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Cuba in January

Original Post
Gwen Abbott Asmussen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

Looking to go Jan 14-21.  I've been searching for all sorts of ways to get there from the states.  What have you all found is the best way there and also easiest way to get to the crags?  I found a small blog about hiring a private car because the buses are unreliable or full and renting a car is really expensive.

ambershoey · · Denver · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 0

Hi! I went to Vinales to climb about two years ago. I flew into Mexico City, bought tickets to Havana with cash, no issues. From Havana I took a bus to Vinales and back to again, both times there were no issues. For what it’s worth, I heard that it might be a little cheaper to fly to Puerto Vallarta, then to Havana, but I can’t confirm this. There’s a downloadable topo guide, you can walk to most of the crags right from Vinales. 

Jackie Sweet · · Burlington, VT · Joined May 2015 · Points: 35

@ambershoey did they stamp your passport from mexico to cuba?

Garrett Margolis · · Los Angeles · Joined Aug 2017 · Points: 0

Cuba Beta- Visited for 2 weeks in April 2016. We exchanged all of our cash for Euro's in the US. Flew in from Cancun and exchanged all Euro's into CUC upon arrival outside the airport in la Habana. The airline out of mexico will sell you a $25 travel visa to get into Cuba, no problem. The locals in Havana will literally take you by the hand and find you a place to stay if you are open to the experience. From Havana our host set us up in a cab to the bus stop which runs from Havana to Vinales (Via Azul?? I think). At the bus stop we negotiated a private car with a German couple that drove us directly to the main drag in Vinales, no busses. Climbing was great, no hassles, no crowds, a few questionable quicklinks and sharp fixed gear, so we bailed on a handful of slings and old biners on some anchors but was probably unnecessary. Our passports were stamped, faintly at that, but there's honestly nobody employed at any airport in the US with the responsibility of screening mexican flights for cuban visitors. Customs in MEX were more concerned about the contents of our chalk bags than the rum bottles lining our packs. Don't stress it. And make sure to tell all your friends that it was a difficult, dangerous, and unpleasant trip overall. There are still very few american tourists in the country, and even fewer climber tourists, and you will have a selfish sense that you would like to keep it that way.

FYI, you can purchase internet access everywhere you go, not all of your websites will work though. Bring all the cash you need, there are ATM's outside of banks but american bank accounts will not link up to them, so don't fuck that part up. Learn some spanish, it will make life easier. Make friends with Raul at Raul's farm, you will pass through his archway at the gates of the park. 

ambershoey · · Denver · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 0

@Jackie Sweet Yeah, they stamped leaving Mexico, but when I got to Havana customs asked if I wanted a stamp and I said no, so they didn't stamp my passport. No one mentioned anything about my random Mexican exit stamp on the way back into the US. Like Garrett Margolis said, bring cash, learn a little Spanish, and definitely stop at Raul's farm. When we were there, credit/debit cards didn't work. I've heard this has changed, but I wouldn't risk it. I speak ok Spanish, so never really had an issue, but if you don't, getting by anywhere outside of Havana might be a little more difficult. Raul's farm is great.. While the climbing was amazing, the best part of each day was stopping at Raul's on the way back from the crag and having a mojito and a hand-rolled cigar. 

Grant Kendrick 1 · · Northampton, Massachusetts · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 0

You've probably already found it, buts lots of good information on Climbcuba and bolts4cuba websites.  I'm going in a couple weeks, flying from the US on Southwest.  One of the catagories for legal travel, "Support for the Cuban People", seems to fit the definition of a climbing trip, particularly if you bring gear to donate to help with the development of climbing in the country.

Jackie Sweet · · Burlington, VT · Joined May 2015 · Points: 35

@ambershoey cool thanks for the info, I've heard the biggest potential issue is having a cuban stamp but if it's optional then I guess it's all set. Sounds like you had a great trip!

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