JOIN MOTORCYCLE AFICIONADO AND IPA ‘INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR’ JIM KRANTZ PLUS ACCLAIMED MOTO-JOURNALIST & CUBA EXPERT CHRISTOPHER P. BAKER ON A 10-DAY CUBA MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURE IN “SUPPORT OF THE CUBAN PEOPLE”
“Christopher… I gave the tour a 99 on a 100 scale as I can’t imagine it gets much better than we experienced in Cuba. You did everything well and made sure that everyone in the group had a very memorable trip.”
BOB HENIG, BOB’S BMW of MARYLAND
ITINERARY (subject to change)
Day 1 (Saturday, April 23): Meet in Havana
The U.S. “support for the Cuban people” license allows individuals to travel freely to Cuba as they wish at any time. We’ll meet this evening at our B&B in Habana Vieja (Old Havana) for a welcome reception and briefing with Chris and our Cuban guide. Our welcome dinner will be nearby at Chacón 162, a popular bikers’ bar and restaurant.
Overnight: Posada de Chacón (B&B) or alternative, Habana Vieja
Day 3 (Monday, April 25): Cienfuegos / El Nicho / Trinidad (200 miles)
This morning we make a brief stop at the excellent Bay of Pigs Museum. We’ll then be glad for the F700s as we follow a dirt track along the Caribbean shore to reach the lovely bay city of Cienfuegos. After a brief stop to explore the city, we’ll follow a superbly scenic route as we climb into the Sierra Escambray mountains for lunch at El Nicho waterfall. We’ll then follow convoluted and challenging forest trails to the mist-shrouded summit at Topes de Collantes to take a switchback down to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Trinidad—Cuba’s most authentic and perfectly preserved colonial city. This evening enjoy strolling the cobbled colonial streets, plus music and dance at one of Trinidad’s many clubs.
Overnight: Casas particulares (B&Bs), Trinidad
Day 4 (Tuesday, April 26): Trinidad (80 miles optional ride)
Today is an optional rest day to explore this remarkable UNESCO World Heritage City and Cuba’s most perfectly preserved colonial city. In the morning, Chris will lead a guided tour and introduce you to some of his closest (and most interesting) friends, such as world-class artists Lázaro Neibla and Carlos Mata. This afternoon, choose to continue exploring Trinidad; or join Chris and our Cuban guide for an optional afternoon ride along the Caribbean shore and into the Sierra Escambray mountains (or perhaps for some enduro riding). We’ll dine at another of Trinidad’s finest paladares.
Overnight: Casas particulares, Trinidad
We'll ride BMW F700 GSs exclusively. Each will be fitted with twin side panniers. However, we will also be accompanied by a support van and driver.
1. Do we reserve our own flights to Havana?
YES. IT’S AS EASY AS BOOKING TO ANYWHERE ELSE ONLINE. FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOU BOOK ONLINE WITH AMERICAN AIRLINES AT AA.COM, AS SOON AS YOU TAG IN HAVANA AS A DESTINATION, YOU’LL BE PROMPTED TO AFFIRM THAT YOU’RE TRAVELING UNDER ONE OF THE 12 PERMISSIBLE LICENSES. YOU CHECK “YES” AND THAT’S IT. END OF STORY! NO OTHER PAPERWORK IS REQUIRED. THEN, WHEN YOU CHECK IN AT THE AIRPORT FOR YOUR FLIGHT TO HAVANA, YOU’LL BE ASKED WHICH OF THE 12 LICENSES YOU’RE USING: ANSWER = “SUPPORT FOR THE CUBAN PEOPLE”. THE FOLLOWING AIRLINES HAVE DIRECT SERVICE TO CUBA FROM THE USA: AMERICAN AIRLINES, DELTA, JETBLUE, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES, UNITED AIRLINES.
2. Do we apply for our own visas?
THE AIRLINES HAVE THEIR OWN RELATIONSHIPS TO CUBA TOUR SPECIALISTS WHO CAN PROVIDE THE VISA. AFTER RESERVING YOUR FLIGHTS, YOU SHOULD RECEIVE AN EMAIL FROM THE AIRLINE WITH A LINK TO THEIR VISA PROVIDER (SOME AIRLINES MAY INCLUDE THE VISA IN YOUR RESERVATION). FOR EXAMPLE, AMERICAN AIRLINES USES CUBA TRAVEL SERVICES. AT ANY TIME YOU CAN REQUEST AND PAY FOR THE VISA ONLINE, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAVE AN AIRLINE RESERVATION. THEY CAN USUALLY ALSO BE PURCHASED UPON CHECK IN ($100) AT MIAMI AIRPORT, BUT IT IS UNWISE TO RELY ON THEM BEING AVAILABLE.
3. De we need COVID-19 vaccinations?
ALL TRIP PARTICIPANTS MUST BE FULLY VACCINATED AGAINST COVID-19, WITHOUT EXCEPTION! CURRENTLY, CUBA REQUIRES PROOF OF NEGATIVE TEST FOR COVID-19 WITHIN 72 HOURS OF ARRIVAL, AND A FURTHER TEST ADMINISTERED AT HAVANA AIRPORT UPON ARRIVAL. ALL ARRIVING PASSENGERS MUST HAVE A RESERVATION AT A B&B AND ARE REQUIRED TO QUARANTINE UNTIL CLEARED BY MINSAP (THE CUBAN MINISTRY OF HEALTH). CURRENTLY THIS IS TAKING 2 OR 3 DAYS. ON SEPTEMBER 6, 2021, CUBA'S MINISTRY OF TOURISM ANNOUNCED THAT IT WILL BEGIN REOPENING TO TOURISM ON NOVEMBER 15, WHEN IT IS ANTICIPATED THAT AT LEAST 90 PERCENT OF CUBANS WILL HAVE BEEN VACCINATED. DEPENDING ON CIRCUMSTANCES, IT ALSO PLANS TO END THE REQUIREMENT FOR A PCR TEST TO BE GIVEN UPON ARRIVAL IN HAVANA AIRPORT AND FOR A QUARANTINE PERIOD THEREAFTER. IT HAS ANNOUNCED THAT IT WILL RECOGNIZE INTERNATIONAL VACCINATIONS CARDS, WHICH SUGGESTS IT MAY REQUIRE SUCH VACCINATIONS OF ALL VISITORS.
4. Is it advisable to get any other vaccinations?
HEPATITIS AND TETANUS AT A MINIMUM, BUT CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR. CUBA DOES NOT HAVE MALARIA, BUT OCCASIONAL OUTBREAKS OF DENGUE FEVER OCCUR.
5. Do we need an international drivers’ license? With a motorcycle endorsement?
YOU DO NOT NEED AN INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS LICENSE. YOUR U.S. DRIVERS LICENSE SHOULD SUFFICE, BUT IT MUST INCLUDE A MOTORCYCLE ENDORSEMENT.
6. Can U.S. travelers go to Havana for a few days BEFORE the ride starts, or stay a few days AFTER it concludes?
YES, U.S. LAW PROVIDES FOR ANYONE UNDER U.S. JURISDICTION TO VISIT CUBA ANY TIME THEY WISH, PRE-APPROVED AS LONG AS THEY SINCERELY BELIEVE THEY FULFILL ONE OF THE 12 LICENSE CATEGORIES AND ABIDE BY THE REGULATIONS WHILE IN CUBA. THEY MAY DO SO FOR AS MANY DAYS AS THEY WISH. EVERYONE IS PRE-APPROVED (AND NO PAPERWORK IS REQUIRED) UNDER THE “SUPPORT FOR THE CUBAN PEOPLE” LICENSE, WHICH REQUIRES THAT YOU STAY AT PRIVATE B&Bs AND DINE AT PRIVATE RESTAURANTS WHILE IN CUBA AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. THEREFORE, YOU CAN CHOOSE TO BOOK YOUR OWN FLIGHTS TO ARRIVE/DEPART ON ANY DAY BEFORE OR AFTER THE TRIP. NOTE: IN SEPTEMBER 2020, PRESIDENT TRUMP MADE IT ILLEGAL FOR ANY U.S. CITIZEN TO USA ANY CUBAN HOTEL, AS ALL CUBAN HOTELS ARE STATE-OWNED. U.S. CITIZENS MUST THEREFORE USE PRIVATE B&BS.
7. What about medical insurance and emergencies?
YOUR AIRLINE TICKET INCLUDES MEDICAL INSURANCE FOR MEDICAL SERVICES PROVIDED WHILE IN CUBA. OF COURSE, IT’S ALWAYS WISE TO OBTAIN MEDICAL EVACUATION INSURANCE, SUCH AS MEDJET ASSIST (CHECK WITH THE INSURANCE PROVIDER . PROOF OF INSURANCE IS PROVIDED BY A RED STAMP ON YOUR BOARDING PASS TO HAVANA. THIS SHOULD BE RETAINED AND CARRIED ON YOUR PERSON AT ALL TIMES WHILE IN CUBA.
8. Do we need to show proof of motorcycle insurance?
9. Can I used credit cards in Cuba?
NO! U.S. LAW PROHIBITS USE OF CREDIT CARDS IN CUBA. YOU’LL BE OPERATING ON A CASH ONLY BASIS, SO BRING SUFFICIENT CASH
Trip cost: $5,650
- Rental motorcycle BMW F700GS for 8 days
- Services of Chris Baker as tour leader and Cuba expert
- English-speaking Cuban road guide
- Support van and driver for luggage transfer, with limited space for passengers
- 9 overnight stays in casas particulares (B&Bs)
- All breakfasts and meals as indicated
- All entrance fees and tolls per itinerary
- Fuel during the entire trip
- Luggage storage for duration of tour
Program according to the itinerary if not defined as ‘optional’
- A detailed tour information package including maps, guide books, and a T-shirt
- International flight between USA and Cuba
- Airport transfers
- Cuban tourist visa
- Items of a personal nature (alcohol, laundry, tips, etc.)
- Tips to guides, etc.
- Ride along time-worn Havana's famous Malecón seafront boulevard and along the Costera Norte (Atlantic) and Circuito Sur (Caribbean) coast roads
- Savor handmade cigars at a tobacco farm in the Valle de Viñales, Cuba's most scenic valley
- Overnight by the beach at the Bay of Pigs, setting for the failed CIA-sponsored invasion of Cuba by Cuban-American exiles in April 1961
- Ride circuitous mountain roads of the Sierra Escambray
- Savor the colonial street life of Trinidad and Remedios, UNESCO World Heritage Cities where the clip clop of hooves still resounds through cobbled streets.
- Visit the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial in Santa Clara.
For Jim Krantz photography has been a way of life. The 2010 IPA ‘International Photographer of the Year, he has devoted much of his career to photographing the American West, and has photographd for clients from Red Bull to Playboy, capturing some of the most iconic images on the subject. It is his eye for the extraordinary in the ordinary that has earned him a successful career as a sought-after commercial artist, working both nationally and internationally. A keen motorcyclist, he frequently reports on extreme motorcycling and even incorporates the two-wheel theme into his fashion shoots and other commercial projects. When he’s not in production for his clients, Jim can be spotted on his ’91 Harley, camera in tow, exploring and artfully capturing the people and places he encounters. He has visited Cuba five times, and collaborated with author Andy Blankenburg to produce a stunning coffee-table book, Cuba: Out of Time (2008). He promotes himself at jimkrantz.com
CHRISTOPHER P. BAKER
It’s true to say… no-one knows Cuba as well as Christopher, the Lowell Thomas Award 2008 ‘Travel Journalist of the Year’ and the author of seven travel books about Cuba. National Geographic acclaimed him “one of the world’s leading authorities on Cuba travel and culture.” In 1996, Chris shipped his BMW R100GS PD to Cuba and made a three-month, 7,000-mile journey as a licensed journalist, resulting in publication of his Moon Cuba guidebook and his award-winning travelogue Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro’s Cuba. In January 2013, Christopher led the first licensed U.S. motorcycle group tour of Cuba end-to-end since the 1959 Revolution. He has since led numerous motorcycle tours in Cuba on behalf of MotoDiscovery, Edelweiss Bike Travel, Bob’s BMW of Maine, and the BMW Riding Academy of Turkey, as well approximately 100 tours to Cuba on behalf of National Geographic Expeditions, and other tour companies, etc.. In addition to riding lead or “sweep,” ensuring the cohesion of the group, and attending to logistics, Christopher will share a profound knowledge of Cuba, providing unparalleled context and invaluable added value for your travel experience.
LUIS ENRIQUE GONZÁLEZ
Luis Enrique González has more experience guiding group motorcycle tours in Cuba than any other Cuban motorcycle enthusiast and road guide. Between 2013-16 he worked alongside Chris to lead the very first motorcycle tours in Cuba for U.S. citizens using BMW 1200GSs, F700GSs, and a medley of Harley-Davidsons. Since 2017, he has acted as lead guide for Profil Cuba-Reisen and has led scores of tours throughout Cuba end-to-end. An English-speaker, he’s a natural raconteur and all-around “colorful character” with a Rolodex of contacts throughout Cuba (his personal history includes as a mariner and, in the 1980s, as a Lieutenant in Cuba’s Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias in charge of an anti-aircraft battery in Angola). Louis is also responsible for maintaining Profil’s fleet of F700GSs in Cuba. A superb mechanic, Luis exemplifies Cubans’ resourcefulness, ingenuity and indefatigable good humor. When not leading tours, Luis loves tinkering with his collection of pre-revolutionary Harley-Davidsons, a miscellany of other antique motos, plus his 1948 Buick.
Despite President Trump’s restrictions on travel to Cuba effective September 24, 2020, and still in effect, every U.S. citizen can still legally travel to Cuba, pre-approved and at any time, under the “support for the Cuban people” license. This program is designed in accordance with U.S. regulations intended to maximize “support for the Cuban people” through stays at private B&Bs, meals at private restaurants, and interactions with independent artists, private tobacco farmers, owners of classic convertible taxis, etc.