Cuba tour

Discussion in 'Touring and recreational cycling' started by FionaEv, Sep 28, 2006.

  1. FionaEv

    FionaEv New Member

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    To give us the most flexibility when cycle touring we normally camp either out in the bush somewhere or asking at farms etc. Has anyone any experience of doing this in Cuba - I understand campsites are few and far between if they exist for tents at all? We plan to tour in Cuba from the end of November to end of January. Also are there any ATMs that accept UK bank cards or will we have to take all the money with us as travellers cheques/cash? Finally, any good accommodation close to the airport (Havana) where we can store bike boxes etc whilst we're touring?
    Thanks
     
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  2. Velotour

    Velotour New Member

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    Sorry. I would not know any of that for Cuba. I do know that persons have cycle toured there and had a perfectly good time doing it. There must be something on the WWW. Google ATM machines in Cuba.

    One little thing about ATMs in developing countries and perhaps Cuba. Just because the sign on the machine advertises that it takes certain kinds of cards, it does not necessarily mean that it does work with those cards. You might want to look at TCs. Phone calls to banks there should answer your questions.
     
  3. Meisele

    Meisele New Member

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    I've done two short tours in Cuba in March and November of 2005. The first one from Varadero to Havana and the second one from Varadero to Trinidad.

    Whatever you do, do not rely on ATM's. There simply aren't a whole lot of them. I never saw a single one but then I wasn't looking for them either. Anything to do with technology and communications in Cuba can also be very spotty. The way to do it is to bring a credit card and take cash advances (very easy at many banks and all "Cadeca" branches. I didn't use traveller's cheques. I brought some initial Canadian cash and then went for some cash advances as I needed more money. DO NOT bring US cash. There is a steep surcharge for exchanging it. In your case Euros might be the best bet. Also make sure that your credit cards are issued by a non US bank. Credit cards issued by US banks are not accepted in Cuba due to the fact that. Also, don't plan on using credit cards to pay for accomodation or anything else. While they are theoretically accepted, many areas in Cuba have poor communications and may not be able to get authorization in order to use the cards. Areas such as Havana and Varadero tend to have better service in that regard. Cuban facilities will also tend to charge a "service fee" for using a credit card at a hotel. Cuba is also notorious for inconsistent charges all over the place. So you may have a different experience than mine in that regard. Always have enough cash handy to pay for everything.

    I would also strongly urge you to try and stay at "casas particulares" instead of state run hotels. Even though these "casas" have to pay a share to the state, at least you'd be helping the people directly instead of feeding the state's coffers which pays their employees about $20/month.

    I can't comment on leaving bike boxes in Havana. But here's what I did both times. I booked two nights hotel in Varadero since that's where the cheap charter flights go to from Vancouver, BC. Each time they allowed me to leave the box there until I returned. It may be a good idea to book the last night at the same hotel as well. The first time I stored the box the manager charged me $5. The next time the staff just stored it for free, so I tipped to bellboy for helping me at the end.

    You'll find cycling in Cuba to be simply great. There are problems with Hustlers approaching you in any area that sees tourists. But once you're outside those areas you'll find reasonably good roads with very little traffic, and very friendly people.

    I'd be more than happy to answer any specific questions you have about cycling in Cuba. You might also want to check out my friend's website www.ulrike.ca . We cycled together in Cuba and most of the Cuba pictures on her site are actually mine. Her camera broke down and I ended up giving her all my pictures.

    Above all, have fun and feel free to ask about my experiences there.


    ...Michelle
     
  4. Meisele

    Meisele New Member

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    I forgot to address the camping question. I did not camp in Cuba myself. But my understanding is that you should always ask for permission. The local authorities might be a little suspicious of someone just setting up an tent somewhere. BTW, you can get a room for anywhere from US$15-$25 for two people in most places. Those rooms are generally basic but clean. I would personally not consider camping in Cuba since the costs for accomodation are pretty low in casas particulares.


    ...Michelle
     
  5. FionaEv

    FionaEv New Member

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    Thanks for the info and the website - very useful. We plan to stay in a casa particulares in Havana at the beginning and end of the trip but I was wondering if it's OK to put that down on the tourist card as several things I've read suggest that you get a hard time at immigration if you don't put down a big hotel - any idea if this is true even for legal cps?



     
  6. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    They do exist, but most are not advertised and are targeted towards the Cubans not really directed at tourists. That doesn't mean you can't use them, you just have to find out about them from locals. The casas particulares are really the way to go. They're one of the few legal forms of free enterprise and are basically Cuban B&Bs or more accurately a spare room in the house. They're quite inexpensive and are one of the best ways to get to know the locals.

    Yep there are some very good, trustworthy and secure casas particulares not far from the airport near Havana viejo. Here's a couple I highly recommend:
    Ana María Fariñas
    , Salvador Allende (Carlos Tercero) No. 1005, e/Requena y Almendares, Plaza, tel. 878-29-46; or [email protected],

    and Esther Cardoso, the mother of the leading Cuban climber Aníbal Fernández Cardoso, Aguila #367, e/Neptuno y San Miguel, Centro Habana. 862 04 01

    This info and a lot more is available on cubaclimbing.com yeah, I know you're planning a bike trip, but its a really good site with lots of good travel tips.

    Have a great trip, Cuba is a very cool place to spend some time.

    -Dave

     
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