The cobbled squares and beautifully restored architecture of Havana, combined with its historic forts and crumbling colourful buildings, make this city truly one of a kind. Wondering around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Havana, where every corner provides a new photo opportunity, I felt like I had stepped back in time. Enjoying a Daiquiri cocktail, while listening to traditional live Cuban music, visiting a cigar factory and driving along the Malecón (Havana's famous coastal highway) in a vintage Chevrolet are all experiences I'll treasure. Havana captures the heart of Cuban culture and history and is without a doubt my favourite city in Latin America.
Maddie's first taste of the culture and beautiful scenery of Central America came on a four month trip before starting university. On returning she went on to study Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Bristol, which included spending her third year abroad working in the Peruvian Andes and studying in northern Portugal, further solidifying her passion for travel.
After university she worked in property investment in London before deciding to put her languages to good use and embark on a tour of South America. On this trip she extensively explored the continent, completing the Inca Trail in Peru, spotting wildlife in the Amazon and experiencing Rio de Janeiro's famous Carnival, before heading to Australia to spend a year working and travelling in the country.
Once back in the UK, Maddie was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to return to Central America and work as a Costa Rica and Cuba specialist with Audley.
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I'll never forget when…
My favourite travel experience has to be hiking through the beautiful countryside of Viñales in western Cuba. As we ascended with our fantastic local guide Eduardo, we enjoyed some spectacular views of the mountains that encircle the landscape, as well as the collection of impressive limestone hills that rise from the valley, known as mogotes. Along the way we passed many local Cuban farmers on horseback, all of whom stopped to have a chat with us. We finished our hike at a local tobacco farm, where the farmers offered us the chance to sample some fresh pineapple, local rum and gave us a wonderful demonstration of hand rolling a cigar. Overall, this was a truly memorable experience, which was not only visually stunning, but which also gave me a unique insight into the culture and day-to-day lives of those living in rural Cuba.