Cycle Cuba


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    Explore Cuba by bike, from vibrant Havana to Vinales and the quiet beauty of Soroa

    See Cuba from two wheels as you cycle around this laidback Caribbean island. Travel the colourful streets of Havana, along dusty roads past farms and tobacco plantations in Vinales, beside vintage cars and horse-drawn carriages and get a taste of Cuba beyond the rum and cigar scene. Swim in Cayo Jutias’ clear blue waters, explore Che Guevara’s former HQ at the Cueva de los Portales and cool off in bubbling river pools near UNESCO-listed Las Terrazas. Soak up the best of Cuba as you traverse this fascinating country.

    Highlights

    • Cycling through Caribbean Cuba gives you unique access to parts of the island that are off the beaten track.
    • Cycle through the lush valley of Soroa. Known as Cuba’s Rainbow, the valley is rich in plant and wildlife
    • Cuba is recognised as the world’s finest cigar manufacturer. Learn how to roll a cigar with a local tobacco farmer near the small town of Vinales
    • After a visit to the temporary HQ of Cueva de los Portales and a guided walking tour of Old Havana, you’ll understand Che Guevara’s important role in the Cuban Revolution
    • Ride through an often surprising variety of scenery; from the decaying charm of Old Havana to long dusty farming roads to dramatic limestone karst landscapes. Cuba has it all!
    • Indulge in some sun, sand and sea on the pristine beaches of Cayo Jutias
    • Cycle through the pristine valley of Yum i, an untouched paradise far off the usual tourist track.
    • Pay homage to the legendary Che Guevara’s at his final resting place in the very heart of Cuba, Santa Clara.
    • Ride through an often surprising variety of scenery; from the decaying charm of Old Havana to long dusty farming roads to dramatic limestone karst landscapes Cuba has it all!
    • Indulge in some sun, sand and sea on the buzzing beaches of Varadero.

    Itinerary

    Day 1: Havana
    Bienvenido a Cuba! To make your arrival into often chaotic Cuba a bit easier a complimentary transfer from the airport to your accommodation (guesthouse) is included with your trip.

    If you arrive early there are a wealth of options for you to enjoy. For a fascinating insight into the Cuban Revolution check out the Museum of the Revolution, indulge your inner literary fan on an Ernest Hemingway tour, join the locals for a stroll past the fading facades along the iconic oceanside Malecón or hire an open top vintage American car and simply cruise the streets and boulevards of Havana. There’s no shortage of restaurants or bars either – the vibrant Obispo Street area of Old Havana is sure to delight.

    Today your adventure begins with a welcome meeting. Your evening is then free to relax or enjoy an optional welcome dinner to get to know your riding companions a bit better – your leader will suggest some excellent options.

    Day 2: Soroa
    Take a short drive to Vedado this morning to meet your support crew and be fitted to your bike. Take your new wheels for a spin on a 2-hour leisurely ride from Outer Havana back to Old Havana, passing John Lennon Park, the Grand Theatre and the Capitol building along the way before finishing back in Old Havana. Enjoy lunch in a nearby cafe before stretching your legs on a guided walking tour of Old Havana, taking in the four most historic plazas. Finish your walk with a 360-degree panoramic view of Old Havana through the eyes of The Camera Obscurer – the only one of its kind in Latin American and the Caribbean, before heading to Saroa in the support vehicle. Known as the ‘rainbow of Cuba’, Soroa is a flourishing landscape of flora and fauna. As the sun sets, enjoy dinner, then perhaps head to a local guesthouse for cocktails and an introduction to the curious fascination the Cuban’s have with the game of dominos. (B)

    Day 3: Soroa/Las Terrazas
    This morning, enjoy a guided tour of the spectacular Soroa Orchid Garden, located just a short drive away. Set among seven acres, this serene oasis of flora features 250 plant varieties native to Cuba as well as numerous species of birds. Afterwards, cycle west (on well-paved roads), sharing the streets with local traffic: tractors, vintage American cars, old Ladas and horse-drawn carriages, until you reach a picturesque hillside lake. Take a break for a quick drink before stopping by the San Juan River for lunch and a refreshing swim. Continue by vehicle on to the small but renowned lakeside eco-village of Comunidad Las Terrazas, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve set in beautiful green surrounds and home to a lively art community. Grab a coffee near the main square then visit the former home of the celebrated Cuban musician Polo Montanes, and current studio of the famous modern artist, Lester Campa. Return to Soroa and spend the evening relaxing, playing pool, or perhaps take the opportunity to improve on your domino skills. (B, L)

    Day 4: Viñales
    Drive to the hilly Cueva de los Portales, where the legendary Che Guevara stayed and trained the Western Army of the Cuban Revolution. From here, cycle on to the UNESCO-listed town of Vinales. Set among low-lying mountains, this beautifully remote area is reminiscent of the limestone karst scenery of Vietnam and is the perfect place to ride with very little traffic on the roads. Push your pedals a short distance uphill and be rewarded with spectacular views before continuing on to meet the delightful Mama Luisa, a seasoned farmer who’ll provide you with a delicious local meal. Afterwards, ride to a tobacco farm where you’ll meet another farmer who’ll show you how tobacco is dried and then rolled into cigars – here you have the chance to purchase this Cuban speciality directly from the maker. Jump back into the support vehicle and return to Vinales in time for a delicious farm-to-plate experience at a hillside restaurant. The food here is 100% organic and grown locally, and although drinks aren’t included, you only pay for the mixers as the rum is free, classic Cuba! (B, L, D)

    Day 5: Vinales / Cayo Jutias
    After breakfast, drive to the Diego Rivera-inspired Mural de la Prehistoria. Painted on a cliff at the foot of the Sierra de Vinales, the huge eye-catching mural took 18 people four years to finish. From here, leave the towering limestone karsts behind as you cycle to the sublime Cayo Jutias, traversing smaller roads through dry and flat farmland, with barely a vehicle to be seen, until you reach the surreal white beaches and pale blue waters of Cayo Jutias. After your ride, stretch out on the shoreline and enjoy a packed lunch and fresh juice. Then enjoy free time to relax.  After some time to soak up the atmosphere, take the support vehicle back to Vinales. The rest of the evening is at leisure. (B, L)

    Day 6: Havana
    After breakfast drive to the nearby lookout point for a view of the Vinales Valley before descending to the flat plains. From here we start our final ride, cycling through rural landscapes, passing through many small towns and communities on some of the smoothest tarmac in Cuba. Finish on top of a small hill – one last chance to be King of the Mountain. Celebrations are in order for finishing your own tour of Cuba as we enjoy one last delicious meal before re-boarding our transport for the short drive back to Havana.  On arrival in Havana, we bid farewell to our bikes and our support team before checking into our guesthouse/s. Make the most of a free afternoon to reacquaint yourself with Cuba’s charming capital. (B)

    Day 7: Havana
    Today is a free day for you to explore all that fascinating Havana has to offer. If the weather is fine this is the perfect day to hire an open-top vintage American car and check out the sights while cruising the streets or take in some culture at the National Museum of Fine Arts.  This evening you will have a welcome meeting at 6 pm to meet any new riders for the eastern section of the trip. Your leader will let you know the meeting point well in advance. (B)

    Day 8: Bay of Pigs & Cienfuegos
    Start the day with a bike fitting for the new riders, then transfer to the Bahia de Cochinos, better known as the Bay of Pigs, for your cycling tour.  Begin at Playa Larga; sitting at the head of the bay, this is one of the two beaches that was invaded by US-sponsored exiles in 1961. Cycle along the tree-lined eastern shoreline, past an incredible flooded cave called Cueva de los Peces (the Cave of Fish) to the peaceful sandy arc of Playa Giron – the other beach that was invaded – where you’ll get to rest your weary legs in the crystal-clear Caribbean waters. The bay boasts a deep underwater well and an outstanding variety of coral and fish – it’s the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing dip. For an extra treat, once you’ve finished swimming in the salty sea simply cross the beachside road and jump in the refreshing waters of a beautiful cenote, a flooded cave full of tropical fish.  Afterwards, head to Cienfuegos. Set out on an orientation walk with your leader before a free evening to spend how you please. (B, L, D)

    Day 9: Trinidad
    After fuelling up on breakfast, today you’ll set out on a 60-kilometre/37-mile bike ride to Trinidad. Cycle through along the rolling hills and past mango trees in the tranquil countryside before nearing the coast and it’s stunning views. Sitting on the picturesque Caribbean coast, Trinidad is a standout destination for many visitors. With its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture, large plazas and sizzling salsa scene, it’s not hard to see why. Get acquainted with the town’s once-grand mansions, pasted-hued buildings, cobble streets and stunning gardens on an orientation walk. In the evening, why not practice your dance moves at one of the many live music venues or take in a folklore show at an open-air venue. Your tour leader can suggest a few of the latest hotspots for a night out on the town. (B, L)

    Day 10: Santa Clara
    Now that you’ve experienced Cuba’s serene coast and atmospheric towns, today you’ll discover the country’s lush, tropical side at Parque Natural Topes de Collantes. This heavily protected nature reserve is a jungle-covered wonderland of limestone mountains, cascading waterfalls, caves, grottoes and incredible flora and fauna.

    Drive to Topes de Collantes, stopping at Mirador del Escambray to enjoy a fantastic view of Trinidad and the Caribbean, then climb onto the bikes and explore the Guanayara section of the reserve by bike, covering about 40-kilometres on mixed tarmac and gravel terrain, both within and outside of the reserve. Make a stop at Mirador del Hanabanilla for sweeping views of Lake Hanabanilla then lunch with the local before a swim in a natural pool with a beautiful waterfall.

    Ride on further then board the support vehicle and make tracks for the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial. Check out the bronze statue of Che bearing his rifle and learn about his incredible life before arriving in Santa Clara, where you’ll enjoy an orientation walk with your group leader. (B, L, D)

    Day 11: Varadero
    After breakfast, drive east towards Matanzas province and to the small town of Jovellanos where you begin riding today. The province is thankfully largely flat, with an enormous marsh to the south, rocky terrain to the north-west and cays and mangroves to the north-east. Uncover part of this vast province on bike, enjoying mostly flat roads passing through little towns and citrus and sugar cane plantations before arriving into the maritime port city of Cárdenas. This is a historical city where many things happened for the first time in Cuba, including the first ever raising of the modern Cuban flag. It is also considered to be the Cuban city of bicycles due to the amount of cyclists in the city.

    From here it’s just a short drive to the resort town of Varadero and its outstanding beaches. Your accommodation for tonight is a bit more authentic than the string of all-inclusive resorts that line the coast however – you’ll be staying in a Varadero guesthouse.  (B, L)

    Day 12: Varadero
    Experience Cuba’s version of beach life with a free day in Varadero. (B)

    Day 13: Havana
    Today is an early start as we drive to Matanzas before getting on our bikes to explore the historic city then riding on to a seldom-visited paradise not far from Varadero’s popular beaches – the Yumuri Valley.  Tucked behind the hills that line the province’s northern edges, your bike tour of the Yumuri Valley will reveal a stunning mix of rolling pastures, fields of palm trees, small forests and agricultural plots, with views of a faded colonial city and of course the beautiful valley itself.  This is your last planned bike ride for the trip, so make sure to enjoy it.

    Afterwards, head to Matanzas city, the capital of Matanzas province, for a guided walking tour with your leader. Though slightly rough around the edges, Matanzas boasts a fantastic literary and musical heritage. It’s known for its poets, Afro-Cuban folklore and as the birthplace of danzon and rumba (two important Cuban dances). Then we drive to Havana. Take a closer look at Old Havana on a leader-led walking tour, finishing up at an excellent micro-brewery where you can toast the end of your active adventure a cold brew. (B, L)

    Day 14: Havana
    Your Cuba cycling adventure comes to an end this morning after breakfast. (B)

    Inclusions

    • Meals: 13 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 3 dinners
    • Transport: Bicycle, Support Vehicle (Bus)
    • Accommodation: Guesthouse (13 nts)

    TIN-QBXCC

    Images courtesy of IntrepidGroup