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any advice for a trip through Cuba by bike alone?

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any advice for a trip through Cuba by bike alone?

Im planning a trip to Cuba in february ill stay one month, any advice of scams, for lonely travelling by bike alone or tips for camping? Any suggetions to make the route?

thanks

Cecilia

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Cuba biking

Cecelia,
I suppose things have changed a lot in Cuba in the last decade or so, but I still think you would get a lot out of a book by a friend of mine. The book is called "The Handsomest Man in Cuba" by Lynette Chiang. It's still available on amazon.com and a fascinating read. Lynette traveled in Cuba before the Soviet collapse. She was on an ultra-low budget by bicycle and had experiences that you don't normally hear about in that or any other country. Give it a read. As regards scams, probably her general observations are relevant for all places and all times -- there's a universality to duplicity, I think. If you read the book, let me know.
Andrejs
Ithaca, NY

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Cuba Biking

I would also recommend Dervla Murphy's: The Island that dared. Although she finds Cuba too flat and hot (?) for cycling, she does give her usual outspoken impression of the people and the country. Just maybe you'll find other useful information as well. Goodluck and enjoy.

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Thanks a lot ill try to found

Thanks a lot ill try to found book you recomended

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Re: trip through Cuba by bike

Hi Cecilia,

Last summer I hosted warmshowers members Renata & Martin Stiller. They cycled in Cuba as part of their bike tour before they came to the United States. They are a very nice, friendly couple and I'm sure that they would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Here is a link to their website (with contact information): http://www.cyklocestovani.cz/home-eng.htm

Regards,
Kevin

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Kevin thanks a lot Cecilia

Kevin thanks a lot
Cecilia

WS Member imaginea utilizatorului WS Member
cycling Cuba

We cycled in Cuba for three weeks in 2007. It was fabulous and inspired us to do a much longer trip.
We used the Lonely Planet Cycling Cuba guide (last check, it was the 2002 edition).
I (Michele) also wrote up lots of (boring) details of what we did and where we went, including where we stayed, usually at "casas particulares", and posted this on http://lazydaisypedals.blogspot.com under M's Cuba Blog. At the time, we think camping was not recommended, though we cannot remember why. That could have changed by now.
Please feel free to contact us if you have specific questions about Cuba.
Michele & Benoit

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cyling in Cuba

My husband and I cycled & hiked in Cuba Dec. 2009 - Jan. 2010. fantastic! Specific tips -
Stay in Casas particulares. The owners have informal networks & will recommend, and perhaps phone ahead, to a home at your next night's destination. Have the owners of the Casas cook for you. The food is better than in any restaurant. If the home where you are planning to stay is full they will call around to find you a place.
We took a domestic flight from Havana to Santiago and stayed with Lourdes Gonzalez in an excellent location downtown. Her heart is muy grande! tel (53) (22) 624944 reudelito@yahoo.es
The staff at infotur agency in the Santiago airport will phone for you.
Use the Via Azul bus line for monotonous parts of the highway so you have time to layover and enjoy day rides, music, beaches, museums, etc.
We cycled east from Santiago to Baconao, then back thru Santiago and along the southern coast (don't miss the southern coastal road!!) to Niquero. We stayed at the campismo cabins at Caleton Blanco and La Mula, then at the Casa particular of Maralys in Pilon
(tel. 50-4845) In Niquero we stayed at the Niquero Hotel 2 nights and cycled down to Cabo cruz so we could do the hike along Sendero Aqueologico natural el guafe.
Pedaled on to Manzanillo and the Casa de Ruben with the best food in all of Cuba. He's a retired government chef. (tel 0053 23575160)
In Bayamo where the central pedestrian street features whimsical public art we stayed with Oscar & Manuela (don't have ph number)
We bussed to Sancti Spiritu (Casa of Marta 0152511828). I hated missing Camaguey but wanted to be in Trinidad for New Year's eve. The ride from Sancti Spiritu to Trinidad is lovely. We stayed with the most friendly couple Pedro and Carmen in a room with a sunny terrace. address is Calle Ernesto Valdes Munoz no. 51- A near the Casa de Trova in historic district. One day we rode to beaches on Ancon Peninsula then walked on the roadless coastline. Another day we rode to Topes de Collantes for more hiking.
Start early for the ride from Trinidad to Cienfuegos where there are many casas. We stayed with Puchi (no phone) and spent an extra day there to attend a Trova concert at the Teatro Tomas and hang out with locals at the children's amusement park.
Again start early for the ride to Playa Giron and don't miss the museum there. We stayed at the Casa de Gelacio (tel 0145-98-4146) but didn't lay over for beach time because it was cool. We rode along the bay and decided to catch the bus to Havana from Jaguey Grande but it was full so we spent the night at a casa, Cedeno and Mariela's tel 053-45-9136-27, and cycled across the island to Varadero. We did not want to stay with the legions of tourists in Varadero and the Via Azul was fully booked so we paid for a ride on a tourist transit bus into Havana where we stayed with Sra. Lillian in the Vedado neighborhood. (tel 832-9242) A huge storm with waves breaking over the malecon did not dampen our good times in Havana. We saw the Ballet de Cuba in the beautiful gran teatro de la habana, several chamber concerts in the sala de catedral, walked all over the old town and center.
With the storm still blustering & showering we bussed to Vinales where we stayed in the Villa Nene and hiked everyday with the government guide, Juan Gallardo Valdes. Hikes are organized from the museum each morning. (tel 793395) We also did 2 day rides from Vinales. Too soon it was time to catch the Via Azul bus back to Havana and fly home via Cancun. Note: there is an unofficial casa near the airport in Havana. Chucho & Julia Rosa at Calle 216 #22905 between 229 A and 231, vecindad Reparto Fontanar. tel 07 645-4821, mob 05 249 4798, email juliaefp@informed.sld.cu
It was convenient to stay with Chucho before our flight to Santiago, and again before our flight to Cancun. Their home is not convenient for sightseeing in Havana. They kindly kept our bike boxes during our month long tour,

Feel free to contact me with specific questions. As for safety, we felt quite safe in Cuba but were warned to not leave anything out at night. (like laundry on the clothesline)

We sent our guide book & map to a friend in Canada via DHL to forward to us so we had nothing in our bike boxes that referenced Cuba when we re entered the US from Cancun. We did note on our customs card that we had visited Cuba.

For money we used Caribbean Transfer. We opened accounts then picked up the ATM cards at the airport.

We read the out of date guidebook Cycling Cuba by Lonely Planet for route info, but carried the current "Cuba" by Lonely Planet.

It's really helpful to travel with a companion so that one can stay with the cycles while the other goes on foot to locate places. If you want help organizing your route a Canadian cyclist lives in Havana. He'll fetch you from the airport and rent a room in Vedado neighborhood + provide route & maps for your tour. Peter Marshall & Ana Maria Maza, petermarshallcycles@yahoo.ca. We did not use his services but met him as he picked up a cyclist at Marti airport.

Feel free to contact me if you want more info. We loved our trip. Just wish we had spent 2 months there instead of one.

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Cycling Cuba

I cycled around the Oriente region for four weeks in February/March of 2009. I travelled alone for about 2/3 of the time and did not encounter any problems, although I am a middle-aged male. Cuba is probably one of the safest countries to travel in. People were kind and honest wherever I went, although I did not travel to Havana and I spent little time in the larger cities of Santiago and Holguin along my route. Traffic was light, slow moving and respectful of bicycles.

My friends' attractive 18 year old daughter was travelling with us. She was approached by young Cuban men and even made some nice connections while there. I'm sure she had to fend a few off but I don't recall it being a big issue. As in many countries, there are people who are looking to "marry out" of the country so one would want to be alert to that sort of thing. A former co-worker met a man there and actually got married while there. I've since lost touch with her but the last I heard, he hadn't come to Canada. I don't think it worked out.

I flew into Holguin, directly from Toronto, Canada. My first stop was in Gibara, on the north coast. I saw no other travellers there but found it an interesting little town, with plenty of wind blowing all the time. From there I rode to Guardalavaca where I enjoyed my first all-inclusive experience, staying for three nights at the Las Brisas resort. It was interesting to walk my bike right up to the desk and check in. The fellow then walked my bike to my room. From there I rode a clockwise semi-circular route to Banes, Cabonico, Baracoa, Yacabajo, Guantanamo, Santiago and Bayamo. I met three friends in Bayamo and we rode the coastal route to Manzanillo, Niquero, Cabo Cruz, Pilon, La Mula and Santiago. We took a bus from Santiago back to Holguin. The route from Baracoa to the south coast involves ascending and descending the highest (road accessed) site in the country.

I chose the Oriente region because it has the most interesting terrain - mountains and hills. I brought a small tent and lightweight sleeping bag but never actually camped out. Camping isn't something Cubans really do. I did stay at a couple of "campismos" which are the closest to Cuban campgrounds. They both had simple concrete/brick cabins with washrooms and food was served in a simple restaurant. Neither of the campismos had screens on the windows so I pitched my little tent on the bed for protection from mosquitoes (of which there were few).

The rest of the time I stayed at Casas Particulares (B&Bs) which offered nice clean rooms with bedding and private washrooms and good home-cooked meals. The one night I couldn't find a Casa to stay at, I was cruising for somewhere to pitch my tent and a young woman offered to take me to stay with her family. It was a simple farm house but they let me shower, fed me and insisted I stay in one of their beds. I was told it was technically illegal for them to take me in, but nobody knew or cared.

I carried a water filter which I used to process four liters of water every day. Bottled water was available but I prefer not to contribute to the plastic garbage problem. It probably saved me some money as well.

Surprisingly, the Cuban military stopped and questioned me right after I took a photo of the U.S. torture camp at Guantanamo. They were a little surprised that I was using a film camera and so couldn't show them the pictures I took, but they were very nice and professional. They made a quick radio call and let me go. Right after that a big official-looking motorcade went by so I assume they were running security for that.

If you're someone who loves to shop, then forget going to Cuba. There is enough available of anything you will need but not much else. Cubans are universally well-fed, clothed, housed and educated. Their medical and daycare systems are better than we have in Canada and nobody lives on the street. All of the children I saw there appeared to be in glowing good health and those attending school wore sparkling clean uniforms. All of Cubans' basic needs are met so there is no desperate poverty like we see in our own cities. I did not encounter any scams, although I have heard they do happen in Havana. Cubans are cash poor and some work pretty hard to make a few dollars from tourists.

I brought my own (expensive) touring bike to and from the island. It struck me as quite remarkable to see the box sitting in the middle of the arrivals area when I got to Holguin, after checking it three hops previous in Whitehorse. My friends chose to buy used mountain bikes in Canada and leave them in Cuba, as many people do. I believe they traded them for accommodations. Their bikes had knobby tires which I didn't think were ideal for the mostly paved roads there, but they never complained about it. I had Schwalbe Marathon tires and had one flat, from a very narrow and sharp thorn.

I may return to Cuba to ride to some of the sites used by the revolutionaries in the Sierra Maestra. For that I would probably take a mountain bike. Cuba was my first bike tour and I really enjoyed it. The minimal, slow-moving traffic certainly contributes to a positive experience. You can see some pictures of the trip on my Facebook site: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=456830555058&set=a.455878545058.248999.589895058#!/photos.ph.... Or, just search there for Lee Carruthers and go to my profile page. All my photos are viewable by anyone.

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ladies biking Cuba

Hi Cecilia

Three winters ago my friend and I spent 5 weeks riding most of Cuba. As 2 young ladies on bicycles we got plenty of unappreciated attention. As safe as Cuba, is there were times when we were scared. I think there is a perception among Cuban men that women traveling without men are either looking for sex or are easy. Oddly enough we were not looking for sex and on 2 occasions were pursued by masturbating men. Now looking back it is just kind of pathetic and pretty funny as far as being harassed goes. But at the time we definitely felt pretty vulnerable and intimidated.

Cuba is beautiful. I had an amazing adventure. If you avoid geographically isolated places (you might think you are alone but really there are people everywhere) and use a little caution you shouldn't have any trouble. Baracoa is a stunning ride.

We discovered that camping is not something that Cuban do or understand. We did sometimes camp on the grounds of resorts and sometimes at Cuban "camp sites" where locals spend their vacations in concrete cabins. If I was to return to Cuba I probably wouldn't bother to bring camping gear as there were very few occasions when we could use it. Staying in casa particulares was delightful (if a little more expensive than you might be planning for).

have fun and be safe, Keeley

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re: any advice for a trip through Cuba by bike alone?

Hi Cecilia,
I am going to be cycle touring Cuba from February 20th- March 25th, starting and ending in Havana. If you're interested in riding together for part or all of your trip, let me know. My email is brenton.t.hall(at)gmail.com

I also have some questions about touring Cuba for the other posters on this thread. No need to answer them all, if you can do even one or two I will appreciate it very much!

Roughly how much did you spend per day? Was this shoe-string or not?
Roughly how much do casas and campismos cost nowadays? In the cities? In the country?
For Americans, how did you figure out accessing $? I'm curious to learn more about the "Caribbean Transfer" and ATM card...
What type of water filter did you use? Is clean drinking water hard to find, and is bottled water expensive?
I prefer to travel without a stove, and just buy bread, fruit, veggies, nuts, cheese, trail mix, etc. Is this possible?
Were you able to use cell phones or e-mail? Were you ever able to recharge batteries?
Any essential items you wouldn't want to go without? Things you wished you had once you got on the road?

Thanks so much!!
-Brent Hall

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Biking In Cuba...

I was in Cuba in November 2011. I did not bike but spoke to a number of people who were biking. First of all money wise best to take Canadian or Euros. Others have covered the accommodation and food situation. Take a jar of peanut butter for emergency situations and some bungee cords. For travelling as a tourist you may be able to travel on tour buses from town to town. Best to talk to the driver. Offer a few Converitble Pesos -

Some good literature to read is, Handsomest Man in Cuba, Havana Real, Child of the Revolution. Some CDs to view, Strawberry and Chocolate, Bitter Sweet, Barrio Cuba. If you plan on spending any time in Havana might be good idea to find an art book on the Architecture of Havana - Cuba does have many Art Galleries - the whole country is an art gallery. Good idea to read up on the Revolution, Jose Marti and of course the Beared One!

I believe Cuba is a safe and friendly country... but please respect the Revolution