One reason to travel to Cuba NOW is simple. Finally you can! For more than 50 years, travel between the US and Cuba was strictly regulated and off-limits to most U.S. citizens. Even today, only individuals who meet 12 narrowly defined categories (Cuban-Americans, journalists, etc.) are permitted to travel to Cuba. But since 2011, ANY U.S. citizen can sign up for a group ‘people-to-people’ program offered by a licensed organization, such as Edelweiss Bike Travel. In fact, doing so is the only way the vast majority of U.S. citizens can legally travel to Cuba. GO! NOW! Because the half-open door has been slammed shut before.
Cuba is suddenly a destination du jour and while the door has been flung wide open for tourism in recent years, as yet it hasn’t been overrun. To be honest, I hate to think what it will be like when it is, as the place is still so unspoiled and unique. Since 2016, U.S. cruise ships are already here, and in high season Havana’s colonial plazas and the quaint city of Trinidad already feel like a invasion has begun. GO! NOW! While the vast majority of the country remains very non-tourist trodden and before all your friends who’ve already visited tell you it was so much better back then.
Cuba has changed more, by far, in the past five years than in the prior two decades. True, for a first-time visitor, Cuba appears like an exciting time-warp. But however slow the pace, this sensual socialist isle is a country in motion (and I don’t mean the horse-drawn carts and 1950s Edsels and T-Birds). From brand new ATMs to WiFi hot-spots, and the Pepsi that last year suddenly appeared on supermarket shelves, Cuba is more and more beginning to resemble much of its neighbors. For now there’s no McDonalds or Starbucks. But a Four Points by Sheraton recently opened, and there are even cool private boutique hotels and even cooler neon-lit nightclubs. The longer you wait, the more different it will be from the way it was before the big Cuba rapprochement. GO! NOW! If you want to experience a truly authentic cultural experience.
No other country in the world can boast so many pre-revolutionary American cars. Cuba is a veritable living museum of yanqui metal. In certain places, you rarely see a vehicle that is not a Detroit dowager, wheezing down the road on under-inflated tires to the rhythm of the rhumba on the radio. Never mind merely photographing them… we’ll ride in ‘em! A chance to learn first-hand from the owners how these ingenious mechanics have defied decades of U.S. embargo and hardship to keep their well-aged beauties running. However, every year the number dwindles. GO! NOW! There’s no guarantee they’ll still be there in a decade.
Hollywood couldn’t have dreamed up a more authentic, dreamily dilapidated, sun-faded stage-set. Sure, many Cuban youth now hang out on Facebook with their smartphones, and Audis and Mercedes now race past 1950s Chevys and Cadillacs on the Malecón seafront boulevard. But Havana’s cityscape has hardly changed, albeit looking considerably more jaded, since the 1950s. Architecture buffs are in seventh heaven. From the gorgeous restored plazas of colonial Habana Vieja to astonishing Art Deco, Beaux Arts, and Mid-Century Modernist gems. All made more surreal by the presence of all those American cars. Then there’s the countryside… casting you further back in time, with ox-drawn ploughs and thatched bohios (wooden homes) and still an antique steam train or two. GO! NOW! Before the houses crumble to dust and tractors replace the oxen.
Where else will you see five-story images of Che Guevara? Or billboards touting socialist Cuba’s achievements, such as the eradication of illiteracy and homelessness? Meanwhile, there’s not a roadside advertisement for consumer products in sight. Plus, you’ll be amazed how many Cubans remain loyal to the Revolution… by which they mean not just the overthrow of corrupt and brutal dictator Fulgencio Batista in January 1959, but the building of a more just society. It’s fascinating to learn first-hand from Cubans we’ll meet on the road. GO! NOW!
Havana’s sexy hip-swinging vibe is infectious. Cubans love their music, which seeps out of every bar and open window like a continually changing backing soundtrack. Virtually every restaurant has musicians, maybe even a house band. Every town has a sensual (and very retro) cabaret. And impromptu street parties are lit by a spontaneous spark, causing Cubans of every age to leap to their feet and dance. Boy, do Cubans like to dance! Salsa... Guanguancó... Rhumba. It helps that the rum is no more expensive than water… and best enjoyed in fabulous cocktails, such as mojitos and cuba libres, or drunk neat while smoking the world’s best cigars fresh from the factory. Say this for the Cubans. They sure do know how to have fun on a dime! GO! NOW! Because the party is already happening.
Remember how life seemed so much more relaxed before smartphones, the Internet, and Facebook took over our lives? Welcome to Cuba! True, the government has been installing WiFi zones in hotels and public parks (Havana’s five-mile-long Malecón is slated to become the world’s longest unbroken WiFi hotspot). And it seems now that every second Cuban has an iPhone or Samsung. But most of the country, including Havana, isn’t wired. In fact, it’s one of the least wired countries in the entire world. While that might fill you with horror, it’s actually one of the best reasons to visit Cuba. The lack of WiFi is one of the charms that makes Cuba such an authentic travel experience. GO! NOW! While you can still savor the digital detox.
Cuba’s history is nothing short of fascinating. And never more so than the story of the Revolution that overthrew Dictator Fulgencio Batista, and the ensuing five decades of home-grown communism under Fidel. In fact, it’s changed beyond recognition in many ways since Raúl Castro took power in 2008. A real estate market now exists and private restaurants are booming, along with other businesses, spawning a monied middle-class for the first time in decades. Plus, Raúl is about to step down in 2018, and a new generation is about to take over. GO! NOW! If you wait too long, your experience might be entirely different and less authentic.
Vivacious. Spontaneous. Resourceful. Inventive. Generous and genteel. And genuinely friendly almost to a fault. Any visit to Cuba is really about meeting the people, and that’s the real focus of Edelweiss Bike Travel’s 8- and 11-day ‘people-to-people’ programs. Traveling through Cuba on a motorcycle really helps break down the barriers. You’ll soon discover that Cubans genuinely love Americans and Americana. GO! NOW! Because the Cubans are waiting to welcome you with open arms.
In 2018 Edelweiss Bike Travel will be guiding 9 different tours on Cuba which are open for individual bookings from all over the world plus another dozen tours for private groups and custom tours.
Get your spot reserved now if you wish to participate in any of our programs and experience a journey in a totally different part of this world:
This motorcycle tour through Cuba is loaded with culture, great scenery and fascinating roads.
This motorcycle tour through Cuba is loaded with culture, great scenery and good roads.
Explore the secrets of Cuba on this one-of-a-kind ‘people-to-people’ motorcycle tour and learn more about the Cuban Revolution, history, and culture in the company of motojournalist Christopher P. Baker, hailed by National Geographic as “One of the world’s leading authorities on Cuba travel and culture.”