† Explanation of BAC Ride Fee – This fee is not included in the Estimated Cost and is non-refundable once submitted. The Ride Fee for US and Canada is $50 and $100 for all other countries, both are per participant.
Time Travel to Cuba
January 20, 2019 – February 1, 2019
Note: before signing up for this ride, please consult the current US State Department cautions for travel in this area -- https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/cuba-travel-warning.html
Overview: For the last half a century, politics have kept Cuba isolated from the western world. It has been a hardship for the Cuban people and kept the country in a unique 1950’s time capsule. Experience Cuba now before it catches up to the 21st century. This trip meets all the new travel restrictions for American Citizens visiting Cuba.
This 13-day tour of central and western Cuba gives you an in depth experience riding in one of the most fascinating countries in the world. Pedal past much of Cuba’s less-traveled countryside on quiet roads with visits to local farms, national parks, and even snorkeling in the Bay of Pigs. You’ll have a chance to take in Havana’s colorful rhythm as you explore the city’s culture, architecture, and history. Then continue to cycle off the tourist track and into the heart of Cuba. Along the way you will see Cuban cigars being rolled, taste some of the finest food the country has to offer and spend time with locals learning about the history of agriculture and revolution in this lush land. From its crystal blue coast to its lush forested hills, this stunning route will show off the best of Cuba's culture and landscapes.
We choose to travel by bicycle because we know that getting off the buses and into the heart of a country on two wheels is the best way to truly experience a place. With that said, you will notice that buildings in Cuba are in need of repair, sometimes including portions of the hotels we use. Air conditioning, though present in 100% of your hotel rooms, may break down. Hot water and water pressure can vary. Internet access is sporadic and hard to find. But, the people in Cuba are some of the warmest and friendliest people on earth. They genuinely want to share and talk about their lives with travelers from all over the world – especially Americans. We recommend you bring an attitude of flexibility and an understanding that you may not find the amenities that exist in other destinations. But, we are certain that embarking on a trip to Cuba will be one of the most fulfilling travel experiences you can have. The roads are all paved, but in varying degrees of repair. The bikes provided by ExperiencePlus in Cuba run on 700X35 tires (see link to Cuba bicycles below). If you are bringing your own bike, we recommend that you bring similar bikes and tire widths.
Itinerary: This itinerary meets the United States requirements for a People-to-People licensed trip and we will have all licensing documents necessary for American* travelers, including the required approval of our itinerary by Cuban Authorities.
Day 1: Arrive in Santa Clara, transfer to Remedios (about 1 hr.) Meet at 5pm to be in Remedios in time for bike fitting. (D).
Day 2: Bike Remedios to Sancti Spiritus: 48 miles, 1,730’ climbing (B, L, D)
Day 3: Bike Sancti Spritus to Trinida: 43 miles, 1,683’ climbing (B, L, D)
Day 4: Bike Trinidad loop (optional ride): 27 miles, 324’ climbing (B, L, and D)
Day 5: Trinidad to lunch (shuttle from there to Cienfuegos): 25 miles, 1,234 climbing (B, L, dinner on your own)
Day 6: Shuttle out of Cienfuegos, bike to lunch & Playa Larga: 50 miles, 869’ climbing (B, L, D)
Day 7 & 8: Shuttle to visit Havana (2 nights in Havana) (B, L, two dinners on your own)
Day 9: Shuttle out of Havana (approx. 35 minutes): Bike to Soroa: 43 miles, 1,187’ climbing (B, L, D)
Day 10: Bike Soroa to Palma Rubia, ferry to island hotel on Cayo: 42 miles, 2,132’ climbing (B, L, D)
Day 11: Palma Rubia to Vinales: 31 miles, 1,958’ climbing (B, L, D)
Day 12: Shuttle back to Havana with a stop at a cigar factory to learn about cigar and tobacco history (B, L, D)
Day 13: Depart from Havana.
(B): Breakfast provided (L): Lunch provided (D) Dinner provided
Ride Rating: This ride is a 2B. The mandatory 7 riding days have an average distance of 40 miles per day, and an average climb of 1540 feet per day..
Logistics/Travel: The ride starts on January 20, 2019 in Santa Clara and ends on February 1, 2019 in Havana. Direct flights to Santa Clara (SNU) are from Miami (MIA). Direct Flights back from Havana (HAV) include: Miami, Atlanta, New York, Dallas and Houston.
Required Travel Documents: Aside from your flight tickets, all travelers must bring along and retain the following important documents with one additional document needed for US Citizens (the General License). No worries, it’s easy!
• Valid Passport: It must be valid for 6 months past the start date of your trip.
• Cuba Tourist Card: Sometimes referred to as a Cuba Tourist Visa. If you are flying directly from the U.S., you can obtain it at your final point of departure from the U.S. from your airline. In doing so typically an additional charge applies. Please confirm with the airline on which you are flying regarding when and how to obtain this. Travelers from countries other than the US may have slightly different procedures with regard to this document, so make sure you check.
• Proof of Medical Travel Insurance: Medical travel insurance is mandatory for all travelers to Cuba. The minimum coverage may be provided by your airline, but we strongly recommend checking with them. The recommended provider, Arch Insurance, will cover medical (and much more!).
• Cuba General License*: This is a certification necessary for *US Citizens. ExperiencePlus will provide this form for you for the duration of your bicycle trip but it is your responsibility to fill it out, print it and sign it. Make sure to bring it along and retain it for your records.
*In light of the new requirements for US citizens traveling to Cuba announced in June 2017, these requirements still apply until regulations are updated by OFAC. Travel arranged prior to the announcement is not affected.
Make sure you have ALL of these documents with you when you travel and that they are easily accessible.
For US Citizens, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) requires that you retain records of your travels to Cuba for a period of 5 years. You can find more information on the requirements on the OFAC and US State Department websites and in ExperiencePlus’ general information on requirements for US Citizens.
Tour Operator: ExperiencePlus has allowed us to create a ride uniquely for BAC. ExperiencePlus is on the BAC list of approved outfitters. The ride leaders have personally ridden with them in Europe and found them to be very well organized and professional.
Cost and Administration: The base cost of the ride is $5,530. This will include: 12 nights lodging, 11 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 8 dinners (welcome and farewell dinners with wine), 11 social hours with wine, other beverages and snacks. Also included are the six motor coach shuttles, a ferry, a support van for emergencies with snacks and drinks, maps and chalk dust directional arrows on the route and historical information.
• Experienced Cuban Group Guide and one ExperiencePlus representative
• RWGPS tracks (to be used on phone as GPS devices are not allowed in Cuba)
• Daily maps and cue sheets with profiles
• Day Sheets, including schedule and cultural information, maps, navigation arrows, gpx files and elevation profiles by RideWithGPS.
• Bus, including driver for luggage, and emergency support.
• Private pre-tour orientation meeting
• Carefully chosen people-to-people activities, personal visits and presentations with experts in a variety of fields and topics, and access to exclusive experiences
• Accommodations as noted in the itinerary
• All meals as noted in itinerary (B): Breakfast provided (L): Lunch provided (D) Dinner provided
• Certification of travel to Cuba under the U.S. Department of Treasury general license
• All entrance fees to include events and activities
• All in-country ground transportation
• Clean drinking water available at all times
• Gratuities for specialized guides and presenters, luggage handling, restaurant staff, and activities throughout tour
Price Does Not Include
• Round-trip air to/from Cuba
• Bike rentals for the tour are available from ExperiencePlus for $100. https://www.experienceplus.com/what_to_expect/our_bikes/
• Cuba Tourist Visa Fee (ranges from $20-$100 depending on where you buy it)
• Personal expenses such as souvenirs, gifts, additional drinks/entertainment, and incidentals.
• Bicycle Taxi (bicitaxi) Business: Take a spin with local bicycle taxi (bicitaxi) owners followed by coffee and conversation about owning a bicitaxi businesses and the challenges in maintaining their bikes.
• Inside the traditional Cuban men’s shirt: Take a personal tour of Casa de la Guayabera, a museum dedicated to the traditional men’s shirt invented in Cuba and learn the history of this classic shirt, and about it’s current comeback into formal business wear.
• Stop at a guarapo stand. Get a glass of hand-pressed sugar cane juice, a time-honored treat in Cuba. This local treat will undoubtedly boost your energy and give a little boost to your cycling speed. As you spend some Moneda Nacional, the local currency used by Cubans, we’ll talk to the vendor about his business, and learn more about Cuba’s “second economy”.
• Evening visit with entrepreneur Julio Muñoz: Spend an evening in Muñoz’s home to learn about this famed photographer, casa owner, and electrical engineer’s perspectives on life in Cuba. Julio has traveled to the U.S. many times but chosen to remain in his home town where he has had to be creative to run his various businesses. This Renaissance man also channeled his passion for animals to start a foundation that teaches locals how to better care for their animals.
• Performance by the Choir of Cienfuegos: Visit this internationally-acclaimed music group’s practice center in one of the many historic buildings of Cienfuegos for a private concert. Following the performance some of the chorus members will join the our travelers to talk about Cuba’s emphasis on music education, the place of music in Cuban culture and how they personally got involved in music.
• Korimacao Art School Visit: For a country with few resources, Cuba commits a fair amount to the arts. Throughout the country there are publicly-funded music conservatories and special arts and music schools. Students come from all over Cuba to attend Korimacao boarding school where they are immersed in a variety of art forms, including music, theater, plastic arts, painting and more. The school’s director will provide a tour of the facilities and share some insights about the school’s goals and mission; ending with a special performance.
• Walking tour of Old Havana with a local Cuban guide: See the streets of Havana and visit four major plazas to gain a better understanding of Spanish Colonial history as well as current building and architectural preservation projects taking place today.
• Visit workers at a tobacco-drying barn: Some rides will take cyclists past fields of tobacco and handsome tobacco-drying barns made of wood and palm thatch. The contrast between the rich green of the fields and weathered gray of the barns is stunning. Our tour visits one of these plantations as we learn how the crop gets to market, learn about the economic system that supports the plantations, and the two to three year process from harvest and the finished cigar.
• Meet the Director of Zapata National Park, Frank Medina: Zapata is the largest National Park in Cuba and one of the most important wetlands in the Caribbean. Medina will explain the history of conservation and land protection in Cuba, and specifically discuss the purpose of land projects in Zapata National Park. These include eradication of invasive species, a breeding center for the endangered Cuban crocodile, trail systems, and educating locals on the need for conservation.
• Guided tour of Soroa’s famous Orchid gardens: Learn about the specific role these plants fulfill in their ecosystem, and the beauty of their adaptations.
• Stop at a local honey farm: Most everything in Cuba is government-run or government-controlled, and honey production is no exception. While visiting a honey farm, local bee keepers will discuss their passion and their role of caring for the hives and producing honey. Who knows, they might even open a hive and give us a taste of fresh comb and honey.
• Walk through the Viñales Valley: Let a local guide share some farming practices used throughout the Valley. Cuba is poor and can’t afford chemical pesticides or fertilizers, farm products are considered organic. We will learn how farmers control pests and help their crops thrive through natural methods. In addition to field crops, visitors will learn about various fruit trees and how locals use local plants for homeopathic remedies.
• A private visit and presentation at Cuba’s leading conservation organization: The Antonio Nunez Jimenez Museum is a highly-respected foundation focusing on conservation work and research. Travelers will take a guided tour of its Havana headquarters – where they have a small museum. Following the tour there will be a conversation about their history and current role in promoting the conservation of lands and marine parks in Cuba.
Weather: The winter climate of Cuba is semitropical or temperate. The average minimum temperature is 21° C (70° F), the average maximum 27° C (81° F). The mean temperature at Havana is about 25° C (77° F). The trade winds and sea breezes make coastal areas more comfortable than temperature alone would indicate. Read more: http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Americas/Cuba-CLIMATE.html#ixzz4u6LMb92C
Using Cell Phones and WIFI in Cuba:
• Cell phones are quite common in Cuba, but you will not find any US carriers with reliable service. We recommend you check with your cellular service provider.
• If you have an unlocked quad-band GSM cell phone you will be able to use it with a pre-paid Cuban SIM card.
• The availability of internet is limited and you may find it difficult to connect. Though a hotel may indicate that there is WIFI available in the lobby it may not work unless you purchase an internet card from the hotel. In that case, keep in mind that the availability of internet cards might be limited and the connection may be slow.
• You just might want to unplug and enjoy the ride.
Travel in Cuba: Additional information regarding travel in Cuba is located under Ride Leader Docs. These files include: cuba_faqs_20170725.pdf; packingbicycle_cuba.pdf
Singles Policy: We encourage singles to participate; the solo supplement is available at a cost of $650.00. It is recommended that singles who want a roommate try to find their own. However, after receipt of the initial deposit, a single without a roommate will be placed on the ride and given until October 1, 2018 to find a roommate. If they are unable to find a roommate, they will have the option to receive a full refund (minus the $100 BAC fee and credit card processing fee) or pay the $650.00 single supplement to the ride leader to stay on the ride. Payment by check for the single supplement should be sent to the BAC office. Checks should be made out to “BAC” with a notation of the tour name included on the check and are due no later than October 15, 2018. If a single pays the supplement, they may continue to seek a roommate, but must plan to participate without a roommate if necessary. The Ride Leader will assist by attempting to match up singles who apply for the ride. The maximum number of solos (riders who pay the solo supplement and have their own room) the ride can accommodate is six.
Cancellation Policy: The BAC ride registration fee of $100 and the processing fee for this tour is not refundable unless the entire tour is canceled. Refunds of tour payments will depend upon whether a replacement rider signs up, and on costs that can be recouped. The amount refunded will be based on the principle that the tour’s remaining participants will not incur any additional cost because of cancellations. If the canceling participant is replaced, a refund will be made at that time. If the canceling participant cannot be replaced, any refund will be determined after the ride and final expense report are completed. If a single participant cancels and another roommate cannot be found, in addition to other costs that cannot be recouped, the canceling roommate may also be liable for the single supplement fee of the roommate remaining on the tour. We highly recommend that you purchase travel insurance, including trip cancellation/interruption insurance. For cancellations that go unfilled without a replacement, the ExperiencePlus policy applies and is as follows: Cancellation more than 91 days in advance: $150, 90–61 days in advance $500., 60–31 days in advance $2348, 30–0 Days in advance $4695.
Ride Participant Responsibility: Please remember that BAC Ride Leaders are volunteers, and that successful tours depend on participants providing much of their own support. Participants are expected to come to the ride well trained, in good health and ready to accomplish the required daily riding using well-maintained bicycles. All participants should accept responsibility for a safe and enjoyable tour. We encourage you to read the ride description carefully and respond to requests from the Ride Leader during the lead up to the tour. While on the ride, your support to your Ride Leader with offers to help with various tasks such as happy hour preparation and clean-up are appreciated. Please do not interfere with the ride by inviting non-participants onto any portion of the ride or tour. Please keep the Ride Leader informed of any special request you may have and please abide by the Ride Leader’s decisions during the tour.
Sign Up: To register for this ride, use the sign-up links just above the Ride Description. After preliminary acceptance, you will be moved to the pending list and receive and email requesting you to go back to the BAC site to digitally accept the Release of Liability (ROL), and pay the non-refundable BAC fee ($100) and tour deposit of $1000 by credit card. As soon as your deposit has been processed, your name(s) will be added to the Participation List. A second payment of $2,265 is due on June1, 2018 and the final payment of $2,265 on October 1, 2018. BAC members with questions may contact the Ride Director by "clicking" the name at the top of this Ride Description.
Bicycle Adventure Club
PO BOX 23998 San Diego, CA 92193
Telephone (858) 715-9510 firstname.lastname@example.org