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Active Cuba: Hike, cycle and salsa

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Most activities in Cuba are done at a slow pace: there aren’t many cars on the road; cycling and walking are the principal ways of getting around for the patient, laid-back population. This private holiday takes you all over the island but you will be exploring at a similar leisurely speed.    

Cuba is unique and inspiring; a socialist stronghold, with a rebellious history, colonial splendour in many of the towns, spectacular countryside and a Caribbean heart. Its vibrancy and friendly people will make a lasting impression.  Cycle round Havana’s historic centre; then travel by bus to colonial Trinidad for some hill-walking among cool pines. Cycle through the limestone country of the fertile Viñales valley; go walking in the historic city of Santiago. Hike in the Sierra Maestra, Castro’s pre-revolution hiding place. Finally, finish off your adventurous holiday at remote Baracoa climbing a tabletop mountain and relaxing on the beach.

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Havana. Transfer to hotel in the historic centre.

Day 2

Guided cycling tour of Old Havana.

Day 3

By bus to colonial Trinidad.

Day 4

Hiking in Topes de Collantes mountains.

Day 5

By private transfer to Viñales in the west.

Day 6

Explore the fertile valley by bike.

Day 7

By bus back to Havana.

Day 8

By road to Santiago de Cuba in the east.

Day 9

Guided jeep safari and walk up the Gran Piedra; salsa lesson.

Day 10

Explore the city at leisure; transfer to Bayamo.

Day 11

Trek to Castro’s hideout in the Sierra Maestra.

Day 12

Bus to Baracoa on the eastern coast.

Day 13

At leisure on the beach.

Day 14

Climb El Yunque mountain.

Day 15

Fly to Havana.

Day 16

Transfer to airport for international flight home.

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Places visited on this holiday

Active Cuba: Hike, cycle and salsa

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Havana
Havana is one of Latin America’s most evocative and intriguing cities - famously stuck in a time warp, with crumbling façades and junk shop furnishings, it streets choked with one-gear bikes and classic American cars. Technology-free, it embodies 1950s nostalgia. Nowadays a lot is being done to restore the baroque colonial buildings and squares, there are new restaurants and smart hotels, and local people are more involved in the modern economy. But the place hasn’t lost its romance, its colour, its spontaneity, or the ever-present reminders of its unique modern history. Just shut your eyes and listen to the music...
When's the best time to visit Havana?
The high season for visitors is Dec - Apr when the weather is usually sunny, mostly dry and not too humid, though there can be cool days. Hurricane and tropical storms are possible Aug - Nov.
What's the official language in Havana?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Havana?
You can purchase Cuban Convertible Pesos at the airport or in banks or money exchanges (cadecas). US dollars are not accepted so you need to take cash in sterling. Euros are also accepted but the rate may not be as favourable.There are some ATM machines which supposedly accept debit cards but they are not always reliable. You can also get cash with a credit or debit card (not issued by a US bank). You can change surplus money back to convertible currencies at the airport at the end of your trip.
What's the time difference between Havana and UK?

GMT -5 hours; usually there is daylight saving in the summer but it is a moveable feast.

What places combine well with Havana?

Anywhere in Cuba, transport links are improving all the time, there are tourist bus services and internal flights as well as car hire; Mexico’s Yucatán, with flights from Cancún to Havana, 1 hour 15mins.

How do I get to Havana?

9 hours 45mins on a direct flight.

What are the festivals, sport and cultural events in Havana?
Carnival: Havana’s carnival moves around date-wise ear upon year, but is always accompanied by parades, music, drumming and dancing.
International Jazz Festival: Havana, Dec.  Workshops and concerts. One of the world’s best.
There are many other cultural festivals in Havana most months throughout the year: dance, ballet, theatre, cinema, fishing and sailing.
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Trinidad and the Escambray Mountains
Trinidad
Southeast of Havana, wedged between the south coast and the Escambray Mountains lies Trinidad, Cuba’s most graceful and cultured city, a UNESCO Word Heritage Site with a vibrant music scene.  For decades isolated from the rest of the country, this colonial treasure bypassed the 20th century, and is in its organic whole one of the best preserved baroque works of art on the continent, with delightful cobbled streets, palaces and museums. Not far away are sugar-white beaches, and the city has a backdrop of chunky mountains draped in woodland and studded with jade green lakes, a popular leisure area.
When's the best time to visit Trinidad?
The high season for visitors is Dec - Apr when the weather is usually sunny, mostly dry and not too humid, though there can be cool days. Hurricane and tropical storms are possible Aug - Nov.
What's the official language in Trinidad?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Trinidad?
You can use sterling cash to purchase Cuban Convertible Pesos at banks and money exchanges (cadecas) in Trinidad - the rate of exchange for euros tends to be less favourable.

The more valuable convertible peso (CUC) has been reserved for use in the tourism sector and foreign trade. In October 2013, as part of a package of economic reforms its value will be gradually unified with the lower-value CUP, ending a system resented by ordinary Cubans.

What's the time difference between Trinidad and UK?

GMT -5 hours; usually there is daylight saving in the summer but it is a moveable feast.

What places combine well with Trinidad?
Sancti Spíritus (55 km) small, unspoilt colonial town; Cienfuegos (61 km) the Pearl of the South. Beach time on one of the mangrove-fringed sandy cayes off the north coast – Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos.
How do I get to Trinidad?

A journey by road from Havana (375 km) takes up to 6 hours.

What are the festivals, sport and cultural events in Trinidad?
Semana de la Cultura, Trinidad, second week of Jan. Live music, dancing and exhibitions.
Carnival:  Trinidad, Jun. Complete with carnival queen and other festivities.
Semana Santa: Trinidad; processions and Easter celebrations, one of only a few religious festivals in Cuba.
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Vinales and the Sierra de los Organos
Vinales and the Sierra de los Organos
Pinar del Rio, the western province embracing the Sierra de los Órganos and the Viñales valley has a gorgeous fertile landscape straight out of a fairy-tale or fantasy film. It’s not just misty pine forest-shrouded mountains, hidden caves and secret rivers, battalions of palms and fertile tobacco plantations which greet the eye. The countryside is dotted with huge vertical limestone outcrops, or mogotes, which give it the unique identity recognised by UNESCO as a World Cultural Landscape. The little town of Viñales, set in the shadow of the mogotes, is a popular base for visits and walks.
When's the best time to visit Vinales?
The high season for visitors is Dec - Apr when the weather is usually sunny, mostly dry and not too humid, though there can be cool days. Hurricane and tropical storms are possible Aug - Nov and this is when most rain falls. Rainfall and cloud, attracted by the mountains, is more frequent here than in the areas to the east.
What's the official language in Vinales?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Vinales?
You can use sterling cash to purchase Cuban Convertible Pesos at a couple of banks and money exchanges (cadecas) in Viñales and Pinar del Rio but you might be better off getting them in advance in Havana. The rate of exchange for euros tends to be less favourable.

The more valuable convertible peso (CUC) has been reserved for use in the tourism sector and foreign trade. In October 2013, as part of a package of economic reforms its value will be gradually unified with the lower-value CUP, ending a system resented by ordinary Cubans.

What's the time difference between Vinales and UK?

GMT -5 hours; usually there is daylight saving in the summer but it is a moveable feast.

What places combine well with Vinales?

Beach time on Cayo Levisa, a white sand beach-fringed island off the north coast with excellent diving and snorkelling.

How do I get to Vinales?

A journey by road from Havana to Pinar del Rio or Viñales (185 km) takes up to 2.5 hours.

What are the festivals, sport and cultural events in Vinales?
Carnival:  Viñales, March. 4 days in the middle of the month.
Beauty pageant: Viñales. Complete with parades and other festivities.
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Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba
Cuba’s second city, at the eastern end of the island, has a different ambience from the capital. Open to influences from other parts of the Caribbean and with a notable African presence, it has a vibrant tradition of music and dance drawing on all these cultures. The centre reflects this diversity, with a chaos of architectural styles, including art deco. Elsewhere the Spanish colonial influence dominates, with squat pastel houses shaded by palms and fruit trees. The city’s history and geography is interwoven with that of the Castro Revolution and is known as the Ciudad Héroe.
When's the best time to visit Santiago?
Santiago is hot all the year around but especially in summer when there is little breeze to relieve the high temperatures (Carnival, Jul, is a strong draw though). Oct is the rainiest month but there is plenty of sun all year around. Hurricane and tropical storms are possible Aug - Nov.
What's the official language in Santiago?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Santiago?

You can purchase Cuban Convertible Pesos at banks or in money exchanges (cadecas). US dollars are not accepted so you need to take cash in sterling. Euros are also accepted but the rate may not be as favourable. There are some ATM machines which supposedly accept debit cards but they are not always reliable. You can also get cash with a credit or debit card (not issued by a US bank).

The more valuable convertible peso (CUC) has been reserved for use in the tourism sector and foreign trade. In October 2013, as part of a package of economic reforms its value will be gradually unified with the lower-value CUP, ending a system resented by ordinary Cubans.
What's the time difference between Santiago and UK?

GMT -5 hours; usually there is daylight saving in the summer but it is a moveable feast.

What places combine well with Santiago?
Baracoa, (234 km) small, unspoilt colonial coastal town; Camagüey (327 km); Trinidad (581 km) the most well preserved colonial town; the beach at Guardalavaca (174 km).
How do I get to Santiago?

Santiago is 861 km by road from Havana (10+ hours) or 2 hours by air; 138 km from Holguin airport.

What are the festivals, sport and cultural events in Santiago?
Festival de Baile: Santiago, 15-19 May. 
A street dance festival.Carnival: Santiago, 18-27 Jul. The biggest and best Carnival in Cuba, incorporating the celebrations of the revolutionaries’ attack on Moncada Barracks on 26 Jul. Buildings are adorned with lights and there are parades and floats.
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Sierra Maestra
Sierra Maestra
At the eastern end of the island are the wilderness mountain ranges of the Sierra Maestra.  Little visited and unspoilt, the isolated environment shelters a remarkable range of flora and fauna and the highest peak on Cuba, Pico Turquino (1,972m). The region’s inaccessibility has been the attraction for rebellious groups since colonial times. The area was the heart of the insurrectionary movement against Spain, and became part of contemporary Cuban lore when the Castro brothers and a handful of comrades took refuge in the lush greenery to plot their revolution. Nowadays it is a peaceful environment in which to hike, with some glorious viewpoints over the island and the Caribbean Sea.
When's the best time to visit Sierra Maestra?

The Sierra Maestra is hot all the year around but especially in summer when there is little breeze to relieve the high temperatures. If hiking, best to avoid the hottest and most humid weather Jun - Sep. Hurricane and tropical storms are possible Aug - Nov.

What's the official language in Sierra Maestra?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Sierra Maestra?
Acquire Cuban Convertible Pesos at banks or in money exchanges (cadecas) in a large city before heading off to the Sierra Maestra. US dollars are not accepted so you need to take cash in euros or sterling. There are some ATM machines in Santiago (the nearest large city) which supposedly accept debit cards but they are not always reliable. You can also get cash with a credit or debit card (not issued by a US bank).

The more valuable convertible peso (CUC) has been reserved for use in the tourism sector and foreign trade. In October 2013, as part of a package of economic reforms its value will be gradually unified with the lower-value CUP, ending a system resented by ordinary Cubans.

What's the time difference between Sierra Maestra and UK?

GMT -5 hours; usually there is daylight saving in the summer but it is a moveable feast.

What places combine well with Sierra Maestra?
Baracoa, a small, unspoilt colonial coastal town; the city of Santiago de Cuba; the beach at Guardalavaca (174 km).
How do I get to Sierra Maestra?

The Sierra Maestra is 150 km from Santiago (2 hours 10mins by road).


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Baracoa
This alluring historical town is found off the beaten track on Cuba's south-eastern tip.  Columbus was charmed by the area's beauty when he arrived here in 1492 and it became the island's first colonial settlement twenty years later.

It's a lively place - full of local atmosphere and character. The surrounding countryside is verdant and tropical, and dominated by the tabletop mountain of El Yunque.
When's the best time to visit Baracoa?

The high season for visitors is Dec - Apr when the weather is usually sunny, mostly dry and not too humid, though there can be cool days. Hurricanes and tropical storms are possible Aug - Nov. The sea is calmer in winter on the south and west coasts (Nov - Apr) and in summer on the north coast (May - Sep).

What's the official language in Baracoa?

Language.

How do I get local currency in Baracoa?

You can use sterling cash to purchase Cuban Convertible Pesos at banks and money exchanges (cadecas) in Trinidad - the rate of exchange for euros tends to be less favourable.

N.B: The more valuable convertible person (CUC)  has been reserved for use in the tourism sector and foreign trade. In October 2013, as part of a package of economic reforms its value will be gradually unified with the lower-value CUP, ending a system resented by ordinary Cubans. 

What's the time difference between Baracoa and UK?

GMT -5 hours; usually there is daylight saving in the summer but it is a moveable feast.

What places combine well with Baracoa?
From the northern Cayes: Sancti Spíritus (89 km) small, unspoilt colonial town; Cienfuegos (177 km) the Pearl of the South; Trinidad, Cuba’s best preserved colonial city, (198 km).
How do I get to Baracoa?

A journey by road from Havana (375 km) takes up to 6 hours, by air to Santa Maria is 1 hour, by air to Holguin (for Guardalavaca) is 1.5 hours.

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

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