My wife and I attended the 2020 Havana Jazz Festival with Chaz Chambers, who operates Havana Music Tours. It was a wonderful experience in every respect. Chaz made arrangements for... read more accommodations and meals, as well as a few touristic activities (walking tour of old Havana, visit to the music conservatory, etc). There were activities from midday until late at night, but tour participants could choose to come along, retreat to their hotel or pension, or set out on adventures of our own choosing. Chaz had anticipated just about every eventuality and all arrangements went off very smoothly.
The tour included passes to hear music afternoons and evenings at a variety of venues in central Havana. Chaz, who himself is a professional drummer, curated the selection of concerts and provided transportation for our group of 7 to and from all the events. The performances, which included both Cuban and foreign musicians were all good and most were excellent. The musical level in Cuba is extraordinarily high. We hear some of these performers on tour in the US and on recordings. But to hear so many of them playing together in a single place in a single week is a privilege.
At present it's much easier than most people imagine for Americans to visit Cuba. You can fly from several US cities to Havana, and you buy a visa at the airport. The US government places restrictions on where you can stay and what you can buy, but these restrictions are easy to work with. Best of all Havana Music Tours looked after all the paperwork, so we never had to give the matter a second thought.
What are you waiting for . . . ?
February 17, 2020
Our visit to the 2022 Havana Jazz Festival with Havana Music Tours was a wonderful experience. Tour director Chaz Chambers and his Cuban wife, Yamilka, looked after all arrangements in... read more a professional and proactive way. They curated an outstanding selection of concerts, informal performances, and visits to musical institutions. Before and after the festival, when no performances were scheduled, they arranged private performances by musicians of their acquaintance, for example an afternoon tour of the "Afro-Cuban Religious Experience" through shrines scattered around Central Havana and a visit to a recording studio to hear a local band rehearse. Because US government rules do not allow Americans to stay in Cuban hotels, Chaz found housing for us in a series private homes, essentially BnBs, all of them clean and comfortable with ample breakfasts. Most of our other meals were included in the tour: they turned into festive occasions at some of Havana's best restaurants. We traveled around Havana and the nearby countryside in comfortable buses with tourism guides provided by a Cuban government agency. Chaz and Yami also looked after airport arrivals and departures, Covid testing, money exchange, and record keeping for the US government. Almost everything went smoothly, and when inevitable problems arose (e.g. a delay in Covid testing at the airport), Chaz and Yamilka dealt with them quickly and successfully. The best thing about Havana Music Tours was the people. Chaz, Yamilka, their assistants Zack and Miguel, tour guides Alejandro and Ernesto, even the bus drivers -- everyone was friendly, attentive, knowledgeable and really, really nice. As well, our fellow tourists turned out to be excellent company, with a variety of ages, backgrounds and musical interests. We look forward to the next Havana Jazz Festival.
January 1, 2022
I felt taken care of, totally, in all aspects of this tour (Jazz Plaza 2022). Chaz and Yami are wonderful "hosts". The evening jazz performances, incredible restaurants, salsa lessons, visit... read more to a music school, really nice accommodations and fantastic transportation.
A big shout out to the local tour guides. Would love to go again.!
January 27, 2022
Well organized visit for Jazz Plaza festival. Many other types of music as well. Learned a lot about Cuba. Stayed in great non-government owned casas (so legal per USA)... read more Side trip to Trinidad was beautiful. Excellent gourmet meals. Highly recommend.
January 1, 2022
Sign up for our newsletter