Cycle Cuba from Havana to Varadero, Yumuri Valley

Cycle Cuba

from Havana to Varadero, Yumuri Valley

Biking
14 days
2019

Mon, Dec 02

Sun, Dec 15

€1,990

Still available

Book
More available dates (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.

Map

Itinerary

Day 1Havana
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 2Soroa
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 3Soroa/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 4Viñales
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 5Vinales / 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 6Havana
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 7Havana
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 8Bay 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 9Trinidad
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 10Santa 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 11Varadero
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 12Varadero
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 13Havana
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 14Havana
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 title

Cycle Cuba

Trip code

QBXCC

Validity

Validity: 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019
Select date
Please provide a valid email address.
Book now
Please provide a valid phone number. Like: +31636363634
Safe bookingPay later · No card needed
Do you have a question?
Your question should be between 5 and 2000 chars.
Send

Introduction

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.

Style

Original

Themes

Active Adventures,Cycling

Transport

Bicycle,Support Vehicle (Bus)

Physical Rating

3

Physical preparation

This is an active trip, requiring a reasonable level of physical fitness. While there is flexibility in the distance you can elect to cycle each day, the cycling on this trip can be challenging at times, with the heat and terrain adding to the physical effort. It is also important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. As a general rule, the more preparation you can do for this type of trip, the more you will enjoy it. Prepare for the trip by doing aerobic type exercises before travelling - jogging or swimming are some options, though cycling is best. If possible take some extended day rides before travelling, or spend time on exercise bikes in the gym. The more your muscles (and bottom) are prepared for the riding on this trip the more you will be able to enjoy the wonderful countryside and people you meet while riding. Note that an enthusiasm for bike riding and adventure is essential! CYCLING DISTANCES: The information listed in the itinerary is a guide to the approximate distances and terrain cycled each day. However, this may vary depending on the physical capabilities of the group, and changes to local conditions. For safety reasons we only cycle during daylight hours, so there may be some early morning starts. We take regular rest breaks throughout cycling days. In Cuba we ride relatively short distances, the shortest being 12kms and the longest 63kms. However the terrain is quite hilly and the Caribbean heat and humidity can have an effect, as can the poor state of the road in many places meaning the physical effort can sometimes be harder than expected.

Joining point

A Guesthouse

Joining point description

Cuban Guesthouses (known locally as Casas) are more similar in style to B&Bs than they are homestays. Families do not necessarily live in the residence and most houses we contract are primarily a business. While some guesthouse managers and owners speak English, interaction mostly consists of gestures, smiles and ‘Spanglish’. Just like the residences in your own neighbourhood, each casa is unique; expect there to be differences between the rooms you and your travelling companions stay in (generally we arrange things so that there are 1-4 group members in each house). Each room has a private bathroom with towels, and occasionally basic toiletries are provided. Premium guesthouses at least will not have electric shower heads although as with many developing countries, power cuts do occur on occasion, meaning that hot water can’t always be guaranteed regardless of the standard.

Joining point instructions

Rooming allocations are finalised inside a week from departure based on the configuration requests of each traveller or travelling party. Please advise bedding configuration requests to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel. We have an expansive list of guesthouses across the Havana neighbourhoods of Vedado, Central Havana and Old Havana. Due to the volume of passengers as well as the time constraint we cannot contact you with the name and address of your assigned guesthouse. For this reason, a complimentary arrival transfer is included with your trip; please trust that your driver will know the address of your assigned guesthouse. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 5 days prior to travel. If you have not booked the transfer prior to departure, or will not utilise it due to independent plans, please ensure you ask your booking agent inside 7 days of departure for your confirmed guesthouse name and address. ARRIVAL TRANSFER: To book your complimentary arrival transfer you must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 5 days prior to travel. The complimentary airport arrival transfer is valid if you are arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. After collecting your luggage, please continue walking through the 'Main Arrivals Hall' of the airport. Past the crowds of people, look for a free-standing pull-up banner with our brand logos on it. There will NOT be a sign with your name on it however a representative will be waiting at the banner to take you to your pre-arranged taxi. If you can't locate the representative, please call +53 5250 6496 (Do not rely on somebody else to call for you as they may be seeking commissions to direct you to another transfer company). The transfer will be provided in a taxi branded car; however, all drivers are specifically contracted to us so please trust they will know the address of your assigned guesthouse. LOCAL ASSISTANCE: We have a desk located in the listed address below; providing a 24-hour service with English speaking employees if any assistance is required. Casa La Gargola 1st floor #82 Cuba street, Old Havana (between Cuarteles & Chacon Streets) PH: +53 (7) 8605493 The Spanish translation of the address is "Casa La Gargola 1° Piso #82 Calle Cuba, entre Cuarteles y Chacon, Havana Vieja”.

Finish point

A Guesthouse (various)

Important information

2019 is the first year we have run this combined East and West Cuba itinerary (although we have run trips very successfully in the west of Cuba for the last 5 years) 1. An airport arrival transfer is included. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking. 2. A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information. 3. Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at time of booking so as we can organise a suitably sized bike. 4. Bike helmets are compulsory on this trip. You are unable to purchase or hire bike helmets locally so please ensure you bring your own bike helmet from home. 5. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed) 6. There are unprecedented changes happening in Cuba right now. It is an exciting time but it also means some patience and understanding is required for the heightened demand of infrastructure, accommodation and crowds. 7. The laws around health and safety in Cuba are very different than in more developed countries, even for government licenced accommodation. While we endeavour to source accommodation that is compliant to our own health and safety standards there will be occasions where the accommodation will not have a marked fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms. Please ask your casa owner to explain the fire evacuation plan to you when you check in.

Group leader

All Intrepid cycling group trips are accompanied by one of our cycling leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Our cycling leaders are all passionate cyclists, as you’d expect, but they also go through some pretty rigorous cycle-trip specific training. Each one has undergone on-road training and supervision and knows how to do safety checks, basic repairs and emergency first-aid. And at the end of the day they’re still regular Intrepid leaders, which means they will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

Safety

We take safety seriously on all our trips, but cycling tours deserve a few special considerations. HELMETS: Helmets are compulsory and we do not allow anyone to ride without one (including our own staff!). You can bring your own, or purchase one that meets international safety standards on the ground. Your leader can assist with this. FOOTWEAR For safety reasons we strongly recommend that you wear shoes that cover the toes while riding. SUPPORT VEHICLES We usually have a support vehicle following us if first-aid is ever necessary or people are feeling too tired to ride. BIKES: Our bikes are serviced regularly, and we get them checked by experts before each and every trip. Should you choose to bring your own please note that while we are happy to assist where we can with repairs you are responsible for the safety and suitability of your own equipment. TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware! There are times when traffic conditions make sections of our planned riding route unsafe – in this instance we will use the support vehicle. WEATHER Due to inclement weather posing a serious health or safety issue there may be times when we use the support vehicle instead of doing the planned ride. We will endeavour to reroute if possible but at times may have to cancel the planned ride.

Visas

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time. Cuba - Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Cuba for the most up to date information. To enter the country, visitors are required to have evidence of sufficient funds for the duration of their stay, proof of travel medical insurance, as well as onward travel ticket. Passport holders from Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are required to obtain a Tourist Card (Tarjeta de Turista) which is valid for 30 days. In some cases, you may be required to buy the card at your departure airport (Eg. YTO, MEX, CUN, SJO, LIM, PTY), either at the check in counter or at the flight gate itself some minutes before departure. Others need to buy the tourist card from their travel agency, but policies vary (eg Canadian airlines give out tourist cards during the flight), so you'll need to check ahead with the airline office. In some cases, you can arrange a visa prior to departing your home country but this is usually more expensive and time consuming. All Tourist Cards are the same, except if you are flying direct to Cuba from the USA (including flights that transit via the USA), please read below. Anyone travelling from the United States, regardless of citizenship and nationality, must comply with the regulations set by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Individuals travelling to Cuba are not required to obtain licenses from OFAC if their travel is covered by a general license. Under the general license, there are 12 permitted reasons for travel and as such the license category “Support for the Cuban People” (516.574) allows individuals to holiday in Cuba, however, please be advised that the discretion lies with airport officials. The Cuban Tourist Card cannot be arranged prior to arrival in the USA and must be purchased from the airport before boarding your flight to Cuba (Pink in colour; costing USD$50). This should be obtained by presenting your boarding pass at the check-in counter, or for some airports, at the gate. Please note that at check-in you might be asked to present your trip vouchers and Essential Trip Information (ETIs) Document when procuring the Cuban Tourist Card, so be sure to bring printed copies of these with you. Your chosen airline should have more information about the departing airport’s process on flying directly from the United States to Cuba. 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 - https://travel.state.gov – and the U.S. Department of the Treasury - https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/pages/cuba.aspx - for the latest advice. If you are British or reside in Great Britain with a passport from the European union, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, you can apply for Tourist Card here - https://www.cubavisas.com - (This type of tourist card would not be valid for travel to Cuba from the USA, Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands) – Please read above for more information about travelling to Cuba directly from America. You may use this local address to apply for your Tourist Card - Casa La Gargola, 1st floor #82 Cuba street, Old Havana. Alternatively, you can apply direct (postal only) to the Consulate http://misiones.minrex.gob.cu/en/united-kingdom.

Why we love it

Cycling through Caribbean Cuba gives you unique access to parts of the island that are off the beaten track.

Is this trip right for you

To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed) This is a cycling trip, so it requires a certain amount of cycling fitness. This being said, there’s always a comfortable, air-conditioned support vehicle following close by. Cash can sometimes be difficult to access in Cuba. Credit cards (not debit cards) are essential – ideally multiple credit cards from several different banks. The Caribbean climate can be very hot and humid. It's important to wear the appropriate clothing, drink plenty of water and apply sun protection regularly. Lycra cycling shorts are ideal for warmer temperatures. Internet access can be hard to come by, and when it's available it's sometimes unreliable. This is, on the other hand, a great opportunity to take a break from modern devices and have a true holiday. Cuba's roads aren't always paved, but when they are they can range from smooth to downright terrible. That being said, it’s a fun experience to share the road with tractors, vintage American cars and horse-drawn carriages. While Cuban food can sometimes seem limited due to a ban on imported goods, your guide will steer you towards the best eateries in each destination you visit. Cuba is different and that’s what makes it such a 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, transport sometimes runs 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. Import restrictions make the purchase of new bicycles a difficult challenge - our bikes come from a variety of different manufacturers but are all mechanically sound.

Health

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared. WHO – WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION The World Health Organization has identified the following mosquito transmitted diseases in this region: Dengue, Yellow Fever, Malaria and Zika (amongst others) For more information, please visit www.who.int ZIKA VIRUS: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been an outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in parts of Central and South America. This virus is mostly concerning to pregnant women as recently in Brazil local authorities have linked the virus to an increase in babies born with microcephaly (smaller than normal skull). In addition to the risk mentioned above WHO have reported that Zika symptoms may include mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days. In line with the above, we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip to Central and South America. At this stage, WHO is not recommending any travel or trade restrictions related to the Zika virus. More information on the Zika virus can be found at the following links: World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/ CYCLING HEALTH Riding across unfamiliar terrain in weather conditions that you are not used to can potentially lead to cycling-related health issues. By far the most common issue is that of dehydration. While this is most common on warm/hot days, it is also a factor during cold weather as you continue to sweat. Research shows most riders will typically lose 500-1000 ml of water per hour. While we schedule in frequent rest stops and encourage you to refill water bottles at every opportunity, it is the responsibility of each cyclist to monitor their own levels of hydration while cycling. The key point to remember is not to wait until you’re thirsty but to drink small amounts regularly from the start of your ride. Adding an electrolyte solution can aid in replenishing the salts/electrolytes lost through physical activity. This is especially important on days when you are drinking a lot of the bike.

Food and dietary requirements

To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. Our groups tend to eat dinner together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though. Your group leader will also be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. DIETARY REQUIREMENTS More restrictive diet requirements (vegans, celiac, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance, etc.) can be accommodated along this trip but you should expect a lesser variety than what you can expect at home. We recommend bringing your own supply of snacks with you. Vegetarians should be aware that while you can get vegetarian meals in Cuba, you generally won't find much variety and you may get tired of being offered the same every day (i.e. - rice, beans, omelette and salad). Vegetarians are often surprised that their meals are no cheaper than those containing meat, and this is because vegetables on the free market in Cuba are of similar prices to those of meat. Please let us know your diet requirements before your trip starts. FOOD IN CUBA: Food in Cuba has a reputation for being bland and lacking variety, however it has improved dramatically over the last two years. There are very limited snacks available in Cuba; convenience stores exist but are certainly not as prevalent nor sell the quantity or variety of snacks or junk food you may be used to at home. You may wish to bring your favourite chocolates, candy or healthy snacks like muesli bars. Beans and rice are the staples, with cucumber, tomato and cabbage being the conventional ingredients for a Cuban salad. Chicken and pork are the most common meats served in Cuba, however fish and a variety of seafood is also frequently on offer. Please be aware that it is a cultural trait to serve meals larger than you are expected to finish, but be assured nothing will go to waste. It can be hard to find a suitable place to eat while travelling in Cuba, as roadside restaurants tend to cater for large tour groups and either offer a fixed meal or a very limited selection of snacks. In the cities and towns small privately-owned restaurants, paladares, offer a little more choice but can often only seat a maximum of twelve people (the number for which they are officially licensed).   SNACK KITTY: 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.

Money matters

Cuba currency information - The official currencies of Cuba are the Cuban Peso Convertible (CUC) and the National Peso (CUP also known as Moneda Nacional M.N.). Non-Cubans deal almost exclusively in convertibles (CUC). The National Peso (CUP) has very limited use, especially for travellers. What's confusing for travellers is that the Cubans call both currencies 'pesos', so you must ask or know the value of something to know which currency they are referring to (CUC1 = US$1 and CUC1 = CUP24). Cuban law states that it is illegal to remove any bills from Cuba so ensure that you use up both currencies before departing the country. ACCESSING FUNDS IN CUBA: Travellers often experience problems accessing funds in Cuba. To avoid being caught without money in Cuba, ensure you have a variety of ways of accessing your money including cash (GBP CAD or EUR) and bank cards from various banks. Cards issued by US banks or banks affiliated with US banks are not accepted in Cuba at all; among others, this includes Travelex, Westpac and Citibank. Contact your bank prior to travel about using your bank card in Cuba. We recommend you use the ATM at the airport upon arrival; located outside the terminal, tucked in the corner of the currency exchange house. You will find ATMs dotted sparsely throughout most cities, but they can be quite temperamental, so you may have to try a couple before finding the one that works for your card. EXCHANGING CASH IN CUBA: CADECAs are the official government currency exchange houses. These can be found in every city, at the airport, and are commonly found in the larger hotels in Havana. Please note that most are closed on Sundays. For any services offered, such as money exchange or cash advances, you will need your passport to proceed. Note it is in your best interest to specifically ask for smaller bills. The only currencies that you are guaranteed to be able to exchange are CAD, EUR and GBP. The US dollar is not accepted as legal tender in Cuba, and attracts a large commission fee at exchange. The exchange rates used by the CADECA are the same in every CADECA around Cuba and represent about a 3% commission for the bank (included in the exchange rate). For cash advances and when using the ATMs, there is a 3% fee charged. This means that for value for money it's approximately the same if you are making a cash advance or exchanging cash.  SPENDING MONEY: When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document). Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less. BUDGET FOR MEALS NOT INCLUDED: CUC 300 TIPPING: If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many destinations. Due to the low Government-set wages in Cuba, tipping is relied upon heavily so expect to tip for just about everything. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader. Hold on to your smaller notes and coins to make tipping easier. The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: - Restaurants: Local markets, government and private (paladares) restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest 10%. There's no need to tip at dinners taken at Guesthouses. - Guesthouse: You may consider tipping the employees (not the owners) of a Guesthouse; CUC1-2 is suggested, although a clothing item, a towel or the like will be kindly received. - Toilet attendant: CUC 0.25 per use. - Musicians: CUC1-2 per session. - Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest CUC2 per person per day for local guides. - Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of CUC1-2 per day is generally appropriate. - Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline CUC2-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. In total, we recommend you budget approx CUC10-15 per day of your trip to cover tipping. CONTINGENCY FUNDS: We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.

What to take

Packing for a cycling tour isn’t that different from any other adventure. But if you want to be comfortable and warm, here are a few bike-specific tips. • Helmet – these are compulsory, but if you don’t have your own you can sometimes purchase an approved and well-fitted one at the start of the trip (our leaders can assist you with this). There are some destinations where you are unable to purchase or hire appropriate helmets locally so you will need to bring your own - please check the 'Important Notes' section to see if this is the case. • Padded bike shorts • Quick-dry jerseys – you can definitely get away with a few cotton t-shirts but having a few light and breathable jerseys will make your cycling a lot more comfortable, especially in warmer/humid climates. • Quick-dry socks • Cycling gloves – not essential but recommended as padded cycle gloves will make your riding more comfortable and can help protect you in case of a fall. • Rain gear – pack a light poncho in case the weather turns when you’re out on the road • Light breathable waterproof/windproof – especially useful for those early mornings or downhill sections when the wind-chill becomes a factor. • Water bottle – we don't provide bottles but all our bikes have one bottle holder fitted (and a second one can be fitted if required). Please bring a cycling-specific water bottle as other types will fall out of the holders. A Camelbak will make drinking on-the-go easier. • Sunglasses – well fitted sports sunglasses help protect against dust, insects and (of course) the sun • Day pack – our support vehicle will carry your main bag, but a day pack for snacks and clothes is a good idea. • Suncream – please bring a high protection factor (e.g. SPF 50) sunscreen as long days in the saddle can really expose you to the sun • Shoes – normal sports shoes can be worn on all of our trips however you may want to consider a flat shoe with a relatively stiff sole as it makes pedalling a lot more efficient. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own cycling-specific shoes however we recommended 'mountain bike' style shoes that have grip on the sole rather than road bike' shoes as you will still be walking around while on the rides (cafe/photo/toilet stops, etc.). For safety reasons we require that you wear shoes that completely cover the toes while riding. • Saddles – are saddles are standard, unisex models –less experienced cyclists may choose to bring your own gel seat cover for added comfort. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring your own saddle – our leader will assist in fitting it to your bike • Pedals – all bikes come with flat pedals. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own pedals – our leader will assist in fitting them to your bike As space in our support vehicle/transport can be limited we request that you bring only a small luggage bag with you rather than larger bags or suitcases.

Climate and seasonal

WEATHER CONTINGENCIES: Please note that Hurricane season is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors these situations as they may arise, so that itineraries or activities can be amended as necessary.

A couple of rules

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader or local representative has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes. Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes. While we do accept children under 18 on this trip we do have a couple of rules. From a safety and enjoyment perspective they should be confident and competent cyclists capable of completing the riding part of the itinerary without additional assistance. Minors under 18 years old must always be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian. This includes when the minor rides in the support vehicle.

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

Emergency contact

BOOKING ENQUIRIES / ISSUES For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/contact-us INTERNET IN CUBA:  There are WIFI hotspots located at larger hotels and at major public squares in most cities. You will need to purchase an ETECSA internet card from the ETECSA shop or larger hotel. Usually these come in 1 hour blocks at a price of CUC1 per hour. If the login page does not open when you select the WIFI, type this into your browser: www.portal-wifi-temas.nauta.cu If you do not log out correctly your time may be used up without use. To do so, type 1.1.1.1 into your browser and hit “Cerrar session”. Be aware that Skype does not work in Cuba. We recommend downloading a messaging app prior to arrival to communicate with your friends and family back home, such as Whatsapp or IMO. CRISES AND EMERGENCIES Please be aware that communication lines in Cuba are unreliable and establishing a clear line requires patience. Please follow these instructions to ensure our operators can assist you in times of need. Since voicemail isn't an option and most incoming call phone numbers are automatically blocked, our operator will not be able to return any missed calls. The only solution to this problem is persistence. Keep calling the line until an operator answers the call. Alternatively, the emergency line is a mobile number that can be reached via text. If you cannot establish a connection to our operators over the phone, please send a text with your full name, any reference codes (if known), the issue at hand and a return contact number. You will most likely receive a response via text.  In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office: Intrepid's Local Operator (located in Havana): +53 5333 8121 or +53 5510 5525 If you cannot reach the operator using the above numbers, alternatively you may try our Cuba representative located in Australia +61 430 504 636 For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/ While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. Your leader will give you their mobile contact details at the initial group meeting. In Cuba the practice of calling ‘reverse charges’ is quite common – so if you need to contact your leader in a genuine emergency and you do not have mobile access simply ask a local if you can use their phone to contact your leader. If you don’t speak Spanish then please show them the following Spanish phrase: "Puedo usar su teléfono para contactar a mi guía turístico. Él pagará los cargos del teléfono." Cuba Operations: +53 5333-8121

Responsible travel

As part of our commitment to responsible travel a portion of your trip cost will be donated to Bicycles for Humanity – a not-for-profit, volunteer run, grass roots charity organisation focused on the alleviation of poverty through sustainable transport – in the form of a bicycle. In the developing world a bicycle is life changing, allowing access to health care, education, economic opportunity and wider community. A bicycle means you can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load, providing a profound and lasting positive effect for the individual as well as their community. Bicycles For Humanity collect donated (used or new) bicycles, repair them if needed and send them to Africa. Along with donated bicycles each of the 40 ft shipping containers that Bicycles For Humanity sends becomes a bike workshop, providing employment, skills, training, business, opportunity and economic development for the community in which it's placed, helping the community to move away from aid dependence. For more information see http://www.bicyclesforhumanity.com/ We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

The Intrepid Foundation

Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched by Intrepid Group dollar for dollar (up to AU$10,000 per donor and AU$500,000 in total each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And because Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/ Intrepid and Bicycles For Humanity At Intrepid, we know a bike can changes lives. Provide a person in the developing world with a bike and it means they can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load. The extra mobility and distance gained from using a bike can make all the difference when seeking medicine or trying to find work. This is why we’ve partnered with Bicycles for Humanity to help provide bikes to communities in Namibia, Africa. Bicycles for Humanity takes bikes we no longer use, repairs them, packs them up and ships them off to the African continent in 40-foot containers. These containers then become bike workshops on arrival – a place of employment, education and business for the communities who receive them. Each of these Bicycle Empowerment Centres are self-sustaining, micro-financed small businesses and a massive step towards financial independence for the community. We also help by donating a portion of each booking of our cycling trips directly to Bicycles for Humanity, as well as using our network of contacts to bring greater exposure to the amazing work the volunteer team do every day at Bicycles for Humanity. We are also proud to have Bicycles for Humanity as a partner of The Intrepid Foundation, where our financial support will go directly towards purchasing containers and shipping bikes to Namibia. Every donation to The Intrepid Foundation from our travellers is matched by us dollar for dollar. To find out more or to make a donation, visit The Intrepid Foundation website.

Accommodation notes

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. Throughout the trip we request that our lodgings prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination. We have classified guesthouse rooms into two standards for the comfort levels of our trips: Standard and Premium. Most differences can be a little hard to tell at first, particularly when taking aesthetic into account which varies greatly not only between rooms but also between cities and provinces. For this itinerary, guesthouse rooms will have an ensuite and air-conditioning however will not necessarily have a split system, an in-room or in-house safe or imported bedding. Stairs are prevalent in Cuban homes. If this presents a problem to you, then please advise us at time of booking so we can request rooms on or closer to ground level. PRE-TOUR ACCOMMODATION: We aim to confirm the first night of your tour in Old Havana however occasionally due to availability we will confirm it in either Central Havana or Vedado. If you book pre-tour accommodation through us we will also aim to book these nights in Old Havana. Please note: Late requests and requests of 3 nights or more have a lower chance of being confirmed in Old Havana. POST-TOUR ACCOMMODATION The final night of your tour may be booked in either Vedado, Central Havana or Old Havana. If you book post-tour accommodation through us, we aim to confirm it at the same property of your final tour-night (regardless of the area we have secured) to avoid the inconvenience of you having to move. If you specifically prefer your post accommodation to be booked in old Havana (knowing you may have to move areas on your own accord), you must inform your booking agent and we will request this. Please note: Late requests and requests of 3 nights or more have a lower chance of being confirmed in Old Havana. ACCOMMODATION OVERBOOKINGS: Cuba is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination and unfortunately the number of rooms available is not increasing at the same rate. Hotels and Guesthouses occasionally cancel bookings at the last minute and do not always offer an alternative option that meets our standards. While these types of cancellations are outside of our control, our local team is presented with the difficult task of sourcing the next best from whatever else is available; choosing the option that will have the least impact on your experience. This overbooking is affecting all tour operators in the country and you need to be aware that it may affect your trip. COMPLIMENTARY INCLUDED ARRIVAL TRANSFER Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised. The driver will have the address of your guesthouse. After collecting your luggage, continue through the 'Main Arrivals Hall' of the airport (do not exit through the side door). An Intrepid representative holding a sign with Intrepid's logo will be waiting to take you to your pre-arranged transfer. If you can't locate the Intrepid representative, please call +53 52506496. Do not rely on somebody else to call for you as they may be seeking commission to direct you to another transfer company. If you arrive earlier than trip's start day you may be in different accommodation than the rest of the group. It is your responsibility to arrange a transfer to the start point guesthouse. AIR CONDITIONING On this trip all rooms we sleep in have air conditioning (please note that during albeit infrequent power cuts the air-con won't work, but this is rare)

Transport notes

While there are occasions we use local public transport such as trains, buses or taxis to cover long distances or attend non-cycling activities we predominantly use the bicycle as our main form of transport. On most of our trips we also have a support vehicle as secondary transport for travelling longer distances, avoiding hazardous areas to cycle, as a backup should we have any incidents and of course an option for those that would prefer not to cycle for an hour or a day. These vehicles range from a minivan in most regions up to a full sized coach or overland vehicle in others. Your main luggage is transported in the support vehicle BICYCLES USED ON THIS TRIP Due to heavy import restrictions we do not have a consistent fleet of bicycles in Cuba, and use a variety of different makes and models (including Giant, Specialized, Scott, Bergamont, Trek and Raleigh). While the bikes are not new they come in a variety of sizes, are in sound mechanical order and suitable for the type of riding we do in Cuba. BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE INTO CUBA If you would prefer to bring your own bike into Cuba, that is fine. However, please bear in mind that the bike will need to be in perfect working order with no worn parts. This is because spare parts are almost impossible to source in Cuba. You may also be required to complete paperwork both on arrival and on departure to prove to airport authorities that the bike has left Cuban soil. BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE If you are planning to bring your own bike please note we strongly recommend against bringing a road bike. The often poor condition of the roads in Cuba (broken tarmac, gravel and frequent potholes) require front suspension, so a mountain bike or hybrid (with suspension) is recommended. Quality spare bike parts are extremely hard to come by in Cuba so please bring any you feel you may require. Arriving with oversize luggage. Havana’s Jose Marti airport has oversize luggage delivery at both ends of the baggage terminal. Oversize items (such as bicycles) can come out of either - regardless of where your main luggage came out - and can take up to 2hrs if multiple flights are arriving around the same time. BICYCLE RENTAL HAVANA If you arrive early and wish to hire a bicycle there are a number of reputable bicycle hire companies. We recommend RUTA Bikes, located in the Vedado region of Havana. Rates vary by the type of bike but we'd recommend either a mountain bike or touring bike option due to the large number of potholes on Havana's streets. For further info (including location & current prices) see their website at http://www.rutabikes.com/rent-a-bicycle/ or to hire a bike email info@rutabikes.com directly. NAVIGATING YOUR WAY WITHOUT THE INTERNET To make it easier to find your way around (especially in the main cities) we recommend downloading offline maps (such as Google maps) to your mobile device/phone – that way you can use live GPS mapping while your mobile device is in ‘Flight Mode’, saving battery and internet time. BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE While we’re confident in the quality and suitability of the bikes we include, we do recognise that sometimes you just need the comfort of your own bike to enjoy the ride. If you are thinking of bringing your own bike on this tour please advise us at time of booking and take note of the below information. If you do choose to bring your own bike please note that we will not being carrying a spare bike for you. SUITABLE TYPE OF BIKE Although the surfaces of the roads we travel on is generally good there are occasionally gravel or potholed sections of road/track. As such, we recommend a 'mountain' or 'hybrid' style bike with plenty of gear selections for easy cruising. Please note that we usually cannot accept tandem bikes on our tours as often they are too large for our transport. In some destinations we are able to make an exception. Please ask your booking agent. For more details on the type of roads we’ll be riding on see the ‘Physical Rating’ information. Please contact your booking agent if you have any questions about the suitability of your bike. BEFORE THE TRIP We recommend that you have a full service of your bike performed by a trained mechanic, to help minimise any issues you may have during the trip itself. Please also ensure that you have specific and adequate cover for loss, damage or theft for your bike under your travel, home contents or a specialist insurance policy. DURING THE TRIP Your bike will be transported in the same way as our included bikes, usually in the bike support vehicle or on the bike trailer. While we endeavour to take the best care we can, you should recognise that transported bikes do get the occasional bump or scratch along the way. The same applies when we take other forms of transport, such as a train, where we are unable to pack the bikes ourselves.Your bike will also be secured in the same way as our included bikes. Please note this can occasionally be outside (where the bikes are locked together). While our mechanics can usually assist with minor repairs, you are responsible for the safety and upkeep of your own bicycle. This includes conducting regular safety checks of your bike during the trip and cleaning your bike. In addition, any parts that require replacing are your responsibility. Most destinations have access to only limited spares along the way, and access to bike shops can be days apart. Therefore, please ensure you bring any spare parts that you may require (especially specialist parts). In order to reach our destination it is necessary for us to travel via various modes of transportation, including planes and trains. Please be aware that any extra costs involved with transporting personal bikes are your responsibility. This includes (but is not limited to) additional transport costs and customs/import fees. TRANSPORTING YOUR BIKE TO/FROM THE DESTINATION Your preferred airline should have no problem carrying your bike, but many will charge an extra fee. Contact them before departing to discuss their arrangements for transporting bikes. A well-padded bike box obtainable from a bike shop is usually the best method of plane transportation. We recommend that you accompany your bicycle on the flight. Unaccompanied bicycles have been known to spend some extra days in the hands of customs authorities. Please also note that many taxis are not large enough to transport a bike box/bag so you may be delayed waiting for a suitably sized vehicle.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php TRAVEL INSURANCE: The Cuban government has declared that travel insurance (which covers at least medical expenses) is compulsory for all travellers to Cuba. Proof of travel insurance may be requested at Havana airport by immigration officials. Travellers failing to produce a valid document will be required to purchase a new policy at the airport, before being granted access to Cuba. Cuban authorities also announced that they will not recognise any insurance policy issued or underwritten by any insurance company which has an affiliation with a US company. You should take this into account when purchasing your insurance before departure from your home country.

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SINGLE TRAVELLERS: Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

Itinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, 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. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Accommodation

Guesthouse (13 nts)

Map

Itinerary

Day 1Havana
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 2Soroa
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 3Soroa/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 4Viñales
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 5Vinales / 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 6Havana
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 7Havana
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 8Bay 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 9Trinidad
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 10Santa 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 11Varadero
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 12Varadero
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 13Havana
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 14Havana
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 title

Cycle Cuba

Trip code

QBXCC

Validity

Validity: 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019

Introduction

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.

Style

Original

Themes

Active Adventures,Cycling

Transport

Bicycle,Support Vehicle (Bus)

Physical Rating

3

Physical preparation

This is an active trip, requiring a reasonable level of physical fitness. While there is flexibility in the distance you can elect to cycle each day, the cycling on this trip can be challenging at times, with the heat and terrain adding to the physical effort. It is also important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. As a general rule, the more preparation you can do for this type of trip, the more you will enjoy it. Prepare for the trip by doing aerobic type exercises before travelling - jogging or swimming are some options, though cycling is best. If possible take some extended day rides before travelling, or spend time on exercise bikes in the gym. The more your muscles (and bottom) are prepared for the riding on this trip the more you will be able to enjoy the wonderful countryside and people you meet while riding. Note that an enthusiasm for bike riding and adventure is essential! CYCLING DISTANCES: The information listed in the itinerary is a guide to the approximate distances and terrain cycled each day. However, this may vary depending on the physical capabilities of the group, and changes to local conditions. For safety reasons we only cycle during daylight hours, so there may be some early morning starts. We take regular rest breaks throughout cycling days. In Cuba we ride relatively short distances, the shortest being 12kms and the longest 63kms. However the terrain is quite hilly and the Caribbean heat and humidity can have an effect, as can the poor state of the road in many places meaning the physical effort can sometimes be harder than expected.

Joining point

A Guesthouse

Joining point description

Cuban Guesthouses (known locally as Casas) are more similar in style to B&Bs than they are homestays. Families do not necessarily live in the residence and most houses we contract are primarily a business. While some guesthouse managers and owners speak English, interaction mostly consists of gestures, smiles and ‘Spanglish’. Just like the residences in your own neighbourhood, each casa is unique; expect there to be differences between the rooms you and your travelling companions stay in (generally we arrange things so that there are 1-4 group members in each house). Each room has a private bathroom with towels, and occasionally basic toiletries are provided. Premium guesthouses at least will not have electric shower heads although as with many developing countries, power cuts do occur on occasion, meaning that hot water can’t always be guaranteed regardless of the standard.

Joining point instructions

Rooming allocations are finalised inside a week from departure based on the configuration requests of each traveller or travelling party. Please advise bedding configuration requests to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel. We have an expansive list of guesthouses across the Havana neighbourhoods of Vedado, Central Havana and Old Havana. Due to the volume of passengers as well as the time constraint we cannot contact you with the name and address of your assigned guesthouse. For this reason, a complimentary arrival transfer is included with your trip; please trust that your driver will know the address of your assigned guesthouse. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 5 days prior to travel. If you have not booked the transfer prior to departure, or will not utilise it due to independent plans, please ensure you ask your booking agent inside 7 days of departure for your confirmed guesthouse name and address. ARRIVAL TRANSFER: To book your complimentary arrival transfer you must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 5 days prior to travel. The complimentary airport arrival transfer is valid if you are arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. After collecting your luggage, please continue walking through the 'Main Arrivals Hall' of the airport. Past the crowds of people, look for a free-standing pull-up banner with our brand logos on it. There will NOT be a sign with your name on it however a representative will be waiting at the banner to take you to your pre-arranged taxi. If you can't locate the representative, please call +53 5250 6496 (Do not rely on somebody else to call for you as they may be seeking commissions to direct you to another transfer company). The transfer will be provided in a taxi branded car; however, all drivers are specifically contracted to us so please trust they will know the address of your assigned guesthouse. LOCAL ASSISTANCE: We have a desk located in the listed address below; providing a 24-hour service with English speaking employees if any assistance is required. Casa La Gargola 1st floor #82 Cuba street, Old Havana (between Cuarteles & Chacon Streets) PH: +53 (7) 8605493 The Spanish translation of the address is "Casa La Gargola 1° Piso #82 Calle Cuba, entre Cuarteles y Chacon, Havana Vieja”.

Finish point

A Guesthouse (various)

Important information

2019 is the first year we have run this combined East and West Cuba itinerary (although we have run trips very successfully in the west of Cuba for the last 5 years) 1. An airport arrival transfer is included. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking. 2. A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information. 3. Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at time of booking so as we can organise a suitably sized bike. 4. Bike helmets are compulsory on this trip. You are unable to purchase or hire bike helmets locally so please ensure you bring your own bike helmet from home. 5. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed) 6. There are unprecedented changes happening in Cuba right now. It is an exciting time but it also means some patience and understanding is required for the heightened demand of infrastructure, accommodation and crowds. 7. The laws around health and safety in Cuba are very different than in more developed countries, even for government licenced accommodation. While we endeavour to source accommodation that is compliant to our own health and safety standards there will be occasions where the accommodation will not have a marked fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms. Please ask your casa owner to explain the fire evacuation plan to you when you check in.

Group leader

All Intrepid cycling group trips are accompanied by one of our cycling leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Our cycling leaders are all passionate cyclists, as you’d expect, but they also go through some pretty rigorous cycle-trip specific training. Each one has undergone on-road training and supervision and knows how to do safety checks, basic repairs and emergency first-aid. And at the end of the day they’re still regular Intrepid leaders, which means they will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

Safety

We take safety seriously on all our trips, but cycling tours deserve a few special considerations. HELMETS: Helmets are compulsory and we do not allow anyone to ride without one (including our own staff!). You can bring your own, or purchase one that meets international safety standards on the ground. Your leader can assist with this. FOOTWEAR For safety reasons we strongly recommend that you wear shoes that cover the toes while riding. SUPPORT VEHICLES We usually have a support vehicle following us if first-aid is ever necessary or people are feeling too tired to ride. BIKES: Our bikes are serviced regularly, and we get them checked by experts before each and every trip. Should you choose to bring your own please note that while we are happy to assist where we can with repairs you are responsible for the safety and suitability of your own equipment. TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware! There are times when traffic conditions make sections of our planned riding route unsafe – in this instance we will use the support vehicle. WEATHER Due to inclement weather posing a serious health or safety issue there may be times when we use the support vehicle instead of doing the planned ride. We will endeavour to reroute if possible but at times may have to cancel the planned ride.

Visas

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time. Cuba - Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Cuba for the most up to date information. To enter the country, visitors are required to have evidence of sufficient funds for the duration of their stay, proof of travel medical insurance, as well as onward travel ticket. Passport holders from Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are required to obtain a Tourist Card (Tarjeta de Turista) which is valid for 30 days. In some cases, you may be required to buy the card at your departure airport (Eg. YTO, MEX, CUN, SJO, LIM, PTY), either at the check in counter or at the flight gate itself some minutes before departure. Others need to buy the tourist card from their travel agency, but policies vary (eg Canadian airlines give out tourist cards during the flight), so you'll need to check ahead with the airline office. In some cases, you can arrange a visa prior to departing your home country but this is usually more expensive and time consuming. All Tourist Cards are the same, except if you are flying direct to Cuba from the USA (including flights that transit via the USA), please read below. Anyone travelling from the United States, regardless of citizenship and nationality, must comply with the regulations set by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Individuals travelling to Cuba are not required to obtain licenses from OFAC if their travel is covered by a general license. Under the general license, there are 12 permitted reasons for travel and as such the license category “Support for the Cuban People” (516.574) allows individuals to holiday in Cuba, however, please be advised that the discretion lies with airport officials. The Cuban Tourist Card cannot be arranged prior to arrival in the USA and must be purchased from the airport before boarding your flight to Cuba (Pink in colour; costing USD$50). This should be obtained by presenting your boarding pass at the check-in counter, or for some airports, at the gate. Please note that at check-in you might be asked to present your trip vouchers and Essential Trip Information (ETIs) Document when procuring the Cuban Tourist Card, so be sure to bring printed copies of these with you. Your chosen airline should have more information about the departing airport’s process on flying directly from the United States to Cuba. 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 - https://travel.state.gov – and the U.S. Department of the Treasury - https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/pages/cuba.aspx - for the latest advice. If you are British or reside in Great Britain with a passport from the European union, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, you can apply for Tourist Card here - https://www.cubavisas.com - (This type of tourist card would not be valid for travel to Cuba from the USA, Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands) – Please read above for more information about travelling to Cuba directly from America. You may use this local address to apply for your Tourist Card - Casa La Gargola, 1st floor #82 Cuba street, Old Havana. Alternatively, you can apply direct (postal only) to the Consulate http://misiones.minrex.gob.cu/en/united-kingdom.

Why we love it

Cycling through Caribbean Cuba gives you unique access to parts of the island that are off the beaten track.

Is this trip right for you

To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed) This is a cycling trip, so it requires a certain amount of cycling fitness. This being said, there’s always a comfortable, air-conditioned support vehicle following close by. Cash can sometimes be difficult to access in Cuba. Credit cards (not debit cards) are essential – ideally multiple credit cards from several different banks. The Caribbean climate can be very hot and humid. It's important to wear the appropriate clothing, drink plenty of water and apply sun protection regularly. Lycra cycling shorts are ideal for warmer temperatures. Internet access can be hard to come by, and when it's available it's sometimes unreliable. This is, on the other hand, a great opportunity to take a break from modern devices and have a true holiday. Cuba's roads aren't always paved, but when they are they can range from smooth to downright terrible. That being said, it’s a fun experience to share the road with tractors, vintage American cars and horse-drawn carriages. While Cuban food can sometimes seem limited due to a ban on imported goods, your guide will steer you towards the best eateries in each destination you visit. Cuba is different and that’s what makes it such a 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, transport sometimes runs 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. Import restrictions make the purchase of new bicycles a difficult challenge - our bikes come from a variety of different manufacturers but are all mechanically sound.

Health

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared. WHO – WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION The World Health Organization has identified the following mosquito transmitted diseases in this region: Dengue, Yellow Fever, Malaria and Zika (amongst others) For more information, please visit www.who.int ZIKA VIRUS: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been an outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in parts of Central and South America. This virus is mostly concerning to pregnant women as recently in Brazil local authorities have linked the virus to an increase in babies born with microcephaly (smaller than normal skull). In addition to the risk mentioned above WHO have reported that Zika symptoms may include mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days. In line with the above, we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip to Central and South America. At this stage, WHO is not recommending any travel or trade restrictions related to the Zika virus. More information on the Zika virus can be found at the following links: World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/ CYCLING HEALTH Riding across unfamiliar terrain in weather conditions that you are not used to can potentially lead to cycling-related health issues. By far the most common issue is that of dehydration. While this is most common on warm/hot days, it is also a factor during cold weather as you continue to sweat. Research shows most riders will typically lose 500-1000 ml of water per hour. While we schedule in frequent rest stops and encourage you to refill water bottles at every opportunity, it is the responsibility of each cyclist to monitor their own levels of hydration while cycling. The key point to remember is not to wait until you’re thirsty but to drink small amounts regularly from the start of your ride. Adding an electrolyte solution can aid in replenishing the salts/electrolytes lost through physical activity. This is especially important on days when you are drinking a lot of the bike.

Food and dietary requirements

To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. Our groups tend to eat dinner together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though. Your group leader will also be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. DIETARY REQUIREMENTS More restrictive diet requirements (vegans, celiac, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance, etc.) can be accommodated along this trip but you should expect a lesser variety than what you can expect at home. We recommend bringing your own supply of snacks with you. Vegetarians should be aware that while you can get vegetarian meals in Cuba, you generally won't find much variety and you may get tired of being offered the same every day (i.e. - rice, beans, omelette and salad). Vegetarians are often surprised that their meals are no cheaper than those containing meat, and this is because vegetables on the free market in Cuba are of similar prices to those of meat. Please let us know your diet requirements before your trip starts. FOOD IN CUBA: Food in Cuba has a reputation for being bland and lacking variety, however it has improved dramatically over the last two years. There are very limited snacks available in Cuba; convenience stores exist but are certainly not as prevalent nor sell the quantity or variety of snacks or junk food you may be used to at home. You may wish to bring your favourite chocolates, candy or healthy snacks like muesli bars. Beans and rice are the staples, with cucumber, tomato and cabbage being the conventional ingredients for a Cuban salad. Chicken and pork are the most common meats served in Cuba, however fish and a variety of seafood is also frequently on offer. Please be aware that it is a cultural trait to serve meals larger than you are expected to finish, but be assured nothing will go to waste. It can be hard to find a suitable place to eat while travelling in Cuba, as roadside restaurants tend to cater for large tour groups and either offer a fixed meal or a very limited selection of snacks. In the cities and towns small privately-owned restaurants, paladares, offer a little more choice but can often only seat a maximum of twelve people (the number for which they are officially licensed).   SNACK KITTY: 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.

Money matters

Cuba currency information - The official currencies of Cuba are the Cuban Peso Convertible (CUC) and the National Peso (CUP also known as Moneda Nacional M.N.). Non-Cubans deal almost exclusively in convertibles (CUC). The National Peso (CUP) has very limited use, especially for travellers. What's confusing for travellers is that the Cubans call both currencies 'pesos', so you must ask or know the value of something to know which currency they are referring to (CUC1 = US$1 and CUC1 = CUP24). Cuban law states that it is illegal to remove any bills from Cuba so ensure that you use up both currencies before departing the country. ACCESSING FUNDS IN CUBA: Travellers often experience problems accessing funds in Cuba. To avoid being caught without money in Cuba, ensure you have a variety of ways of accessing your money including cash (GBP CAD or EUR) and bank cards from various banks. Cards issued by US banks or banks affiliated with US banks are not accepted in Cuba at all; among others, this includes Travelex, Westpac and Citibank. Contact your bank prior to travel about using your bank card in Cuba. We recommend you use the ATM at the airport upon arrival; located outside the terminal, tucked in the corner of the currency exchange house. You will find ATMs dotted sparsely throughout most cities, but they can be quite temperamental, so you may have to try a couple before finding the one that works for your card. EXCHANGING CASH IN CUBA: CADECAs are the official government currency exchange houses. These can be found in every city, at the airport, and are commonly found in the larger hotels in Havana. Please note that most are closed on Sundays. For any services offered, such as money exchange or cash advances, you will need your passport to proceed. Note it is in your best interest to specifically ask for smaller bills. The only currencies that you are guaranteed to be able to exchange are CAD, EUR and GBP. The US dollar is not accepted as legal tender in Cuba, and attracts a large commission fee at exchange. The exchange rates used by the CADECA are the same in every CADECA around Cuba and represent about a 3% commission for the bank (included in the exchange rate). For cash advances and when using the ATMs, there is a 3% fee charged. This means that for value for money it's approximately the same if you are making a cash advance or exchanging cash.  SPENDING MONEY: When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document). Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less. BUDGET FOR MEALS NOT INCLUDED: CUC 300 TIPPING: If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many destinations. Due to the low Government-set wages in Cuba, tipping is relied upon heavily so expect to tip for just about everything. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader. Hold on to your smaller notes and coins to make tipping easier. The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: - Restaurants: Local markets, government and private (paladares) restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest 10%. There's no need to tip at dinners taken at Guesthouses. - Guesthouse: You may consider tipping the employees (not the owners) of a Guesthouse; CUC1-2 is suggested, although a clothing item, a towel or the like will be kindly received. - Toilet attendant: CUC 0.25 per use. - Musicians: CUC1-2 per session. - Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest CUC2 per person per day for local guides. - Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of CUC1-2 per day is generally appropriate. - Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline CUC2-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. In total, we recommend you budget approx CUC10-15 per day of your trip to cover tipping. CONTINGENCY FUNDS: We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.

What to take

Packing for a cycling tour isn’t that different from any other adventure. But if you want to be comfortable and warm, here are a few bike-specific tips. • Helmet – these are compulsory, but if you don’t have your own you can sometimes purchase an approved and well-fitted one at the start of the trip (our leaders can assist you with this). There are some destinations where you are unable to purchase or hire appropriate helmets locally so you will need to bring your own - please check the 'Important Notes' section to see if this is the case. • Padded bike shorts • Quick-dry jerseys – you can definitely get away with a few cotton t-shirts but having a few light and breathable jerseys will make your cycling a lot more comfortable, especially in warmer/humid climates. • Quick-dry socks • Cycling gloves – not essential but recommended as padded cycle gloves will make your riding more comfortable and can help protect you in case of a fall. • Rain gear – pack a light poncho in case the weather turns when you’re out on the road • Light breathable waterproof/windproof – especially useful for those early mornings or downhill sections when the wind-chill becomes a factor. • Water bottle – we don't provide bottles but all our bikes have one bottle holder fitted (and a second one can be fitted if required). Please bring a cycling-specific water bottle as other types will fall out of the holders. A Camelbak will make drinking on-the-go easier. • Sunglasses – well fitted sports sunglasses help protect against dust, insects and (of course) the sun • Day pack – our support vehicle will carry your main bag, but a day pack for snacks and clothes is a good idea. • Suncream – please bring a high protection factor (e.g. SPF 50) sunscreen as long days in the saddle can really expose you to the sun • Shoes – normal sports shoes can be worn on all of our trips however you may want to consider a flat shoe with a relatively stiff sole as it makes pedalling a lot more efficient. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own cycling-specific shoes however we recommended 'mountain bike' style shoes that have grip on the sole rather than road bike' shoes as you will still be walking around while on the rides (cafe/photo/toilet stops, etc.). For safety reasons we require that you wear shoes that completely cover the toes while riding. • Saddles – are saddles are standard, unisex models –less experienced cyclists may choose to bring your own gel seat cover for added comfort. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring your own saddle – our leader will assist in fitting it to your bike • Pedals – all bikes come with flat pedals. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own pedals – our leader will assist in fitting them to your bike As space in our support vehicle/transport can be limited we request that you bring only a small luggage bag with you rather than larger bags or suitcases.

Climate and seasonal

WEATHER CONTINGENCIES: Please note that Hurricane season is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors these situations as they may arise, so that itineraries or activities can be amended as necessary.

A couple of rules

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader or local representative has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes. Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes. While we do accept children under 18 on this trip we do have a couple of rules. From a safety and enjoyment perspective they should be confident and competent cyclists capable of completing the riding part of the itinerary without additional assistance. Minors under 18 years old must always be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian. This includes when the minor rides in the support vehicle.

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

Emergency contact

BOOKING ENQUIRIES / ISSUES For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/contact-us INTERNET IN CUBA:  There are WIFI hotspots located at larger hotels and at major public squares in most cities. You will need to purchase an ETECSA internet card from the ETECSA shop or larger hotel. Usually these come in 1 hour blocks at a price of CUC1 per hour. If the login page does not open when you select the WIFI, type this into your browser: www.portal-wifi-temas.nauta.cu If you do not log out correctly your time may be used up without use. To do so, type 1.1.1.1 into your browser and hit “Cerrar session”. Be aware that Skype does not work in Cuba. We recommend downloading a messaging app prior to arrival to communicate with your friends and family back home, such as Whatsapp or IMO. CRISES AND EMERGENCIES Please be aware that communication lines in Cuba are unreliable and establishing a clear line requires patience. Please follow these instructions to ensure our operators can assist you in times of need. Since voicemail isn't an option and most incoming call phone numbers are automatically blocked, our operator will not be able to return any missed calls. The only solution to this problem is persistence. Keep calling the line until an operator answers the call. Alternatively, the emergency line is a mobile number that can be reached via text. If you cannot establish a connection to our operators over the phone, please send a text with your full name, any reference codes (if known), the issue at hand and a return contact number. You will most likely receive a response via text.  In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office: Intrepid's Local Operator (located in Havana): +53 5333 8121 or +53 5510 5525 If you cannot reach the operator using the above numbers, alternatively you may try our Cuba representative located in Australia +61 430 504 636 For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/ While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. Your leader will give you their mobile contact details at the initial group meeting. In Cuba the practice of calling ‘reverse charges’ is quite common – so if you need to contact your leader in a genuine emergency and you do not have mobile access simply ask a local if you can use their phone to contact your leader. If you don’t speak Spanish then please show them the following Spanish phrase: "Puedo usar su teléfono para contactar a mi guía turístico. Él pagará los cargos del teléfono." Cuba Operations: +53 5333-8121

Responsible travel

As part of our commitment to responsible travel a portion of your trip cost will be donated to Bicycles for Humanity – a not-for-profit, volunteer run, grass roots charity organisation focused on the alleviation of poverty through sustainable transport – in the form of a bicycle. In the developing world a bicycle is life changing, allowing access to health care, education, economic opportunity and wider community. A bicycle means you can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load, providing a profound and lasting positive effect for the individual as well as their community. Bicycles For Humanity collect donated (used or new) bicycles, repair them if needed and send them to Africa. Along with donated bicycles each of the 40 ft shipping containers that Bicycles For Humanity sends becomes a bike workshop, providing employment, skills, training, business, opportunity and economic development for the community in which it's placed, helping the community to move away from aid dependence. For more information see http://www.bicyclesforhumanity.com/ We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

The Intrepid Foundation

Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched by Intrepid Group dollar for dollar (up to AU$10,000 per donor and AU$500,000 in total each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And because Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/ Intrepid and Bicycles For Humanity At Intrepid, we know a bike can changes lives. Provide a person in the developing world with a bike and it means they can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load. The extra mobility and distance gained from using a bike can make all the difference when seeking medicine or trying to find work. This is why we’ve partnered with Bicycles for Humanity to help provide bikes to communities in Namibia, Africa. Bicycles for Humanity takes bikes we no longer use, repairs them, packs them up and ships them off to the African continent in 40-foot containers. These containers then become bike workshops on arrival – a place of employment, education and business for the communities who receive them. Each of these Bicycle Empowerment Centres are self-sustaining, micro-financed small businesses and a massive step towards financial independence for the community. We also help by donating a portion of each booking of our cycling trips directly to Bicycles for Humanity, as well as using our network of contacts to bring greater exposure to the amazing work the volunteer team do every day at Bicycles for Humanity. We are also proud to have Bicycles for Humanity as a partner of The Intrepid Foundation, where our financial support will go directly towards purchasing containers and shipping bikes to Namibia. Every donation to The Intrepid Foundation from our travellers is matched by us dollar for dollar. To find out more or to make a donation, visit The Intrepid Foundation website.

Accommodation notes

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. Throughout the trip we request that our lodgings prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination. We have classified guesthouse rooms into two standards for the comfort levels of our trips: Standard and Premium. Most differences can be a little hard to tell at first, particularly when taking aesthetic into account which varies greatly not only between rooms but also between cities and provinces. For this itinerary, guesthouse rooms will have an ensuite and air-conditioning however will not necessarily have a split system, an in-room or in-house safe or imported bedding. Stairs are prevalent in Cuban homes. If this presents a problem to you, then please advise us at time of booking so we can request rooms on or closer to ground level. PRE-TOUR ACCOMMODATION: We aim to confirm the first night of your tour in Old Havana however occasionally due to availability we will confirm it in either Central Havana or Vedado. If you book pre-tour accommodation through us we will also aim to book these nights in Old Havana. Please note: Late requests and requests of 3 nights or more have a lower chance of being confirmed in Old Havana. POST-TOUR ACCOMMODATION The final night of your tour may be booked in either Vedado, Central Havana or Old Havana. If you book post-tour accommodation through us, we aim to confirm it at the same property of your final tour-night (regardless of the area we have secured) to avoid the inconvenience of you having to move. If you specifically prefer your post accommodation to be booked in old Havana (knowing you may have to move areas on your own accord), you must inform your booking agent and we will request this. Please note: Late requests and requests of 3 nights or more have a lower chance of being confirmed in Old Havana. ACCOMMODATION OVERBOOKINGS: Cuba is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination and unfortunately the number of rooms available is not increasing at the same rate. Hotels and Guesthouses occasionally cancel bookings at the last minute and do not always offer an alternative option that meets our standards. While these types of cancellations are outside of our control, our local team is presented with the difficult task of sourcing the next best from whatever else is available; choosing the option that will have the least impact on your experience. This overbooking is affecting all tour operators in the country and you need to be aware that it may affect your trip. COMPLIMENTARY INCLUDED ARRIVAL TRANSFER Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised. The driver will have the address of your guesthouse. After collecting your luggage, continue through the 'Main Arrivals Hall' of the airport (do not exit through the side door). An Intrepid representative holding a sign with Intrepid's logo will be waiting to take you to your pre-arranged transfer. If you can't locate the Intrepid representative, please call +53 52506496. Do not rely on somebody else to call for you as they may be seeking commission to direct you to another transfer company. If you arrive earlier than trip's start day you may be in different accommodation than the rest of the group. It is your responsibility to arrange a transfer to the start point guesthouse. AIR CONDITIONING On this trip all rooms we sleep in have air conditioning (please note that during albeit infrequent power cuts the air-con won't work, but this is rare)

Transport notes

While there are occasions we use local public transport such as trains, buses or taxis to cover long distances or attend non-cycling activities we predominantly use the bicycle as our main form of transport. On most of our trips we also have a support vehicle as secondary transport for travelling longer distances, avoiding hazardous areas to cycle, as a backup should we have any incidents and of course an option for those that would prefer not to cycle for an hour or a day. These vehicles range from a minivan in most regions up to a full sized coach or overland vehicle in others. Your main luggage is transported in the support vehicle BICYCLES USED ON THIS TRIP Due to heavy import restrictions we do not have a consistent fleet of bicycles in Cuba, and use a variety of different makes and models (including Giant, Specialized, Scott, Bergamont, Trek and Raleigh). While the bikes are not new they come in a variety of sizes, are in sound mechanical order and suitable for the type of riding we do in Cuba. BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE INTO CUBA If you would prefer to bring your own bike into Cuba, that is fine. However, please bear in mind that the bike will need to be in perfect working order with no worn parts. This is because spare parts are almost impossible to source in Cuba. You may also be required to complete paperwork both on arrival and on departure to prove to airport authorities that the bike has left Cuban soil. BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE If you are planning to bring your own bike please note we strongly recommend against bringing a road bike. The often poor condition of the roads in Cuba (broken tarmac, gravel and frequent potholes) require front suspension, so a mountain bike or hybrid (with suspension) is recommended. Quality spare bike parts are extremely hard to come by in Cuba so please bring any you feel you may require. Arriving with oversize luggage. Havana’s Jose Marti airport has oversize luggage delivery at both ends of the baggage terminal. Oversize items (such as bicycles) can come out of either - regardless of where your main luggage came out - and can take up to 2hrs if multiple flights are arriving around the same time. BICYCLE RENTAL HAVANA If you arrive early and wish to hire a bicycle there are a number of reputable bicycle hire companies. We recommend RUTA Bikes, located in the Vedado region of Havana. Rates vary by the type of bike but we'd recommend either a mountain bike or touring bike option due to the large number of potholes on Havana's streets. For further info (including location & current prices) see their website at http://www.rutabikes.com/rent-a-bicycle/ or to hire a bike email info@rutabikes.com directly. NAVIGATING YOUR WAY WITHOUT THE INTERNET To make it easier to find your way around (especially in the main cities) we recommend downloading offline maps (such as Google maps) to your mobile device/phone – that way you can use live GPS mapping while your mobile device is in ‘Flight Mode’, saving battery and internet time. BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE While we’re confident in the quality and suitability of the bikes we include, we do recognise that sometimes you just need the comfort of your own bike to enjoy the ride. If you are thinking of bringing your own bike on this tour please advise us at time of booking and take note of the below information. If you do choose to bring your own bike please note that we will not being carrying a spare bike for you. SUITABLE TYPE OF BIKE Although the surfaces of the roads we travel on is generally good there are occasionally gravel or potholed sections of road/track. As such, we recommend a 'mountain' or 'hybrid' style bike with plenty of gear selections for easy cruising. Please note that we usually cannot accept tandem bikes on our tours as often they are too large for our transport. In some destinations we are able to make an exception. Please ask your booking agent. For more details on the type of roads we’ll be riding on see the ‘Physical Rating’ information. Please contact your booking agent if you have any questions about the suitability of your bike. BEFORE THE TRIP We recommend that you have a full service of your bike performed by a trained mechanic, to help minimise any issues you may have during the trip itself. Please also ensure that you have specific and adequate cover for loss, damage or theft for your bike under your travel, home contents or a specialist insurance policy. DURING THE TRIP Your bike will be transported in the same way as our included bikes, usually in the bike support vehicle or on the bike trailer. While we endeavour to take the best care we can, you should recognise that transported bikes do get the occasional bump or scratch along the way. The same applies when we take other forms of transport, such as a train, where we are unable to pack the bikes ourselves.Your bike will also be secured in the same way as our included bikes. Please note this can occasionally be outside (where the bikes are locked together). While our mechanics can usually assist with minor repairs, you are responsible for the safety and upkeep of your own bicycle. This includes conducting regular safety checks of your bike during the trip and cleaning your bike. In addition, any parts that require replacing are your responsibility. Most destinations have access to only limited spares along the way, and access to bike shops can be days apart. Therefore, please ensure you bring any spare parts that you may require (especially specialist parts). In order to reach our destination it is necessary for us to travel via various modes of transportation, including planes and trains. Please be aware that any extra costs involved with transporting personal bikes are your responsibility. This includes (but is not limited to) additional transport costs and customs/import fees. TRANSPORTING YOUR BIKE TO/FROM THE DESTINATION Your preferred airline should have no problem carrying your bike, but many will charge an extra fee. Contact them before departing to discuss their arrangements for transporting bikes. A well-padded bike box obtainable from a bike shop is usually the best method of plane transportation. We recommend that you accompany your bicycle on the flight. Unaccompanied bicycles have been known to spend some extra days in the hands of customs authorities. Please also note that many taxis are not large enough to transport a bike box/bag so you may be delayed waiting for a suitably sized vehicle.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php TRAVEL INSURANCE: The Cuban government has declared that travel insurance (which covers at least medical expenses) is compulsory for all travellers to Cuba. Proof of travel insurance may be requested at Havana airport by immigration officials. Travellers failing to produce a valid document will be required to purchase a new policy at the airport, before being granted access to Cuba. Cuban authorities also announced that they will not recognise any insurance policy issued or underwritten by any insurance company which has an affiliation with a US company. You should take this into account when purchasing your insurance before departure from your home country.

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SINGLE TRAVELLERS: Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

Itinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, 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. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Accommodation

Guesthouse (13 nts)
Time until next start
73
days
00
hours
:
23
min
:
51
sec

Prices from

€1,990

Duration

14 days
2019

Mon, Dec 02

Sun, Dec 15

€1,990

Still available

Book
More available dates (16)
Select date
Please provide a valid email address.
Book now
Please provide a valid phone number. Like: +31636363634
Safe bookingPay later · No card needed
Do you have a question?
Your question should be between 5 and 2000 chars.
Send
Overview
Itinerary
Trip title
Trip code
Validity
Introduction
Style
Themes
Transport
Physical Rating
Physical preparation
Joining point
Joining point description
Joining point instructions
Finish point
Important information
Group leader
Safety
Visas
Why we love it
Is this trip right for you
Health
Food and dietary requirements
Money matters
What to take
Climate and seasonal
A couple of rules
Feedback
Emergency contact
Responsible travel
The Intrepid Foundation
Accommodation notes
Transport notes
Travel insurance
Your fellow travellers
Itinerary disclaimer
Accommodation
Book this for
Monday, Dec 2
Book now
Share this trek on