BACKPACKING IN CUBA

BACKPACKING IN CUBA

I think a lot of people have this destination on their bucketlist; Cuba. Now the borders are open with the US people are afraid the country will change fast and the authentic Cuba will disappear fast. I am the lucky one, because I can cross it of my list. Last November I went to Cuba for 17 days. My first trip outside Europe. Let me take you with me.

I have to be honest with you. Cuba wasn’t really on my list. Well actually all the countries that I haven’t seen yet are on my list. I want to see the whole world! But a friend of mine keeps a smaller bucketlist and Cuba was on it. In January 2015 she asked me if I was interested in joining here. Like I said I don’t really have a list so, as long as I haven’t been there, I am in! So that’s how it started. We decided to go in November due to best travel time and ticket prices. My retour ticket was around 650 euros and I bought it six months ahead. Same as my backpack and other travel gear, because it was my first backpack trip.

My travel friend came to visit me here in Barcelona in September, so we could plan our trip. Luckely we had the same interests and we had our travel schedule ready in less than one hour. The plan: Havana, Viñales, Las Terrazas, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santa Clara, Remedios, Cayo las Brujas and back to Havana. I think we saw quiet a lot in such a short time.

We stayed the first three days in Havana. A bit short, but we planned to have a few days more at the end of the holiday. It was strange to arrive in Havana. I saw so many pictures before, and than it was all real. I was in Havana! The other strange thing was that I arrived alone. My friend missed here flight, because the first plane was delayed and she missed the flight to Havana. Luckely she arrived the next day. Havana was cool. I really liked the atmosphere and the city. I enjoyed walking around and be part of it. We stayed here in a hostel which we booked before. After this experience I wouldn’t recommend it. A casa is cheaper and nicer if you like to have contact with the locals.

Than it was time to go to Viñales. To leave the big crowded city behind and enjoy some nature. We shared a taxi with two Spanish guys we met in the hostel and we arrived in the early afternoon in our casa. The owner was such a sweet women and the casa was beautiful. We wanted to see the surrounding by horse. I’m not really a horse riding type, but someone recommended this. The owner knew someone who offers this and I have to admit, it was really cool. We visit a river where we could swim, someone showed us how to roll cigars and the best for last, coffee! The farmer explained us the growing, harvesting and roasting process. Amazing. And I saw the arabica plant in real for the fist time.

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The next day we had a relaxing day at the beach of Cayo Jutias. Exactly what you expect from a beach in the Caribbean: blue water, white sand, palm trees and cocktails. The last day in Viñales we rent a bike and explored a bit and than it was time to leave. Up to Las Terrazas. If you plan to go here, make sure you have a reservation for a casa. We didn’t had one and this eco village was almost full. We ended up in a dirty not official casa. We didn’t felt very comfortable and we were happy we brought a sleeping bag. The things we did made up the bad casa. The nature, a small hike, swimming at a waterfall, awesome dinner in an eco restaurant and hanging around with the locals. Las Terrazas is a such a peaceful village.

We decided to go to Cienfuegos, but we didn’t do a lot here. We walked around a bit, but it was really hot here. We used the time to plan out the rest of our trip and we had dinner with two Dutch guys we met before in Viñales. The next day we took the bus to Trinidad. We had some problems with the casa so we decided to look for another one. Took some time, but eventually we found a nice casa. Next to that we also made a reservation for a hiking trip in Topes De Collanter next to Trinidad. After dinner we went to bed to have enough energy for the excursion. This excursion is one of my highlights of the Cuba trip

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The excursion we did outside Trinidad is one of my highlights. We went with a small group of six people and a very nice and sweet guide. We saw a lot. A beautiful view, a cave, a waterfall, different kind of plants. We had time for a swim and a small nice hike and there was coffee in the end.

A little tired of the party in the cave and enough Cuba libres, we followed our trip to Santa Clara. We just visit this city for the monument of Ché. The city is not beautiful at all. Don’t know If I would go there again. The casa on the other hand was perfect. From Santa Clara we took a bus to Remedios. The original plan was to stay at one the beautiful beaches in the North. Eventually we realized that all the beaches are full of expensive hotels and most of them were fully booked. We decided to stay in Remedios (where absolutely nothing happens) and shares a taxi to Cayo las Brujas. It was a day well spend on this beach. Unfortunately the next day the weather was bad. It rained all day, so we were stuck in our casa. We just relaxed, read some books and did some drawing and writing (life without WiFi). The next day we took a taxi back to Santa Clara and from there a bus to Havana.

These last days we just relaxed, enjoyed the city and some good food. We stayed in two really nice casas with the most friendly people in the world. They stay forever in my heart.

Cuba might not be your first choice for a backpack adventure, but I can recommend the country of Ché. It’s up to you if you come here for the history or just to enjoy the island. My friend was more interested in the history. She was reading about it before the trip and during the trip. I, on the other hand, was more interested in the culture, the landscapes and the coffee. The daily life in Cuba and how I would fit in.  I wouldn’t recommend Cuba if you don’t speak a word of Spanish. It makes it less interesting, more difficult and maybe even more expensive.

Don’t expect a cheap holiday. Cuba changed a lot already and it was more expensive than we expected. It will be a more luxueus backpack trip than if you compare it to Asia. Sleeping in nice places and quit good tranfers.
I’m looking back with a smile on my face. This trip took a place in my heart. My first long trip, my first backpack, all the people I’ve met and all the coffee I have seen. Muchas gracias!



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