NYT travel writer Eric Hiss joined Cuba Unbound on our 8-day Signature Tour and discovered Western Cuba through its coasts and rivers. Cuba is a wild world beyond social media ready #wanderlust panoramas—a world where Crocodiles snap, salsa beats bounce across moonlit oceans, and flocks of 200 flamingos take flight in a kite of color.
In the news
The New York Times
The New York Times
"We nudge the kayaks through the waves off a remote cove in the Galápagos when a pair of mating sea turtles bob to the surface, drifting close enough to reveal gray tongues hanging languidly from green knuckle-like heads. Just a few hours ago, an eight-foot-long shark ducked beneath the bow in a fizz of purple bubbles. And a few hours before that, curious sea lions popped up next to my paddle strokes to flash such sweet faces that I almost jumped in to play. Almost..."
Tourism Review Online Magazine
"Anyone who has been to Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands or ever dreamed of going there has a pretty clear understanding that the experience is stacked heavily in favor of the rare and endangered wildlife as well as toward the protection of one of the most fragile environments on earth. Human access is carefully controlled, with the vast majority of visitors spending all but a tiny part of their visit there on a small-ship educational cruise with guided Zodiac excursions to specifically designated landings and trails along the shores of islands they are licensed to visit."
The New York Times
"Peter Grubb, the owner of an Idaho-based outfitter called ROW Adventures, sat in the corner flipping through maps under the lone working light bulb. We were in Room 305 of Hotel Rosi, a bright yellow block of a building in Gusinje, a predominately Muslim community in the former Yugoslav republic of Montenegro. South of here, a rocky trail climbed steadily into a vampiric maw of limestone peaks. Tomorrow we would follow that trail and slip virtually unnoticed into Albania..."
"From oysters to suckling pig, and from thyme-infused olive oil to Plavac Mali, a dense red wine, each dinner features the best of that village or island's gastronomy."
Eye Explore Magazine
"ROW's Galapagos Islands adventure vacation is the most sustainable eco-tour of the Galapagos available."
The Wall Street Journal
"As the economy shows signs of life, more people are pulling their bags out of closets and returning to the road. With that in mind, we decided to canvass travel companies across the country to get some fresh ideas about how and where to resume your journeys. In the end, we found 10 great trips..."
Travel + Leisure
"A naturalist’s paradise, the Galápagos Islands teem with new and unusual life. The world’s smallest penguins, kissing albatrosses, humongous tortoises, lizard-grooming crabs, spiky-Mohawk-sporting iguanas, and turquoise-footed boobies are just a few of the wonderfully weird animals you might encounter. April to June is prime baby-animal-spotting season for most species. Camp out on the islands as part of a ROW Adventures kayaking tour, or set sail on a yacht cruise offered by trusted outfitters like Ecoventura or Quasar Expeditions."
The Wall Street Journal
"Adventure travel is more popular than ever. These outfits can feed the need."
The Daily Meal
Fortunately, your home is not the only place where you can feel welcomed like a family member, share home-cooked meals and swap cultural anecdotes. This collection of tours with home stays will allow you to integrate yourself in an authentic experience of a new place, where you will feel welcomed and not alone. Our "Peaks of the Balkans" trip was chosen as one of 12 destinations for you "to experience places others love, call home and want to share with you."
National Geographic Traveler
Our "Corsica Unbound" trip was selected as a National Geographic Traveler’s “2015 Tours of a Lifetime!” Now in it's 10th year, the 2015 list features 50 of the world's best guided trips chosen by the editors of National Geographic Traveler. Norie Quintos, acting editor in chief of National Geographic Travel magazine said that "the 50 best guided tours selected this year offer authentic travel experiences that are sure to leave participants engaged and ensconced in culture," and that "the types of immersive and experiential trips...
"By now, you might be hung over from reading lists of what destinations to visit in 2016. But what about the best times to go, or the best ways to actually see them? A Cuba trip where you only hang out on the Malecon and a Cuba trip where you explore the nation via kayak are two different trips indeed. Here are some exciting trips to keep on your radar in 2016..."
"When it comes to Caribbean islands, it's hard to imagine anything other than its turquoise waters. On this eight-day paddling trip with Row Adventures, you'll get your fill of stunning sandy stretches and untouched coral reefs, but not at the cost of ignoring the country's beautiful forests and cities, too. This new people-to-people adventure, which debuts in November, combines sea, lake and river kayaking with hiking so that you can spend plenty of time in both its metropolitan and wildlife settings, including Havana, Bay of Pigs, and Zapata National Park."
The Financial Times
"The 30-tonne creature broke the surface a mere stone’s throw from my kayak, the sun glistening on its huge black back as its 40ft body arced gracefully up and over as if in slow motion. For the next half-hour I watched, mesmerised, as it repeatedly resurfaced, its arrival heralded each time by the sudden blast of a 10ft plume of water from its blow hole. At times I was close enough to feel the moisture from those spouts drift over me; close enough to see the white barnacles encrusting its great tail as it dived."
"If you're considering a great exotic guided sea-kayaking and hiking adventure, take a tip from National Geographic Traveler, which gave high ratings to an Inland Northwest company that thinks globally. Compelling Corsica, a unique sea kayaking and mountain hiking adventure vacation from ROW Sea Kayak Adventures based in Coeur d'Alene, was named one of National Geographic Traveler magazine's 2015 Tours of the Lifet
"Endangered whales migrate here in winter looking for savory crustaceans. The best way to see the massive creatures? Bobbing alongside them in a sea kayak. Row Adventures' eight-day kayak camping trips offer unparalleled access to Loreto Bay National Marine Park, where dolphins play among bright tropical fish."
"Travel to Cuba is the latest craze, and loosening of restrictions on travel there by U.S. citizens means many tour companies are jumping into the fray. A somewhat different approach is offered by ROW Adventures, a company that specializes in adventure travel around the world. Cuba Unbound: Adventure Tour is an eight-day itinerary that naturally looks at much of the island nation's culture but also adds in kayaking and hiking. Kayaking is in sheltered bays and in calm conditions, so it is appropriate for novice to intermediate paddlers.
"ROW Adventures, which started as a whitewater rafting company specializing in trips on Idaho and Montana rivers more than 30 years ago, is now a dynamic adventure travel company with an eclectic collection of trips worldwide. Choices range from soft adventures to wilderness camping expeditions."
"Vintage Havana, Hemingway haunts, live salsa music, those azure ocean blues— what could possibly be more romantic than a honeymoon in Cuba? The vibrant island nation is more accessible to American travelers than it has been in decades (it was just announced that commercial flights from the U.S. to Cuba will be restored starting Summer 2016), but there are still rules for travel."
What A Trip: Travels with Nancy D. Brown
"As our plane descended into Loreto, Mexico the Sierra de la Giganta mountain range, Isla Carmen and Danzante Islands came into view. After a quick overnight in the sleepy fishing village of Loreto, we were off to begin our week long sea kayaking and whale watching vacation with Row Sea Kayak Adventures.
What A Trip: Travels with Nancy D. Brown
"The full-throttled leap of a female Pacific gray whale was heard before it was seen from our small panga bobbing in the lagoon. Her giant splash reverberated through the shallow waters of Magdalena Bay like a meteor exploding into Earth. We are close enough to the hulking mammal to see the barnacles on her back and feel the spray from her blow hole. Her month old baby floats beside her. Our three day whale watching adventure is just beginning and yet, it has already exceeded my expectations!"
"Kimberley Lovato travels to this enigmatic place, where she kayaks on the Bay of Pigs and in Ciénaga de Zapata National Park, the Caribbean’s largest wetlands, explores Trinidad and Havana, and discovers there’s a lot to learn, and love, about this long-shuttered country on the verge of transformation."
"Booked through ROW Adventures in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and its sister company, Sea Kayak Adventures, this popular wildlife adventure combines sea kayaking in the Loreto Bay National Marine Park in the Sea of Cortez with whale watching in Magdalena Bay."
"The Galapagos Islands, which lie in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador, have some of the most unique wildlife in the world, from giant tortoises to vast colonies of seabirds. Visited by Charles Darwin in 1835, the extraordinary animals were the basis for his Theory of Natural Selection. The wildlife is real, but the logistics and cost of traveling around these remote islands are perhaps the last remaining myths about the Galapagos Islands."
"This is a day of firsts," announces Peter Grubb of ROW Adventures, the organizer of our six-day waterborne odyssey. "It's not just the first-ever people-to-people kayak tour of Cuba. It's likely the first time a group of Americans has been on these waters in a long time."
TravelAge West Magazine
"Idaho-based tour operator ROW Adventures (an ATTA member) isn’t just organizing trips to Cuba, it is building an industry-leading platform aimed at getting Americans to Cuba to experience adventure first-hand. This past season, the operator ran 18 sea kayaking trips, selling out every one of the 16-person-maximum excursions."
"Unless you have a large yacht on which to explore, the next best way to see Cuba by water is by kayak. Idaho-based tour operator, ROW Adventures, one of the first companies authorized to offer kayak tours in Cuba, operated 18 kayaking trips last season. In fact, ROW has launched Cuba Unbound as a separate brand specializing in active Cuba tours including hiking, bicycling, and more."
"ROW Adventures capitalizes on getaways that present an extreme break from the digital world. Of their trips, the British Columbia and American Northwest tours get you completely unplugged. Travelers to British Columbia immerse in the quiet calm of remote lodges and occupy their hands and bodies with sea-kayaking expeditions. Travelers to the American Northwest raft through rivers and deep valleys in Idaho and Oregon.
"ROW Adventures, based in Coeur d’Alene, has led active adventure travel trips from the Spokane River to the Galapagos Islands and Africa for 37 years.
"If your goal is to avoid all-inclusive resorts and engage in something more akin to "travel" than to "tourism," then you should consider the offerings by the multitude of US tour companies that operate in Cuba... these companies typically handle flights, compliance with US travel restriction to Cuba, visas, transportation and programs that get you inserted into the culture and environment that would be difficult to do by yourself...