There's a lot of mileage to cover but its worth it, especially to get to Baracoa, Santiago de Cuba and Sierra Mastra. Also, the views are interesting - its like taking a step back in time. Enjoy the revolutionary history, the national parks and the dancing. Be warned, you may end up in a 4 star all-inclusive pacakage tourist style hotel, they can change at the last moment.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Learning about Cuba's history (in particular the revolutions), walking and swimming in the national parks and visiting the eastern part of the island were my highlights. It is an extremely cultured nation - don't just settle on the music and dancing (everyone's a musician and dancer), look out for the local artists and sculptures. I wish we'd had time to visit the national Art Gallery in Havana, but we went to the Barcardi building instead.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Group Leader was good - but poor girl had been called in at a moment's notice, given very out of date trip notes and was blamed when things went wrong ... it could have been local misinformation, Cuban Tourism or Exodus, but she took the flack.
The local guide was a lot of fun.
The driver was pretty good.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Be aware of the distances you cover, its a large island - but do watch the world go by, as the scenery is spectacular and it is like stepping back in time, seeing the old American Cars and people at work.
Be aware your hotel may change at last minute.
Enjoy the cocktails but avoid the ice - its a long trip back when you're not feeling well.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
To really appreciate the Island and the distances covered, the trip should be run over a 3-week period, or cover a shorter distance over the 2 weeks (or fly to Santiago de Cuba and travel back by road). There were some places where you wanted to stay longer to really appreciate the towns and have a chance to explore. Havana deserves more time than we had.
The all-inclusive hotel at Trinidad threw us in with package tourists which wasn't a particularly good experience, more like watching a feeding frenzy at the zoo. In fact, I was expecting standard accommodation - not 4 or 5 star hotels - and would have preferred to stay in more "localised" accommodation. It may be down to Cuban Tourism authorities as to which hotel we stayed in. It was not nice to find we had been double booked at Sierra Mastra and had to change accommodation, but there you go!
Some of my fellow travellers felt that by using 5 star all-inclusive package tourist hotels was dragging the good name of Exodus down and they had serious doubts about using your company again. Personally, I would have preferred more like the Grand in Santiago de Cuba or the Colon in Camaguey as they fitted in with the country we were visiting. Also, it was a shame to get to these hotels in time to see the pools closing. It could have been called the "great hotel pools I didn't use in Cuba" tour.