A few months ago, I, Colby, took a trip to Puerto Rico in hopes of opening tours there someday. What gave me the idea was that since Puerto Rico offers a domestic destination for US citizens and a vibrant international and cultural experience, it might be worth looking into. A few weeks after my trip, I was called by a couple desiring to go somewhere that “doesn’t have a bunch of crazy restrictions right now.” Luckily, I was able to offer them Puerto Rico and Guatemala with confidence since travel isn’t quite as “crazy” as one might think right now. As you can imagine, my recent post-COVID travels opened up a whole new plethora of questions from our travelers and we will answer those questions here today.
Is Gardner Tours still open for business?
We are indeed open! Gardner Tours has no plans to stop giving unforgettable vacations to travelers like you, no matter what comes! The COVID pandemic had put us on hold for a while, but with the world re-opening, we are geared up and ready to go when you are! We are currently taking bookings in Guatemala and filling the calendar for Cuba in 2022!
Can we book travels with Gardner Tours right now?
Yes, you are free to book with us at any time! Travelers began booking with us, post-COVID, in June 2021, preparing for their upcoming vacations. It’s simple: visit GardnerTours.com, choose a tour, choose your tour start date, then confirm your booking. Or if you prefer, you can call and book directly with Colby over the phone.
We are currently taking bookings for Guatemala since they are open and receiving travelers. Our 2022 calendar for Cuba is also beginning to fill up! If you have any questions whatsoever, contact us.
Do we need to be vaccinated to travel with Gardner Tours?
You don’t have to be fully vaccinated to travel with Gardner Tours since our destinations currently accept negative diagnostic tests as an alternative to proof of vaccine. However, to avoid quarantine in Cuba, you would need a vaccine and proof of a negative PCR or Antigen test upon arrival. On the other hand, Guatemala only requires proof of a negative PCR or Antigen test upon arrival, regardless of vaccine status.
What is the difference between a PCR test and an Antigen test?
All scientific jargon aside, the PCR test usually take 3-7 days to receive results, depending on the volume of tests being processed. An Antigen test takes about 15 minutes to receive results. Both tests can be taken for free in the USA under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. If you are a US citizen, visit the websites of CVS, Walgreens, and RiteAide to schedule your free test before travel. For travelers originating outside of the USA, please consult your local resources for free and approved tests in your home country.
Is Guatemala currently open for travel?
Yes, Guatemala is open for travel and according to one of our partners, more and more travelers are entering the country daily! Guatemala has been open for travelers since October 6, 2020 and has slowly been reopening over the last 10 months. As of now, August 2021, they are completely open for travel and almost all tourism avenues are operating as usual. In this case, feel free to book your Guatemala Tour with Gardner Tours at any time.
Three Important Notes:
1) The Government of Guatemala has mandated that all people age 10 and older entering Guatemala must present a negative COVID-19 PCR or Antigen test result conducted within 96 hours of flight departure. But if something goes wrong and you can’t get a test before departure from your home country, you can take one upon arrival and it will cost the equivalent of $25 USD.
2) All persons entering Guatemala by air must also complete a Health Pass in advance of arrival. It’s a simple process that takes a few minutes.
3) All persons older than two years old must wear a mask in public spaces with the exception of when eating, drinking, or performing similar activities that require you remove your mask. However, we have received word from partners in Guatemala that the mask mandates are becoming more relaxed and the authorities are slowly allowing people to go without masks depending on the location.
What is happening in Cuba and will they soon be open for travel?
On July 11, 2021, a small protest began in a town just outside of Havana. That protest started as an outcry against the current COVID situation in Cuba, with little medication, little food, and little hope of change as cases reported in at just over 6000 cases the day before. With the aide of social media and an overly-frustrated population, the protests morphed into a demand for freedom against the Cuban dictatorship. It turned sour with some overturning cars and looting government stores, thus the government responded.
Less than 48 hours later, the country was more calm and quiet, partly due to the government shutting down internet and access to social media, thus putting a stop to the spread what was happening. This has left many questions as to what will happen next. Will the people continue to protest and push through to their freedom? Will other countries try to help and fight for the freedom of the Cuban people? Will the Cuban government change? Or will things go back to the way they were on July 10? What now?
Despite the actions that took place on July 11 and 12, Cuba is still in process of reopening travel.
As of October 7, 2021, Cuba will begin receiving flights from major airlines each day as opposed to once a week like before. However, with Cuba’s vaccination still being administered to the island, it is uncertain exactly as to when or how they will begin the process of reopening. Nonetheless, you can always count on us to keep you informed on this matter, as we want to get back to Cuba as much as any eager traveler.
Is Gardner Tours thinking about opening travel to any other destinations?
Yes we are, in fact!
In June of 2021, Colby took a trip to Puerto Rico in hopes to get better acquainted with the country and its people. He spent a week there and, due to its domestic status for US citizens, realized that Puerto Rico is a great vacation destination for citizens and it offers vibrant international culture as well. This is right up our alley, so keep an eye open for Puerto Rico Tours to surface from Gardner Tours soon! Also, just before COVID, we had Nicaragua Tours & Bahamas Tours built and ready to release. However, with the pandemic and a few things that have changed, they are still in the line-up for release. Keep on the look-out for those tours as well!
What have Colby and the guides been doing to support themselves during COVID?
As you can imagine, this looks different for everyone. Colby has turned to an old love and has been working as a mobile mechanic in Georgia. Zeydi has created ConcretArte, a business that creates bags, purses, etc to help employ and provide for Cuban families. Michel has began learning the stock trade and has began investing. Carlos has still been making candles for his candle company, ArteLuz. Yunior and Albert have been investing this time into their ministry, Guerreros de Dios. Manuel has started rapping and selling his beats online.