Arrival in Santiago de Cuba and check-in to Hotel Imperial in the historic city center. Dinner at the hotel.
How to get to Santiago de Cuba? Some countries (except the USA) offer direct flights to Santiago de Cuba or Holguin, roughly a couple of hours away by taxi. If you’re flying into Havana, our team transfers with bikes/trailer by ground leaving very early this morning, and with a goal of arriving before sundown – you’re welcome to hitch a ride. There’s also Viazul bus service connecting various points of Cuba to Santiago de Cuba. We can assist with booking domestic flights, but their schedules can often be erratic in Cuba, so leaving a generous window of a day or two before trip start is recommended to avoid missing part of your cycling trip.
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Breakfast at the hotel, bicycle outfitting, and test ride to the 17th century military castle El Morro for lunch, plus a visit to the former Moncada Barracks. The former military enclave is now a school, and home to the historic 26 de Julio revolutionary museum. Panoramic tour of Antonio Maceo Square, hosting what’s considered the most outstanding 20th century sculptural model executed in the city, where you’ll be imparted with more background on Cuba’s revolutionary history. The balance of the afternoon’s free for exploring and acclimatizing (and yes, time for a cerveza or two). A visit to the rooftop bar at Casa Granda is highly recommended for its panoramic views and photo opportunities. Dinner at local restaurant.
BB, LB, DB | (12 km/7.5 mi)
Van transfer to the city limits where we’ll begin a rural ride through the Sierra Maestra mountains to eco lodge El Salton. The Sierra Maestra is the highest area of Cuba and has been the site of guerrilla warfare in Cuba’s fight for independence. It is rich in minerals, especially copper, manganese, chromium and iron.
Lunch and dinner at the hotel. This afternoon join the lodge’s resident naturalist Ricardo for a guided hike through the lush mountains where you will be introduced to local fauna and birdlife, as well as visit local mountain residents to appreciate their way of life.
BB, LB, DB | (45 km/28 mi)
Depart El Salton and continue riding west to the city of Bayamo, capital of Granma province and one of the largest cities in eastern Cuba.
Picnic lunch enroute. In Bayamo you’ll discover a city far ahead of its time in terms of sustainable transportation, with only about 15% of commuters relying on motorized transport, 39% on horse-drawn carriages and the balance of non-pedestrian traffic being comprised of bicycle and bicycle taxi commuters. Walking tour of the area around Anthem Square where we will interact with locals while they go about their daily routines.
Today we’ll head north to Holguin province to explore the capital, city of parks, and have lunch at a local restaurant, before checking in to the boutique Hotel Caballeriza. Climb the Loma de la Cruz, one of the city’s symbols, for a panoramic vista of the city. Dinner at 1910.
BB, LB, DB | (35km / 21.1mi)
After breakfast this morning ride one of Cuba’s scenic routes dotted with fresh fruit stands. We’ll stock up on healthy in-season snacks and at the same time engage with local vendors to discover what’s in season, where their product supply comes from, and challenges they face as entrepreneurs. Lunch back in Gibara. Free afternoon where a visit to the “Cueva de los Panaderos” (Breadmaker’s Cave), can be incorporated. A 90 million year old archaeological cave system. 750 meters above sea level, it has been used for evacuations and stores enough fresh natural water to supply the whole city of Holguin, if not more. For those looking for a ride extension, you could ride west along the coast to Caletones. You’ll pass a local wind farm enroute to the remote rural village that features great lagoons for swimming. Visit the rooftop at Ordoño to enjoy some late afternoon or pre-dinner cocktails with a spanning view over the town and water. Accomodations at the boutique Ordoño or Arsenita hotels. Family-style dinner at one of our favorite privately-operated local spots where you will be charmed by the multilingual Cuban owner who will share his entrepreneurial experiences and strong background in tourism and hospitality.
BB, LB, DB | (36km / 22.4mi)
Breakfast at the hotel, cycle from Gibara to Holguin to stretch out your legs before a van transfer (with boxed lunch enroute) to cultural mecca, Camaguey, founded in 1515. The city is known for its ballet, museums, and more. To gain the best local insight, we’ll explore via bicycle taxis. Visit art galleries, gain historic context with interpreted visits to all of the historic squares, and literally actively support small local independent businesspeople as part of our sustainable city orientation tour. Accommodations at the Gran Hotel or similar and dinner at one of our tour leader’s favorite local restaurants featuring local performers. Before turning in, you may want to try a nightcap at “El Cambio” café where you will be sure to enjoy the company of neighborhood residents while you soak in the atmosphere and practice your Spanish.
BB, LB, DB | (30 km/18.6 mi)
Early van transfer to Moron where we begin a countryside ride to San Jose del Lago featuring mineral and thermal spring baths with reported curative properties, aquatic and migratory bird life. The property formerly had its own landing strip to attract US vacationers in the pre-revolutionary days.
Lunch and optional ride extension, followed by transfer to historic Sancti Spiritus and accommodations at the charming Don Florencio on the boulevard. Sancti Spiritus is one of Cuba’s oldest European settlements and features a Colonial Art Museum with over 90% original pieces on display in the former Valle Iznaga family’s palatial mansion.
BB, LB, DB | (50 km/31.1 mi)
Cycle to Banao, an agricultural town, and visit a specialist in genetic cattle breeding for a brief conference. Cycle to the south coast and Manaca Iznaga, just outside colonial Trinidad.
Our ride ends at the Manaca Iznaga entrance. Lunch in one of our favorite Trinidad paladars before walking tour of the colonial center including visits to and exchanges with local artists in their private galleries. Trinidad is an artesan’s city with special focus on ceramics and needlework in their local traditions. Our group’s accommodations for the next two evenings will be at the 5* Hotel La Popa perched on a hill overlooking the historic center of Trinidad.
Dinner at La Casona hacienda and horse ranch, one of our favorite spots in Trinidad with a privileged location bordering the valley.
BB, LB, DB | (53 km/32.9 mi)
We’ll catch a former sugar train through the fields (former plantations) to Manaca Iznaga. We usually add the caveat (if it’s operating), but so far, so good with the train service this season. They installed a new Russian diesel engine, which is apparently more reliable than its predecessor, we’re told. The 45-m tower was built in 1816 by Alejo Iznaga Borrell to oversee slaves in the surrounding sugarcane fields. In its day, the area’s irrigation system built by his brother was extensive and integral for the family’s agricultural expansion.
Free time for exploring colonial Trinidad or snorkeling/swimming in the Caribbean at the Ancon Peninsula.
Dinner tonight in town at a local Paladar in the home and gallery of one of Trinidad’s most celebrated artists.
This evening: soak up an authentic Cuban cultural performance at the Casa de la Musica.
BB, LB, DB | (44 km/27.3 mi)
Breakfast at the hotel before we advance 30 km (18.6 mi) west of Trinidad to begin riding along flat coastline to the province of Cienfuegos. Lunch enroute near Guajimico. If you travel in late March you may witness the land crab migration on the south shore, one of just two places in the world where this can be viewed.
Explore French-influenced Cienfuegos and its cultural scene this afternoon before heading to the exclusive Punta Gorda neighborhood of the city and checking into Jagua Hotel overlooking the bay. Walk to Punta Gorda for a mojito before dinner tonight at the home of a local Cienfuegos entrepreneur and hospitality professional whose owner used to work for the state hotel Rancho Luna, and believed he could offer a superior experience. You be the judge. It’s worth noting that Punta Gorda is surrounded by water on both sides. The area has experienced coastal flooding during storm surges and other weather events. Your guide will explain Cuba’s forward-thining 100-year climate change plan called Tarea Vida.
BB, LB, DB | (55 km/34.2 mi)
Today our cycling will take us south to the mouth of the Cienfuegos Bay and Rancho Cristal for lunch and some time to enjoy to the pool or ocean. Optional kayak experience if weather permits. After lunch, visit the Cienfuegos Botanical Garden for a guided tour. Founded in 1901 by Edwin Atkins, it’s one of the oldest of its kind in Cuba. Plant enthusiasts, he and his wife began a garden in the back yard of their estate where tropical and rare species were imported and grown. Today it features over 2000 species and collections of orchids, palms, ficuses and bamboo.
Dinner at one of our favorite Cienfuegos paladars.
BB, LB, DB | (45 km/28 mi)
An early breakfast is followed by a ride southwest towards Montemar Natural Park and Caleta Buena, a natural breakwater with great snorkeling and diving, rife with tropical fish swimming in plain view.
The Zapata Peninsula, one of the largest wetlands in the Antilles attracting migratory and endemic bird life, is a Biosphere Reserve. The area features one of the largest freshwater reservoirs in the country, and is also of historical importance (Bay of Pigs Invasion). We highly recommend the optional purchase of snorkeling or diving packages available on site.
Lunch in Caleta Buena.
Your tour leader will provide background on one of Cuba’s staples and primary export products, rum, and lead a sampling session to enable participants to appreciate the various varieties available in the local marketplace and their unique nuances.
Late afternoon transfer to Cuba’s capital, Havana with dinner nearby at 5 Esquinas Trattoria, an alfresco Italian spot we love in the Loma del Angel neighborhood. Accommodation in the heart of Old Havana at the classic Hotel Sevilla.
BB, LB, DB | (48 km/29.8 mi)
After breakfast, transfer east of Havana. We’ll ride from the Escaleras de Jaruco Park (a Natural Protected Landscape) north to the towns of Hershey and Santa Cruz with elevated views of the north coast enroute. Some of the plants in the park include male cedar, mahogany, white quava, cigua, caisimón, white oak, and a local shiny-leafed poison ivy plant called “guao”.
Among the endemic species are the manuí spur, guairaje, Cuban platanillo, cat’s tai, walnut and more. Near our stop at El Árabe you can appreciate the Orchid Tree (Bauhinia), curujeyes, ferns, epiphytes and many other species. Our ride ends with lunch in Guanabo beach at El Piccolo, a paladar restaurant where wood-fired brick oven pizza’s the specialty. They feature a small-scale urban agriculture project with sale of fruit, vegetables, in-house cured meats, plus a fowl/small animal collection.
Guanabo or Santa Maria beach time can be provided. Dune protection programs are in place here; climate change regulations and enforcement regarding coastal reconstruction limitations will eventually change the face of the community. Continue into Havana for a panoramic city orientation by bus before cleaning up for your farewell dinner tonight at San Cristobal paladar in Central Havana.
BB, LB, DB | (42 km/26.1 mi)
Breakfast and departure.
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The standard version of this trip includes Havana accommodation at the classic Hotel Sevilla.
Supplements available for upgrades to Parque Central or Saratoga hotels (all within a several block radius).
Reductions available to exclude Havana accommodations if booking your own B&B for Days 13/14, or a shortened version of this trip.
*All transport between base tour hotel(s) and independent Havana lodging is the traveler’s responsibility.
- BB: breakfast w/ beverage
- LB: lunch w/ beverage
- DB: dinner w/ beverage
- AI: All Inclusive
Itinerary and hotels subject to availability.