About us – Caledonia Worldwide
Established in 1996, Caledonia Worldwide is an independent specialist tour operator organising enriching and unique holidays in Cuba and selected other countries. We organise and promote culturally aware travel for individuals and groups, and strongly believe that our trips provide an authentic way to be involved with local people and communities.
With over 20 years of experience in Cuba, we know the island, its people and landscapes, its culture and history. We love to share our inside knowledge and personal experiences, giving you the travel experience of a lifetime at a pace to suit you.
Our small team of dedicated bilingual staff have travelled widely in Cuba and we all love our specialist areas. Read on to find out more about our team…
Caledonia over the years…
Meet the team…
Director Kath Bateman founded Caledonia in 1996 and still has a very active role in the company. As a linguist and avid traveller, Caledonia brings together many strands of Kath’s personal and professional interests. She is a Modern Languages and Tourism graduate and has worked as a tour leader, ski rep and salsa teacher, cultural events organiser, salsa club promoter and English language teacher. She is also a qualified Blue Badge Scottish tourist guide, has lived and studied in France and Austria and has travelled widely elsewhere in Europe, Latin America and particularly in Cuba. Kath is still very much involved in the business and is as motivated by what Caledonia does as when she first set up the company in the spare room at home all those years ago.
What inspires you to travel? The sense of adventure and not knowing quite what I will encounter – I love being away from home as it feels like a voyage of discovery every single time, whether going overseas or just up the coast from Edinburgh Favourite country visited so far? There are 3 I have particularly loved on my travels over the years – Cuba, Austria and Brazil. Cuba for its vibrancy and spontaneity, the incredible music and dance everywhere you go and the truly wonderful people I have met there: Austria because the Tirol has a very special place in my heart after I lived and worked in the beautiful mountains above Innsbruck when I was in my twenties; Brazil because of the colour and life and music and some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to. I love Scotland too! Most memorable moment whilst travelling? There are many – eating sweet, juicy oranges straight off the tree after a long, hot hike in Cuba; an open air flamenco performance in Seville in a historic square with local children all dressed in their flamenco costumes; all night dancing in the streets in Santiago de Cuba with Candido Fabre and his band during Carnival A moment of culture shock? Eating sushi in Tokyo, my friend told me that abalone was a particular delicacy so I had some….. to this day I remember that it felt like I was trying to eat someone’s big toe nail….. not an enjoyable experience at all! On holiday I… like to explore new places, speak to local people along the way and go swimming in the sea/pool/lake/river I would love to… learn to scuba dive one day
Travel & Operations Manager at Caledonia, is a graduate in International Tourism and Languages and has travelled widely in Europe and Latin America. She studied in Germany and lived in Spain and is passionate about travelling and exploring other cultures. She worked in different areas of tourism and travel before joining Caledonia. Jacqueline has worked with Caledonia for over 5 years now and is involved in every part of the business. She is well travelled and thrives on sharing her passion for visiting new places and getting off the beaten track.
What inspires you to travel? I love the feeling of going into the unknown – seeing and experiencing new things, learning about other cultures/ways of living, the opportunity to meet like-minded people along the way. Favourite country visited so far? Difficult one. I have favourite countries for different reasons. The Philippines because it is relatively undeveloped compared to other countries, has diverse and spectacular landscape and because of my family connection. Cuba because of the positive and lively energy of the people. The San Blas Islands in Panama are also top of my list – one of the few places I have felt like I was brought back to basics and disconnected from the world in pristine islands. Most memorable moment whilst travelling? Achieving things that I couldn’t have imagined doing… climbing South America’s most active volcano, trekking into the base of Colca Canyon, the Inca Trail, experiencing life with a native tribe in the Philippines, sinking in a dug out canoe in a raging river in the middle of the Ecuadorian jungle to name but a few. A moment of culture shock? When I went to the Philippines when I was 14 years old and realised that I didn’t know anything about Filipino customs and how to interact with my older relations. On holiday I… couldn’t think of anything better than sipping a fresh coconut whilst relaxing on a tranquil beach in good company. I would love to…experience the Festival del Caribe in Santiago de Cuba again – the feeling of being lost in a street conga is incomparable and a cultural experience I’ll never forget.
Assistant Travel Manager Helen is the newest addition to the Caledonia team. She has an MSc in Environment and Development from the University of Edinburgh where she wrote her dissertation on community-based ecotourism in Belize. Not only has Helen travelled extensively in the UK, but she is also passionate about exploring new countries and cultures around the world. Having lived and worked in Spain for a year in-between degrees, Helen developed a love for the Spanish language and culture and started planning a trip to South America. In the winter of 2017/18, Helen spent four months backpacking through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile; getting to know the vibrancy and diversity of life in Latin America. Before joining Caledonia, Helen worked with an urban community food growing social enterprise in Manchester and a global mobility company in London. She is excited to share her enthusiasm and love of travel with Caledonia.
What inspires you to travel? Getting out into the world and exploring the diverse landscapes and experiencing how life is lived in different countries. Favourite country visited so far? I am struggling to pick one but Spain, and the region of Galicia in particular, holds a special place in my heart after living there for a year. The local food is delicious, the people are friendly and the beaches are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever visited! India with its vibrant and wonderfully chaotic character is also a favourite along with Peru for the stunning hiking opportunities in the Andes. Most memorable moment whilst travelling? Experiencing the Salsa Festival in Cali on Christmas Day in torrential rain, hiking the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu arriving at sunrise on my birthday and staying with Mayan families in the Belizean rainforest! A moment of culture shock? Arriving back in London after my first trip to India and noticing the smooth and quiet flow of traffic, the limited interactions between people on the street and the long orderly queue to get on to the National Express bus!! On holiday I…like to eat local food, speak to local people, climb mountains or go to the beach and swim in the sea. All preferably somewhere hot! I would love to…explore the other half of South America – Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. And get to know more of Cuba of course!
Many of you will know our Santiago de Cuba team already and will appreciate the friendly, professional support and personal attention provided by our local representatives. Odalis Calzadillo,Yaritza Lleyva, Maria Alvarez and Alex have all been working with our clients for many years now, and are very definitely part of the Caledonia family! A special mention for Oscar, our man in Baracoa too.