Fat Mary- November 17th./ Dec. 2nd. 2018

  • Destination: ,
  • Duration: 15 days
  • Arrives: 11/17/2018
  • Departs: 12/02/2018
  • Price: $2,700

The best bicycle tour in Western Cuba

Cuba In The Raw

Havana 3    Havana 2    Havana

The Cycling

This is our most popular route. Offering a broad view of Cuban life style. Cycle the north coastal route, from Matanzas to Havana and then on to the western province of Pinar Del Rio and the  Valle Vinales The quiet back roads of western Cuba will take you to Maria La Gorda and Cabo San Antonio. An amazing tour, and a great way to spend a tropical holiday. From 3 star hotels to mountain shacks, this ride covers some great riding in the Sierra del Rosario biosphere and the Valle Vinales.

This is not extreme cycling and is doable by those with moderate cycling ability. Road bikes or hybrids are the bike of choice for this ride

Before heading westward, beyond Havana we will we visit a youth cycling team in Punta Brava,

  • Usual daily distances:30 km to 140 km (with flexible options)
  • Days of cycling: 10
  • Terrain:  Quiet back roads for the most part. There is a little city cycling on the 2nd day . There are hills and rolling countryside on this tour so a reasonable basic level of fitness is recommended.
  • Support vehicle:100%
  • Tour staff: 2 cycle guides, 1 driver, 1 mechanic

Contact us to find out more and reserve your spot

Contact Us

 

Day 1 – Arrival

Saturday, November 17th. 2018 – Fly to Varadero and transfer to the Hotel Velasco in Matanzas. Set up bikes and ready for the road to Playas Del Este

Our evening meal at the hotel will give us an opportunity chat and introduce ourselves.

Matanzas is a beautiful small city and a great start point for this adventure

  • Cycling: 0km
  • Accommodation:  Hotel
  • Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2

Sunday, November 18th. 2018– Your first day on the bike. The wind at your back, we ride to the beach. It is a max 74k ride but just do the distance you are comfortable with, there is a bus at your disposal if required.

The route takes us on a back road out of Matanzas, through the Valle Yamuri and along the “Via Blanca”. Then into the resort area of Jibacoa and onto Santa Cruz De La Norte for our lunch. Later we turn into Guanabo and head for the beach.

  • Cycling: 74 km lunch at 40 km
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Dinner/Breakfast

Day 3

Monday, November 19th.2018– Just 28k today, with a stop at the Velodromo , Then onto to the Cristo statue in Casablanca for an amazing photo opportunity, high above Havana harbour. Ferry across the bay and walk “Old Havana” to the Central Park. This walk is approximately 3 kilometres

  • Cycling: 28km
  • Walking: 3 km
  • Accommodation:  Casa particular
  • Meals Included: Dinner/Breakfast

Day 4

Tuesday, November 2oth. 2018 – Today we spend the day on a cultural walking tour of the old city. Starting in Vedado, we walk the Malecon and turn up into Habana Centro. Here is the real photogenic Cuba. Rubble and old buildings with many families crammed into one house. old cars and children playing ball in the street. Street vendors and all. Be sure t bring your camera today.

Beyond Habana Centro, we will head down the Prado and visit the Museum of the Revolution. Then find a nice cafe for lunch.

  • Cycling: 0 km Walking:  4 km
  • Accommodation: Casas
  • Meals Included: Dinner/Breakfast

Day 5

Wednesday, November 21st. 2018 – This day starts in a garden in Punta Brava. The garden is home to a unique cycling club and CANBICUBA is a proud sponsor of this youth cycling team. From the garden we ride west through Artemisa and onto Soroa in the foothills of the Sierra Rosario,

On the way we will lunch in Artemisa, then visit an old coffee plantation ruin, built by the wealthy Haitian French around 1800. These are the people who first developed commercial coffee production here in Cuba

  • Cycling: 75 km if you do the lot
  • Accommodation: Hotel/casas
  • Meals Included: Dinner/breakfast

Day 6

Thursday, November 22nd. 2018 – Today we start after breakfast with a visit to the orchid garden just beside the hotel in Soroa. We then head out of the mountains along the carretera central. Then after a lunch break, we head up to our mountain retreat. The road is a little rough near the end but you will be fine.

Looking for luxury?? Well you might just be in the wrong place 🙂 Tonight we stay in a mountain hut and eat the best of Cuban hillbilly food and dance under the stars. This is my favourite place to spend a night, the locals are fantastic

  • Cycling: 65 km last few k is hilly, hey that is what the bus is for 🙂
  • Accommodation: Mountain Hut
  • Meals Included: Dinner/breakfast

Day 7

Friday, November 23rd. 2018. – This is a non cycling day. We will bus out of the mountains to the ferry that will take us to an island beach, we will spend the day and then bus on to San Diego de los Banos for the night.There is a dive centre at this beach

  • Cycling: 0 km 
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Breakfast/lunch/dinner

Day 8

Saturday November 24th. 2018 – The day is in two parts. First a 28k ride to the Cueva de los Portales where we visit the cave and have lunch.
The afternoon ride is 30k from La Palma to Vinales
Route
Morning ride –http://ridewithgps.com/routes/8256950
Afternoon ride –http://ridewithgps.com/routes/825708

  • Cycling: 58 km
  • Accommodation: Casa
  • Meals Included: Dinner/breakfast

Day 9

Sunday, November 25th.2018 – Ride to through the Valle Vinales to Pons and over the ridge to Cayo Jutias, and a wonderful beach area.  Return to Vinales by bus for diner on the hill at a wonderful eco restaurant.

Route
http://ridewithgps.com/routes/8413584

  • Cycling: 62 km
  • Accommodation: Casa
  • Meals Included: Dinner/breakfast

Day 10

Monday, November 26th. 2018  – Cycle the Pinar del Rio , and the hotel Hotel Vueltabajo. A day with two options

Route
Short ride 28k – http://ridewithgps.com/routes/8414372

Long ride 64k =http://ridewithgps.com/routes/841444

  • Cycling: 67 km or 28 km
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Dinner/breakfast

Day 11

Tuesday, November 27th. 2018– Hotel Maria La Gorda. A very flat ride,  to a world famous dive centre at the western tip of Cuba. Remote and beautiful, even exotic

Route
First part 78k –http://ridewithgps.com/routes/8414559

Coastal ride near hotel 14k –http://ridewithgps.com/routes/841463

  • Cycling: 78 km  andthen 14 km
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Dinner/breakfast

Day 12

Wednesday, November 28th. 2018 – Coastal ride. Hotel Cabo San Antonio. 77k to beach.

Route

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/12230875

  • Cycling: 82 km from the hotel or 56 km from the park gate
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Dinner/breakfast/ lunch

Day 13

Thursday, November 29th. 2018 – Bus ride today. Back to Varadero and yet another beach

Route

You have spent the last 12 days in a journey to the western tip of Cuba. Today we fight the headwind back to Varadero in the bus

  • Cycling: 0 km
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Dinner/breakfast

Day 14

Friday, November 30th. 2018. – Cycle Varadero from tip to tip, then pack up our gear and hit the beach for one time.

Route

  • Cycling:  28 km
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: Dinner/breakfast/lunch

Day 15

Saturday, December 1st 2018. –  one more day in Varadero, cycling optional, time to shop the markets or a possible ride.

  • Cycling: 0 km
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: breakfast/ Lunch/ Dinner

Day 16

Sunday, December 2nd. 2018 –  Sadly today is departure day.

You have visited Cuba in the raw, a strange and mind boggling place, with wonderful, people, living a life of yesteryear.

We did our best to make your stay a memorable one and we hope that you will return for more cycling with the CanBiCuba Cycling Club

  • Cycling: 0 km
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Meals Included: breakfast

Tour Leader – Elisabeth Klaver

This tour will be lead by Canadian cyclist Elisabeth Klaver.

Elisabeth has enjoyed many Canbicuba tours and enjoys the every changing nature of Cuba…from the rustic to the refined. The quiet roads,unspoiled beaches and the Cuban people who embrace the cycling culture keep drawing her to return.

Elisabeth lives in Cambridge Ontario and works for the Waterloo Region School Board with students 15- 21 outside the regular classroom environment.

Elisabeth rides with the Cambridge Grand River Cycling club and also leads rides outside of the club, from local area highlight tours to full moon night rides.

Email – klaver1@rogers.com

Cost in US$

Double Occupancy

This price is per rider based on double room occupancy: US$2700.

 

Single Occupancy

This price is per rider based on single room occupancy US$2950.

*Should you register looking to share with another and we are not able to find an acceptable companion, you will need to pay the Single Supplement charge.

 


FURTHER TRAVEL INFORMATION

Will my U.S. mobile phone work in Cuba?

Maybe.  Some U.S. carriers have or are beginning to make agreements with ETECSA (the Cuban national telecommunications company) to provide roaming services in Cuba.  Sprint and Verizon, for example, currently offer roaming services in Cuba.  If your carrier offers a roaming plan and your mobile phone is capable of roaming in Cuba, you should ask your carrier about any additional charges for voice calls, data, and outgoing text messages that you may incur during your trip.  The telecommunications market in Cuba is changing rapidly, so before you travel, be sure to check with your wireless provider for the latest developments.

Another way you can use your U.S. mobile phone in Cuba is to rent a SIM card.  If you have an unlocked GSM-capable mobile phone, you can rent a SIM card from Cubacel (ETECSA’s mobile phone arm) that will allow you to use your mobile phone in Cuba.  Cubatel’s SIM cards come with pre-paid minutes in amounts of 10, 20, or 40 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC$) (US$10, $20, or $40), plus a daily rental fee for the SIM card of CUC$3 (US$3).  The per-minute call charges and texting fees for renting a mobile phone (as listed below) also apply to renting a SIM card.  Contact your wireless provider to check whether your mobile phone operates on the compatible standard and request that your carrier unlock your mobile phone.

 

The CanBiCuba Cycling Club supports youth programs throughout Cuba. We are involved with both the national cycling federation and master racing in the Havana area.

There are no bike shops as we know them in the developed world and our youth groups depend on your much needed support.

It is not mandatory but we do encourage all riders to bring a little something to help out.Your old 700c x 23 or 25c might be worn out to you but is like gold here. We need anything you can think of and have lying about, handle bars/stems/seats/gears/brakes and on and on.. If sending clothing keep to small and medium sizes. Handle bar tape is an often forgotten and economic gift.

Quite often a rider will bring an old racing bike to leave with a club.  If you’d like to bring a bike let me know because I may have one up in Canada awaiting transport.

 

On our last day, Peter Marshall, a Canadian-turned-Cuban and the owner of cycling tour group CanBiCuba, led the way as we biked out of Havana to meet the youth racing club in Punta Brava. We rode by fields of cows and waved back at drivers in classic cars. At a beach bar made of wood and palm fronds, we sipped a cold Tu Kola and watched perfect sets of waves go to waste without surfers. When we arrived at the club coach’s home, 10 beaming kids in their bike kits put heavy coconuts with colorful straws in our hands and showed us to a table filled with food: banana bread pudding, fried plantains, sandwiches with spicy tomato jam, and bowls of guava and papaya.

While cradling their new (our old) saddles, pedals, and shoes, the boys spoke of life on two wheels, how they train six days a week after school and aspire to become pro cyclists, regardless of the challenges they face. Listening to their stories as they held the recycled gear and grinned the widest grins, it occurred to me just how much this moment meant to the club. The donations and beat-up bicycles allowed them to escape everything else, if only for a little while. The kids hugged farewell and chased after our wheels, which kicked up mud on the fractured concrete alley. I was surprised by having to brush away tears, a salty mix of joy and guilt.

Back in Havana, I sat along the Malecón, washing down my Cuban sandwich from La Chucheria with a splash of Havana Club rum and pineapple and a whiff of exhaust from a pink ‘59 Buick Invicta. A fisherman in a makeshift Styrofoam boat floated through ripples of gold as the sun dipped below the sea. It was a perfect sendoff, but my mind had already left, drifting towards new plans to ship bike supplies to those kids with big dreams in Punta Brava.

 

Geography & Climate

Cuba is a tropical island in the Northern hemisphere. It is 1350km long and covered with a variety of mountains, forests, rich farmland and golden beaches. There are some desert-like areas in the Guantanamo area but this MTB event is far away from this, in Havana and Vinales. Cuba has a warm and dry season from November to April, with average daily temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees. This is the time of year we choose to conduct our tours.  May to October is the rainy season, which is hotter and also prone to hurricanes.

 

Cycling Terrain

This tour explores Cuban back roads. There is one day of city cycling but this is rather short. Surfaces are from OK to bad, the worst being a four km stretch on the morning of the first day. All is doable on a road bike and people generally use road touring ot hybrid bikes. Those fast people can definitely get away with a road bike and many do so.

Accommodation & Food

We use a combination of 3-star hotels with en-suite rooms, and one night at an historic farmstead. All places provide good food. We visit many local cafes, restaurants and bars so you get a full flavour of local culture and cuisine. All breakfasts and dinners are included .For meals not included (lunches) there are many places to eat with prices ranging from $3 to $6 for an on the way lunch in a roadside café. All ride drinking water is supplied from the support bus. We advise that if you normally use ride gels and energy bars or electrolyte powder, you will need to bring from home because these items are not commonly for sale in Cuba

 

Cycle Rental

CanBiCuba has bike rentals at great prices. For this tour you will need a either a hybrid (my choice) a sport touring or a road bike. All will work. Should you prefer to bring your own that is fine with us, you will get the same mechanical assistance as the renters.

Check you travel company for costs of shipping your bike. Depending on your country of embarkation you may be better to rent.

Renting has other positive aspects. Your bike will not get lost in transit. It is far easier to travel without a bike box and spare bikes are on the bus for renters. The negative side is that this is not your favourite ride.

 

Passports’ & Visas

Visitors from the UK & Ireland A passport with a Cuban tourist card is required for entry into Cuba, by UK & Irish citizens. The tourist card is obtained by sending copies of travel documents and a fee of £15 to the Cuban Embassy in London. The turnaround is very quick – usually, the tourist card is sent back to you within 1 or 2 days. You can also get tourist cards issued by visiting the Embassy in person. These visas are good for 30 days, visitors from Canada A current passport is required and your Cuban visa will be issued on the aeroplane, this visa cost is included in your air ticket. The visa is good for 30 days but as a Canadian, it is possible to extend to 90 days.Visitors from the USA  A current passport is required. If travelling in an official OFAC group you will be put in contact with a qualified travel agent within the USA. This agent will both issue air tickets and visas.

Flight Options

This trip is timed to fit with the most popular flights to Cuba – on Virgin Airlines, KLM out of Europe.  Air Canada, Air Transat and Cubana Airlines all fly directly into Havana from Toronto and Montreal.

American groups with OFAC licenses are now able to fly directly from Miami but the prices seem very high at the time of publishing and it may prove cheaper to come via a third country, such as Mexico or Canada.

Flying to Varadero is an option, but you will need to get to Havana, this is around $80 for a taxi. This option is popular with riders going on for a beach holiday after or before a tour.