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Who doesn't have this dream? Motorcycling in Cuba! This elusive country has always been surrounded by mystery. Now it is possible on a BMW GS700. This motorbike journey is mainly along the coast and driving through unknown and remote parts of the country. You will discover authentic Cuba.
During this trip, you will stay in the so-called "casa particulares." These are private houses which have sufficient rooms to rent out to tourists. Hotels in Cuba are very expensive for tourists, staying in a casa particular is a bit cheaper. In addition to that, you will have direct contact with locals. If you would rather stay in a hotel, then the additional costs for this trip are 875 EUR.
In Havana, you are picked up from the airport and dropped off at a hotel. Get your first impressions of Cuba on a drive to the city. Tonight you will taste the unique Cuban cuisine, Creole dishes are a mixture of Spanish and African influences.
The next two days are free, you can discover Havana at your own pace. However, Motor Trails can organize a guided tour, bus tour, or organize something else with an extra cost. Please ask Motor Trails for a quote.
You are free today. If you have a guided tour, you will meet the guide today. You can walk and get to know this vibrant beating city and dive into the nightlife. Havana has three parts: old Havana, Vedado, and the suburbs. You will start to walk through the historic center old Havana (La Habana Vieja, Old Havana), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Around 1980 important parts of old Havana have been restored to boost tourism.
After lunch, you can enjoy a bus tour and go to Vedado, Plaza de la Revolución and Miramar. Vedado has become the center of commercial activities and nightlife. Centro Habana, especially, is a shopping area that lies between Vedado and old Havana.
You are free today, you can discover the city by yourself. Optional: if you like, Motor Trails can organize different excursions like visiting La Vigía (the farm of Ernest Hemingway), Callejón Hamel (Afrocuban culture project), or others.
The flight from Havana to Holguin is just over an hour. Holguin has several points of interest. There are small city parks such as Parque Infantil, Parque San Jose, Parque San Isidoro, Parque Marti, and park Calixto Garcia.
In town, you will find the galleries Centro Provincial de Arte and Bayado, a library, the cinema, the theatre Eddy Sunol Marti Cinema, the Provincial Museum La Periquera, a science museum, and a historical museum. Holguin Cathedral (Catedral de San Isidro) was built in 1720.
From the lookout on the mountain Loma de la Cruz, you can see the entire city. You have to climb 450 steps to reach the outlook. On top of the mountain is a large cross. In Holguin, brewery Cerveceria Bucanero has been established. The three Cuban Bucanero, Cristal and Mayabe brands, namely beer are brewed here. Along the coast north of Holguin is the popular resort Playa Pesquero (fishermen strand).
The province of Holguin consists of a wide variety of landscapes. You will see high mountains, fertile plains and fine sandy beaches. It was in this area, where Christopher Columbus first set foot on land, namely Bariay.
The first day on the motorbike. You will start driving on asphalt and after a few curves, you arrive in Bayamo. Gradually you will drive to the highest mountain range in Cuba, the Sierra Maestra. You will enjoy the view on these beautiful mountains.
Here lies the Desembarco del Granma Parque Nacional which is 400 square kilometers. It is next to the park and rich in flora and fauna, especially many orchids. Tonight you sleep in the mountains of Sierra Maestra.
After breakfast, you partly drive the same way back. Starting from Bartolome Maso, you go to Yara and Manzanillo. You cross Campechuela Medialuna, and finally, will reach the foothills of the western part of the Sierra Maestra. From Seville Arriba, you arrive at the coastal town of Punta Piedra, East of Pilon, where you will have a short rest. Tonight you will sleep in Marea del Portillo, which has a beautiful beach.
Today, you drive along some spectacular roads. Starting from a narrow street, you will follow the Caribbean coast for several hours and end in Santiago de Cuba. You will always see the sea, on your left side, are the mountains of Sierra Maestra.
Due to the many floods, the road here is regularly damaged. Often you encounter big rocks on the road. Fortunately, it is easy to dodge these rocks with the motorbike.
The rocky coast is interspersed with many small narrow beaches where you can relax and dream away. Today you reach Santiago de Cuba Cuba's second city. Depending on your arrival time, you may still have time to look around and dive into nightlife.
After breakfast, you drive through the city. Santiago de Cuba is the most atmospheric city of Cuba due to the vibrant African music. In contrast to the capital, Santiago is less Americanized. In 1930 the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca compared Santiago de Cuba with "a harp made of living branches, a Caiman, a tobacco flower."
Apart from the cars and some modern buildings, there were not many changes since 1930. Due to the heat and the hills, people are forced to live in a slow rhythm. There is a lot of dancing and feasting, especially during the carnival. Residents of Santiago de Cuba are proud that their city is seen as the "cradle of the revolution."
Santiago has a few special attractions. Around the Parque Céspedes at any time of the day, you will see people from young to old. The square serves as a kind of open-air theatre where music plays the leading role. The buildings around this park are of cultural and architectural interest.
Ten kilometers outside the city center is The castle of "El Morro" or San Pedro de la Roca, is on the UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997. It was built to protect the important port of Santiago. Today you will have lunch and drive another way back to the city.
After breakfast, you head towards the North. Because of the American naval base Guantanamo Bay, you must follow the same road back. This prison is still in use.
Today you drive along the most spectacular roads of Cuba: La Farola. This road is built around 1960 and recalls European mountain passes driving through numerous hairpin bends. La Farola is going from the dry South Baracoa to the tropical and humid North of Sierra Maestra.
You sleep two nights in Baracoa. If you fancy and have time, you can climb the Table Mountain which is 8 kilometers west of the city. This was a sacred place of the Taíno Indians. From here, you will have a beautiful view of Baracoa and its surrounding area.
Today you can relax or get to know Baracoa. After breakfast, you will explore Yumuri Valley and go to Punta de Maisi. On your journey along the rugged coast, you will drive through narrow roads. You will see a lot of palm forest and you will visit several rural villages. It is around one hour drive to Punta de Maisi, the easternmost point of Cuba.
According to old stories, traditional Cubans fled from here in colonial times after the invasion by the Spanish. The residents have a characteristic face. Further, you drive along Rio Toa. This wetland area along the river is surrounded by tropical forest. This is an important ecological area.
South of Baracoa is the Boca de Yumuri. You can have a boat trip on the beautiful Yumuri River.
Do not leave without having tasted the famous local snack of Baracoa: cucurucho. This is a mix of coconut, milk, sugar, orange, and sometimes a few other ingredients. Cucurucho is easy to eat because the mix is stuffed onto a horn made of palm leaves. Motor Trails also recommends that you taste the delicious chocolate that is for sale and homemade bonbons.
After breakfast, you drive around 40 kilometers along the coast on gravel and stone roads. You pause at a simple but beautiful hotel in Playa Maguana. The beach here is great. Then you drive along the famous natural park, Alexander Von Humboldt. It is on the UNESCO World list.
You will continue along the coastal town of Moa "the ugly duck" of Eastern Cuba. This nickname is due to the huge air pollution caused by heavy industry and nickel-aluminum mines. The landscape is full of huge craters, the result is a bizarre landscape. Here you are not allowed to take pictures. If they catch you taking pictures, you will get a hefty fine.
Then you drive to the peninsula Cayo Saetia. This natural park is 42 square kilometers and is surrounded by beautiful nature, beaches, forests, caves, and rich animal life. Imagine being far away from civilization.
After breakfast, you drive towards Holguin. You pause in Banes and Guardalavaca. This is the end of your motor journey. The motorbikes are returned. Tomorrow you have time to further explore this city and its surroundings.
Holguin is not very touristy. The beautiful surroundings consist of mainly of pine trees around Mayari. It is close to the archaeological site of Chorro de Maita. Here are remains of the native Taíno Indians and a Taíno village has been imitated.
Motor Trails recommends that you take a walk to the lookout of Loma de la Cruz. From there you will have a beautiful view of the city. Or you can go relax along the beautiful beach of Playa Guardalavaca. This is a coral reef surrounded by forest, ideal for sunbathing and for snorkeling.
Today you will catch your flight back home.
This journey is without a support vehicle. You will carry your own luggage in the side cases of the motorbike. Of course, you can leave things you don't need during the motorbike tour in the hotel in Holguin. You will return to this hotel at the end of the tour.
This tour is accompanied by a Cuban guide on a motorbike. The guide speaks fluent English and of course Spanish. The language of instruction will be English.
This tour is in cooperation with an international partner organization, the group will have different nationalities, therefore the instruction will be in English.
During this tour through Cuba, you don’t reach very high altitudes and do not travel through extremely deserted areas. Daily distances are not long, so there is plenty of time and opportunity to stop along the way to take pictures or to visit villages.
Most of the tour is on paved roads and/or good quality tracks. These sections are not very difficult and certainly do-able without any off-road experience or off-road training beforehand.
The eastern side of Cuba is one of the most diverse regions of the country, in landscape and climate. There are still hardly any tourists in this area.
You will visit the Sierra Maestra mountain range, Humboldt National Park, and the mines of Moa. In the most eastern corner is Baracoa, the oldest town and the first capital of the country. It was only chipped through the mountains in 1965, in one of Fidel Castro’s first big engineering projects.
Before then Baracoa was isolated from the rest of the country, reached only by boat. Today’s Baracoa is a jumble of 18th-20th-century houses with portals and columns, French architectural flair, and licks of vibrant new paint.
Life revolves around the sea-thrashed Malecón, three wedge-shaped parks and the gaggle of bars skirting the main Parque Independencia. Explore this beautiful city and its surrounding natural beauty.
José Martí International Airport
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