I had just returned from Cuba and the Havana Jazz Festival when the snows began. What better opportunity to reflect on a truly fabulous trip. Not only did Chaz and... read more Jami select an intriguing and diverse range of performances for us to attend, but we luxuriated in our classy casa particular and indulged in excellent meals in unique paladars, rooftops and restaurants. In between we were treated to numerous instances of Cuban positivity, resilience and creativity. Consider the mosaic wonder that is Fusterlandia; an exposition of Afro Cuban religions at the Callejón de Hamel; agriturismo at an ecological farm; and of course, wandering Vieja Habana and ducking waves on the Malecón. Perhaps, the highest peaks of these mountain top experiences, though, were the amazing, private concert by the HS jazz band of Conservatorio Amedeo Roldan and the morning spent in a recording studio with another group of musicians. Wow! No detail was left to chance, not transportation, umbrellas, nor even the red tape of travel in time of Covid. I cannot imagine a better way to travel. Pack now.
February 1, 2022
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.
February 3, 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
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