The Obama administration eased U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba by announcing last year it would grant licenses to selected travel companies to lead "people-to-people" tours to the Communist-led nation. The action meant Americans, who have been essentially prohibited from visiting the island for the past 50 years, could now travel to the country legally.
Alabama-based International Expeditions received a license and has begun offering 10-day tours of Cuba that start in June. As the name implies, "people-to-people" trips underscore interactions between Americans and locals, ones aimed at creating a dialog between residents of the two countries.
The itinerary includes discussions with botanists at the Soledad Botanical Garden, a visit to the Zapata Wetlands in search of bee hummingbirds and talks with farmers during a trip to a tobacco farm. Of course, places such as Havana, the Bay of Pigs, Cienfuegos and other hot spots are part of the itinerary too.
The trip begins with an overnight stay in Miami. Travelers must have proof of legal travel from International Expeditions before they are allowed to board a charter flight from Miami to Cuba (charters are approved a few weeks before departure). Note too travelers must follow the planned itinerary; no free travel is allowed while in the country.