Cycling Cuba Trip Notes

    • 15
    • QZXF
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $2,415
      CAD $2,415
      AUD $2,415
      EUR €1,820
      GBP £1,379
      NZD $3,035
      ZAR R22,065
      CHF FR2,235
      *
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    • Cycling
    • Original
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Print Version
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2014
Cycling Cuba
Trip code: QZXF
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2015
The operator for this trip is our experienced sister company Exodus. Your group will therefore be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers.
Table of Contents
StyleTippingEmergency contact
ThemesDeparture taxEmergency funds
MapImportant notesVisas
ItineraryGroup sizeIssues on your trip
Also available to purchaseYour fellow travellersWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerSingle travellersHealth
Culture shock rating AccommodationSafety
Physical ratingMealsTravel insurance
Included activitiesTransportResponsible Travel
Optional activitiesJoining point A couple of rules
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsThe Intrepid Foundation
Spending moneyFinish point Feedback
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
Cycling
Map
Cycling Cuba
Itinerary
Day 1 Havana
Bienvenidos a Cuba! Welcome to Cuba.
An airport arrival transfer is included. This transfer is only valid if arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Intrepid. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel (note - we may not be able confirm request made within 15 days of travel). Once you have provided your details a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.
Your trip normally begins at the hotel in the evening of day 1. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the final joining instructions - sent approximately two weeks before departure. These instructions will also include information about where and what time to meet the group.
Havana is one of the finest colonial cities in the Americas with narrow streets, spacious plazas and glorious Spanish architecture. There is an air of faded glory about the place with paint peeling off buildings and '50s and '60s American automobiles still dominating the roads.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Matanzas
In the morning we will have our trip briefing, followed by bike fitting and a warm up ride around Havana. Traffic is remarkably light for a capital city. We cycle through the Miramar and Vedado districts to reach the dominating Plaza de la Revolucion. We continue towards Old Havana and make a stop at El Capitolio, the famous National Capitol Building, which looks very similar to the USA's Capitol building in Washington DC. We finish our sightseeing with a walking tour in the heart of Old Havana, and a stop for lunch in a local restaurant.
In the afternoon we transfer approximately 100 km to Matanzas for dinner and stay overnight.
Cycling distance: approx 25 km
Included Activities
  • Havana - Walking tour of Old Havana
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Bay of Pigs
We leave the hotel by bike and ride through Matanzas province. The landscape is full of sugar cane and citrus plantations and the life, though hard, is quiet in the villages. This pretty ride takes us through rural communities to Pedro Betancourt where we load the bikes on the bus and drive to lunch. We drive past the Australia Sugar Factory where Fidel Castro set up his headquarters for the Bay of Pigs crisis, and enter the Cienaga de Zapata. The road is flat and is skirted by a swamp, which was once full of crocodiles. We stop for a visit at Guama crocodile farm.
After lunch we continue on the to Bay of Pigs where we stay overnight. This was the site of the failed invasion by CIA-backed Cuban Americans. Many of the beaches here are ideal for snorkelling and swimming.
Cycling distance: approx 65 km
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Cienfuegos
Our route today takes us along the coast. We ride through the biggest swamps in Cuba (Zapata's Peninsula) and then cut through agricultural routes to reach the main road towards Cienfuegos. This is a day for discovering the rural heart of Cuba as we pass through small communities dedicated to agriculture and charcoal production. There is hardly any traffic on the route today and the roads are a mixture of poor quality tarmac and compacted earth.
We will stop in Playa Giron village to have a chance to visit Museo Giron commemorating the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. We then continue on to Caleta Buena for lunch before heading to Cienfuegos.
Cycling distance: approx 67 km
Included Activities
  • Museo Giron
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 5-6 Trinidad
Today's ride takes us along the coast to Trinidad.
For most visitors to Cuba, the World Heritage site of Trinidad is their standout favourite destination (well, for the ones that make it this far anyway). No other colonial city in Cuba is so well preserved, and the local residents are extremely friendly and festive. Trinidad is steeped in religion, none the least of which is Santeria, which is one of the Afro-Cuban religions (related to voodoo) that is practised in Cuba. The town rose to prominence during the sugar boom and the wealth generated by the industry remains visible in the town's once grand mansions, colourful public buildings, wrought iron grill-work and cobble-stoned streets.
Cycling distance: approx 85 km
The following day is free to soak up the atmosphere of Trinidad, relax by the pool, or join and optional excursion to explore the surrounding areas.
We offer the option to join a catamaran trip, embarking from the beach of Playa Ancon, and sailing the Caribbean to the small island of either Cayo Macho or Cayo Blanco where we lunch on fresh seafood amongst tame iguanas and tree rats.
Alternatively you may wish to takl the 'El Cubano' trail in the nearby national park. In the evening we recommend a visit to Trinidad's Casa de la Trova (House of Music) for traditional Cuban music and dancing.
Optional Activities
  • Catamaran trip (incl lunch) - CUC45
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 7 Camaguey
Riding from the hotel we head inland towards the city of Sancti Spiritus. The road rises and falls through the beautiful scenery of the Alturas de Banao, where coffee plantations and farms adorn the landscape, passing the Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills) which was once Cuba's most important sugar producing area. At the village of Manaca Iznaga we can stop to visit the farmhouse and the famous 'run away slaves' tower. For a small entrance fee you can climb the 136 steps and enjoy the view.
Upon arrival in Sancti Spiritus we enjoy some free time in the town's colonial centre and then transfer to Camaguey for the night.
Cycling distance: approx 72 km
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 8 Bayamo
Our route today depends on the weather. In dry weather we will start with a short transfer to just outside Camaguey and then cycle a route through the Cuban hinterland, past small rural settlements and plenty of cowboys on horseback. The scenery is undulating and you'll have views in the distance of the Sierra de Najasa. We reach the market town of Najasa and turn off the main road onto a track which leads to Belen Farm, where we stop and have lunch. The farm has its own stables and also rears some exotic animals such as antelope. We relax here for lunch and then continue our ride back toward the main road where we get off our bikes and transfer to Bayamo.
In wet weather, this route can be impassable so we follow the route below instead. This decision is made on a trip by trip basis. If wet, we instead transfer to Las tunas where we saddle up to ride across this lively city. We then continue to Bayamo.
One of the island's most important regions, the charming city of Bayamo has a pleasant, relaxed ambience full of poignant monuments and revolutionary atmosphere.
Cycling distance: approx 70 km (either route)
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 9 Sierra Maestra
Today we have a challenging ride from Bayamo into the Sierra Maestra. As we head deep into the mountains, the view is dominated by Pico Bayamesa - Cuba's third tallest peak at 1,730 metres. This is an area of stunning natural beauty and is rarely visited by tourists. After passing through numerous villages we reach our hotel where we can relax after what is probably our hardest day's ride.
Cycling distance: approx 75 km
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 10 Santiago de Cuba
This morning we take a short break from the saddle to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Sierra Maestra. Starting early we take a gentle trek into the mountains, passing coffee and cocoa plantations, and stopping for coffee and fruit in a local farmer's home. There should also be the change to visit a local school before returning to the hotel for an early lunch.
After lunch we transfer from Salton to just beyond Palma Soriano, where we get back on the bikes to ride to El Cobre. After visiting Cuba's most important Holy Shrine, we cycle into Santiago de Cuba.
Santiago is rich in traditions, folklore and legends, making almost every street corner famous. But it is at night that Santiago really comes alive with legendary Cuban music and dancing. Santiago is the music capital of Cuba so is a great place to experience the nightlife and hear some live music.
Cycling distance: 35 km
Optional Activities
  • Santiago - Tropicana Cabaret Show - USD35
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 11 Gibara
We spend the morning sightseeing in Santiago, including visiting the Moncada Barracks where the opening shots of the revolution were fired on 26 July 1953 when Castro and his men attacked the barracks.
Late in the afternoon we transfer to Gibara where we spend the night.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 12 Camaguey
Today we have a short transfer to Aguas Claras, our start point for the day. Riding along quiet roads, one of the most beautiful rides of the trip, we make our way to the small town of Maniabon via the north coast. From here we transfer 145 km to Camaguey, the capital of the province.
Cycling distance: approx 65 km
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 13 Mayajigua
We transfer after breakfast to the town of Majagua and enjoy a final day's cycling to the rural setting of Mayajigua, our base for tonight. The route today is challenging as we make our way over the northern range of hills, but the support vehicle is on hand just in case!
Cycling distance: approx 55 km
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 14-15 Havana
Today is a long day so we leave Mayajigua early in the morning and return by road to Havana, via Remedios, one of the earliest Spanish settlements in Cuba, and the to Santa Clara to visit the Che Guevara Mausoleum and the armoured train exhibition.
Santa Clara was the first major city to be liberated by Castro's army in December 1958. Today a number of monuments commemorate this important period of Cuba's history, including the mausoleum of the legendary Che Guevara, where we stop for a visit.
We then continue to Havana where the evening is free to soak up the vibrant atmosphere and celebrate the last night of the trip.
On the final day you are able to depart our accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities. If you are departing later in the day, perhaps join us for some more sightseeing in old Havana. A complimentary departure transfer is included please advise your flight details at time of booking.
Included Activities
  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
  • Havana - Walking tour of Old Havana
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • QZXF Single Supplement (QZXF)
    Itinerary disclaimer
    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. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
    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.
    Culture shock rating

    Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
    Physical rating

    This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
    Overall the trip is not too strenuous but a good level of fitness is required. Routes follow mainly quiet back roads and can be potholed. This tour covers some remote parts of the island. Though many of the roads are in good condition you should expect potholes and poor road conditions on some sections. The roads are generally free of heavy traffic, except in the towns. Terrain varies from flat around Las Tunas to hilly, and mountainous in the Sierra Maestra. In the harder areas there are some longish climbs, requiring good fitness, (particularly as Cuba is invariably hot and humid), and also some steep descents. The route is 90% on tarmac, and 10% on dirt roads. We cycle an average of about 65 km (40 miles) per day, over 10 days of cycling.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    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.
    The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye to this unavoidable issue in some areas, Intrepid has established a centralised fund whereby contributions from recommended suppliers are collected and distributed back into the business. Intrepid aim to provide the best value trips in the market, and this fund assists in keeping operating costs and trip prices low to you.
    A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of our traveller - you - is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.
    Money Exchange
    There are 2 official currencies in Cuba:
    - Cuban Peso Convertible (CUC). Value: CUC1 = US$1.00
    - Cuban Peso (CUP or Moneda Nacional M.N). Value: CUP24 = CUC1
    The exchange rates of these currencies are fixed by the Cuban Government, however they are liable to change at any time.
    In Cuba there are official government exchange houses called CADECA. These can be found in every city and also at the airport. They are commonly found in the larger hotels in Havana. The CADECA exchange houses offer the following services:
    - Exchange foreign cash to CUC.
    - Make cash advances on credit cards.
    - Exchange travellers cheques.
    To do any of these operations you will need your passport. To exchange travellers cheques you will also need the receipt of the bank where you bought them. Travellers cheques are becoming increasingly difficult to exchange so are not recommended.
    In terms of cash, the only currencies that you are guaranteed to be able to exchange are CAD, EUR, and GBP. You can also exchange US$, however, the Cuban Government charges an additional 10% fee for accepting US$. The same rules apply for travellers cheques in US$. AU$ and NZ$ are not currently accepted in Cuba. 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$100 (or equivalent).
    Eurocheques are not accepted in Cuba. Visa and Thomas Cook traveller cheques issued in USD are not a problem, except that you will incur the 10% charge for exchanging from US$.
    Credit cards (both Visa and MasterCard) should be accepted at the CADECAs for cash advances.
    ATMs: At present, the only cities with ATMs are Havana, Camaguey, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba. You will need a PIN for your credit card to be able to use the ATMs. Only Visa cards work in the ATMs (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. 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.
    Bank Commissions: 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 CADECA 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, and cabillas.
    Spending money
    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    Tipping
    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 homestays.
    Homestay: You may consider tipping the employees (not the owners) of a homestay. 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 US$2 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 US$1-2 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 US$2-3 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
    There is a 25CUC departure tax from Cuba that is NOT included in your international air ticket.
    Important notes
    LOCAL PARTNER:
    This trip is operated by our trusted local partners, Exodus.
    AGE RESTRICTIONS:
    The minimum age of clients on this trip is 16 years. Please note that teenagers aged 16 or 17 must be accompanied by (and share accommodation with) a parent or legal guardian.
    BIKE HIRE:
    If you need to hire a bike please let us know at time of booking. Your sales consultant will be able to provide you with the cost for bike hire.
    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.
    WEATHER CONTINGENCIES:
    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.
    HOTEL OVERBOOKINGS:
    Cuba is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination and unfortunately the number of hotel rooms available is not increasing at the same rate. Hotels occasionally cancel bookings at the last minute and they will then find alternative accommodation for the group. This tends to be more likely in peak season. In extreme cases they may have to place groups in nearby towns or in Casa Particulares (private houses that offer a Bed and Breakfast service). This overbooking is affecting all tour operators to the country and you need to be aware that it may affect your trip.
    Group size
    Maximum of 18 travellers per group.
    Your fellow travellers
    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. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
    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.
    Accommodation
    Hotel (14 nts)
    We use tourist class hotels ranging from a good 3 star to simpler, rural hotels. Rooms are on a twin-share basis, with air conditioning and attached bathroom. Some of the hotels have swimming pools. Power cuts occur, and hot water supplies are not always guaranteed. Please note that this kind of tourism is in its infancy in Cuba and there are occasionally some last-minute changes to the accommodation mentioned in the day-to-day itinerary. However, if a different hotel is used we endeavour to ensure it is of the same standard and in a similar location.
    Meals
    14 Breakfasts, 12 Lunches, 4 Dinners
    We provide basic packed lunches during the day and there are plenty of water and fruit refreshment stops. 3 litres of water per person is included on cycling days. You may wish to bring some of your own energy snacks, as food shops, cafes and restaurants are scarce in many of the rural areas we visit.
    Cuba is not renowned for its culinary excellence (although it is improving). Food can sometimes be relatively unexciting and expensive - in no small part due to the long trade embargo implemented by the US. Vegetarians will find the food choice limited. Meals will be more varied for everyone in Havana and seafood is widely available on the coast.
    Transport
    Bicycle, Support vehicle
    The support vehicle will carry all your luggage and personal belongings. The vehicle will follow the riders all of the time, allowing you to cycle as much or as little as you like (although not everyone may be able to travel in the support vehicle at once).
    Mountain bikes are ideal for this trip and flat bars are preferable, but a good strong tourer will suffice (though make sure you have suitably low gearing). If you wish to hire a bike, we use Trek 4300 or Specialized Hardrock Sport mountain bikes. Bike hire should be arranged at time of booking. Very occasionally a bike of your size may not be available. We may be able to offer you a bike of a different but acceptable size, or otherwise you must bring your own bike.
    Joining point
    Hotel Occidental Miramar
    Quinta Avenida 72 y 76
    Miramar
    Havana
    CUBA
    Phone: +53 720 43584
    Arrival complications
    We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
    No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
    Finish point
    Hotel Occidental Miramar
    Quinta Avenida 72 y 76
    Miramar
    Havana
    CUBA
    Phone: +53 720 43584
    Emergency contact
    In the case of genuine crisis or emergency please call our partner EXODUS on their 24 HOUR EMERGENCY NUMBER Tel: +44 (0) 1582 644 100.
    For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    CUBA:
    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 live at a UK or Ireland address and are national of an EU country, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Japan, we will send a tourist card free of charge.
    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 - travel.state.gov - for the latest advice.
    Issues on your trip
    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.
    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 and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (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.
    You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
    BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE:
    Plenty of people choose to bring their own bikes on our cycle trips. If you wish to bring your own bike, please note that we cannot guarantee against small scratches and paintwork damage involved in the loading and unloading from support vehicles.
    HELMETS:
    Please note that helmets must be worn when riding on all our Cycling holidays. You must bring your own helmet with you for this trip, as they are not available for hire.
    EXTRA BIKE BITS:
    You may like to bring your own saddle (excluding the seat post), or over gel cover to fit to the hire bikes. We encourage this, if it's your preference. However, please note that you are responsible for your own equipment, and removing your saddle at the end of the trip. We can't guarantee the return of any bike parts left behind.
    PERSONAL EQUIPMENT::
    A helmet, eye-protection (sunglasses), cycling gloves and water bottles or hydration system (e.g. camelbak). Please note that helmets must be worn when riding off-road on all our Cycling holidays. You must bring your own helmet with you for this trip, as they are not available for hire.
    RECOMMENDED CYCLING CLOTHING::
    Padded cycling shorts (with loose 'over-shorts' where recommended), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof / windproof top. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances. Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this for this we recommend a large bum-bag or small close-fitting day pack.
    FIRST AID KIT:
    You should bring a small, personal first aid kit with you including items such as high factor sunscreen, lip balm and chamois cream if required.
    HEADLAMP OR TORCH:
    A headlamp or torch is recommended for around your accommodation at night. Some properties have limited lighting and are powered by generators that switch off at a certain time. It’s a good idea to bring a headlamp or torch to navigate your way around at night.
    GIFTS:
    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. Inexpensive soap is readily available in Cuba if you intend buying some as gifts. 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.
    Health
    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 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.
    Safety
    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. 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 group 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 group 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:
    PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
    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 and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
    WATER SAFETY:
    Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
    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 group 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.
    Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
    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:
    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 has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
    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$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
    Feedback
    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.
    Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.