About us – Caledonia Worldwide
Established in 1996, Caledonia Worldwide is an independent specialist tour operator organising customised holidays for small group travel, family and singles holiday and educational school travel in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. We organise and promote culturally aware travel, and strongly believe that our trips provide a unique and authentic way to be involved with local people.
Our small team of dedicated bilingual staff have travelled widely and we all love our specialist areas. Read on to find out more about our team…
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 at Caledonia, is a modern languages graduate with a background in tourism and Teaching English as a Foreign Language. She has studied and worked in both Spain and Germany and travelled widely throughout Europe as well as parts of North and Central America. Caron is a valuable member of the team and is passionate for travel, adventure and language learning.
What inspires you to travel? Learning about other cultures, meeting new people and getting out of my comfort zone, challenging myself to try new things and experiences. Favourite country visited so far? It is difficult to choose just one! I love Spain because of the memories of my time spent living there but also because of the diversity it offers in terms of the landscape, traditions and food from each corner of the country. On visiting Guatemala last year, I was blown away by the beauty of colonial towns such as Antigua and the mountainous Western Highlands. Cuba for the vibrant life and rhythm found on every street corner of the island. Most memorable moment whilst travelling? Again, I would be hard pressed to select only one! Watching the sunrise from the summit of Acatenango volcano in Guatemala, 3976 m above sea level was a moment I will never forget. My first day on the St James’ Way after hiking 27km on a blistering hot day, going for a swim with fellow pilgrims on the beautiful Playa de la Concha in San Sebastian in the Basque Country – absolute bliss! Discovering the Cíes Islands, a declared nature reserve just off the Galician coast with pristine beaches and turquoise waters – a real paradise in Europe only with chilly Atlantic sea temperatures! A moment of culture shock? Arriving in Cuba for the first time. Driving into Havana, I was met by the Cuban heat, new sights, smells, noises all at the same time! On holiday I…like to meet locals and have days where leave my guide book at home, wander through the streets and let myself be guided by instinct and see where I end up and what discoveries I make. I would love to…learn how to surf and travel to exotic places to find good waves!
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.