Big Planet Adventures provides tourist services only in Cuba. We've decided to dedicate ourselves exclusively to this one country which, because of it's uniqueness, does require a company with a set-up that is specifically geared to operating here. The first thing you"ll notice when you come to Cuba, is that things work differently in here!
We operate in Cuba through our two main products:
- Cuban Adventures, which operates multi-night tours across the country for small groups.
- Havana Adventures, which concentrates on tour services exclusively in Havana.
At Big Planet Adventures, we operate under specific guidelines created to ensure that our trips promote a positive impact on local environment, culture, and economy.
why choose us
- As a company we now have more than 10 years of experience in providing tourist services in Cuba. Some of the individuals in our team have even more than this. Since we focus exclusively on Cuba, we are true specialists. We don't know much about running tours or providing tourist services in other countries, as we dedicate ourselves to making sure our operations work specifically in Cuba. Its a unique country, so it requires unique systems to be implemented, and our operations are optimised to make sure our services are delivered with the best possible quality, efficiency, and value for money.
- We are a small organization with less than 50 employees so we have a more personalized and intimate relationship with our travelers. This small size also makes us quicker to adapt to changes that are happening on the ground in Cuba.
- We employ solely fully qualified English speaking local tour guides. Many of our tour guides in Havana join our tour company having previously worked for other tour agencies in Havana before they come to us, because we offer better working conditions and pay that many other operators in Havana. Even so, before they are able to work with us, these tour guides are given specific training on our ethical, and interactive style of travel. Our values of responsible travel, respect, and transparency are very important to us, and these values are instilled in our tour guides and admin workers in Havana. All of our tour guides in Cuba are at least bilingual, speaking as a minimum Spanish and English
- We recommend to our clients that they select guesthouse accommodation for their stay in Havana. We believe that it is the best choice of accommodation in Cuba for foreign travelers and tourists, because it provides a more authentic and interactive experience with local Cubans, because it supports small locally run businesses, and because the level of service is actually superior to the more expensive government run hotels and vastly more personalized. We have our own network of private guesthouses in Havana. These are carefully selected and we maintain a close relationship with the guesthouse owners who we most regularly work with to provide them feedback, suggestions, support, and in some cases, micro loans to help them improve their facilities and levels of comfort. Selection criteria and points of improvement that we most focus on in the guesthouses in Havana are cleanliness, comfort, convenience of location, safety, local atmosphere, and most of all customer service.
sustainable tourism practices
- Making a positive contribution to the world is close to our heart and something that takes an integral place in everything we do. We make all efforts to support local individuals and locally owned businesses in Havana and to find more sustainable and environmentally friendly ways to go about our business in Cuba. We have a full membership with the Responsible Travel organisation and the International Ecotourism Society.
home office practices
- Our head office in Australia is a shared work space. This enables us to share office facilities such as printers and meeting rooms, which is a more efficient use of resources. The office is close to a metro station, and all of our head office staff either walk to work or use public transportation. We support the ongoing efforts of the recycling industry and use recycled products whenever we can.
contribution to charity
We are regular donators to these humanitarian organisations...
- Medecins Sans Frontieres
- Save the Children
meet the team
5 staff members
John AhrensDirector - AUS
John's interest in Cuba first came about through his love and fascination with Cuban music. He first visited Cuba in 2002. After getting to the know the place quite well and going back for several visits, he saw the potential to provide quality tour services with excellent local guides at costs that were far below what was being offered at the time for similar tour packages using foreign tour leaders. Also critical in the business plan was a method of using Cuba's casas particulares (private guesthouses) instead of the poorly run and maintained Cuban hotels.
John's initial interest in Latin America came through a 1 year exchange to Bolivia in 1990. After starting a career as an Environmental Engineer he decided to follow his passion and travel and work in Latin America, which he did so from 1997 to 2005. He plans to further develop his love of caring for the environment with travel in Cuba by offering themed tours for visitors to learn and engage with Cubans who have developed sustainable living methods.
Clarita DerwentGeneral Manager - AUS
Clarita's passion for travel started with a trip to Japan as an exchange student when she was 15. She has since travelled to many countries, however the place that she most fell in love with was Cuba, and in particular the city of Santiago de Cuba where she lived and studied for a period, prior to joining Big Planet Adventures in 2008.
Clarita's training and experience is predominantly in The Arts, and Event Management. She has since added qualifications in Tourism and Tour Management. Apart from Cuban culture, her other passions are music and the arts, and social and environmental fairness. She is an accomplished singer and has worked, coordinated and performed in some of Cuba"s fantastic festivals. She is fluent in Spanish and speaks several other languages at an intermediate level.
Clarita has successfully added a series of tour packages for choir groups to tour Cuba that visit music schools and perform in different venues across the island. Her goals are to organise groups to visit Cuba to experience the various music festivals in Cuba, such as the Havana Jazz festival.
DadyGuide Manager - CUBA
Dady fulfils a critical role in the quality of our services in Cuba by managing what seems to be a forever growing team of local tour guides in Cuba. In the tourism industry it is well known that the guide "makes or breaks the tour" and it is with earnest awareness of this concept that Dady carries out her task of carefully selecting new tour guides, organising their training, conducting performance reviews, and coordinating them as a group. There is a lot of talent in Cuba and many guides already trained and experienced apply to join our team. So we are very grateful that Dady has taken on this responsibility of choosing the tour guides that are so central to the quality of service that we provide to our customers on the ground in Havana.
SarahSales Manager - USA
Sarah manages our team of 4 full-time sales staff that are located in different places around the globe. She also manages our office in the US and is a specialist in legal travel to Cuba for Americans. Like all of our other sales personnel she came in contact with our organisation by first being one of our clients and travelling to Cuba on one of our tours. Since then she has realised her goal working fulltime in assisting fellow Americans to legally visit Cuba at an affordable price, and helping the company hugely in the process by helping us gain access to this important market for travel to Cuba.Sarah is a determined and energetic worker and we are blessed with her enthusiasm and vivacity.
MarianeFinancial Manager - AUS
Mariane works from our head office in Australia. She manages the company's finances and accounts which includes the sometimes burdensome task of ensuring the flow of funds to Cuba for us to be able to provide the services to our travellers on the ground in Cuba, which is often complicated by American banks obstructing or delaying these payments because of the need for them to scrutinise movement of money between the US and Cuba.
Mari graduated as an accountant in her hometown of Sao Paulo in Brazil before travelling to Australia to improve her English. Luckily for us she stayed and we now benefit from her hard work and virtues of scrupulous diligence and integrity.
2 staff members
KireniaOperations Manager - CUBA
Kirenia is a much loved member of our team in part for having taken on the important and rather complex responsibility of managing our local operations in Cuba. From her base in Havana, she coordinates with verve, sensibility and determination the many facets of our tour operations in a country where things rarely work as they should, and where systems often function in directions contrary to normal logic and rationale.
Before joining our team, Kirenia graduated in Havana in English language and Social Science. Her goals are to continue to improve living conditions for her family in Havana and to further refine our system of performance and merit based rewards for our growing register of local guides and admin staff in Havana.
YoiseHavana Reservations - CUBA
Yoise helps manage and process bookings for our Havana tours, our Havana short stay packages, and for our Spanish and Dance Class packages in Havana. Yoise has a very professional demeanour and a calmness that is not necessarily a characteristic of all Cubans. She enjoys spending time with her family and reading mystery novels.
1 staff member
YenniHavana Tour Guide - CUBA
Yenni is one of our specialist Havana guides who takes our travellers on various day tours of Havana as well as other packages that we operate that have a component in Havana. She also helps with bookings and reservations management. Yenni enjoys her job and her life in Havana, which involves meeting people from around the world, as well as getting to know and spending time with others who work with us in Havana.
We really enjoyed having Ares as our guide. He was always punctual and organized and had some nice suggestions for us. His knowledge and enthusiasm was also excellent and we enjoyed getting to know him.
Yanniel really made Havana special for me and my fellow travelers. He arranged excellent tours and activities (e.g., walking tour, classic car tour, Buena Vista Social Club). He also knew how to find great restaurants that were not flooded with tourists. His English is excellent - which was very helpful since none of my fellow travelers spoke Spanish, and he was very thoughtful and helpful throughout our time in Havana. Yanniel is the main reason why I will recommend your company to my friends and colleagues. Thanks for making our visit so informative and fun!Breakfast in the Particular was always big and tasty. We had terrific meals throughout our stay in Havana.
Willmar was amazing! He was such a wealth of knowledge regarding Cuba and its history. He brought me to places in Havana that were off the beaten track. He was attentive, responsible, enthusiastic and took care of all my travel requests. I could not have asked for a better guide! I would recommend him to any of my friends visiting Cuba next.The Casa I stayed in in Havana was brilliant. The host was friendly and helpful. The casa was clean and pleasant.My favourite was the drive in the vintage car on the Malecon till the Fort.The view from the Fort in the evening was gorgeous!Your team was very responsive to all my questions and needs. I was also very impressed that Willmar turned up as he should and I didn`t have to recheck and reconfirm bookings. Everything happened and people showed up as should be. Do keep up the good work! Especially in the recruitment of such great guides!
Yenni was an excellent guide in Havana and very knowledgeable about Cuban history. She responded well to any request that I had.I also had a one night stay in Vinales where Emilio was my guide. Again he was excellent and very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about local flora and fauna.
It would be impossible to explain this trip- it sounded great in the brochures and was even BETTER! Ares was very knowledgable about historical events in Cuba which I am very interested in as a history teacher (retired) He was passionate about Cuba itself, describing it as "paradise". His love for his country made his comments and the tour in general that much more personal and enjoyable. He was an eloquent, knowledgable, & easy to get along w/ guide. He was accommodating to our wishes, answered all questions, & gave his all to the 3 of us. Very charming introduction to Cuba!Rosi`s place in Havana was lovely. The view from her terrace was beautiful- tr ees and in the distance, the ocean.She went out of her way to make good breakfasts and to speak w/ me even though my Spanish is not very good.
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