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Showing reviews for Cuba: La Isla Grande

Number of Reviews: 108 Overall score: *****
Making local friends, Trinidad, Cuba
Review posted by Michael Hortin
***** Written

A journey seared forever in my memory

You want to see the real Cuba before things change? Well this trip is for you. For the memories it has burned into my memory it is worth every single one of the five stars, I have given it. That is though not to say there are not challenges, but memories far outweigh them. Challenges * As the guide says there is a lot of travel. It didn't bother me, but if you don't like travel it might bother you. * Hotel standards were average at best to western standards, but this is Cuba. * Hotel food was poor. So head out to the private restaurants that are cropping up everywhere. The seafood can be great at times. * Wifi availability was better than expected, but I was still without for a week. But when I had it, it was rapid. Brilliant moments * Beautiful Baracoa, worth every mile of the journey. * Visiting a desert island off Trinidad, and just floating in the sea. * Music, music everywhere. * Walking the Sierra Maestra mountains. * Rickahaw in Camaguey. Last but not least the people. The Cubans were brilliant, you can't help but finish the trip wishing the future is kind to them and helps them prosper. So to conclude yes there will be challenges, but that is part of the fun just go you will have a brilliant time.
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Making local friends, Trinidad, Cuba
Review posted by Jennifer Martin
***** Written

Cuba, Rum and Music

This tour is a great way to see the majority of the island. From observation and conversations with other travellers it would be very difficult to do what we did on your own and within a comparable time frame. Public transport in Cuba is not easy or reliable. There are a lot of very long travel days and although it is wonderful seeing the daily life of the Cuban people, it is not the same as actually walking around and interacting. The food is a lot better and more interesting than expected. It was at times frustrating that the evening meal was always a group option, however alternate options for those who wanted something light or different had to find a restaurant themselves. It would be good if the group leader provided a few dining options for people to consider. Sometimes after spending all day in the bus all you wanted was a sandwich or a snack. The towns we visited and the hotels we stayed were interesting and varied. The staff in all the hotels we stayed in were helpful and friendly. The standard of the accommodation varied however was always in safe areas and comfortable. The local guides were really informative and their insight added to the our understanding of the history of where we were. Old Havana is just fantastic and some of the charm is that some of the streets have not been renovated, and that the local people work and live in the area as they have for decades. Staying A few days before or after the tour is really recommended. Just being in Havana is a highlight. At the moment it is clear that Cuba is on the brink of change. In some ways this is exciting however it would be very sad if the essence of Cuba was lost.
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Exodus Response

We would like to thank Jennifer for her review. We were, however, sorry to learn that there was some confusion with regards to her Cuban Tourist Card; until recently our agreement with the Cuban consulate in London was to distribute the tourist cards to UK residents only, but we now have a supplier in Australia and can also provide cards to clients who book through agents. We regret that Jennifer was left disappointed at not being able to book an arrival transfer with us. Exodus can provide transfers to hotels other than the starting hotel, sometimes at an extra charge, but only to hotels booked through Exodus rather than independently.

Adam Roberts - Trip Manager for Cuba
Making local friends, Trinidad, Cuba
Review posted by Margaret Margaret
***** Written

Isla Grande

This was a great trip that enabled us to see so much of the island of Cuba, its landscapes and its history. There is a lot of travelling involved, but we booked the holiday knowing this was the case. The bus was comfortable, we had a great driver and the roads were better than expected - so the journeys were fine. We stayed in a hugh variety of hotels, which were usually the best available in the towns and cities we went to. In Trinidad we stayed in a great Casa, with the best Pena Coladas in town. The history was fascinating, not just the recent 1959 revolution, but the fight for independence from the Spanish too. This really came to life in the various towns and cities that we visited. The food was much better than we expected it to be. The growth of private restaurants has really had a positive impact. We had some great meals, especially in the East - lots of good fish and lobster. Our guide was brilliant at finding good restaurants for us wherever we went. The scenery was good in the East - especially around Baracoa and the Sierra Meastra, and we enjoyed the trip to Vinales which is different again. We had a great group, which does make the holiday special, and a really good group leader. I would happily recommend the trip as long as you like travelling as part of the holiday.
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Making local friends, Trinidad, Cuba
Review posted by Catherine Rouse
***** Written

Just go!!!

This trip was absolutely excellent! Cuba is a fascinating, relaxing, colourful country with so much to offer. You see much more of the island than you would any other way, and the coach is comfortable and cool- a great way to travel (especially if your driver is Orlando!) I went as a solo traveller, and have never felt safer walking around on my own. The group I was with were really friendly, and the tour leader created a fun and laid back atmosphere.
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Making local friends, Trinidad, Cuba
Review posted by Joan Yule
***** Written

Fabulous cuba!

Brilliant trip - excellent guide, fabulous weather, great group. Fascinating & beautiful island!
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Making local friends, Trinidad, Cuba
Review posted by David Richards
***** Written

La Isle Grande

This was a very enjoyable, well planned and interest packed holiday, which can be enjoyed on a number of levels. You can just sit back and soak up the tourist attractions: historic towns, beaches, countryside and revolutionary history which are provided in bucket loads, or you can delve deeper and try to understand the unique and enduring culture of the Cuban people. There are some long drives, but apart from one repeated section, the countryside is so interesting it’s never boring, and you can always “classic car spot” along the way. Both the food and the hotels were far better than I’d expected, and almost every night there were opportunities, if you wanted, to join in social activities with live music, dance and irresistible Cuban cocktails. Who could ask for more?
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Exodus Response

Please note that the decision was taken last year to stop staying in Holguin and travelling along the coastal road to Baracoa based on feedback from our local drivers and leaders that the road condition had deteriorated to an unsuitable state. It was raised at our Cuban leader’s annual meeting that they were unhappy taking that route due to the growing risk of the bus getting stuck in potholes and being stranded in a remote location. The journey was already long and getting longer due to the slow speeds that had to be driven, so it was adversely affecting the itinerary in terms of timings and drawing some client complaints about the amount of time spent on the bus.

It is true that we now take the same road route between Santiago and Baracoa in both directions, and the journey is broken each time by weather-dependent beach stops near to Playa Imias. There are no set beaches that we visit, instead each guide has their favourite places to stop off and we find that flexibility usually works best. Journey time is now reduced along with the risk of enduring frustrating delays.

Staying in Bayamo on the way down rather than Holguin is a slight improvement in terms of what the town has to offer to visitors. Most groups don’t have a second night in Bayamo – After two nights in Santiago we go to the Sierra Maestra where our preferred and usual accommodation is called ‘Hotel Villa Santo Domingo’ in a rural setting just on the edge of the mountain range. Due to the popularity of the area, combined with a lack of accommodation options and the administrative challenges of making reservations with state-owned lodgings, we are sometimes unable to get space here and so, as per the trip notes, have a second night in Bayamo instead.

The optional excursion to Vinales at the end of the trip has until now been operated separately on a group share basis by the governmental tourism agency rather than being run by Exodus. The standard of the excursion recently fell below our expectation level in terms of service and so we are no longer recommending it (although clients still have the option to join it should they wish to). In 2015 we will be operating our own improved version of the Vinales Valley excursion so that clients can travel privately with the Exodus group leader as per the rest of the tour.

If anyone has any questions about 'La Isla Grande' itinerary or other Exodus trips in Cuba then please feel free to get in touch.

Adam Roberts
- Trip Manager
Making local friends, Trinidad, Cuba
Review posted by Martin Wolverson
***** Written

Cuba: La Isla Grande

Such an interesting place, just as we thought. Contrary to the trip notes and books we had read, the food on the whole was excellent, Felix taking us to some wonderful restaurants (some lunchtime, some evenings) There were of course exceptions, in places where there was little choice. As usual, an Exodus holiday is never boring!
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Making local friends, Trinidad, Cuba
Review posted by Anonymous
***** Written

CUBA: LA ISLA GRANDE

A very busy but wonderful trip.  It was worth the early starts and long days in the coach to get to the east of the island and then make our way back to Havana.  I loved the variety of activities/eating places/hotels we experienced during the two weeks were were in Cuba.
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