Cycle Cuba

Cycle Cuba

From $ 2,860 AUD

Description

Experience Cuba from two wheels as you cycle around this laidback Caribbean island. Travel the colourful streets of Havana, past farms and tobacco plantations in Vinales, cycle alongside vintage cars on your way to the verdant Bay of Pigs, discover UNESCO Word Heritage Sites of Cienfuegos, Las Terrazas and Trinidad and experience Cuba beyond the rum and cigar scene. Pay homage at Che Guevara’s final resting place in Santa Clara, cycle the pristine and untourised Yumuri Valley, enjoy the perfect beaches of vibrant Varadero and Cayo Jutias’ clear blue waters. Enjoy the very best of Cuba as you traverse this fascinating region.

Trip Name
Cycle Cuba
Last Updated
2019-07-25
Days
14
Capacity
16
Overview
Experience Cuba from two wheels as you cycle around the east of this laidback Caribbean island. Travel the colourful streets of Havana, cycle alongside vintage cars on your way to the verdant Bay of Pigs, discover UNESCO Word Heritage Sites of Cienfuegos and Trinidad and experience Cuba beyond the rum and cigar scene. Pay homage at Che Guevara’s final resting place in Santa Clara, cycle the pristine and untourised Yumuri Valley, and enjoy the perfect beaches of vibrant Varadero. Enjoy the very best of eastern Cuba as you traverse this fascinating region. 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 Yumuri, 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

Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Essential Trip Information a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

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 at 6 pm. As the group is sometimes spread between several (but nearby) guesthouses your leader will leave a note for you explaining where to meet and what to bring. During the group meeting, your trip leader will ask you if you would like to contribute to the snack kitty. This is usually 20CUC per person. The snack kitty is spent on water, fruits, and local-made snacks. It is not a compulsory kitty, although as these can sometimes be hard to come by in Cuba in remote areas, the kitty is designed to make the purchasing of snacks easier and more convenient for you. The left over funds will be returned at trip end. You can find out more information from your leader upon arrival. 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. COMPLIMENTARY TRANSFER. Please see the Accommodation section of our Essential Trip Information for more detailed instructions. Riding distance: none
Day 2 - Soroa
This morning you leave our guesthouse early with your bags and drive 15 mins to Vedado to meet your support crew and be fitted to your bike. Take a 2hr test ride from Outer Havana back to Old Havana to ensure everything is working smoothly. Along the way we pass by John Lennon Park, Jose Marti Memorial, Plaza de la Revolucion, the Grand Theatre and the Capitol building before ending back in Old Havana at the Parque Cespedes. While the distance is a short 12kms the pace is slow as we enjoy the city and get used to riding in Cuban traffic. Sate your appetite with lunch in a nearby café before enjoying a guided city walking tour of Old Havana, taking in the four most historic plazas, passing by Catedral de San Cristobal, Plaza de Armas, Plaza Vieja and Plaza de San Francisco. Finish your walk with a special ‘one-of-a-kind’ surprise before we bundle into the support vehicle to be transported (1.5hrs) down to Soroa. Known as the 'rainbow of Cuba', Soroa is a flourishing landscape of flora and fauna but this evening we arrive as the sun goes, with enough time to enjoy dinner then opt for sleep or meet at one of the guesthouses for Cuban cocktails and an introduction to the curious fascination Cuban’s have with the game of dominos. Be warned, the locals (and our support team!) are fiercely competitive and have spent countless hours honing their domino skills! Riding distance: approx. 12 kms/7 miles, mostly flat with 80m/260ft of elevation gain Road Condition – 100% tarmac in mostly good repair
Day 3 - Soroa/Las Terrazas
This morning we drive a short distance before taking a guided tour of the spectacular Soroa Orchid Garden. Set in 7 acres this serene oasis of flora features 250 species of plants native to Cuba as well as numerous species of birds. From here you cycle west on good paved roads, sharing the streets with local traffic of tractors, bicycles, vintage American cars, old Ladas and horse drawn carriages to a picturesque hillside lake. Grab a quick drink or get your first taste of the famously strong Cuban coffee. Continue on to the San Juan River for a quick lunch then it’s time to join the locals for a refreshing swim in the same bubbling waters of that irrigate the local coffee plantations. 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 Montañes and current studio of the famous modern artist Lester Campa. After our visit to Las Terrazas, we drive (approx. 30 mins) back to Soroa. Tonight you can relax at guesthouse or head for drinks, pool, internet and of course, dominos. Riding distance: approx. 24kms/15 miles, undulating with a couple of steep hills at the start, 450m / 1500ft of elevation gain Road Condition – 100% tarmac (80% in mostly good repair, 20% in poor/broken condition)
Day 4 - Viñales
Leave Soroa by support vehicle (approx. 1.5hrs) to hilly Cueva de los Portales, where the legendary Che Guevara stayed and trained the Western Army of the Cuban Revolution. This small cave gives you a fascinating insight into the life of the military mind of Che as well as the basic conditions he and his army lived in. From here cycle on to Vinales. Set amongst low-lying mountains, this beautifully remote area will surprise you, being reminiscent of the limestone karst scenery of Vietnam or Southern Thailand, and is a perfect place to ride with very little traffic on the roads. Today’s cycling route is hilly and we rate it a medium to difficult day. After a 2km ride on rough roads we hit the toughest climb we have on the tour. It’s definitely steep but thankfully it’s also short so it’s over pretty quickly – and the views from the top definitely make the challenge worthwhile. On a clear day you can catch your first glimpse of the ocean! From here the road climbs and descends before leveling out as we hit the valley floor as we continue on to the cultural interaction highlight of the trip; the delightful Mama Luisa. A local farmer for many decades, as well as providing a delicious local meal Mama Luisa specialises in giving the best hugs in all of Cuba – yes, even to sweaty cyclists! From here the road improves as we head onwards to enjoy a short visit a tobacco farm, where a local farmer will show you how tobacco is dried and then rolled into cigars. Here you have the chance to purchase cigars direct from the maker and, if you’re lucky, you may even get a taste of this famous Cuban tradition. Climbing back into the support vehicle we drive on a short distance to the UNESCO-listed town of Vinales, with enough time for a quick shower and perhaps a mojito before visiting a hillside farm restaurant for dinner (included). All of the food here is 100% organic grown locally and is truly delicious. Drinks aren’t included here, but in a twist you only pay for the mixers – the rum is free. Classic Cuba! Riding distance: approx. 46kms/28 miles, undulating with a couple of steep hills at the start, 575m/1890ft of elevation gain Road Condition – 90% tarmac (40% in mostly good repair, 50% in poor/broken condition), 10% Gravel
Day 5 - Vinales / Cayo Jutias
After breakfast we board our support vehicle and drive (approx. 10 mins) 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 we cycle to the sublime Cayo Jutias. Retracing part of yesterday’s route we soon leave the towering limestone karsts behind and enter smaller roads through dry and flat farmland, with barely a vehicle to be seen. We have frequent stops today to refresh and refuel – your driver is always here with cold water straight from the vehicle’s fridge. Despite the flat terrain today is our hardest one the bike as the conditions of the road are the poor with frequent gravel and broken tarmac sections. However the destination is definitely worth the journey and the conditions improve as we cycle across the causeway and catch our first real views of the ocean. With its surreal white beaches and pale blue waters, Cayo Jutias is one of those perfect beaches you only dream about. After your ride stretch out on the sands and enjoy a packed lunch and fresh juice. Relax, go for a swim in the warm waters or walk away from the tourist crowd to the next beach along, where the locals often park those beautiful old cars on the beach itself. After some time to soak in the atmosphere and splash about take the support vehicle back to town. It’s a 2hr journey so there’s plenty of time to put your seat back and snooze all the way back to Vinales. The rest of the evening is free to take at your leisure- why not try one of the many live music venues or salsa the night away. For those craving internet access the entire main street is a wifi hotspot. Riding distance: approx. 63kms/39 miles, undulating at the start then downhill/flat near the end, 342m/1120ft of elevation gain Road Condition – 70% tarmac (10% in mostly good repair, 60% in poor/broken condition), 30% Gravel
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 (approx. 2hrs) 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. Perhaps visit the Jose Marti Memorial Tower or your guide can help organise a final group meal in one of the many paladars in Old Havana. Riding distance: approx. 42kms/26 miles, lightly undulating with 320m/1050ft of elevation gain Road Condition – 100% tarmac (90% in mostly good repair, 10% in poor/broken condition)
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. Riding distance: none
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 first cycling tour (approx. 30 kms). 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. Riding Distance: about 30 kms/18 miles on sealed tarmac roads with approx. 190m/620ft of elevation gain
Day 9 - Trinidad
After fuelling up on an included 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. Riding Distance: about 60 kms/37 miles on 100% tarmac roads. Rolling terrain with approx. 460m/1510ft of elevation gain
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 (approx. 20km), 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 a further 20kms 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. While mainly downhill today’s ride can be a tough one due to the short sharp inclines – but the views alone make it worth it (and the support vehicle is always there if you want the views without the effort) Riding Distance: about 40 kms/25 miles, in hilly terrain on a mixture of approx. 70% tarmac and 30% gravel roads, with approx. 570m/1870ft of elevation gain
Day 11 - Varadero
After breakfast, drive 2.5hrs 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 a 30 kms bike tour, 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 (30 mins) 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. Riding Distance: about 30 kms/20 miles with approx. 180m/590ft of elevation gain
Day 12 - Varadero
Experience Cuba’s version of beach life with a free day in Varadero. After the past few cycling-heavy days, free time in the sun and sand is bound to be a welcome change of pace. Ask your tour leader about possible water-based activities and optional excursions on offer. Kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and snorkelling are all popular options. Perhaps head out on a dolphin-watching expedition or take a boat trip to nearby mangroves where flamingos, crocodiles, parrots and other wildlife can be found. Alternatively, simply find a patch of golden sand, grab a pina colada and enjoy the glorious views. Riding Distance: none
Day 13 - Havana
Today is an early start as we drive (approx. 45 mins) 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 20-kilometre 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. The road in the valley is poorly maintained as is practically deserted and traffic free, meaning there are frequent potholes, but this only adds to the feeling of cycling through a part of Cuba so few tourists ever experience. 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 it’s a 2 hour drive to return 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. Riding Distance: about 20 kms/12 miles on poorly maintained tarmac and gravel roads, with approx. 290m/950ft of elevation gain
Day 14 - Havana
Your Cuba cycling adventure comes to an end this morning after breakfast. There are no activities or cycling planned for the day. If you have not already organized a transfer to the airport, your guesthouse can usually arrange one for you – please discuss this with them the day before you need to depart.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
14-01-201927-01-2019AUD $ 2,860-
04-02-201917-02-2019AUD $ 2,860-
25-02-201910-03-2019AUD $ 2,860-
18-03-201931-03-2019AUD $ 2,860-
15-04-201928-04-2019AUD $ 2,860-
29-04-201912-05-2019AUD $ 2,860-
03-06-201916-06-2019AUD $ 2,860-
08-07-201921-07-2019AUD $ 2,860-
19-08-201901-09-2019AUD $ 2,860-
16-09-201929-09-2019AUD $ 2,860-
14-10-201927-10-2019AUD $ 2,860-
18-11-201901-12-2019AUD $ 2,860-
02-12-201915-12-2019AUD $ 2,860-
16-12-201929-12-2019AUD $ 2,860-

Accommodation

Guesthouse (13 nts)

Transport

Bicycle,Support Vehicle (Bus)

Map