Cycle Cuba Challenge 22 April 3 May 2013

The Cycle Cuba Challenge is a fantastic way to experience Cuba and to raise money for the Music Fund for Cuba at the same time.

Monies raised will go towards purchasing essential educational equipment for young visually impaired Cuban school children. Many essential items are in critical short supply. The cycle group will deliver aid directly to a school for visually impaired children in Havana where we will be guaranteed a rousing reception from the school salsa band.

The Challenge runs 310 kilometres from Soroa to Cayo Jutiás and back to San Diego de los Baños in La Güira National Park. The route passes through the lush forests of Sierra del Rosario, the tobacco fields of Pinar del Río following the Viñales Valley, with its soaring limestone mogotes, onto the Gulf of Mexico with it’s pristine white sandy beaches. The route passes through dramatic scenery and along quiet rural roads with opportunities to experience vibrant Cuban culture at first hand. From the finishing line we return to Havana, where we have received a special invitation to participate in the inspiring May Day Rally in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución, with its iconic images of Che Guevara, alongside over 1 million Cubans with flags and banners flying high. We celebrate a wonderful group achievement with our famous celebratory meal at a top Havana restaurant.

You can read reports from past participants on the 2008, 2009 and 2010 tours here.

What does the cost include?

The tour costs include return flights with Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick direct to Havana, UK Departure Tax, 10-night’s accommodation based on two people sharing twin rooms with en suite facilities, entrance to all visits and excursions (other than those marked as optional) and all meals listed in the itinerary. There are comprehensive back up and support services throughout the Challenge.

  • Dedicated support team including a cycle tour manager, a fully qualified mechanic, who works with the Cuban national cycle team, and an English speaking local guide.
  • 100% vehicle support. Transfers in air-conditioned coach.
  • Luggage and spare parts carried on support vehicle.
  • 4L of bottled water per cyclist per cycling day.
  • Detailed route descriptions and daily briefing sessions.
  • Hotel accommodation equivalent to 3 star standards.
  • Full board, except 3 lunches & 3 evening meals. Pack lunch on cycle days.
  • Special invitation to participate in the May Day Rally in Plaza de la Revolución addressed by Raúl Castro and attended by over 1 million Cubans.
  • Specialist visits to Teatro Miramar restoration project, a school for visually impaired children, a local health care centre and a neighbourhood community project.
  • Guided cultural and historical visits, including Che Guevara’s secret underground HQ during the 1962 October Crisis, Museum of the Revolution and a walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Celebratory evening meal at the end of the challenge.

What is not included: Cuban Tourist Card, currently £15, travel insurance, Havana airport departure tax (CUC25 as at October 2012), single room supplement if required (£200 per person) and any visits listed as optional.

After receipt of your registration fee we will send you:

  • Sponsorship forms and a detailed fundraising pack including ideas and suggestions to help you reach your sponsorship goal.
  • A suggested training schedule.
  • Cycle Cuba Challenge T-shirt.
  • An information dossier including recommended kit list.

Go on, grab the experience of a lifetime and register today. When you are cycling through a beautiful rural Cuban landscape by day and dancing to an intoxicating salsa rhythm by night you won’t regret it. Cycle Cuba Challenge is a great way to be involved in delivering essential educational equipment direct to young visually impaired Cuban school children.

CYCLE CHALLENGE 2013 ITINERARY

Day 1. Havana. Transfer to Hotel Plaza in Old Havana. Introductions to the Challenge Support Team and initial Briefing Meeting.

Day 2. Soroa. Transfer to Soroa, the ‘Rainbow of Cuba’. Assemble and test ride bikes. Optional visit to the famous orchid garden.

Day 3. Soroa to San Diego de los Baños. 59km. The first day’s cycling over undulating terrain. The landscape is dotted with tall majestic royal palms and Tiñosas, turkey vultures, soaring overhead on the thermal currents. We visit a rural Policlínico, a local health care centre, on route and see first hand some of Cuba’s many achievements in health care. At the end of today’s cycle, we have the optional opportunity to revitalise tired muscles with an invigorating immersion in hot sulphurous waters from natural mineral springs at the local spa complex.

Day 4. San Diego de los Baños to Pinar del Río. 53km. Revitalised and ready to go, today’s route is undulating and continues along the old Carretera Central passing through several busy, bustling market towns of this rich agricultural region. We share the road with tractors, oxen and shy, smiling cowboys on a cattle drive. In the evening we have an invitation to attend an informal meeting with the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR) with local families, from grandparents to grandchildren. After welcoming speeches, we will have the opportunity to chat with local families and gain a valuable insight into present day Cuban society.

Day 5. Pinar del Río to Puerto Esperanza. 55km. Today’s route passes through a quintessential Cuban landscape with small bohíos (farmhouses) and guajiros (farmers) tending their fields with ox drawn plough. In the evening there is an optional visit to Casa de la Música, a traditional Cuban music venue, to groove to those intoxicating salsa rhythms.

Day 6. Viñales to Cayo Jutías. 63km. The terrain is hilly as we climb through the Viñales Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, punctuated by soaring limestone mogotes rising up from the valley floor like massive haystacks. We pass distinctive tobacco fields with characteristic deep red earth and drying barns full of tobacco leaves. Crossing the causeway, over turquoise blue waters, we are rewarded with a dip in the crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Day 7. Viñales to San Diego de los Baños. 80km. The last day’s cycling follows a hilly terrain with sections of broken road surfaces. Cycling along the single main streets of small villages, we pass Cuban grandparents sitting on the verandas of their wooden houses exchanging memories. Maize dries on the pavements in the hot sun. Passing through an area of sweet smelling coffee plantations we stop for lunch at Los Portales, the secret HQ of the legendary Che Guevara during the 1962 October missile crisis. Keep a look out for the Tocororo, the national bird whose feathers reflect the colours of the Cuban flag, as we continue through La Güira National Park. After 310 exhilarating kilometres we reach the finish line back at San Diego de los Baños, a laid-back, tranquil old spa town.

Day 8. Havana. After breakfast we transfer back to Havana and visit the Teatro Miramar project, a community theatre restoration project being undertaken by Music Fund for Cuba. We attend a donation presentation at Abel Santamaría School for visually impaired children where we have the opportunity to meet staff and students and see first hand how the educational equipment will be used. We are guaranteed a rousing reception and gifted musical performance from the school salsa band.

Day 9. Havana. We take a fascinating walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a wealth of impressively restored colonial buildings and intriguing historic sites and visit the Museum of the Revolution, including the Granma yacht memorial.

Day 10. Havana. The group has a special invitation to join over a million Cubans taking part in the May Day celebrations, one of the most important events in the Cuban political calendar. A truly inspiring event in Plaza de la Revolución with its iconic images of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. We celebrate a tremendous group achievement at an authentic Cuban restaurant and have an optional opportunity to visit a glitzy nightclub to relax and enjoy the salsa magic of Havana.

Day 11. Havana. Free morning for further independent exploration of this fascinating capital city. Early afternoon transfer to the airport for the return flight, arriving London Gatwick the following day.