This private motorcycle tour of Cuba for the BMW Rider Academy of Turkey will be led by acclaimed moto-journalist & Cuba expert Christopher P. Baker
“With you, it became an unforgettable trip, Christopher. I hope to repeat as soon as possible with new lucky bikers.”
TAYLAN DEMIRTAŞ, BMW RIDER ACADEMY, TURKEY (private group motorcycle tour, December 2019)
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 six travel guidebooks 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 as almost one hundred tours to Cuba on behalf of National Geographic Expeditions and other tour companies. In addition to riding “sweep,” ensuring the cohesion of the group, and attending to logistics, Christopher brings something unique to these tours… an ability to share a profound knowledge of Cuba, providing unparalleled context for your travel experience.
Taylan Dmirtas is founder and director of the BMW Rider Academy of Turkey. He and Chris led the first Cuba tour with the academy in December 2019 using a combination of BMW R1200GSs and F700GSs. Taylan has also led international tours in such places as Thailand, South Africa, Morocco, Colombia and Norway.
LUIS ENRIQUE GONZÁLEZ
Luis Enrique González has more experience leading 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, F700s, and a medley of Harley-Davidsons. Since 2017, he has acted as lead guide for Profil-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). Luis is also responsible for maintaining Profil-Reisen’s fleet of F700s 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.
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.
ITINERARY (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)
Day 1: Meet in Havana
The group will arrive Havana this morning and transfer to their hotels or casas particulares (B&Bs). In the afternoon, after resting, we’ll meet Christopher for a briefing before a city tour in convertible classic cars to our welcome dinner at La Guarida–Havana’s most famous (and most remarkable) private restaurant.
Overnight: Casas particulares (private B&Bs), Havana
Day 2: Havana / Bay of Pigs / Cienfuegos (310 km)
This morning, we’ll pick up our motorbikes. In order to get familiar with your bike, we’ll make a circuit of greater Havana, including such iconic sites as the Malecón and the Plaza de la Revolución. Then we’ll head east on the Autopista (freeway), which delivers us via the swampy Zapata Peninsula to Playa Larga (“Bay of Pigs”), where the CIA-trained Cuban-American exile army came ashore in April 1961. We’ll be glad for the F700s as we follow a dirt track along the Caribbean shore to reach the lovely bay city of Cienfuegos.
Overnight: Hotel Jagua
Day 3: Cienfuegos / El Nicho / Trinidad (155 km)
This morning we’ll follow a superbly scenic route via Cumanayagua as we climb into the Sierra Escambray mountains for lunch at El Nicho waterfall. We’ll then follow ride 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: Hotel E Calesas OR casas particulares (B&Bs), Trinidad
Day 4: Topes de Collantes / Manicaragua /Hanabanilla / Guajimiro / Trinidad (160 km)
Today we’ll enjoy a counter-clockwise excursion over and around the Sierra Escambray. Ascending via the tight switchback to Topes de Collante, we’ll then drop to Manicuragua for lunch beside Lake Habanilla. Circling the west side of the mountains, we’ll return to Trinidad by the Circuito Sur–the Caribban coast road–with time to further enjoy the colonial city at leisure.
Overnight: Hotel E Calesas OR casas particulares (B&Bs), Trinidad
Day 5: Trinidad / Valle de los Ingenios / Sancti Spíritus / Remedios (175 km)
This morning we ride through the Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills), another UNESCO World Heritage Site dotted with colonial-era sugar haciendas. We’ll visit Hacienda Guajimiro, then continue to the colonial-era provincial capital of Sancti Spíritus for lunch beside the Río Yayabo. Later, ride through dusty old colonial towns as we head north via Placetas and Zulueta (or via Yaguajay and Caibarién) to Remedios, a beautifully preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site colonial city. Our dinner will be a roast suckling pig feast hosted at one of our two casas particulares.
Overnight: Hostal La Estancia and Casona Cuerto (B&Bs), Remedios
Day 6: Remedios / Santa Clara / Sagua la Grande / Varadero (300 km)
Today we head west to Santa Clara to visit the Conjunto Escultórico Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara–the vast monument, mausoleum, and museum dominating Plaza de la Revolución–and other key sites associated with the final battle, in December 1958, that eventually toppled the brutal Batista regime. We then follow the Circuito Norte (North Coast Road) through the Vuelto Arriba tobacco country and beautiful coastal mountain landscapes of Villa Clara. We’ll lunch beside the sea in the fishing village and former rum-and-sugar port of Isabela la Sagua. Then continue via Cárdenas to Varadero, Cuba’s premier beach resort, where a sugar-white beach, and scores of hotels, spill along the full 8-mile length of the Hicacos Peninsula. Tonight enjoy dinner at a local paladar, then take in the Christmas Eve nightlife of Varadero on your own.
Overnight: Casa Beny and/or other casas particulares (B&Bs), Varadero
Day 7: Varadero / Matanzas / Havana (150 km)
Merry Christmas! Our last riding day is a beauty as we head west along the Atlantic shoreline for the bay city of Matanzas. We’ll lunch at a private restaurant (paladar) at Jibacoa (OR Café Ajiaco, in the fishing village of Cojímar, a few miles east of Havana). We then head into the city. After return of the motorbikes, the group will transfer to their own private villa for a final two days on their own.
January 20-26, 2022