Two things: 1) Go to Cuba while you can and 2) Go with Havana Music Tours. You'll have a wonderful time with Chaz (and Cuban crew) who is hooked into... read more the best of Havana--the best accommodations, music, food and affinity for this fascinating place.
November 17, 2018
We booked a 6-day tour with Havana Music Tours to attend the Havana Jazz Festival in January 2020. The group went out to listen to music every evening and... read more sometimes pretty late into the night for the festival. Chaz's arrangements for transportation, seating, accommodations and meals were excellent. During the day we did several walking tours, went to a music conservatory where the students played for us, took a salsa ("casino") dance lesson and went to an organic farm where we had a delicious lunch. As a musician himself, Chaz was great in helping us understand more about the music and the Havana music scene, about which he is very knowledgeable. There were only 7 people and it was great to have a small flexible group. And Cuba is a fascinating place for many reasons. I didn't know what to expect, but this was a wonderful experience even more than I had anticipated and I recommend it highly.
January 22, 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
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