Soaring mountains and rolling hills cover a third of this great country, and the rest is populated by colonial urban areas, rural landscapes, beaches and lowland plains. At 1200 kilometres long and (on average) 100km wide this is the perfect place to embrace some pedal power.
Meals included: 14 breakfasts, 12 lunches, 4 dinners
Today is an arrival day In the evening you meet your tour leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing. Please check the noticeboard at the hotel reception for confirmation of the exact time and place of the meeting. This meeting is generally followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.
In the morning we will have our trip briefing, followed by bike fitting before we set off on a warm up ride round Havana. Traffic is remarkably light for a capital city. We cycle through the Miramar and Vedado districts of Havana to reach the dominating Plaza de la Revolucion, whilst Buicks and Pontiacs cruise past with gleaming chrome. We continue towards Old Havana and we make a stop at El Capitolio, the famous National Capitol Building, which is superficially similar to White House in Washington D.C. We finish our sightseeing tour with a walking tour in the heart of Old Havana and a stop for lunch in a local restaurant. In the afternoon we transfer to Matanzas for dinner and stay overnight. Ride approx 25km. Transfer approx. 105km.
We leave the hotel by bike and ride through Matanzas province, the landscape is full of sugar cane and citrus plantations and the life, though hard, is quiet in the villages. This pretty ride takes us through rural communities to Pedro Betancourt where we load the bikes on the bus and drive to lunch. Once we pass the Australia Sugar Factory (where Fidel Castro set up his headquarters for the Bay of Pigs crisis) we enter the Cienaga de Zapata. The road is flat and is skirted by a swamp, once full of crocodiles. We pass Guama Crocodile farm and stop for a visit. After lunch we continue on to the Bay of Pigs where we stay overnight. This was the site of the failed invasion by CIA-backed Cuban Americans. Many of the beaches here are ideal for snorkelling and swimming. Ride approx. 65km. Transfer approx. 90km.
Our route today goes along the coast. We ride through the biggest swamps in Cuba (Zapata's Peninsula), and then cut through agricultural routes to reach the main road towards Cienfuegos. This is a day for discovering the rural heart of Cuba as we pass through small communities dedicated to agriculture and charcoal production. There is hardly any traffic on the route today and roads are a mixture of poor quality tarmac and compacted earth. We will stop in the Playa Giron village to have the chance to visit the museum and continue for lunch in Caleta Buena. Ride approx. 67km. Transfer approx. 90km.
Today's ride takes us along the coast to Trinidad. This beautiful town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988 and is perhaps the best-preserved colonial town on the island. Exploring Trinidad is like entering a time warp, the cobbled streets and horse drawn transportation take us back to colonial times. There are many interesting museums housed in old colonial buildings, with exhibits including exquisite colonial house ware in the Museo Romantico. A city tour with visit to 'Palacio Cantero' and Museo Romantico, the city museum, is included. Ride approx. 85km.
Today we have the option to join a Catamaran trip, where we embark from the beach of Playa Ancon and sail the Caribbean to the small island of Cayo Macho de Afuera where we lunch on fresh seafood amongst tame iguanas and tree rats. If you would prefer, the day is free for you to explore Trinidad or relax by the hotel pool. For our second night in Trinidad, an evening visit to 'Casa de la Trova' is recommended for traditional Cuban music and salsa dancing.
Riding from the hotel we head inland towards the city of Sancti Spiritus. The road rises and falls through the beautiful scenery of the Alturas de Banao, where coffee plantations and farms adorn the landscape, passing the Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills) which was once Cuba's most important sugar producing area. At the village of Manaca Iznaga we can stop to visit the farmhouse and the famous 'run away slaves' tower; for a small entrance fee you can climb the 136 steps and enjoy the view. Upon arrival in Sancti Spiritus, we enjoy some free time in the town's colonial centre and then transfer to Camaguey. Ride approx. 72km. Transfer approx. 200km.
After an optional city tour of Camaguey, including the main plaza and the farmers market (cost approx. CUC5), we head towards the southern end of the island, and the day continues with a transfer to Las Tunas, where we saddle up to ride across this lively and busy small city. We continue to Bayamo, located in the province of Granma, one of the island's most important regions from a revolutionary perspective and consisting mainly of the floodplain of the river Cauto (Cuba's longest). The area contains many sugar cane and rice plantations, and lies below the Sierra Maestra Mountains. The charming city of Bayamo is the capital of the province, and has a pleasant, relaxed ambience full of poignant monuments and revolutionary atmosphere. Ride approx. 68km. Transfer approx. 135km.
A challenging ride from Bayamo into the Sierra Maestra. As we head deep into the mountains, today's route is dominated by Pico Bayamesa (at 1,730m above sea level it is Cuba's third tallest peak). This is an area of stunning natural beauty and is rarely visited by tourists. After passing through numerous villages we reach our hotel. This is probably our hardest day's ride. Ride approx 75 km.
This morning we take a short break from the saddle to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Sierra Maestra. Starting early, we take a gentle trek into the mountains, passing coffee and cocoa plantations and stopping for coffee and fruit in a local farmer's home. There should also be the chance to visit a local school before returning to the hotel for an early lunch. A transfer from Salton to just beyond Palma Soriano, then it's back on the bikes to ride to El Cobre. After visiting Cuba's most important Holy Shrine, we cycle on into Santiago. Santiago is rich in traditions, folklore and legends, making almost every street corner in the city famous. But it is at night that Santiago really comes alive. Afternoon ride approx. 35km. Transfer approx. 70km.
Santiago de Cuba is known as the city of heroes, for the important role it played in Independence and Revolutionary struggles. The morning is spent sightseeing, including the Moncada Barracks - where the opening shots of the revolution were fired on 26 July 1953 when Castro and his men attacked the barracks. There is a rich tradition of dance, music and festivals, largely based on the Afro-Cuban population. Late afternoon transfer to Gibara city. Transfer approx 155kms.
Today we have a short transfer to Aguas Claras, our start point for the day. Riding along quiet roads, one of the most beautiful rides of the holiday, we make our way to the small town of Maniabon via the north coast. From here we transfer 145km to Camaguey, the capital of the province. Ride approx. 65km.
We transfer after breakfast to the town of Majagua and enjoy a final cycle ride to the rural setting of Mayajigua, our base for tonight. The route today will be challenging as we make our way over the northern range of hills, but the support vehicle is on hand just in case! Ride approx. 55km. Transfer approx. 180km.
Today is a long day so we leave Mayajigua early in the morning and return by road to Havana via Remedios, one of the earliest Spanish settlements in Cuba, and then Santa Clara to visit the Che Mausoleum and armoured train exhibition. The evening is free to soak up the vibrant atmosphere of Havana. Transfer approx. 350km.
Today there is a city tour of old Havana, described as a living museum, with its marvellous monuments, cathedrals and palaces. We will lunch at the famous Hemingway haunt La Bodeguita del Medio, and have the chance to buy his favourite Mojito cocktail (made with rum, lemon, mint and sugar). After lunch we transfer to the airport for those on the group flight to London. Passengers travelling independently will leave the group in Havana.
The support vehicle will carry all your luggage and personal belongings. The vehicle will follow the riders all of the time, allowing you to cycle as much or as little as you like, though this cannot carry all the people at once. The majority of the tour is spent on two rather than four wheels but the shape of the island does mean we have a long drive on the return to Havana on day 14.
International flights, bike hire, airport departure tax, visas where required, meals not included in the itinerary, insurance, laundry, bike helmets (they cannot be hired locally), any optional tours or activities during free time, tips and items of a personal nature.
Average daily distance: 65km (40 miles)
Number of days cycling: 10
Vehicle Support: 100%
Terrain and route: surface 90% tarmac, 10% dirt roads, some hills. Overall the trip is not too strenuous but a good level of fitness is required. Routes follow mainly quiet back roads and can be potholed. This tour covers some remote parts of the island. Though many of the roads are in good condition you should expect potholes and poor road conditions on some sections. The roads are generally free of heavy traffic, except in the towns. Mountain bikes are ideal for this trip and flat bars are preferable, but a good strong tourer will suffice (though make sure you have suitably low gearing). Terrain varies from flat around Las Tunas to hilly, and mountainous in the Sierra Maestra. In the harder areas there are some longish climbs, requiring good fitness, (particularly as Cuba is invariably hot and humid), and also some steep descents. Day 9 is particularly strenuous as we are cycling in a mountainous region. You should be aware that cycling of all kinds has its dangers and that accidents can happen from time to time. Please ensure that both you and your bike are properly prepared for the riding you are going to undertake. Please note that helmets must be worn when riding offroad on all our cycling holidays, they are also highly recommended on road trips.
Vaccinations may be required for this trip. Please talk to your doctor about the up-to-date information for this region. We're travel experts, not doctors and defer to the medicos when it comes to inoculations.Visas and Permits
Please ensure that you have all required visas for your trip – this is your responsibility. Rules and regulations governing the issuance of visas are constantly changing, and vary for different nationalities and you should check visa requirements with your travel agent or relevant consular authority well before travel.
Visas are required for all nationalities visiting Cuba and they are issued as a "tourist card", similar to a tourist visa. These visas can be obtained from Cuban embassies and consulates in your home country and it is recommended to obtain one before travelling. Depending on the airline you are travelling with to Cuba, you may be able to purchase the tourist card at the airport from the airline on the day of your departure - please check with your airline. All passengers must hold tickets and other documentation required for their onward or return journey unless holding special annotation issued by a Cuban Consulate. Please note that travellers to Cuba intending to transit through the United States of America should ensure that they have a loose leaf visa. There are no direct flights from the U.S.A. to Cuba. Flight sectors to Cuba should be on a separate ticket from sectors that include the United States of America. If you are an American citizen, American permanent resident, or hold any type of American Visa, and are considering travelling to Cuba, please refer to the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website - travel.state.gov - for the latest advice.
Travel Insurance - Entry Requirements All foreigners entering Cuba will be required to have valid travel insurance that is officially recognised by the Cuban government department that deals with insurance and customs issues. Cuban authorities have announced that they will not recognise any insurance policy issued or underwritten by any insurance company which has an affiliation with a US company. At the time of writing, the Cuban Government is yet to release their list of insurance companies whose policies they consider to be valid. On arrival in Cuba, visitors will be required to present their travel insurance policy to customs officers. If Cuban customs do not recognise their policy as valid, visitors will be required to purchase additional Cuban insurance.Insurance
You are required to have travel insurance before heading off on a Peregrine trip. Insurance can be organised by your Peregrine representative or your travel agent.Responsible Travel
Our Responsible Travel ethos is at the heart of everything we do, from getting the basics right like respecting local cultures and the environment, to initiating projects that make positive contributions to communities, to our staff’s fundraising efforts and offsetting our carbon emissions.
Please visit our Responsible Travel (http://www.peregrineadventures.com/rt) page for more information.
Our Pre Departure Information or Travel Dossier (provided upon booking a trip) provides tips on how you can show respect for the local customs and culture in the country you are travelling in. Your leader will also help steer you though the complexities of local cultural norms.
Pre Departure Information
The information listed above is a brief description of some things you may need to consider when booking a trip. Once a tour is booked you will be provided with a link to your Travel Dossier which will contain detailed Pre Departure information.
Real Life in Castro's Cuba -Catherine Moses Conversations with Cuba - C. Ripley Mi Moto Fidel - Christopher P. Baker Castro’s Daughter - Alina Fernandez Blessed by Thunder - Flor Fernandez-Barrios Cuba Libre - Elmore Leonard Cuba: From Columbus to Castro and Beyond - Jaime Suchlicki
A Word on Cuba
Cuba is different and that's what makes it such an fascinating destination. You will find that things don't always go according to plan or work the way they do back home. Regulations concerning foreigners and currency may appear strange to you, buses and planes often run late and sometimes the water in your bathroom can run cold and the electricity fail. In order to get the most out of your holiday, a degree of patience, good humour and understanding is a definite advantage. Cuba may not be wealthy in a monetary sense, however if you approach your holiday with an open and enquiring mind, the warm welcome you receive from Cubans will ensure you a rich and rewarding holiday experience.
This holiday is operated by our partner company Exodus. You will therefore need to look out for an Exodus leader or sign when meeting the group.
Local Bike Hire: Trek 4300 or Specialized Hardrock Sport mountain bikes £100, paid on booking.'In-country' bike hire should be arranged at the time of booking, and the cost will be added to your invoice. Please note that in a few locations, there may be a limited number of bikes available locally. On the rare occasion there is not a bike available, we will inform you of this prior to departure. You would then be required to either bring your own, or hire one in the UK, see below for details.
Bringing Your Own Bike: Many people choose to bring their own bikes on our trips. If you wish to bring your own bike, please note that we cannot guarantee against small scratches and paintwork damage involved in the loading and unloading from support vehicles. For more detailed information on bringing a bike from the UK (hired from Exodus, or your own), Information Sheet MBX will be sent to you on booking. This can also be found on the Exodus website at: www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/MBX.pdf
Extra Bike Bits : You may like to bring your own pedals and saddle (excluding the seat post) or gel saddle cover to fit to the hire bikes. We encourage this, if it is your preference. However, please note that you are responsible for your own equipment, and removing your saddle/pedals at the end of the trip. We cannot guarantee the return of any bike parts left behind.
Helmets and safety: We believe that all cyclists should wear helmets in the interest of personal safety, and our leaders are required to do so at all times on all trips. Customers must wear helmets at all times on any 'off-road' cycling holiday and certain 'road' cycling trip (where this is applicable it is clearly stated in these Trip Notes).
On most road cycling holidays, wearing a helmet is strongly recommended, but we accept that some customers will want to exercise their own choice in this matter. Those who decide not to wear a helmet do so entirely at their own risk, and in the knowledge that some 'road' trips may include some 'off-road' sections. If wishing to use a helmet you must bring your own with you as they are not available for hire.
Cycling of all kinds has its dangers and accidents can happen from time to time. Please ensure that you are properly prepared for the riding you are going to undertake.
On all cycling holidays you are required to bring the following personal items, which we view as crucial for the health and safety of our clients:
A helmet, eye-protection (sunglasses), cycling gloves and waterbottles
or hydration system (e.g. camelbak).
Recommended Cycling Clothing Padded cycling shorts (with loose 'over-shorts' where recommended), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof/windproof top. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances.
Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day
while cycling, for this we recommend a large bum-bag or small close fitting
Padded cycling shorts
Lightweight waterproof / windproof top
Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances
Long sleeved shirts and light trousers are good for helping to keep mosquitoes off during the evenings. Mosquito repellent containing DEET is generally thought to be the most effective deterrent. GPS systems are not allowed to be brought into Cuba. It is recommended, for security reasons to use lockable luggage or the luggage shrink-wrap facility (small extra cost) at Havana airport as there have been several cases of theft.
<p> <strong>Local Emergency Contacts </strong><br />
+44 (0) 1582 644 100
For a local contact number, please check your final joining instructions (sent approximately 2 weeks before departure)
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please keep this in mind when you read it and check with us if you want to be sure about something. The document was correct at time of printing, but you can check online for the most up to date version. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
15 January 2014