Click on any of the towns underlined in yellow to go straight to our experiences at that town
This is the story of our 3 week trip, driving ourselves round Cuba in October 2010. Before plunging into the detail of the trip, I should say that in spite of minor hang ups, we really enjoyed the trip. In Cuba you are a traveller in a foreign land. You are stepping back in time, the 1950s American cars really are still running, very few people own a car and most use horses, bullock carts, bicycles or 2 feet to get around. And hitch hiking is on a mammoth scale that I have never seen before, with hordes of people waiting in the shade under bridges on the roadside to get a lift.
We booked he whole fly drive package with Cuba Travel Plan . By and large their itinerary and organisation were good - the blips were no more than I might have expected: some personal preference, some that could have been avoided. The only major ones I would mention were - the visa problem (visa did not arrive), the homestay in Trinidad where they should not have been using that particular place (the owner overbooked regularly and cynically, then handed on the surplus punters to his relations houses - we ended up in his daughters house which was a slum), and the hotel at Santa Clara was a bit iffy. But having said that, the route was well thought out, and the hotels interesting (I use that word advisedly as Cuban hotels are never "good" in the European sense, but are uniquely "Cuban"). I would recommend Cuba Travel Plan to anyone wanting to drive themselves round Cuba.
The touts are referred to as Jineteros
Driving In Cuba is also an "experience". The petrol stations are few and far between, but we knew that, and made sure that the tank never got below half full: the roads are potholed, but we knew that and it was not a problem except in a couple of isolated instances where the going really did get tough, and a 4x4 was really required: and last, and most importantly for drivers, there are effectively NO road signs, navigating is therefore an acquired skill, particularly in the towns (we had a good map, most most streets do not have a plaque with their name, and are one way to boot). However this we all knew in advance, and none of these were really too much of a challenge, and were really part of the holiday
old American cars
And lastly I should mention the Cuban people. We became rather cynical after a few days, as virtually everyone you come in contact with tries to overcharge you. Never order a drink before ascertaining what it will cost: in a parador confirm he price of the meal before you start eating, and check that drinks are included or not: expect where ever you park you car, even in the middle of nowhere, a man to pop up wanting 1CUC (about 70p) for you to park there, and he will even have an official looking badge: you will be short changed: you will be pestered by tout (classic opening lines are ""What country you from?", but they will not hang around long once you indicate you are not interested in their restaurant recommendation or in buying their sister: count your change as most places will short change you. Basically they look on tourists as money on legs, and make very little effort to disguise that. But having said all that it did not effect our enjoyment of the holiday. If you speak Spanish, you will find the accent, particularly in the countryside, very difficult.
We flew Iberia into Havana, and the following pages give detail for each stage of the journey
Thurs 21 Oct 2010 - Arrival in Havana
Sat Oct 23 - to Vinales
Mon Oct 25 - to Cienfuegos
Tues Oct 26 - to Trinidad
Thurs Oct 28 - to Camaguey
Fri Oct 29 - to El Salton
Mon 31 Oct - to Santiago de Cuba
Tues 2 Nov - to Baracoa
Thurs 4 Nov - to Holguin
Fri 5 Nov - to Santa Clara Playa
Mon 8 Nov - to Santa Clara
Tues 9 Nov - to Havana and home
Our Other Holidays