What makes our tours unique?
Having travelled on several different coach tours we felt that there had to be a better way to introduce people to a country using a more personal, relaxed and in-depth approach. We didn’t like feeling like we were being herded about, saw far too many churches and temples, had to have our bags out to be picked up a crazy early hour, and lined up with 40 other people for the washroom during highway “coffee” stops. What kind of holiday was that?
So we did it. Beginning with Cuba in 1995, we created tours that balanced its history, nature, “must see” attractions and culture at a relaxed pace. In 2008 we added Costa Rica following the same successful formula, El Salvador in 2012, Nicaragua in 2016, Colombia in 2018 and introduced Panama, Ecuador & Galapagos, as well as Peru in 2020.
Value, Diversity, Relaxed Pace, Small Groups, and Experts leading the way = The perfect recipe for lifetime experiences.
- RELAXED PACE – We slow it down often staying 2, 3 or at times 4 nights in each location so you can unpack and get a true sense of the area. Morning departure times are never before 9:00 am unless absolutely necessary, and we finish the day’s activities early enough to give you time to relax or strike out on your own. Built-in free time and a day at a non-commercial beach ensure that you will return home feeling like you’ve actually had a vacation rather than an endurance test. “Spend less time on the bus, see and experience more.”
- DIVERSITY – This is where we really step it up a notch. We carefully design our own itineraries balancing local culture, history and nature – staying in cities, rural areas, on quiet beaches and in national parks. We visit the “must see” tourist attractions, and then take you off the regular tourist beat to see lesser known sites and meet with the local people. Over the years friends and contacts have enabled us to enrich our tours in ways not possible for larger companies or independent travellers. These opportunities to interact with people not connected with tourism provide unique experiences for our tour participants and are often a highlight of the tour. For example, depending on the tour you might visit a ranch, a performing arts school or a boxing school to name only a few. We are always warmly welcomed and leave knowing that we have been allowed a special “peek “inside” that tours visiting the same places week after week would never be able to offer.
- VALUE – Our tours to Cuba, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Colombia are leisurely but comprehensive resulting in tremendous value. Unlike other companies we don’t just take you to an area and “suggest” what you should see or do there. You won’t be handed a list of “optional” tours you need to consider (and pay for locally) to “fill out” the tour because we’ve already included many interesting and quirky stops in the original price. Dollar for dollar, we offer incredible value and we encourage you to compare us to other tour companies.
- SMALL GROUP SIZE (maximum 20 in Cuba, Costa Rica, Colombia and Nicaragua and only 18 in El Salvador ) – Travelling in a small group has numerous benefits. You get to know your fellow travellers, dine in smaller restaurants, stay in more intimate accommodation, and use smaller motor coaches to get into those lesser travelled areas. You feel less intrusive and more like a traveller than a tourist. It also allows for spontaneity and flexibility should we spot something interesting to see or do along the way. We’ve had many people who have never been on an escorted tour previously who were pleasantly surprised at the casual and friendly atmosphere created.
- EXPERT GUIDES AND TOUR DIRECTORS ADD A FUN AND PERSONAL TOUCH – The difference between a good and a great tour are the people leading it. Our local guides are not only knowledgeable experts that can provide you with a personal look at their country, but they also have warm personalities, a sense of humour and enjoy spending time with the group during “down times”. An experienced Canadian Tour Leader who has a passion for the country also accompanies our escorted tours and together they help to make your vacation extraordinary!
WHO JOINS US? Anyone who has a desire to see and learn about a country beyond the usual tourist areas, experience the culture, meet the people, and are adaptable to different customs. Generally our tour members are 45 years and up although generally the demographics are 50’s and 60’s. We’ve had people in their 80’s join us – the key factor being active, adventurous and mobile.
FITNESS LEVEL: All of our tours include moderate physical activities such as short treks, lots of stairs, uneven surfaces, getting on and off boats, trains, etc. therefore enjoy our tours you must be in reasonably good physical condition and able to walk at a regular pace. We would be happy to discuss this with you before you book.
ACCOMMODATION: Comfortable hotels and resorts are chosen for their character, history and/or location opting for smaller ones when possible. Most are moderate (3 star) or better quality and all have private bath.
TRANSPORTATION: We use mid-sized, modern, air conditioned motor coaches driven by professional drivers. Some tours have “feature” transportation opportunities that may include short rides on a train, boat, truck, jeep, or tuk tuk taxi to name some.
MEALS: Many, but not all, meals are included in order to provide some personal flexibility to order from a menu or strike off on your own. Although we eat many lunches together, they are not often included in the cost as we found that when they were prepaid the servings were large and the general feedback was that three large meals per day is too much food.
In Cuba we include many “paladars” which are privately owned and operated restaurants located in a home, or in the back yard. Cubans have transformed these areas into comfortable, cozy restaurants with lots of character and the competition that this has brought about has resulted in exceptionally good food and service. When someone says that they hear the food in Cuba is mediocre (not good or terrible) they have most likely stayed at all all inclusive resort. You will be pleasantly surprised what is available when you are away from these areas.
When dinners are not included we will suggest places where you can go and enjoy a meal without being in a “group” all of the time. Having said that, there are always some in the group who still want to dine together and our tour leaders and guides can help make these arrangements and will often join you.