For the start of the new year, Tatjana and I took two weeks out of the Canadian winter to explore western Cuba by bike. I’m lacking the time and motivation to write a serious text that will do justice to this interesting and quite unique place, so I’m going to limit this post to pictures and extended captions.
From Havana airport, we went straight into the countryside through farmland toward the mountain ranges of western Cuba.
Through the beautifully lush rainforests of the western mountain ranges.
Can’t skip the beach when in Cuba. Camping on white sands by the Carribean Sea.
Between mountains and coast in the Northwest, getting closer to the limestone cliffs of Viñales.
The tropical limestone cliff landscape around Viñales.
In and around Pinar del Rio, from where we took the bus to Havana.
From Havana, we cycled to a tiny village near our departure airport of Varadero, where we spent two relaxing days by the beach.
Some details on the trip: We took it easy, cycled about 450 km in a little less than 10 days of cycling. Mostly, we ended up staying in Casas (Bed and Breakfasts), but did three nights of camping as well, two of them by the beach 🙂 Camping isn’t easy in many areas since most agricultural land is fenced. However, in less populated areas, you can find great spots by the beach or in the forest.
Roads are mostly okay, but even the main connection roads can get quite bumpy at times, especially in the more remote areas. Others are surprisingly good – a mixed bag.
Traffic is very pleasant, slow and relaxed most of the times. Lots of locals on bikes on the roads as well as horse-drawn carts make car drivers expect slow traffic.
Food isn’t great, but can be found cheaply (as well as expensively in the tourist areas) – the key to using local restaurants as well as buy from the all-too-rare roadside fruit vendors is to exchange some of the tourist currency (CUC) to the local currency (CUP, „moneda nacional“). If you’ve been to South America, you know the menu: rice, beans and some kind of meat or fish. Good breakfasts with lots of fruit and good coffee can be had in the B&B style Casas.
Overall, Cuba is a great place to visit and biking is probably the best way to do it (as usually). Cubans are friendly, famously cheerful, the country has beautiful rainforests and beaches, and I don’t have to tell you about its unique history, which is still very much alive.