CTC have recently rationalised their information sheets on Cuba. We
are now able to offer two sheets, CU1, which contains older, but still
relevant information; and CU2, which contains accounts of two visits
Touring Department which took place within the last two years.
Please be aware that the internet is becoming an increasingly useful – if not
essential – tool when it comes to planning your next trip. It seems to be
easier obtaining (relevant and useful) information for some countries than
others. However, start by typing the name of the country into the search box
of your favourite search engine and start surfing. You’re more likely than not
to come up with lots of useful stuff.
Do check out www.fco.gov.uk, which is the Foreign Office web site and
contains useful information on any country you may decide to visit.
Also, www.travel-guide.com provides useful information on every
Embassy of the Republic of Cuba,
167 High Holborn,
London WC1 6PA;
tel: 020 7240 2488;
Email : email@example.com
Cuba Tourist Board
154 Shaftesbury Avenue,
London WC2H 8JT, UK
Tel: (020) 7240 6655 or (09001) 600 295 (24 hr brochure request line).
Fax: (020) 7836 9265.
C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\42a4ceaa-db77-4d57-bb23-c08d4d731181.doc ~ This version produced 26/07/2012 ~ Page 1
British citizens require a visa to enter Cuba. For further information on entry
requirements, visitors are advised to check with the Cuban Embassy in
C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\42a4ceaa-db77-4d57-bb23-c08d4d731181.doc ~ This version produced 26/07/2012 ~ Page 2
banana - salad - cheese and coconut plus Pepsi and coffee, whilst a
Neville Chanin has kindly sent us the following notes trio sung to their guitars, as 1993 drew to a close.
based on his 1993-4 tour in Cuba.
The idea of a Caribbean Christmas had been in my mind for a year
Caribbean Sweetness and when I put the suggestion to Bridget, Ian, Graham, Ray and Steve,
We rolled into the small but busy little town of Contramaestre as the with whom I had toured to Mexico the previous year, they readily
sun was sinking - in an hour there would be a glorious sun set shot agreed so the largest island, the size of England, was chosen.
from the bridge across the river - but we must first locate our hotel.
This was the Villa El Salton, pre booked from London, as were most of Cuba is a tropical country and with the 'dry' season in December -
our nights on this trip. At that moment a motor cycle and sidecar January at 26oC, the ingredients for an Ideal winter tour presented
Ministry of the Interior man, dressed in the now familiar yellow ochre themselves.
outfit, came along and volunteered to guide us. We turned and tucked
in as he led us through dusty side streets : occasionally he waved to Thus we landed at Havana's Jose Marti airport at three twenty five on
people he knew and once popped in a house, presumably to tell the afternoon of Christmas eve and prepared to ride the fourteen miles
someone he would be late home! into town.
After a few kilometres we were on the edge of town where he stopped, All the advice indicated (and I'd sought more pre-tour advice for this
gesticulated with clear hand movements that we should continue to a trip than any previous one) that we should pre-book as much
T-junction then turn left - it would be almost seven kilometres. accommodation as possible - in fact I arranged eleven of our sixteen
nights in advance, and our first one was located in old Havana's Paseo
Our road undulated through banana plantations and past a lake, to the de Marti, one time the finest street in the city with a raised tree lined
junction, as specified. We checked with a chap who confirmed the pavement down the centre.
direction, but still 3 or 4 kilometres; light was fading.
The Caribbean hotel, described as cheap and cheerful, windowless
On we went, up and down through some of the best scenery so far, but and peeling with dubious plumbing was not as bad as expected,
we couldn't see it! Some had dynamos, but Graham and I didn't so we although the water supply was dubious to the extent that there wasn't
followed close - tricky as the road contained pot-holes and bumps. any - that is, until a road tanker came to fill the hotels tanks. We
Another check with two more locals indicated a further eleven enjoyed a good meal of chicken, beans, rice and salad followed by
kilometres - oh dear! At seven thirty we finally reached the village of El fresh fruit. A group played Cuban rhythm and a succession of lovely
Salton where we were directed left at the cross roads - into the girls formed a fashion parade as we dined : this set the scene for a
darkness once more! good tour!
Still uncertain of exactly where we were heading, I asked again at a Sixteen riding days were at our disposal for which Ray had mapped a
small log cabin. "Two kilometres" was the reply. A friendly welcome 2000 km route taking in as many of the international (and therefore
greeted us at the Cubanacan villa, for the staff had been expecting us. pre-bookable) hotels as practicable. in some, rooms were chalet style,
No sooner were we installed in our bungalow rooms than a powercut sometimes of rustic construction, other hotels were huge concrete
followed. These were to become a feature of our trip for Cuba is affairs with wide marble staircases, entrance halls and balconies and
struggling for energy. We dined well that night - pork - chips - rice - of an exactly similar design, so after the first one, the layout of the
remainder was precisely known. Rooms were spacious with private
C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\42a4ceaa-db77-4d57-bb23-c08d4d731181.doc ~ This version produced 26/07/2012 ~ Page 3
balcony, showers (only some had warm water, though cold water was and coffee (1.2$). We surprised ourselves how far we could ride with
adequate), twin beds, and ample room for cycles which were carried just liquid intake - though this was boosted on the longer stages with
upstairs as the lifts, which often had a full time operator, were too calorific "white powder' and muesli bars brought from home. Once we
small. With power cuts either in progress on arrival, or coming later, found a 'tourist' bar serving some sort of hamburgers but when we did
lifts were not a good ideal Incidentally, these hotels appeared well over happen to find a "cafe', there was literally nothing in it - not even a
staffed for the number of tourists. drink!
A Russian air chiller, in various states of repair, lowered the room Roads were surfaced although badly cracked and potholed in places
temperature and was a useful aid to dry any washing; my earplugs and remarkably traffic free. It seemed curious (and very pleasant)l to
were invaluable at night. Evening meals were invariably buffet style ride through towns and villages and take photos without parked cars
which was ideal for us, having run the calorie supply low during the being in view - even in the capital! We rode for miles along highway
daily stages. A typical spread would have a whole selection of cold one, the main end to end artery, had elevenses sitting on its edge and
salads, cheese, meats, soup, rolls, then maybe chicken or pork, rice Ian even dozed off on the edge of the carriageway; we drew
and beans, sometimes potato or yams or pasta plus for ubiquitous and comparisons with our Al…
often bland plantain.
There was other traffic of course. Between places (there was only the
This may be followed by various gateaux, generous fresh fruit salads occasional ancient bus) people moved in open lorries of two makes
(which sometimes started the meal - pineapple - papaya - orange - KAMA3 or ROMAN and it is quite amazing lust how many people can
grapefruit - melon). We sometimes ate omelette - beef or gammon pack onto one lorry, bikes and all, often-with only a chain across the
steak. Coffee followed, Cola, fruit juices or lager beers provided the back to keep them in. Exhaust emission is not controlled which made
liquid part, along with chilled water which came regardless, as soon as us glad that such trucks are infrequent.
the glass was emptied.
A trio or quartet sung and played guitars and maracas on most nights - On the fringe of each town or village is the hitching point where
real Afro Cuban ambience. travellers gather in a relaxed manner controlled by the 'yellow man or
girl’, an interior ministry official in yellow ochre outfit whose job it is to
flag down all state owned vehicles identified by their blue number plate
Breakfasts could be fruit salad - scrambled egg or omelette, ham or (i.e. most vehicles) which must stop.
cheese rolls, juice, coffee. Meals averaged at 14.5 & 7.5 dollars Passengers are loaded accordingly as to destination paying a nominal
respectively. Most hotels had an “animations" man in charge of sum to the 'yellow man' i.e. the state. Hence the country keeps moving
Relaciones Publicas. At Camaguey he was Roberto del Rey who was at low cost. Of the private cars, well they are big old American makes
most pleased to have six English cyclists at his hotel. We had drinks like Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, Plymouth all very thirsty
on the house in the form of Mojito (rum, lime juice, soda water, ice and not always too healthy as often we passed them broken down
sugar and mint) apparently one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourites. miles from anywhere. Also saw the occasional Zephyr, Anglia, Consul
Our breakfast orders were always the largest the kitchens supplied, for
the rolls and often fruit was carried for our midway snacks, as there
was nothing to be found along the way. The only peso hotel we used But the majority of Cubans travel by bicycle - sturdy Chinese machines
provided sharp contrast in food with an evening meal of minced fish 'Forever Bicycle" or "Flying Pigeon" with a rack for carrying a
and rice, sugar papaya and coffee (7$) with breakfast of 2 small rolls passenger. Apparently one of Fidel's plans to keep Cuba moving was
C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\42a4ceaa-db77-4d57-bb23-c08d4d731181.doc ~ This version produced 26/07/2012 ~ Page 4
to import thousands of these machines and most people have one; Notes by Di Nelson & Phil McGovern, 1996.
hence cycling has become a Cuban way of life and quite often riders
would come alongside for miles, sometimes dropping us too, for they
are strong pedallers. Hanging onto trucks seems normal practice and Flights:
quite often we saw two or three whiz by at alarming speed behind a
lorry presumably they knew the sections free of potholes The only direct scheduled flight is with Cubana from London Stansted
to Havana. Depart Stansted, Thursdays 1200 arrive Havana 1710.
Cuba is a windy island and we seemed to have more than our fair Return Wednesdays 2100, arriving Stansted 1050 next day. Flight
share of headwind. Heavy gauge tyres are recommended to iron out time approx 8 hrs. £300-£450 return. No problems carrying bikes on
the bumps and avoid punctures from impact and the glass fragments in the plane - just remove pedals and turn handlebars.
Havana, especially menacing when the road is wet. Central Cuba Jose Marti Airport is near the suburb of Rancho Boyeres, around 60
tended to be quite flat which led to some sore bottoms some days (but minutes easy cycling from Plaza de la Revolution (cycle track all the
the south east became pleasantly hilly and more scenic as did the way).
northern loop towards the coast from Ciego de Avila to Santa Clara.
Stansted 'Skytrain' has signs saying 'no bikes', but apparently this does
Its the largest of the Caribbean islands being 1250 km long by 191 km not apply if you are flying with a bike. There is no proper baggage van.
at its widest point. With excellent soil Cuba has traditionally been one Services run on the hour and half hour from London Liverpool Street.
of the largest exporters of cane sugar in the world and we certainly Travel time approx 40 min.
rode amongst many miles of cane maturing in the sun and swaying in Alternatively you can use the Cambridge stopping service, also from
the wind. Ageing machines rumbled through the rows chopping the Liverpool Street. Use the front carriage which has tip-up seats. Most
cane and depositing into a following truck whilst spreading the foliage convenient station is Elsenham, a pleasant 8km ride from the airport
back on the land. A fairly intense rail network spread through the terminal. Harlow and Saffron Waldon YHs are both within 20km of the
growing regions so sugar trains trundled to the numerous refineries to airport.
deposit their charge: otherwise it went to Russian lorry or tractor.
Cyclists or labourers would invariably be chewing a skinned length of Things are changing rapidly in Cuba - this info is based on 2-week
cane - squashed strips lie on the road. tours in 1995 and April 1996.
The sugar industry provides 70% of export earnings but poor
machinery maintenance and lack of spares is preventing Cuba’s 10 The "moneda nacional" is the Peso, divided into 100 centavos, but use
million tonne raw sugar target being reached : it still remains the of the US dollar is widespread. Exchange rate currently around 20
second largest producer after Brazil. peso to the dollar. There are also "convertible Peso" notes which are
on a par with USDs. If paying with USD or convertible pesos the
During our 16 day spin we rode 1359 miles with memories of friendly change will be in US coins or special "Intur" centavos. The latter look
hospitable people, so many on cycles, happy children in their smart at first glance just like ordinary centavo coins but they are worth twenty
school uniforms plus of course the cyclists delight - such a low traffic times as much.
density. Why not give Cuba a try - a real welcome awaits. The currency symbol for the Peso and the USD is the same.
At establishments aimed at foreigners the "dollar" sign will mean USD;
otherwise it will probably mean pesos.
C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\42a4ceaa-db77-4d57-bb23-c08d4d731181.doc ~ This version produced 26/07/2012 ~ Page 5
Changing Money Pizza: usually tomato & cheese
The simplest way is to offer to pay with a one dollar bill at a roadside Tortilla c/pan: omelette roll
stall and ask if they will change it for twenty pesos. Peso prices are so
low that the change will probably be enough for the rest of the day. Bocadillo/Bocadito: sandwich (usually cheese and/or ham)
These stalls have sprung up within the last year Croquettes c/pan: Potato croquette sandwich, maybe with
Prices some tomato.
These vary widely. An espresso coffee ("mezclado") at an official Refresco: soft drink
cafeteria will be 10 or 15 centavos; at a private stall at the bottom of Batido: liquidized fruit and ice
someone's garden, 50 or 100 centavos; in a tourist hotel or at the
airport, maybe one USD. Mezclado: espresso coffee, usually sweet
A book: 2 - 10 pesos Melon
A meal at a peso restaurant: approx 10 peso; in a tourist restaurant, Prices are generally prominently displayed at stalls (remember the
maybe 10 USD. 'dollar' sign means pesos).
A double room (peso prices) approx 20 peso. At dollar prices, 15 to 30 Water
USD or maybe twice that in Havana (although it may be possible to get Said to be fine in towns, maybe not in country areas. We had no
a room in someone's house for less). Foreigners generally have to pay problems however. Bottles water is available where there are tourists.
Tourist hotels are generally well equipped with swimming pools, air-
conditioning, and 'dollar shops' where you can buy all sorts of goodies Peso bars tend not to have any glasses. People drink from old cans
unavailable outside, like packets of fruit juice. You can probably use (take a cup from the plane). You can probably take your bike inside.
the pool even if not resident, possibly for a charge of one or two Neat rum at around one peso a shot was all we could ever get (bring
dollars. your own bottle of fruit juice).
If full, a hotel may be persuaded to phone round to find you another Cuban bars have a sensible queuing system unlike the free-for-all in
one. the UK.
Bikes: on the open market, a Flying Pigeon costs around 60 USD, Unlabelled bottled beer costs around 3 pesos but may be rationed to
anything with gears around 100 USD. one bottle per person, and only with a meal. Draught is sometimes
available from tankers parked by the road (bring a bottle). Cans in a
Cuban Wages: the average wage is around 250 pesos per month. tourist hotel cost about one USD. Various cocktails also available at
Food one to two USD.
Many guide books claim the food is dreadful. While plainer than some, Crime
it seemed OK to us. Hotel food is highly meat-based, but more veg- Violence towards tourists said to be rare, but in the streets of old
based fare is available from roadside stalls. The sort of things you can Havana, bag snatching, especially at night, is common. Bike theft is
buy at the stalls are: also common. There is a shortage of most things in Cuba, including
Tamales: a kind of baked maize product, wrapped in leaves
C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\42a4ceaa-db77-4d57-bb23-c08d4d731181.doc ~ This version produced 26/07/2012 ~ Page 6
clothes, so be careful when leaving things out to dry. Be careful buying The ferry from the mainland leaves from Batabano at 1900 and takes 6
cigars or bottles of Havana Club rum on the street as it may be fake. hrs. No cabins. Bikes have to be carried up onto the deck. Ticket price
(8 USD single) includes sandwiches and cake! Train from Havana to
Batabano (which passes about 2km west of the airport) has a special
Departure tax bike carriage with space for about 50 bikes, but it is quite slow - about
To be paid after check-in. 20 $US. 2hrs to cover the 45 miles.
Documents Pinar del Rio province: hilly and lush tobacco growing area. Interesting
limestone outcrops near Vinales, but tourism is rampant here. Very
A Tourist Card, valid for 30 days from entry, costs £12. Simplest to get little motor traffic, especially on the north coast road.
the card via a tour operator. This will be stamped rather than your
passport when you enter and leave the country. If you want your Maps
passport stamped too, just ask. Regional tourist maps exist, at a scale of around 1:300K (sic), showing
Climate campsites and hotels ("campsites" are often chalets rather than tents).
Where to find them is another matter. Try hotel receptions or the street
Generally hot and humid. Sunburn seems to occur very quickly. Very kiosks displaying newspapers.
heavy rain possible. Umbrella useful in rain or sun. Prevailing wind is
from the east.
Cycling Conditions Latin American Spanish. Some people speak English or Russian.
Everyone cycles due to fuel shortages. Roads generally well-surfaced
but there are some dangerous potholes. Be very careful going One by a cyclist is "Guide to Cuba" by Stephen Fallon (Bradt
downhill. There was usually little shade on the roads we used. Traffic Publications 1995)
light (60 vehicles in an hour at mid-morning on the motorway between
Havana and Pinar del Rio) except in big cities. Right turns on red are
often permitted. http://www.cubaweb.cu The national web site of the Republic of
Cuba. Worth looking at.
Drivers usually give cyclists plenty of room, and seem fairly relaxed but
exhausts are often extremely dirty - a smog mask will be more use
than a helmet. The following companies handle flights and arrange the tourist card:
Trucks often operate as buses and will take bikes, hooked on the back
Journey Latin America 0181 747 3108
by the seat stem. Cost: 10 peso per person and per bike for about
Regency Holidays 0117 9211711
60km (it might actually be a flat rate).
Punctures can be fixed at 'poncheras' stalls.
Isla de la Juventud: Flattish in north and the roads a bit too straight, but
you can always stop and pick a grapefruit. South of the island
probably more interesting with wildlife reserves.
C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\42a4ceaa-db77-4d57-bb23-c08d4d731181.doc ~ This version produced 26/07/2012 ~ Page 7
Notes on a one month tour around Cuba ~ we only ate them when there was nothing else not, for example, when
the available food looked unappetising.
General The road surfaces are almost all good; we took touring bikes and
managed even unsurfaced tracks with ease. It was however the dry
I visited Cuba with a friend for a month around Xmas 1994. We caught season: in wet weather some of the tracks would probably become
a charter flight to Varadero, and cycled from there to Playa Larga on quagmires
the south coast. We crossed the Escambray mountains to Trinidad,
then went north to Santa Clara. After a night in the Hotel Santa Clara Traffic volumes are very light, largely because of the shortage of fuel;
Libre, we put the bikes on the train to Havana. the only exception was the road from Varadero to Cardenas. It's
possible and easy to cycle the motorways; we even had a picnic sitting
From there we took the coast road to La Palma, crossed the Sierra de on the edge of the slow lane.
los Organos to Vinales and Pinar, then cycled via Soroa to Batabano.
Here we put the bikes on a Russian hydrofoil to the Isle of Youth, Putting bikes on a train is possible, but the only one we tried was an
Stevenson's original Treasure Island. Cycling around the island was Especial, the fast train to Havana. It arrived six hours late, and then
inhibited by a touch of dysentry, but we recovered enough to cycle lost a further four hours on the journey. Worse still, the conductor for
back to Havana before returning to Varadero. our carriage refused to let us on with our bikes. Fortunately a guard in
a different part of the train took pity on us and helped us tie the bikes to
El Bloqueo a hook in the corridor (Note : a couple of spare toe straps were
Cuba has been blockaded by the US since Castro took over in 1959. invaluable).
This wasn't too big a problem till 1991, when Russian support ended.
Today there are serious shortages of oil, food, soap and many ordinary Thus, if you go by train, get the ticket issuer to write on it that you can
daily goods. When we went the problems were very evident, though a take your bike too.
change in Cuba's trading arrangements (or a slice of aid) may improve
things. It's also possible to put bikes on buses, or the backs of lorries; it all
depends how much you love your bike! Frequently buses passed us
These notes therefore have a health warning: Cuba may be different with people hanging onto their bikes through the bus windows.
by the time you get there!
Havana has a cyclobus which takes cyclists accross the harbour; most
Supplies towns have cycle lanes and bicycle parks with attendants. All but one
Outside the tourist spots (Varadero, Playa Giron, Trinidad, the Isle of hotel let us take our bikes to the bedroom : even the prestigious Hotel
Youth, Vinales and Havana on our route) food can be difficult to find. Inglaterra in Havana thought that was fine. All towns have bike
Many cafes serve only water and cigarettes, though some have rum! repairmen ("Poncheras") though their equipment will be scanty.
We took a kilo of muesli, and six chocolate flapjacks, plus 1/2lb each of
nuts and raisins, dried fruit,and nuts. These lasted three weeks, and
C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\42a4ceaa-db77-4d57-bb23-c08d4d731181.doc ~ This version produced 26/07/2012 ~ Page 8
Lycra is worn throughout Cuba, and skimpy clothes are the norm. ROUTES
There is thus no need for modest dress when riding. This applies to
women even more than to men. Varadero to Matanzas
There is an old coast road which is deserted, as the traffic uses the
Accommodation motorway. It starts around ten miles out of Varadero, continuing
We didn't book in advance, because we wanted to play it by ear in the straight ahead where the motorway curves off to the left.
traditional way. The good news is that we always found
accommodation; the bad, that the finding was sometimes very difficult. To get on to it at the other end, look out for the sign to the lighthouse
Some hotels were closed "for repair", which sometimes meant after you have crossed the spectacular gorge. The road to Varadero
mending the crazy paving. Others were closed unpredictably: "But it's continues on past the lighthouse.
Tuesday: we're never open on Tuesdays." Twice we stayed in people's
houses, and often we were the only guests in the hotels. Playa Giron to Castillo Juego
This is a fantastic ride, along the coast and over coral beds. It's almost
Maps and Language deserted; we saw only a few charcoal burners and three wild pigs. Part
There are two maps of Cuba, Hildebrands and Freytag & Berndt. You is a track, part a badly surfaced road. The last section is only marked
need them both because they show different things and have different on the F&B map.
mistakes! Neither has gradients or contours, just spot heights.
Around six miles from PG there is a house where you can get water:
We also noticed that many people had a very hazy idea of distances, maybe even a meal? At 17 miles you go through a charcoal burners'
and could almost never tell us how far away we were from the next village with a small beach. At 20 miles the main track turns left, the
town. coastal one (which we took) continues through a fence and over a
Without Spanish (say to GCSE level) this would have been a very hard
trip, as outside the tourist areas almost no one speaks English. We Keep on the track: at around 33 miles it forks: there is a house just
needed Spanish to negotiate for rooms and food, as well as to ask the beyond the right fork, but the people there recommended us to take
way. It also meant that we could have interesting conversations about the LH turn, as they said the surface ahead was too bad. The LH fork
politics, music and bicycles! takes you up to the main road through banana plantations, and you
then TR and drop down to the Castillo. You can get the ferry to
Arriving in Varadero Cienfuegos, or a man with a small boat will take you across the
There is nowhere to stay near the airport, and it's a 15 mile ride to the harbour to the hotels; though you'll need to bargain.
resort, almost certainly against the prevailing wind. You need to think
about this if planning to arrive late in the day. Playa Rancho Luna to Topes de Collantes
The Hildebrand map shows a road cutting across here to Gavilanes
(pronounced, uncharacteristically, Gavilan) : the one we found brought
us out about six miles further north. There may be another road, but
we didn't find it.
C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\42a4ceaa-db77-4d57-bb23-c08d4d731181.doc ~ This version produced 26/07/2012 ~ Page 9
The road to La Sierrita is unmarked. It's the LH turn off the Trinidad Offroad route to Vinales
road after the turning to Cumanayagua. In La Sierrita ask the way; it's We went along the Carretera Norte to La Palma: very straightforward,
a bit disorientating and we almost left the village by the wrong road. quiet, undulating. In La Palma ask for the road to San Andres. There is
The road from La Sierrita is one of the hardest ever. It's straight up the a tourist restaurant about three miles along this road: there was a
scarp slope for 3000 metres; we argued about whether it was 1:3 or choice between yam, bread, rice and spaghetti! Good for carbo
1:2. It felt like about five vertical miles: hard to tell exactly as the loading.
computer wouldn't register "speeds" below 2 miles per hour.
Continue over the ridge through San Andres. The map shows a turning
If you are masochistic enough to go this way, let me know: a family of off to the right before this, but we didn't find it. Go along the main street
coffee growers put us up for the night and you could take them some (there's a friendly sombrero making co-op on the right), and at the end,
soap from me! opposite the polyclinic, go left. You are now on a track. Go right at the
next fork. From now on ask everyone you meet to check you are still
Topes - Trinidad - Topes - Santa Clara on the correct route. Essentially the route is: Go left soon after the fork,
The road to and from Trindad is easy both ways, a reasonable gradient over the marsh, up the steep slope opposite. The track continues along
coming back up, and some great views. The ride to Santa Clara is a ridge with a great view over the mogotes and to the sea beyond.
glorious for the first 25 miles, a continuous quiet descent through the Eventually it rejoins the surfaced road at a place called "Republica de
tropical forest, with wild birds and flowering trees. Chile"; this is about 14km north of Vinales.
Havana to Bahia Honda Carretera Central from Pinar
Leave the centre of Havana by following the Malecon, which has a This is a great quiet road as far as the crossroads where La Guira is
cycleway along the side (though beware of waves washing over the signposted to the left. After this it becomes even quieter: four miles
promenade!). The cycleway peels off to the right eventually and later we realised this is because it disappears under a lake. To avoid
becomes a minor road. Keep straight on down this road, turning right drowning you need to turn right at the La Guira crossroads, and drop
over the metal bridge, which is for cyclists only. Continue on to the down to the motorway. Note that this is one of the places where both
junction with the main road, and cross over. maps were wrong; they signpost La Guira off at a later point. The
Hildebrand map also has San Diego in the wrong place.
Continue up the road on the other side, to a T junction: TL. This road
eventually joins the main dual carriageway to Santa Fe. It's quiet, one The motorway is the only route back, unless you want to cross the
car about every 10 mins. Mariel has a Cuban "honeymoon" hotel (you'll mountains and go along the northern road. It was quiet, only 5 cars
need to ask to find it) and they may let you have lunch. TR to Cabanas, passing us every mile. Note that most of the time there are no
past a sugar plantation, which is fairly busy with carts and agricultural sliproads, other than muddy swathes made by cars turning off minor
traffic; it then quietens down again before Bahia Honda. The last 15 roads onto the motorway. There are also very few signs, and a sign
miles are spectacular. doesn't mean a junction: TacoTaco is signposted, but there is only a
footpath to it.
C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\42a4ceaa-db77-4d57-bb23-c08d4d731181.doc ~ This version produced 26/07/2012 ~ Page 10
Soroa to Artemesia have left Batabano; don't follow it but keep straight on; after 11 miles
TL out of the hotel at Soroa, climb up, ignore 1st turning to the right, the road forks, go left; next fork after 1.2 miles, TR; at intersection over
but go right at the fork which follows. Finally there is a signpost to Las a dual crriageway, keep straight on.
Terrasas. Note that this new town is only on the F&B map. Then follow This is a very quiet road, one car every 10 mins, and gently beautiful.
signs to Cayajavos. After Managua there is more traffic.
This is a beautiful road, quiet, undulating, lots of birdlife, almost I'd be happy to discuss these or any other points about travelling in
deserted, views over the hills. Cuba. Have fun: I did!
Anne Redston (01793 420473)
Artemesia to Batabano coast road Book Review
This is an alternative to the Carretera. Turn second right after
Artemesia to Neptuno. You need a LH turn then to get to Neptuno: Wally and Barbara Smith
there are lots of roads which form a criss-cross pattern over the Backcountry guides
countryside. Ask at any junction to check. ISBN 0-88150-553-6
In Neptuno the road forks, L to Alquizar, R to Playa Gaunimar. TR in
the direction of Playa Guanimar. The road is now very quiet. At TJ after This is an excellent guide to touring Cuba by bicycle, there are fifty
about 5 miles TL, away from Playa Guanimar. Keep on going, ignore days of detailed rides covering all parts of the island. In addition local
LH fork. You are now in a village. The road bends twice round to the sights of interest are described and accomodation suggested. The
left. After about 4 miles from the second Playa Guanimar junction, TR authors clearly know Cuba well and the book has had the benefit of
opposite a bus shelter. This is shown as a white road on the emailed suggestions by other cyclists.
Hildebrand map. It is indifferently surfaced, but isn't a dirt track.
Continue straight on to Batabano. This is a quiet largely traffic-free I cycle in Cuba every year and it really is a cyclist's paradice. I don't
agree with the standard textbooks that the state of the roads is bad
road through banana plantations.
and where else is the inside motorway lane reserved for cyclists and
horse and carts.
Getting to the Isle of Pines (Isla de la Juventud)
Officially there is no way to get a bike onto the island, other than Most of the book is devoted to the tours, there is no padding so the
paying someone with a small boat to bring it over separately and paperback is lightweight, the additional information is good and to the
slowly. After some time we negotiated a passage on the jetfoil: you point;the sections on local food and on spanish bicycle vocabulary are
need to talk to the people in charge of ticketing and the captain has to excellent. Sadly little english is spoken which is a pity as the people
agree. We also heard of two women who similarly persuaded the pilot are some of the friendliest in the world.
of the small plane which flies from Havana to take two bikes.
Stangely enough it is written by americans and published in America a
Batabano to Havana country that bans travel to Cuba! I had no problem ordering it from my
We went up the old road, via San Antonio de las Vegas, and avoiding local book shop.
the motorway. Key points are: The road curves to the right after you
C:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\42a4ceaa-db77-4d57-bb23-c08d4d731181.doc ~ This version produced 26/07/2012 ~ Page 11