Australian tour company, Simply Cuba Tours, leads immersive small-group tours through Cuba – one of the world’s most intriguing and fun-loving countries. While some 21st-century conveniences are starting to appear in Cuba, the vibrant Caribbean island nation remains largely caught in an evocative time-warp. That means there’s no better time to plan a visit to experience Cuba’s famous warmth, friendliness and unique character.
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Australia-based Orsolya Bartelis fell in love with Cuba as a result of a first-hand experience of the country. She started Simply Cuba Tours so others could also fall in love with the vibrant destination too. Bartelis’ tours provide authentic insights for travellers keen to see beyond Cuba’s main tourist attractions. Two expert Cuban guides, Yoanis Blanco Santos and Yunior Galvez Perez, lead these immersive experiences. Specialty tours focus on subjects such as photography, endemic birds and scuba-diving.
Groups are limited in size while all accommodation is in hand-picked casas (local homes) so participants know they are directly supporting Cuban people with your visit.
Here are a few of the itineraries on offer with Simply Cuba Tours.
Simply Cuba Photography Tour | 12 nights
This tour is aimed at those with a keen eye and boundless enthusiasm for improving their photography skills. Expert photographer guides show participants how to snap awesome shots while armed only with a smartphone (or bring their favourite camera too if you wish). They will also provide tips on composition, lighting and more while our local guides provide valuable insights into Cuban culture and history. With their help, your clients can capture perfect shots to share on their social media profiles.
- Enjoy an insider’s perspective on Cuban life
- Taste Cuba’s famous rum
- Explore the faded charms of Old Havana’s evocative streets and Trinidad’s colonial architecture
- Trek to El Nicho waterfall in Cienfuegos Province
- Limber up for a salsa lesson
- Snorkel Cueva de los Peces (Fish Cave) – a 70-metre-deep sinkhole
- Cruise through Havana in a classic car with cocktail in hand
- Learn to roll a cigar from a tobacco farmer
Tour dates: 14-26 March; 6-18 June (led by photographer Cat MacRae); 29 August-10 September; and 7-19 November 2022.
AU$5,278 per person, twin share basis. Solo accommodation is available, supplement.
Simply Birds of Cuba Photography Tour | 9 nights
Cuba is a bird-watcher’s paradise with 28 endemic species such as the bee hummingbird (the world’s smallest bird) and the Cuban trogon – the national bird sporting blue, red and white feathers that match Cuba’s flag. With the help of nature and photography guides, participants will spot the most stunning Caribbean birds in the wild and snap their pictures. Simpy Cuba Tours selects locations based on the most important sites for Cuban birds, including wetlands, mangroves and forests. This maximises the opportunity to spot many species while learning how to take pictures of birds in flight or perched on branches.
- More than 100 bird species flit through Pinar del Rio’s Biosphere Reserve of Sierra del Rosario
- Discover the Zapata Peninsula’s fascinating ecosystem of wetlands, mangroves and forests, where 203 bird species have been recorded, including the secretive Zapata wren
- Experience stunning sunrises and sunsets as they cast a golden glow over Viñales Valley
- Snap an evocative portrait of a tobacco farmer
- Capture the wild beauty of Cayo Jutias in the Los Colorados archipelago
Tour dates: 4-13 April (with Bruce Hargrave); 17-26 October (Liron Gertsman); 7-16 November (with Lea Unwin-Smith) and 5-14 December 2022 (with Chase Teron)
AU$5,719 a person, twin share basis. Solo accommodation is available, supplement.
Simply Cuba Scuba Photography Tour | 9 nights
The pristine waters encircling Cuba make this island nation an incredible diving destination. Three major oceans come together in the northern Caribbean to form one of Earth’s most exciting marine habitats. When you’re not diving into the crystal-clear waters near Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Playa Giron – strung out along Cuba’s southern coast – there are opportunities to indulge in Cuba’s colourful culture and nightlife.
- Discover sunken shipwrecks, coral reefs and amazing marine life
- Gain confidence with underwater photography with expert help
Tour dates: 11-20 May; 13-22 July, 28 September-8 October (with Jonno Allen) and 14-23 December 2022 (with Kerrie Burrow).
AU$7,309 a person, twin share basis. Solo accommodation is available, supplement.
Simply Cuba in Focus | 9 nights
With warm-hearted people, timeworn pastel buildings, classic American cars, lush forests and striking birds, Cuba is a photographer’s delight. Expert photographers can help clients set up and snap great shots while local guides explain the culture and customs. Along the way, learn the history of tobacco cultivation and the art of hand-rolling fine cigars.
Tour dates: 24 April-2 May; 26 June-4 July; 8-17 August and 27 November-6 December 2022 (with Kate Crock).
AU$5,249 a person, twin share basis. Solo accommodation is available, supplement.
Other Specialty Tours
Cuba Diving Tour | 13 nights
Divers who also wish to experience fascinating above-ground attractions will find this tour provides the best of both worlds. Tumble into pristine, balmy waters with great visibility to see extraordinary sights such as sunken shipwrecks at the Bay of Pigs and explore the diving paradise of Guajimico. On land, learn more about the botched American-led invasion at the Museo Giron and visit the Che Guevara Mausoleum in Santa Clara.
Departures: 9 March; 11 May and 13 July 2022
AU$4,300 a person, twin share basis, solo accommodation is available, supplement.
Cuba Birding Tour | 7 nights
One effect of Cuba’s intriguing history is that many parts of the island remain untouched, preserving the lush habitat that attracts incredible birdlife. Prepare to add some fascinating species to your bird life list such as the colourful Cuban tody, the red, white and blue Cuban trogon, yellow-headed warbler, Cuban green woodpecker, Gundlach’s hawk, Cuban pygmy-owl, red-shouldered blackbird and the stunning blue-headed quail-dove.
Departures: 13 March and 28 March 2022
AU$3,891 a person, twin share basis. Solo accommodation is available, supplement.
Wonders of Western Cuba Tour | 5 nights
For those with limited time, this compact tour shows off the best of city and country life in western Cuba. Learn to roll a cigar from a tobacco farmer, see the striking limestone monoliths known as mogotes that erupt from the rust-red fields of Viñales, admire delicate orchids at the Soroa oasis known as the Rainbow of Cuba and cruise around Havana in a classic car.
Departures: 17 March; 14 April; 26 May; 23 June; 7 July and 18 August 2022
$AU1,473 a person, twin share basis. Solo accommodation is available, supplement.
Simply Cuba Tours will advise travel advisors and clients of the necessary visa and travel requirements for Australian travellers.