride was varied and the horses were well cared-for. A great day out for £18 each.
Jane McDermott

Local guides in Havana

Backstreet tango dance lessons, cafes thick with cigar smoke and locals drinking rum, a Chevrolet ride though old Havana, a walking tour of the harbour area – all by local guides – are just a few of the exciting options for seeing Cuba From around £34 for groups of four or more, these outings are a great way to experience authentic Cuban culture and you can choose your own guide

Sighteseeing in Viñales

Strange mogotes (rocky limestone hillocks), rich red soil, triangular tobacco drying huts and ox-driven carts: this is Viñales. Go to Los Jazmines (you can stay here) for a spectacular view. Or board the tourist bus, only £3.60, and hop off at the Indian Cave, the Prehistoric Mural and Viñales town. Trek through the lanes, with a guide, to see fields of tobacco and other crops – arrange this at the museum in Viñales’s main street. You can also arrange to visit a tobacco farm and see how the crop is grown, stored and rolled into the best cigars in the world. At the family-run Casa de Caridad botanical garden, you can sample an array of exotic fruits and pay what you wish.

Wildlife at the Guanaroca lagoon, Cienfuegos

We reached the lagoon after a short early morning car journey and a walk through woodland. The guided trip was booked through Cienfuegos’ tourist office. As soon as we started walking we saw many beautiful birds, including the endemic Cuban trogon and the Cuban tody among others, as well as tarantulas and some enormous crabs. From a viewing tower you can see the beautiful mangrove-fringed lagoon with its resident colony of flamingos. Once at the water, we were met by another guide who rowed us out on a little boat towards the flamingos. Being so close to a colony of these beautiful birds, with the gentle lapping of the water being the only other sound, was amazing.