Cuba cycling holiday
Description of Cuba cycling holiday
This nine day Cuba cycling holiday takes in the north of the country, from the Caribbean coast and back round to the Gulf of Mexico. With four full days of guided and fully supported cycling this is a chilled cycling tour, with visits to both urban and rural Cuba crafted carefully into an itinerary that gives a wonderful Cuban cycling cocktail of places to see and people to meet.
Starting in Havana, its cultural highlights are kept for the end of your trip, as you hit the road almost immediately cycling out to two ‘playas’, with plenty of time for swimming and exploring. The former at Playa Larga and the latter at Playa Giron where the Museo Giron commemorates the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion which took place here. Conflict, culture, cycling and Caribbean coast all in a day. That’s Cuba for you.
The Caribbean coastal cycle also takes you to Cienfuegos, the only city in Cuba to have been built by the French. With lots of 1950’s architecture and Caribbean café charm on the ‘Malecón’, you will spend a night here, one of five nights spent in hotels with swimming pools for post cycling cool downs. Leaving the coast from here, the backroads take you on a slightly more hilly section of the trip, but nothing too severe, as you pass by mango groves and cane fields with views out across the Escambray mountains. Explore these mountains later in the trip, when your cycle brings you through a valley in Topes de Collantes National Park, surrounded by luscious, tropical hills and passing through rural towns and welcoming communities. Such as in Hanabanilla with a stunning location on the eponymous lake.
Trinidad is the next big urban stop on this Cuba cycling holiday, not only with a colourful history but architecture to match. Staying in ‘casas particulares’ or homestays, Trinidad is a marvellous melange of old sugar mills, Spanish colonial homes and Afro-Caribbean culture, and the music is always pumping here. As it is back in Havana, the grand finale to this cycling holiday, where you will have two days to explore, guided and independently, the cultural, colonial and contemporary greatness of this iconic city.
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10 Reviews of Cuba cycling holiday
In depth story review
Reviewed on 22 Aug 2017 by Helen BarrThe cycling was exhilarating even if there were a few challenging hills. It was also wonderful to learn about the history of Cuba and how Cubans currently feel about the country. Alex, our tour leader, was a wonderful guide. Read full review
Reviewed on 03 May 2017 by John DeliaThe trip was well run and the head guide was able to make small adjustments as needed. Read full review
Reviewed on 12 Feb 2017 by Cynthia GilliamMost memorable for me was the window into the lives of Cubans. I learned a lot from our guide and the staff, but I had the chance to talk to many Cubans throughout the course of the tour. I will remember Cuba as a place with great untapped potential for economic development and growth. Read full review
Reviewed on 05 Feb 2017 by Lois MartinHearing about the way of life/history from the guide was the most memorable. Excellent, loved the way the guide introduced the whole country and way of life to us. Read full review
Reviewed on 23 Apr 2017 by Vicki CarmichaelI really enjoyed the tour guide, staff and fellow cyclists. The food was not all that great and I know that there is better food in Cuba from having it on another tour. The bikes and support were fabulous. Read full review
Reviewed on 15 Feb 2016 by Stanley HillsOur guide Mauro was an excellent ambassador and made the trip interesting and showed us the human side of Cuba. Read full review
Reviewed on 05 Jan 2016 by Philippa ClarkFantastically interesting & fun - very memorable & highly recommended. Read full review
Reviewed on 02 Oct 2016 by Kirsty Graham3*'s Read full review
Reviewed on 21 Apr 2015 by Ruth MurnaneThe most memorable part of the holiday was the cycling, the music, the people and the island...Excellent. Read full review
Reviewed on 18 Apr 2015 by kathryn gowExciting, challenging, warm and friendly. Unforgettable! Read full review
Few holidays have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a cycling trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage visitors to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We operate on a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy and local guides enforce this through responsible tourism briefings. These should help visitors to better understand the living situation for many and the environmental issues in the area. We also aim to benefit Cuban communities as much as possible by frequently stopping to use local restaurants, cafes and services.
It all starts at home where we work towards reducing our carbon footprint in our offices through energy conservation measures, recycling policies and the promotion of cycling and walking as a means for our staff to commute. Our head office has become a plastic-free zone with the use of plastic bottles being banned in our head office and we distributed reusable water bottles and tote bags to every staff member. We also support a large number of community and environmental projects in different parts of the world and try to give something back to the places we visit.
PeopleAccommodation and Meals:
We spend 3 nights in hotels and 4 nights in ‘Casas Particulares.’ These are privately owned Bed and Breakfast properties which enable you to have a rewarding insight into the local lifestyle by staying in a family home. Where meals are provided, fresh and local ingredients are always used. Although this is largely out of necessity, we can ensure that local farmers and vendors benefit. We visit a number of local, family-run restaurants called ‘Paladares’ throughout the trip. These sell a variety of authentic Cuban dishes like fresh lobster, black beans and rice, roast pork and chickpea stew.
Local Craft and Culture:
We visit several important cultural and historical sites on this tour, where our entrance fees contribute towards the preservation of artefacts and monuments that commemorate events integral to Cuban heritage. These include the Bay of Pigs museum and Guevara’s Mausoleum in Santa Clara. We encounter small handicraft stalls in most towns, so guests are able to purchase local crafts. Trinidad is famous for ceramic and lacework, and Havana’s Almacenes de San Juan is a great place to buy art, crafts, shoes, clothes, hats, instruments and food. A huge part of Cuban culture is music and dance so there will also be ample opportunity to experience this in some local bars and clubs. In Havana we visit a second hand book shop and talk to the staff about different projects that they are involved in, such as promoting creative writing and poetry, rescuing unwanted dogs and helping vulnerable women in the capital. We also spend a day with veteran Cuban cyclists, who will provide the group with an insight into competitive cycling in Cuba.
Our local operator sponsors a school in the Matanzas Province. Here, they have made a number of donations- from school materials and clothes to fans and sheets. We discourage giving to beggars on the trip as we don’t want to encourage this behaviour. Instead, our guides will help visitors to donate presents and supplies where the goods can really be utilised. Currently it is not possible to organise school visits for clients.
This is a small group tour, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.
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