Chris Baker Motorcycle Tours 11b

 

With so much newfound interest in Cuba combined with a general relaxation of rules and enforcement, it’s no wonder that many U.S. tour companies are pushing beyond the envelope of what’s legally permissible.

For example, travel to Cuba for “tourism” (ie. for beach time, partying, and recreation) is still out of bounds. Yet several companies have leapt the fence and are now offering biking, hiking, and other recreational programs that, in my humble opinion, may not be legal.

So where does motorcycling fit in?

Several foreign companies have been operating motorcycle tours in Cuba for years, mainly for Europeans and South Americans. Edwelweiss and Motorcycle Tours Cuba cater mainly to Europeans, with the latter targeting Scandinavian groups. Italy’s MotoTouring has run a few tours successfully.

Curiously, two Canadian companies—WowCuba and Stroker Motorcycle Tours—haven’t had much luck getting their programs off the ground.

But now even an Indian company is getting in on the game, with ExtremeBikeTours planning a tour in February.

Then there’s Cuba’s own LaPoderosa Tours, operated by my friend Ernest Guevara (yes, son of Che Guevara) and understandably selling primarily to Argentinians and other South Americans. And Chile’s Tours Caribe offers motorcycle tours in Cuba, also mainly targeting the Latin American market.

However, none of these companies is legally permissible for U.S. citizens unless arranged as a customized group “people-to-people” (P2P) tour with a special itinerary that meets the requirements for a “full schedule of interactions with Cuban citizens resulting in meaningful interaction.” That’s the official parlance.

Such P2P programs are the ONLY way for a U.S. citizen to legally visit Cuba unless they qualify for a license to travel as a journalist or for humanitarian or religious reasons, a family visit, etc. Highly restrictive!

At present only one company—Texas-based MotoDiscovery—offers legally licensed P2P motorcycle tours in Cuba.

In 1996 when I shipped my own BMW R100GS PD to Cuba as a journalist (resulting in publication of my literary travelog Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro’s Cuba, plus numerous magazine stories; see Motojournalist), I ever thereafter dreamed of one day leading group motorcycle tours in Cuba.

In 2011, after President Obama introduced the P2P license category, my acquaintance Skip Mascorro (owner of MotoDiscovery) asked me to secure a license from the U.S. Treasury Department (it wasn’t easy, but I figured out a way) and design motorcycle itineraries for Cuba.

Thus, in the winter of 2012/2013 we were able to introduce the first motorcycle tours of Cuba for U.S. citizens since the Revolution. (See my feature articles in ADV Moto Magazine and BMW Motorcycle Magazine.)

I’ve since enjoyed three seasons leading trips for MotoDiscovery… and I look forward to continuing to do so!

However, I’m a freelancer without exclusive obligation. Hence, using a “People-to-People” license…

I’m able to arrange and/or lead customized group motorcycle tours of Cuba for ALL U.S. citizens, on request

… such as the one I designed and led for Bob’s BMW in March 2015 on behalf of MotoDiscovery.

Bob Henig of Bob's BMW with Che Guevara billboard, Cuba; copyright Christopher P Baker

Bob Henig of Bob’s BMW with Che Guevara billboard, Cuba; copyright Christopher P Baker


What could be more fun and exciting than motorcycling around Cuba with your own group of friends and fellow riders?

With almost two decades experience motorcycling in Cuba, I can design a private customized group motorcycle tour that is immensely rewarding and memorable.

Of course, shipping your own motorcycle from the USA—never mind an entire fleet!—is a no-go for now, as bikes are considered “exports” and hence illegal under terms of the U.S. embargo. Getting a Commerce Department license is virtually impossible. So don’t even think of hopping your bike onto one of the ferries that may (or may not!) start service between Florida and Havana soon.

No worries… I’ll utilize BMW GSs, Harley-Davidsons, and Suzuki V-Stroms, plus support services, supplied through a network of trusted contacts in Cuba and the USA to create a truly memorable touring experience… from interactions with artists, baseball players, and classic car owners to local harlistas (owners of pre-revolutionary Harley-Davidsons) such as Ernesto Guevara.

Meanwhile, I’m aware of at least two other U.S. motorcycle tour companies now considering offering motorcycle tours in Cuba for winter 2016. I’m not at liberty to reveal details yet… but things look very promising.

NOW is the time to visit Cuba… so CONTACT ME TODAY!

 

See my webpage for details

 

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Christopher P Baker

website

Christopher P. Baker, one of the world's most multi-talented and success travel writers and photographers is considered the foremost authority on Cuba travel and culture. Winner of the Lowell Thomas Award 2008 as 'Travel Journalist of the Year,' he has authored more than 30 books, leads tours for National Geographic Expeditions and other companies, and is a Getty Images and National Geographic contributing photographer.