Espiritu Travel treated us to the real side of Cuba, not just what most tourists see. Staying at a casa particulares every night in a typical Cuban neighborhood was so much better than any hotel experience
Our tour guide, Fernando, treated us like family. He went above and beyond what the itinerary called for. There were always "surprises"; arranging a special night out on my husband's birthday, the "Meridage ceremony" with cigars, rum, and chocolate--- and I won't forget the Havana nightclub scene until 2:00 AM.
We wished that we had more time with Kerenia in Playa Lago, a sweet little beach town. Definitely had the best home cooked meal here.
Trinidad was probably our favorite. There is so much music there--- and can the Trinidadians salsa! Kerenia ( of Trinidad) gave us such a great background and history of the area. We asked where we could take a salsa lesson and who knew that she is also a dance teacher! So much fun! She gave us the confidence to get out and dance with the locals.
Cuba is a complicated country, but the people are welcoming and generous.
Espiritu Travel is easy to deal with, everything is up front and the US contact is easy to reach.
Review by Duzzy4 months ago
Once you visit Cuba you will understand when I say, “One cannot describe Cuba, you have to experience it for yourself.” I will do my best to honor Cuba, it’s people and Espiritu Travel with my recommendation. I have nothing buy praise. Our guide Santy was the most knowledgeable, articulate, charismatic, enthusiastic tour guide one could ever hope for. I believe it was because of him that we got to experience as much as we did. He went above and beyond!
Our accommodations were perfect; safe, clean and the lady of the house was so hospitable. Our transportation (a minivan because we were 4 travelers plus our guide Santy and our driver Ore) was clean, reliable, had AC, and was punctual for everything. I was a solo traveler and met 3 outstanding travel mates who are now friends. We became a family on this trip and are already planning our return to Cuba for a more extensive 8 day tour.
The sites, sounds, tastes and people of Cuba are not to be missed. Cuba is a country rich in history, architecture, music, dance, agriculture and so much more. Visit with an open mind and open heart and you will receive an incredible life altering gift in return.
Review by Carmilla5 months ago
We had an amazing trip. The arrangements and itinerary made the most of our time in Havana. Our guide Santy and driver Oreste created a trip that will last a lifetime. The casa had great hospitality and a wonderful breakfast. Thank you to Espiritu Travel.
Review by SSSlots5 months ago
Our trip to Cuba in late April, 2019 was extremely well-planned and well thought out. Our tour guide, Santy, and driver, Ori, were always considerate and helpful, and always looking out for our interests. The four of us in the group became close to Santy and met his extended family. He was able to share with us his experiences living in the beautiful country of Cuba. His English is excellent and he's eager to learn English nuances and idioms. He is bright, personable and knowledgeable. He takes his responsibility as a guide very seriously and he and Ori were both extraordinary. Our trip was memorable and once-in-a-lifetime because of their professionalism and warmth. Our most sincere thanks to both of them!
Review by Daniva6 months ago
Karen Eckhard, CEO of Espiritu Travel, was extremely helpful and responded promptly to all our questions in preparing for our trip to Cuba. She was a delight to work with. After arriving in Cuba, we were extremely lucky to have been assigned a charming and extremely knowledgeable tour leader, Adriana, and a fabulous driver, Osmany, who stayed with us the entire trip! Our tour leader attempted to meet all our request for activities, got us through a few rough spots, answered all of our questions and helped create a relaxed and enjoyable experience! I would use Espiritu for all my travels to Cuba!
Review by Hakeem6 months ago
We are writing this email to express how happy we were to have Santy Requena and Eduardo as our guide and driver respectively.
Santy is smart, funny, energetic, and very knowledgeable about Cuban life, history, and architecture.
He kept us very engaged each day. We felt we understood Cuba much better than if we took a cruise ship and spent a few hours driving and walking in Havana.
We also felt completely safe with Eduardo as our driver. We appreciated his great sense of humor.
Unfortunately, I (Gary) became ill at the end of the trip and needed to go home a day earlier than scheduled. I had had 2 open heart surgeries in 2018 and needed to be very proactive with my health. I visited my doctor when I got home and am starting to feel better.
Santy and Eduardo were concerned, caring, and supportive in handling the situation.
We will tell our friends to put Cuba / Espiritu on their bucket list.
Gary & Debby
Review by Keanah6 months ago
We had a lovely time in Cuba. The casas were nice and the owners lovely and accommodating. People all over Cuba were friendly. Our guides and driver were very good-especially Kitty. We got to see and learn a lot about Cuba. We especially liked the supper club and the lunch we had at Alex's place with the music. It was so much fun and Alex was a charmer.
Review by HanFox Glon6 months ago
We highly recommend Espiritu for travel to Cuba. The Cuban driver and guide that were with us did an amazing job. We were able to take in a rural setting, city setting, and a beach setting in our one “free” day all while learning a lot about Cuba.
Review by Mauhug6 months ago
I recommend Espiritu for traveling to Cuba. It's not an easy place to organize a trip. I generally organize everything for my family, but with the lack of internet and travel restrictions for Americans, this was not easy, so having someone with expert suggestions and contacts in country was very helpful. I would say this was actually one of the easiest trips I have ever planned, thanks to Karen and Carlos (who met us when we arrived and organized everything for us while we were there). I would consider traveling with Espiritu again.
Review by Dorsaf Grewan6 months ago
Our tour guide was amazing great guy. Very happy with experience. I can say we saw Cuba in the best way
Review by Chelles Ouda7 months ago
Educational, knowledgeable guide, beautiful country, good people.
Review by Barbo7 months ago
My husband and I just returned from an incredible cultural exchange in Cuba using Espiritu. We were hesitant about using a company since my husband has been to the island before, and I speak Spanish. However we are so happy we did. Everything was super professional from the start. Karin happily customized our itinerary and honored each of our requests in a timely manner, including making sure there were seatbelts in the cars and helmets for bikes! At first, I was a bit apprehensive to stay with a Cuban family, but Maria was such a gracious hostess and her family was so nice. She even let me use her phone! I loved having a huge breakfast each morning and chatting with them about their day, jobs, and life. Our guide, Yillian, was full of energy, vibrant, and truly interested in helping us have the best experience. Our driver, Armando, was equally as eager to please us, and we even hired him for the day to take us to a resort and beach for some R&R. He was more than happy to accomodate when we requested to be picked up later. We loved having honest chats with them about the history and current situation in Cuba, and we truly feel enlightened by all they shared with us about their personal lives. I must admit, my favorite part of the whole trip was the 15 km bikeride through Vinales, which Karin literally organized for us 2 days prior to departure! It was such a unique experience. We wanted to get to know the people of Cuba and, through Espiritu, we feel we did just that. Just as Espiritu was recommended to me, I would, without hesitation, recommend it to others interested in this type of exchange.
Review by MacsMN Dbestjob7 months ago
I had a great experience in Cuba with Espiritu Travel. My guide was exceptional with her knowledge of Cuban history and culture. We developed a friendship which I hope will continue long after the memories have faded. The accommodation were clean and comfortable and the hosts pleasant and very flexible with breakfast hours, etc. The local guides knew their subject and were interesting and entertaining. Karin who helped organize my trip in the US was very patient and helpful. All in all, I would recommend this company to anyone who wants to experience Cuba.
Review by Dorretta Condie7 months ago
We were 6 people needing 4 rooms. Would have been more comfortable if we were no more than 4 in our group needing 2 rooms. Could not all stay together in same Casa in Havana and Bay of Pigs. That being said our Casa hosts could not have been nicer. - especially Maria in Havana. Two of our Casa houses had dogs even though we were told there were no animals - one of our companions had strong dog allergy- thank god no major incident. Our guide Oscar was fabulous - always went out of his way putting our needs 1st. Our driver Carlos was also great. We traveled long hours by taxi on many days - being 6 people - sometimes felt like we were crammed in a Volkswagen Beatle- LOL. Our private city tour guides (Kitty in Trinidad!)were all so wonderful. (Forest hike guide!)
The people of Cuba could not have been more welcoming. Have to say personally - as a seventy year old woman with orthopedic issues it was a very strenuous vacation. Streets were difficult to manuver as your walking on all different surface: cobblestone/stone/broken concrete/dirt road/over roots of trees/etc.(some days walked 5 miles 87 degree humid temp- end of feb) DO NOT miss the Buena Vista Social Club- dinner not the b/est BUT the music entertainment and FUN - you will never forget - one of our highlights.
Bottom line - all said and done we had a great time.
Review by Dafzuka Barkaszi7 months ago
Every exquisite detail of our trip was meticulously researched, planned and coordinated by Karin, CEO of Espiritu Travel, and expertly implemented by Mario, our Cuban guide/driver/ friend.
We have always been independent travelers, and this was our first ever “organized”, private tour. So we weren’t sure what to expect from our lengthy road trip through Cuba. Well, it exceeded in every way! Upon our return to the USA, we realized we could never have done it on our own - no matter how well we might have prepared and planned. Karin’s itinerary included sites and places we had always hoped to experience, plus sites and places a first-time visitor would never have realized existed - but for her vast knowledge of Cuba’s hidden secrets and treasures. She selected clean, comfortable, pleasant Casa Particulares - all within easy walking distance from the heart of each city we visited, and all with hosts who welcomed us as friends. Her advice about sightseeing on our own when time allowed, and her tips for travelers in a Socialist country could not have been more relevant or helpful. Nothing was left to chance or prepared haphazardly - from the selection of excellent English-speaking local City guides, to museums’ hours of operation, to suggestions for free time activities and bus schedules for our (more-or-less) independent excursion to Vinales. I can’t thank you enough, Karin.
Once in Cuba, Mario saw to it that we experienced a carefree, safe, and informed holiday. When he picked us up at Havana airport arrivals , he assured us that he would be “ on call” for us whenever and however we needed him. And he was! Every day, in every way, for over 2 weeks of travel. He went far beyond driver/guide. He entertained and informed us. He watched over us like our own sons would. He has a sense of self and sense of humor much like my husband’s and they got along like brothers from different mothers! Along our route, he went out of his way to point out some of his personal favorite spots, ocean views and impressive lookouts. Or to buy us exotic fruit and sweet local treats he thought we’d enjoy. He amazed us with his historical and cultural knowledge and willingness to share it all with us. We (especially my husband) bombarded him with questions and comments that should have taxed his patience. But all we ever noticed was his accommodating nature. He never complained if we requested a slight revision in schedule or an unexpected stop along our road trip. He truly was “ there” for us!
There’s so much more I could say about this amazing adventure and the two people who made it possible. I’ll just conclude by commenting that of all the places, worldwide, we have been fortunate enough to explore throughout the years, this Cuban experience has been our favorite and most memorable. If you are considering a trip to Cuba, you won’t be disappointed if you book it with Espiritu.
Review by Shareif7 months ago
Great service and great guides
Review by Omani Gerosa7 months ago
An amazing experience. Very enjoyable and would book with Espíritu Travel again.
Review by Glorified Derrow8 months ago
I recently returned from a beautiful and memorable trip to Cuba planned by Karin at Espiritu Travel.I visited Sancti Spiritus and Trinidad within Cuba. The hostels and their locations were excellent. The tour guides were very professional and quite informative. The beach at Playa Ancon should not be missed! I am planning to return next Jan. with the help of Espiritu Travel!! Thanks again!
Review by MsBrackley8 months ago
When arriving in a country like Cuba, one wants to really trust that the travel plans one has made are legitimate. I was very pleased with Espiritu in this regard. Karin helped us shape an itinerary to meet our interests. We were very pleased with our guide, Carlos Prevot and his right-hand-man, Carlos driver. Most of the local guides were also exceptional. We felt very safe the entire time, learned a great deal about Cuba and shared a good number of laughs. It was actually cheaper for us to travel on a custom trip with Espiritu than it had been for us to be part of a tour in Western Cuba. The only reason I did not give a rating of 5-stars was due to not being able to see the uplifted marine terraces at Disembarco de Granma National Park. This had been a prime motivation in going to Capo Cruz and learning that it was not actually accessible once we got there, was a disappointment. Some of the itinerary was too ambitious, so there were minor adjustments that had to be made on other days. Overall I highly recommend Espiritu. This part of Cuba is difficult to research online. Unlike UNESCO sites I have visited elsewhere, this designation does not necessarily lead to easy access in Cuba. If you have a destination that is of great importance to you, be sure to communicate that to Karin clearly as you make your plans.
Review by AmpsJazz8 months ago
Our guide in Cuba, Eiser Monica Roque, was totally awesome from the moment we landed til departure. When we asked for recommendations, dinner, explanations, changes to the itinerary, there was never any challenges. I was a little taken back by the accommodations, the houses listed were not the houses we stayed in, however, the owners and staff was were very gracious, and Eiser made sure that all our needs were satisfied. Everyone should see Cuba, and let Eiser be your guide!
Review by Pendred8 months ago
Espiritu Travel provided us with the perfect journey to Cuba! Not only was Karin responsive, informative, and helpful with our many questions before we left, but everything she planned and promised us was achieved while we were away. Our guides were all wonderful - informed, friendly Cubans who were eager to make us feel the spirit of their country. They could not do enough for us, and we feel as if they are now our friends. We cannot say enough positive things about Espiritu! This was a wonderful experience!
Review by Efraim Krasemann8 months ago
I would recommend this trip - Uncovering Cuba - to anyone who is interested in getting an insider's view of what it's like to live in Cuba (a bit austere, limited freedom, good education, limited access to products and lacking the infrastructure that we take for granted in the states) and what the Cuban people are like (warm hearted to the core, some satisfied while others frustrated and bursting to get out to see the world, welcoming, and all eager to help you see their country).
Espiritu arranged a well planned and executed trip and populated it with the most terrific, knowledgeable and personal guides and drivers - Yillian and Michael, that's you. In fact, I think Yillian, the guide, was the best part!
Espiritu was clear in warning that this is not your typical luxury vacation with American amenities, but the homes we stayed in were clean and breakfasts tasty. If this fits your style and interests, this is your trip.
Review by Anyonmous8 months ago
My experience in Cuba was wonderful. It began with Espriritu sending a detailed itinerary that included a balanced mix of guided tours and exploratory/free time. In addition, we received information on 1) what to do to prepare for the trip, 2) cell phone use in Cuba, 3) how to be a responsible tourist and 4) what to pack.
Once we arrived, exchanged our money and got settled in the paladares, our guided tour began. The size and composition of our group presented particular challenges that our guide, Oscar, handled with patience, tactfulness and grace. We were exposed to the rich history and culture as well as the ubiquitous music vibrancy of Cuba.
For Americans, I would suggest that washcloths be added to the packing list as neither of the paladares had them.
Our only negative experience occurred when we stopped for lunch on the road to Cienfuegos. After waiting an inordinately long time to be served (some who came after us were served before us), the food was just okay to inedible. It is not an experience any of us wanted to repeat.
Overall, I had a wonderful time and highly recommend Espiritu.
Review by FaceCaser Baiarda9 months ago
We had a great experience with Espiritu Travel on our recent trip to Havana. Our English-speaking local drive was friendly, knowledgeable, and flexible in adjusting his style and schedule to meet our needs. He drove us in a midsize, brand new, rental SUV with air conditioning. All of the recommendations were on point and we had a great time. Cuba is a very different place, and they helped us to make the most of our visit. Highly recommended.
Review by Poramet Herhold9 months ago
From the moment we exited customs and saw the smiling face of our guide Adriana holding the Espiritu travel sign our trip was a success. I can’t imagine entering the throng of people trying to get you into a taxi or change money without Adriana at our side holding our hand all the way.
The Casa of Marie was the next welcoming mat. Marie’s house was so clean & friendly and a refuge after a day of flying. The a/c was a welcome luxury.
As we hit the street for a self-guided dinner we discovered to be careful of people trying to get you into “their” restaurant and buy them a drink.
The breakfasts provided by Maria & staff were an amazing way to start our day.
As a gay couple we felt safe in the streets although we did not hold hands. We discovered drag at Las Vegas Club and jazz plus many other clubs.
We visited the Belview Art Café where Adriana also works. This café is close to John Lennon Park and is a must see.
We stayed only in Havana and it was easy to fill each day with sites. We went to Fusterlandia two times and bought some art work there. Pictures cannot do this place justice.
Talking to Adriana, other guides & taxi drivers about the history & evolution of Cuba was a major highlight of our adventure.
For us the total disconnect from email, cell & TV made this trip a total success.
Thank-you Karin & Espiritu Travel for providing such a wonderful experience.