Cycle Cuba Trip Notes

Cycle Cuba

Last Modified: 15 Sep 2016
Cycle Cuba
Trip code: QBXA
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
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 coastal paths and through the Bay of Pigs and get a taste of Cuba beyond the rum and cigar scene. Swim in Playa Larga’s clear blue waters, explore Che Guevara’s former HQ at the Cueva de los Portales and relax in the healing thermal pools in San Diego de los Banos. Soak up the best of Cuba as you traverse this fascinating country. Note - this trip has changed for 2017 - please see trip code QBXC for the new itinerary
Table of Contents
StyleYour fellow travellersFinish point
ThemesAccommodationEmergency contact
Is this trip right for you?Accommodation NotesVisas
Why we love itMeals introductionWhat to take
MapMealsClimate and seasonal information
Itinerary disclaimerMoney mattersTravel insurance
Physical ratingGroup leaderA couple of rules
Included activitiesSafetyResponsible Travel
Important notesJoining pointThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeJoining point instructionsFeedback
Is this trip right for you?
- This is a cycling trip, so it requires a certain amount of cycling fitness. This being said, there’s always a support vehicle following close by. If your knees are locked up one day for example, you’ll be able to travel in the vehicle.
- Cash is 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 often unreliable and expensive. 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 be fairly busy and slow. It’s a fun experience to share the road with tractors, vintage American cars and horse-drawn carriages.
- Western luxuries such as air conditioning and certain kitchen facilities are fairly sparse in Cuba. You'll come to appreciate the resourcefulness of the locals.
- 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, buses and planes often run 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.
Why we love it
- Cycling through Caribbean Cuba gives you unique access to parts of the island that are off the beaten track
- See animals in their natural habitat, including the Cuban crocodile, an abundance of marine life and the world’s smallest bird, the bee hummingbird
- Cycle through the lush valley of Soroa. Known as Cuba's Rainbow, the valley is rich in plant and wildlife
- Cuba is recognised as the world’s finest cigar manufacturer. Learn how to roll a cigar with a local tobacco farmer in the small town of Vinales
- After a visit to the temporary HQ of Cueva de los Portales and a guided walking tour of Old Havana, you’ll understand Che Guevara's important role in the Cuban Revolution
- Indulge in some sun, sand and sea on the historic Playa Larga in the Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs)

Day 1 Havana
A complimentary transfer is included with your trip. After collecting your luggage, please locate the Cubanacan Office in the arrivals hall of the International Airport. You need to quote your name and a pre-paid taxi transfer will be assigned to you. If there is an issue, please call +53 5 287 0805. Don't rely on somebody else to call for you, as they may be seeking commissions to direct you to another transfer company. The driver will have the address of your guesthouse. Once you've arrived at your accommodation, your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 7 pm. Your evening is then free to relax.
Included Activities
  • Havana Arrival Transfer
    Optional Activities
    • Havana - Tourist bus to the beach (return) - CUC5
    • Havana - La Cabana Fortress canon blast ceremony - CUC8
    • Havana - Tourist bus day pass - CUC5
    • Havana - Buena Vista Social Club - CUC30
      Guesthouse (1 nt)
      Special Information
      Notes: Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel. This is to ensure your transfer from the airport is organised.
      Day 2 Las Terrazas
      After breakfast this morning check out of the guesthouse (casa) - meeting your guide and travel group in the headquarters of the guesthouse. After any missed introductions, board the bus for an arrival briefing and transfer to the starting point of your cycling journey (approximately 30 minutes). On arrival, undergo a bike fitting and begin your ride through country back roads. Reach Las Terrazas around lunchtime and dine in one of the community restaurants (price not included). Continue cycling and arrive by the banks of San Juan in the late afternoon. Check in to the rustic huts that you’ll be staying in tonight.

      Accommodation is fairly basic, but comfortable mattresses, sheets and fans are provided. The river is also a great spot for swimming and, as evening falls, you and your travel group will be the only people there. This evening enjoy a traditional Cuban dinner at a local farm (Tito’s Farm), which is close by.
      Included Activities
      • Bike Fitting
      • Traditional Cuban Dinner
        Village Hut (1 nt)
        1 breakfast, 1 dinner
        Special Information
        Total distance cycled today (approximately): 50 km
        Day 3 San Diego de los Baños
        After breakfast beside the river, board the bus and transfer approximately 20 kilometres to today's starting point in Soroa. Known as the 'rainbow of Cuba', Soroa is a flourishing landscape of flora and fauna. After a brief stop, jump back on your bike and enjoy a 7 kilometre downhill ride to the valley floor in Candelaria. This is where the group will join Old Havana to Pinar del Rio road, cycling through small agricultural communities in rural Cuba. You’ll share the road with local traffic of tractors, bicycles, vintage American cars, old Ladas and horse drawn carriages.

        Arrive in time for a late lunch in San Diego de los Banos, which was once home to Cuba´s most important thermal baths. After lunch at the hotel, enjoy the rest of the day to explore the town or relax by the hotel pool.
        Hotel (1 nt)
        1 breakfast, 1 lunch
        Special Information
        Total distance cycled today (approximately): 60 km
        Day 4 Viñales
        After breakfast the group will head to Vinales by bus, which should take approximately 1.5-2 hours depending on the road conditions. The ride this morning will take a circular cycle route around the World Heritage listed Vinales Valley, starting with a visit to the underground cave system of Cueva del Indio (you won’t take your bike down here). After emerging from the caves, cycle east by taking the back roads. You’ll pass smallholdings along the way, which grow tropical fruits, maize, manioc, yucca and the world´s finest tobacco.

        After some free time for lunch in Vinales village, check in to your guesthouse for the night. In the late afternoon, head out into the fields of Vinales and enjoy a visit to a tobacco farm. A local farmer will show you how tobacco is grown, dried and then rolled into cigars. Perched on a hillside overlooking Vinales Valley, dinner this evening will be served on the organic farm of Finca Wilfredo.
        Included Activities
        • Tobacco Farm Visit
        • Cave Visit "Cueva del Indio"
          Optional Activities
          • Vinales - Salsa lesson (per hour) - CUC8
          • Vinales - Live music venues - CUC1
            Guesthouse (1 nt)
            1 breakfast, 1 dinner
            Special Information
            Total distance cycled today (approximately): 30 km
            Day 5 Bay of Pigs
            After an early breakfast set off by bike, retracing some of the route taken yesterday before riding thru one of the most scenic parts the island has to offer. The landscape of lush mogotes (haystacks) rises on each side of the road, making for an eye-catching setting during your ride along the valley floor. After a visit of Cueva de los Portales (a vast cave system), where Che Guevara set up headquarters during the Cuban Missile Crisis we will stop at some point for a picnic lunch. Please expect a long bus journey to our final destination for today, the Bay of Pigs (approximately five hours).
            Guesthouse (1 nt)
            1 breakfast, 1 lunch
            Special Information
            Total distance cycled today (approximately): 40 km
            Day 6 Bay of Pigs
            Today, cycle around 40 kilometres through the Bay of Pigs to Caleta Buena in Playa Giron. Located on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) is one of the most important wetland habitats in the area. It’s also the natural environment of the world´s smallest bird – the bee hummingbird – as well as being home to the Cuban crocodile. From here, take a leisurely ride along the coastline to Caleta Buena where you can enjoy a variety of activities, including snorkelling or relaxing by the sea. There's a simple restaurant where the group will have a buffet lunch and drinks. Return to Playa Larga by bus later in the afternoon, with the evening then free to do as you wish.
            Guesthouse (1 nt)
            1 breakfast, 1 lunch
            Special Information
            Total distance cycled today (approximately): 45 km
            Day 7 Havana
            Drive back to Havana after breakfast, leaving Playa Larga behind (approximately 2-3 hours). On arrival to the Cuban capital, the group will head out on the bikes for the last time. Take a cycling tour around the city before finishing in the Old Town for a walking tour. Stroll through Plaza de Armas (the oldest square in Havana) and to some of the city’s iconic sites, including the neo-classical El Templete and the Catedral de San Cristobal de la Habana. After lunch, check in to your accommodation and prepare for a free evening. If it suits you, your guide will help organise a final group meal in one of the many paladars in Old Havana.
            Included Activities
            • Cycling Tour through Outer-Havana
            • Walking tour of Old Havana
              Guesthouse (1 nt)
              1 breakfast
              Special Information
              Total distance cycled today (approximately): 15 km
              Day 8 Havana
              Your Cycle Cuba adventure comes to an end this morning. There are no more activities planned and you're free to depart after breakfast.
              1 breakfast
              Itinerary disclaimer
              ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

              OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and 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 and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
              Physical rating

              This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
              Included activities
              Havana Arrival Transfer
              Bike Fitting
              Traditional Cuban Dinner
              Tobacco Farm Visit
              Cave Visit "Cueva del Indio"
              Cycling Tour through Outer-Havana
              Walking tour of Old Havana
              Important notes
              Note - this trip has changed for 2017 - please see trip code QBXC for the new itinerary

              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.
              3. Bike hire is available for purchase or you may bring your own.
              4. Please bring your own helmet. We require clients to wear a bicycle helmet while riding at all times.
              5. 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.

              Group size
              Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
              Your fellow travellers
              GROUP TRAVEL
              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.

              A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
              Guesthouse (5nt), Hotel (1nt), Village Hut (1nt)
              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.

              If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

              Cuban Guesthouses (known locally as Casa Particulares) are more similar in style to B&Bs than they are our homestays. Guests are served their meals separate to the family, and, while some guesthouse owners speak English, interaction mostly consists of gestures, smiles and ‘Spanglish’.

              Because families must have the space and resources to accommodate guests, Guesthouses, if possibly more rustic than the accommodation you might be used to back home, are much nicer than your average Cuban dwelling. Moreover, because renovations in the country’s government-run hotels tending to be few and far between, Premium and Deluxe guesthouses very often rival, if not surpass, Cuban hotels when it comes to décor, amenities and (certainly) customer service.

              Just like the residences in your own neighbourhood, each Guesthouse 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 home). The rooms, although basic, are always clean and comfortable. While most Standard rooms will have air-conditioning, some may just have a fan. Each has a private bathroom with towels provided, though make sure to bring any toiletries you might require as not all guesthouses provide soap and shampoo. Also note that electric shower heads with visible wires are a normality in Cuba! As with many developing countries, power cuts do occur on occasion, meaning that hot water can’t always be guaranteed regardless of the standard.

              We have classified guesthouses into three standards for the comfort level of our trips: Standard, Premium and Deluxe, although please note not all standards exist in each city or province.

              The rooms in our Premium and Deluxe guesthouses are larger than in the Standard and also usually feature a desk or armchair. The mattresses and pillows are imported rather than locally made, the linen is cotton rather than synthetic, and there will always be soap, split system air-conditioning, and an in-room safe. Most other differences can be a little harder to tell at first, and you’ll probably only be able to notice the difference once you’ve stayed in both standards. Be assured though that the comforts to which foreign travellers are accustomed have been taken into account in classifying premium and deluxe guesthouses a higher standard of accommodation.

              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.
              Meals introduction
              Food in Cuba has a reputation for being bland and lacking variety, however it has improved dramatically over the last two years. It is possible to eat well in Cuba, however some travellers like to bring their own sauces and spices to add some more flavour to their meals.
              Beans and rice are the staples, with cucumber, tomato and cabbage, 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. 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 being offered the same (ie - rice, beans, omelet and salad) everyday. 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.

              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) though some proprietors will often find a practical solution.
              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.

              7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
              Support vehicle

              For your information, there are two systems of public transport in Cuba - one for locals and one for tourists. Much of the transport for locals is subsidised by the government, and it is illegal for tourists to take this transport. If the driver is caught with a tourist on board, it is assumed that the driver is taking extra money for this from the tourist and the driver can be fined. The government therefore has a separate bus company for tourists to take - called Viazul. The Viazul buses are large modern buses that are quite comfortable and have air-conditioning, and sometimes movies on board.
              Money matters
              There are 2 official currencies in Cuba:
              - Cuban Peso Convertible (CUC). Value: CUC1 = US$1.00
              - Cuban Peso (CUP or Moneda Nacional M.N). Value: CUP24 = CUC1
              The exchange rates of these currencies are fixed by the Cuban Government, however they are liable to change at any time.

              You will need a PIN for your credit card to be able to use the ATMs. Generally only Visa cards work in the ATMs (usually not Mastercard or Cirrus). We find occasionally people come with a Visa debit card that doesn't work in the ATMs. For others they work perfectly fine. We don't know why this happens. We do know that a Visa debit card obtained through Travelex will not work in Cuba, nor will a Visa card from Citibank or any cards from banks associated with the USA. Because of these unpredictable difficulties it's best to come to Cuba with a 'back-up' plan for obtaining cash if your credit card doesn't work.

              EXCHANGE HOUSES:
              CADECAs are the official government exchange houses. These can be found in every city, at the airport and are commonly found in the larger hotels in Havana. To utilise any of the services offered, as below, you will need your passport. It is in your best interest to specifically ask for smaller bills.
              - Exchange foreign cash to CUC.
              - Make cash advances on credit cards.
              - Exchange travellers cheques.

              Credit cards (both Visa and MasterCard) should be accepted at the CADECAs for cash advances.

              In terms of cash, the only currencies that you are guaranteed to be able to exchange are CAD, EUR, and GBP. You can also exchange US$, however, the Cuban Government charges an additional 10% fee for accepting US$. The same rules apply for travellers cheques in US$. Please also be advised that slightly torn notes, notes that have been heavily marked or are faded, may be difficult to exchange. It's best to bring notes in fairly good condition, in denominations lower than US$100 (or equivalent).

              To exchange travellers cheques you will also need the receipt of the bank where you bought them. Travellers cheques are becoming increasingly difficult to exchange so are not recommended. AU$ and NZ$ are not currently accepted in Cuba.

              Eurocheques are not accepted in Cuba. Visa and Thomas Cook traveller cheques issued in USD are not a problem, except that you will incur the 10% charge for exchanging from US$.

              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 a travellers cheque or cash.

              LOCAL CUBAN PESO:
              The 'local' Cuban Peso has very limited use, especially for travellers. You may get the chance to use it occasionally so it's perhaps a good idea to exchange about CUC1-3 to CUP at one of the CADECAs after you arrive. Only some CADECAs offer this service. This currency is mainly used for buying goods at ration stores (for which you need to be a resident and have a ration card), but some other products are also available in this currency and mainly from street stalls, such as ice-cream (CUP1-3) and pizzas (CUP10).

              What's confusing for travellers is that the Cubans call both currencies 'pesos', so you have to know the value of something to know which currency they are referring to. Otherwise you have to ask. CUC is also colloquially known as convertibles, divisa, dolares, fula, chavitos, baros.

              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.

              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 Intrepid destinations. 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.

              The following amounts are 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. A CUC1-2 is suggested, although a clothing item, a towel or the like will be kindly received.

              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 Group 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 CUC2-3 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.

              DEPARTURE TAX:
              The 25CUC departure tax from Cuba will now most likely be included in your international air ticket. Please check with your airline.

              EMERGENCY FUNDS:
              We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.
              Group leader
              All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group 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.

              Your leader 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.
              Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

              We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

              Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

              For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:


              While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

              Past travellers have advised their luggage was broken into when flying on international and/or domestic flights in Cuba. It's advisable that you use small padlocks to secure your luggage. This will also come in handy to lock your valuables at your hotel or in the Guesthouse rooms.

              LOCAL LODGINGS:
              On this trip you will be staying in some restored houses and local lodges - these are one of the charms of this journey, but their staircases, balconies and passages etc may not always comply with western safety standards. Please do not expect elevators in these properties as they are preserved to their original state.

              FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
              Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

              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!

              SEAT BELTS:
              Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
              Joining point
              A Guesthouse (various)
              Please contact your booking agent inside 7 days from departure for your finalised guesthouse address
              Phone: +53 52870805
              Joining point instructions
              ARRIVAL TRANSFER:
              A complimentary arrival transfer is included with your trip and your driver will know the address of your assigned guesthouse - To book your arrival transfer you must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.

              After collecting your luggage, please continue walking through the 'Main Arrivals Hall' of the airport (Do not exit through the side door). A driver holding a sign with your name on it will be waiting near the information point to take you to your pre-arranged transfer. If you can't locate the driver, please call +53 5287 0805 (Do not rely on somebody else to call for you as they may be seeking commissions to direct you to another transfer company).

              We use multiple guesthouses in Havana to accommodate all of our passengers. Please contact your booking agent inside 7 days from departure for your finalised guesthouse address. If you are already in Havana, or if there are any unforeseen issues, please contact the local operator's office:

              Caribbean Biking Company Ltd
              Ed. Santiago de Cuba, Oficina 236, MTC, 5ta Avenida, e/ 76 y 78
              (Office Santiago de Cuba #236 on 5th Avenue between 76 & 78 streets)
              Miramar, Havana,
              +53 7 2079888 / 206 9966

              Guesthouses can be booked as pre and/or post-trip accommodation. While we will do all possible to accommodate you at the same house as the starting or finishing point guesthouse, you may be asked to move to one nearby instead.

              Finish point
              A Guesthouse (various)
              Please contact your booking agent inside 7 days from departure for your finalised guesthouse address
              Phone: +53 52870805
              Emergency 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.

              For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at

              In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency please contact our local ground representative on the number below (remember to drop the +xx country code if you are calling from within the country):

              +53 5 2870805
              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.

              Tourists of most nationalities require a 'Tourist Card' which is similar to a tourist visa. These can be obtained through travel agents in your home country, or directly from Cuban embassies and consulates. Depending on the airline you are travelling with to Cuba, you may also be able to purchase the tourist card at the airport from the airline on the day of your departure - please check with your airline.

              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 - - for the latest advice. If flying with a charter airline from Miami, you can purchase your tourist card directly through the charter company. Passengers transiting through a third country can purchase the card at the airport where you connect to Havana. You can also purchase cards in advance through
              What to take
              What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

              Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

              Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:


              Lightweight clothing is recommended throughout most of the year, especially in the summer months of June, July, and August when it can get very hot and humid. In the winter months of December, January, and February it can get colder, particularly during the evenings, and it's recommended to bring a fleece top, jacket or the like, for these months. Although the temperatures don’t get very low in Cuba (the all-time record is -1C), because of humidity levels and the fact that Cuban houses are not set up for cold weather, the cold - when it comes - can be hard to escape from. In general however, during the day the climate in Cuba is hot and tropical. There will be plenty of opportunities for swimming so be sure to bring your swimwear.

              For footwear, some people can get by with just a pair of sandals. In summer, open footwear is definitely preferable, even in the evenings. There are some interesting optional day-walks, which involve walking over some steep and rocky terrain, so we advise bringing footwear that you would feel comfortable doing this in.

              Despite their low income levels, Cubans love to dress up smartly and fashionably whenever they can. For going out in the evenings, casual dress is acceptable everywhere although one collared shirt for males is recommended, otherwise there's no need to bring clothes or footwear especially for this. 

              We recommend you to take your own supply of shampoo, soap and toilet paper to use in the guesthouses and public toilets. We also encourage women to take their own supply of sanitary items as these items are not widely available for purchase.

              WATER BOTTLE:
              Although it is not advisable to drink the tap water in Cuba, please consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day. 
              Please keep in mind that due to import restrictions, availability of the larger water containers is inconsistent (and sometimes the smaller bottles for that matter). The leaders will do best to source the larger containers to encourage the group to refill their personal bottles.

              Cubans are delighted to receive gifts from foreigners even if they're items that you would consider throwing out at home. Second hand clothes are warmly accepted as gifts as they can be distributed among family members and friends. Soap, shampoo, perfumes, and pens or pencils are also very popular with the Cubans. Used mobile phones are valued in Cuba, especially if they are unlocked and work on the 900Mhz frequency.

              Though they would be most happy to receive them, it is not necessary to bring gifts for your host families, as they are probably some of the more well-off families in Cuba and will be happy enough with just your good-natured presence.
              Climate and seasonal information
              BIKE HIRE:
              You may bring your own bike, or hire one at additional cost. Your sales consultant will be able to advise the cost for bike hire.

              Please bring your own helmet. We require clients to wear a bicycle helmet while riding at all times.

              TRAVEL INSURANCE:
              The Cuban government has declared that from 1 May 2010, travel insurance (which covers at least medical expenses) to be compulsory for all travellers to Cuba. Proof of travel insurance will 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.

              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.
              All Intrepid 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 and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

              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

              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 Organisation:
              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.

              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.
              Responsible Travel
              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.


              The Intrepid Foundation
              Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

              The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:


              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.