Cycling on quiet roads we explore Cuba's verdant countryside, colonial towns and revolutionary history. From Havana we cycle past the historic Bay of Pigs to charming Trinidad where we experience Cuban hospitality in Casas Particulares. Along the way we learn about modern day Cuba and excellent live music is never far away. Cycle Cuba - With relatively little traffic this is an ideal way to see the island Casas Particulares - Stay in locally-owned and run private homestays in the heart of colonial Trinidad Topes De Collantes - Beautiful bike ride through the central Sierra Escambray Mountains
Our tour begins in Havana. Built around a deep natural harbour, Havana is one of the most impressive colonial cities surviving in the Americas today. Crumbling tenement buildings and 50s style American Cadillacs rub shoulders with white marble grandeur and the still audible echoes of the Cuban Revolution. The largest city in the Caribbean and Cuba's political and cultural heart, it is the perfect place to start our journey. In Havana we stay in 'casas particulares' - family-run guesthouses. On arrival to the main joining point casa in the Vedado district of Havana (Mara's House: Calle 29 # 210 e/ B y C, Vedado, La Habana) you will be met by your host and shown to your room in one of the local guesthouses in the surrounding area. Each casa can only accommodate a handful of guests, giving you a great opportunity to interact with your hosts. At night the city's legendary music and cocktails bars come into their own, in both Vedado, where your casa particular is, as well as Old Havana, a short taxi ride away. Due to the number of evening flights into Havana, your Leader plans to do the welcome meeting on the morning of day two at 8am after breakfast. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Havana at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Jose Marti International Airport (HAV), which is a 30 minute drive away.
This morning we depart the city and drive (3 hours) to the Zapata Peninsula and the Bay of Pigs - the infamous site of a failed US-backed invasion by Cuban exiles in 1961. We then enjoy a relatively easy warm-up ride along the flat, following the Caribbean coast from Boca de Guama our route ends at the Cueva de los Peces - a flooded tectonic fault (or cenote) with resident tropical fish which provides a great swimming opportunity. There is time for an optional visit the museum dedicated to the failed invasion before we resume our journey by road, travelling on to the colonial city of Cienfuegos. We have a chance to take in some of its impressive 19th century architecture on a short walking tour of the centre, before continuing by bus (45 mins) to our hotel at Yaguanabo beach. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 28 kilometres (flat)
Continuing south-east this morning we cycle along the Caribbean coast to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trinidad, one of the best preserved colonial towns in the country. Founded in 1514, the town was a haven for pirates and slavers before the arrival of the French in the early years of the 19th century and today remains one of Cuba's cultural gems. This afternoon we enjoy a walking tour around the town, taking in the lovely setting of the central square and the cathedral. For the next two nights we will enjoy local hospitality staying in casas particulares - private houses. Later this afternoon, we will enjoy a cocktail making class where we can learn to make some of Cuba's famous drinks such as mojitos and daiquiris. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 30 kilometres (Total accumulated ascent 150 metres)
We have a chance to enjoy Cuba's beautiful Caribbean coastline today. Options include a day relaxing on the beach, or perhaps a trip on a catamaran out into the azure waters that lie off the coast. For those still wanting to stretch their legs we also have the option to cycle out to the Ancon Peninsula (30 kilometres return). Alternatively, you can simply relax on the white sands of nearby Playa Ancon, or perhaps return to wander through Trinidad's charming colonial streets. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 30 kilometres (optional, unescorted)
Todays cycle ride through the scenic Valle de los Ingenios (valley of the sugar mills), with its ruined mills and infamous slave watchtower, is possibly the most rewarding (and longest!). By the middle years of the 19th century the valley was responsible for a third of all Cuba's sugar production, before the wars of independence saw the mills destroyed. We cycle to the watchtower of Manaca Iznaga, before continuing through the valley. Re-joining our bus we drive a short distance to the colonial town of Sancti Spiritus where we stop to pay a short visit to the old town, before returning to our casas in Trinidad by bus. Today's ride is a moderate grade that encounters some ascents and descents throughout the day. You have the option to hop into the support bus if you prefer. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 60 kilometres (Total accumulated ascent 500 metres)
Just a few miles behind Trinidad looms the Sierra Escambray, one of the three main mountain chains in Cuba. It has peaks up to 1100 metres, an incredible abundance of tropical and semi-tropical vegetation on its slopes, and some of the best Cuban coffee is also produced here. Climbing up into the Sierra on the road from Trinidad is an experience, with slopes as steep as 20% (don't worry, we do this by bus!). Those wishing to do the toughest cycling challenge to be found in Cuba may want to try by leaving in the early hours of the day and being picked up by the group later. We start cycling on the highest sections of the road with some ascending still to go, near Topes de Collantes, a village and mountain retreat built in the early 1950s. From the village it is one of the most scenic downhills through the jungle to be found anywhere in Cuba. Before leaving the mountains we can stop at a local coffee farmer's home to enjoy a meal (not included) and see the process of coffee tasting and of course we will try it as well! Then heading north, passing through the village of Jibacoa we finally reach the provincial town Manicaragua where we finish our final ride. We will take a short bus transfer to our hotel on the outskirts of Santa Clara. The town of Santa Clara is less visited by tourism and therefore has the authentic feel of a busy Cuban provincial town. It town played an important role in the Cuban revolution, as it was here that Ernesto 'Che' Guevara won a decisive battle in December 1958 which led to the fall of Havana a few days later. Depending on the time we finish our ride and arrive here we will either visit the sites today or tomorrow morning. The 'Tren Blindado' site explains the decisive battle to take Batista's armoured train. The most remarkable site is the Che Guevara monument and mausoleum together with a museum dedicated to the life of this hero of the Cuban revolution. The first 10 km of the ride today is generally ascending and while not steep, there is one section of a couple of kms of ascent. For those clients that prefer, it is possible to ride in the bus for this section. The rest of the ride is generally descending, but with some undulations later. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 35 kilometres (Total accumulated ascent 450 metres)
There is no cycling planned today and depending on our activities yesterday we will either drive straight off after breakfast or visit the remaining places of interest. The Che Guevara Monument is the final resting place of one of the world's most iconic figures and one of the country's most emotive shrines to its revolutionary heritage. Continuing on to Havana (three hours), we then spend this afternoon wandering through the heart of the old capital, exploring the neo-classical architecture of the Vieja district and taking in the baroque grandeur of the 18th century Catedral de San Cristobal de la Habana among other fine buildings from another age. No cycling today.
This morning you'll say good bye to those that are not extending their stay as they transfer to the airport with the local leader. You'll then travel to Playa Jibacoa for our stay on the beach. This extension is not escorted by an local Leader, but the staff in the hotel will be more than happy to help with anything that you may need. Around an hours drive brings us to our beach hotel, the 4* Memories Jibacoa, where we will be spending the next two nights relaxing after the week of cycling. Whether you would like to lie in the sun, soaking up some warmth, or take a dip in the beautiful ocean; your time at Jibacoa can be as active or as relaxing as you feel. If you fancy stretching your legs the town is backed by a limestone ridge, with excellent cliff top views and some easy paths for you to enjoy.
Today we have the full day at leisure on the beach. Our hotel here is an all-inclusive, which means that you are at your leisure to enjoy everything that the beach and hotel have to offer. The area is blessed with a coral reef located just a few metres from shore, and the hotel provides snorkelling gear and kayaks for you to explore the turquoise waters and reef. Nestled between the leafy mountains and golden sands, the hotel is beautifully situated with a tempting pool and lush green hills with easy-to-follow trails for keen hikers, offering spectacular views over the ocean.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Playa Jibacoa. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Playa Jibacoa at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Jose Marti International Airport (HAV) which is a one-and-a-half hour drive from the hotel.
9 Break Fast(s) 2 Lunch(es) 2 Dinner(s)
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