Last updated: 09:30 AM ET, Mon August 17 2015

AdventureWomen Breaks New Ground in Cuba with Women-Only Tours

Tour Operator | David Cogswell | August 17, 2015

AdventureWomen Breaks New Ground in Cuba with Women-Only Tours

PHOTO: Dancers at Havana's Pro Danza school of dance. (Photo by David Cogswell)

U.S. laws under the embargo of Cuba still require U.S. travelers to engage in full schedules of people-to-people encounters. There are no requirements for people-to-nature experiences, but a new tour from AdventureWomen, for women only, will include a healthy regimen of encounters with the great outdoors.  

AdventureWomen is offering what it believes to be the first women-only tour to Cuba. The 10-day Cuba: Savoring Her Music, Cuisine and the Arts While You Still Can, is a people-to-people tour with a full schedule of meetings with locals in different professions and fields of endeavor, as is still required under U.S. law of all trips to Cuba by Americans.

But this trip is unusual not only in being for women only, but also in how much it focuses on the natural environment and the wildlife of the island, an area not often emphasized on trips to Cuba so far.  

The company and its series of tours were invented for a niche market, or a subculture: women over 30 traveling on their own, seeking adventure, but desiring the comfort, security and companionship of traveling with a professionally guided group of women.

The itinerary seems to include nearly as many people-to-animal encounters as people-to-people.

The itinerary of the new Cuba tour includes a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cienaga de Zapata Natural and Wildlife Reserve to observe Cuban wildlife, including some species of birds that appear nowhere else.

A guided nature walk in El Cubano Park in the Escambray Mountains will focus on the ecosystem of the park. Also included is a visit to Las Terrazas National Park, which is also known to be rich in bird life, including the country’s national bird, the Tocororo.

Meetings will be arranged with scientists and animal keepers at botanical gardens in both Havana and Cienguegos and at Cuba’s National Zoo.  

The touring women will also meet breeders and biologists at a crocodile breeding farm. An encounter with a farming community is also included.

The trip will conclude with two nights exploring and observing wildlife in Santa Maria National Park on the island of Cayo Encenachos.

As the title implies, the tour will include a healthy dose of culture, with a visit to the Fine Arts Museum, a tour of Old Havana, a meeting with the Federation of Cuban Women, a trip to the Bay of Pigs, a visit to a culinary school, a ride on an antique steam train, an exploration of the Trinidad Historical Center and meetings with historians, artists, musicians, dancers, farmers, scientists, entrepreneurs and community leaders.

AdventureWomen’s founder and president, Susan Eckert, sees the tour as a next step in the market for travel to Cuba, which is evolving rapidly now that restrictions on travel have begun to loosen. Always implicit in every tour operator’s message about Cuba is: See it now before it inevitably changes.  

“With relaxed restrictions to the island nation, more travel companies are now offering programs to Cuba,” said Eckert, “and with an influx of American tourists, the culture and its environment will inevitably be transformed. We want to see Cuba — and its fantastic wildlife and natural beauty — now, while it is still strong, healthy and alive!”

The company is currently offering two departures of the tour, May 5-14 and Oct. 13-22, 2016. The price starts at $6,595 per woman.

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