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Hiring A Cuban Guide

by George
(Canada)

What is the best way to arrange a local Cuban guide during my stay in Havana? And what are reasonable costs for such a guide?

Please note I am not looking for an expensive guide (ie. PhD professor moonlighting as a guide) but a normal Cuban local who knows the area and customs well.

ANSWER: by Vic webmaster

The official way and a the safest way is to arrange a city visit with an official guide.
You can buy a Havana city tour package in most Havana hotels. When you stay a short time in Havana (2-3 days) this is the best way because all the transport (autobus) is arranged for you.
The disadvantage is you travel with a group of 15-20 people and not everyone has the same interests.
More adventure is to make a private tour with or without a Cuban guide.
WARNING: In Havana the Cubans will line up to be your guide, but note that in Cuba this is an illegal practice, it is not allowed for Cubans to make (black) money or moonlighting. I have seen several times a Cuban, guiding a small group of 3-5 foreigners stopped by the Havana police for identity control. Sometimes they are arrested. A good way to find a guide in Havana is strolling in front of the "Capitolio" and look out for Cubans bearing a badge with "Tourist guide" this are Habaneros with an authorisation. I suggest that you prepare your city visits, know which places you want to see, Havana is a big city a lot of transport has to be done by taxi or Cocotaxi. (taxi= 0.8- 1 CUC/km - 0.9 USD per km) Another possibility, make a deal with a taxi driver. For example: when you want to visit Cementery Colon in the Havana Vedado district (distance 5-6km from Old Havana) ask the driver to show you the nearby tourist attractions, such as Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana University etc. but always, always make a deal and discuss the price in advance. The price for a guide job may vary, but take in account that 20 USD per month is an average Cuban salary. So I guess 5-20 Cuc (5-20 USD) plus travel costs would be a fair price for the average guide.
Wish you a pleasant stay in Havana.

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