President Obama eased restrictions on "purposeful" travel to Cuba, facilitating the ability for religious, civic and academic groups from the U.S. The Administration stated, "These measures will increase people-to-people contact; support civil society in Cuba; enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people; and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities." Photo of Viva Cuba Libre sign, which means long live free Cuba, supplied by Gap Adventures.
While ice and snow pile up across North America, United States relations with Cuba are thawing. Gap Adventures (www.GapAdventures.com), a leading adventure travel company based in Toronto, Canada,, announced details of its 2011 trips to the island, which offer travelers the chance to soak up the sun and immerse in Cuba’s culture while changes within and outside the country continue. Offering unique homestay options, the most competitive pricing in the industry, and only local Cuban guides, the adventure tour operator expects a significant increase in bookings to Cuba.
“Our travelers rely on us to provide unique, life-changing travel experiences, and this is an ideal time for adventure seekers to take advantage,” says Gap Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip. “Not only is the world view of Cuba changing, but Cuba is changing dramatically and rapidly, so opportunities are fleeting to experience the island at this exciting juncture,” Poon Tip adds.
Gap Adventures offers affordable trips of 8, 9, and 15 days for active travelers seeking off the beaten path experiences away from resorts or large groups. In 2011, the company continues its commitment to changing people’s lives with local homestays and competitive pricing.
“Through homestays our travelers connect directly with a local family by enjoying meals and staying overnight at their home,” says Leah Griffin, Destination Manager, Central America & Caribbean. Griffin says that it is an immersive cultural experience that few travelers get to know.
Travelers can explore the island for 8 days on either the Cuba Libre (CCL) or Central Cuba Adventure (CCCA). While both offer ample time in nature and at the beach, the Central Cuba trip provides more time to relax on Cuba’s famed white beaches. Travelers on the Cuba Libre trip can explore the world-famous Robaina tobacco plantation, walk through the pincushion hills, and wander amongst orchids and lush mountain coffee plantations during this week-long tour through the ‘Garden Province’ of Cuba. Both trips include a local homestays with Cuban families and options to snorkel crystal clear waters full of colorful coral and walk the footsteps of pirates along the Guanahacabibes Peninsula.
Gap Adventures’ 9-day Cuba Explorer (CCCE) trip offers travelers the chance to tour bustling Havana in a vintage car, explore natural Cuba, and take in some historic sites on this comfort service level adventure. In addition to tobacco plantations, travelers can visit the Che monument and take a guided tour on the cobblestone streets of Trinidad.
“The music in Cuba is mind-blowing, and our CEOs (Chief Experience Officers) are passionate about their culture and having a great time, so they know the best places for great live music,” Griffin says. Optional salsa dancing lessons get people on their feet, where they can dance with locals for a truly memorable experience.
Another great way to leave behind the manicured resorts of Varadero and discover the real Cuba is on Gap Adventures’ 8-day Cycle Cuba (CCB). Active travelers can get their blood pumping while biking in the El Rosario mountain ranges, walking in pirate footsteps, and relaxing in the sun on some of Cuba’s most incredible beaches. This tour of the less-travelled western side also includes rum sampling at a distillery, a tour of a tobacco operation, and plenty of time to walk and relax in Havana.
For travelers with more time Gap Adventures offers a 15-day Cuba Colonial (CCC) adventure. In addition to salsa dancing with the locals in Santiago and Baracoa, the heart and soul of the county’s music, travelers can bond with the Cuban people during meals and 10 homestay nights. This trip has plenty of options for all tastes and interests, including snorkelling at Ancon Beach, live music at the Casa de la Trova, the Revolution Museum, and hiking in Topes de Collantes National Park.
For more than 20 years Gap Adventures has demonstrated unparalleled commitment to authentic, small group adventure travel. The company offers a wide array of features and benefits (http://www.gapadventures.com/about-us/why-travel-with-gap-adventures/) for seasoned globetrotters and those new to adventure travel, from the industry’s first lifetime deposits, to industry-leading 24/7 service, no single supplements, a commitment to sustainable tourism, and opportunities for travelers to give back and support sustainable development projects in the places they visit.
Already, one million of the two million international visitors to Cuba annually are from Canada.
The Obama administration issued new rules easing restrictions on US citizens travelling to Cuba. The changes, which do not require Congressional approval, will be enacted within two weeks. The measures will allow eligible students and academics; religious, and other NGO’s to conduct “purposeful” travel to the island. This could ultimately set the stage for the administration to lift the decades-old travel ban, enabling individuals and tourists to travel.
The first Cuban Communist Party Congress in 14 years will take place in April, and many expect Cuba’s Congress to authorize the first major overhaul of the island’s Soviet-style economic model in 50 years, which could create opportunities to increase tourism.
About Gap Adventures
Gap Adventures is a world leader in the adventure travel industry offering small group adventures on all seven continents and beyond to more than 100,000 global travelers annually. The award-winning trips, which focus on culture, nature and active travel, are ideal for those with a sense of adventure – people who want to leave the beaten path and authentically immerse themselves in a local culture or environment to experience the real world in a sustainable manner. Demonstrating its ongoing cultural, social and economic commitment to responsible tourism, Gap Adventures established the Planeterra Foundation, as a way the company and its passengers can give back to the communities visited. For more information, visit www.gapadventures.com and www.planeterra.org.
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