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Cuba January 2022


Dave Williams
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This will be the briefest TR of all time I think!

We tested the water for travel last November with a package tour to the Canary Island Fuerteventura. All went well other than the fact I couldn't hire a car for reasons I won't bore you with so movement around the island was limited to one trip on a public bus which we decided wasn't worth repeating. We chose a package tour with the UK based TUI who have their own fleet of planes so we were comfortable that if everything went pear shaped they would fly us home again. We had heard stories from friends who were left stranded in far flung places at the outbreak of Covid despite their trips being ATOL protected by the agents that booked them because they were tailor made trips using scheduled airlines and the airlines just cancelled the return flights. Incidentally I'm not talking obscure airlines either, these were the biggest players!

Something to bear in mind when you organise your trips anywhere!

Anyway, the hassle of filling in forms and getting tested went well for Fuerteventura so we decided to investigate options for some winter sun and the best deal we came up with was Cuba , again with TUI. Two weeks all inclusive worked out at £2300 for the two of us. We have been to Cuba before, in 2016 to be precise. Back then Thomas Cook was offering flights to 4 or 5 locations in Cuba. We opted for flight only and organised a hire car ( not without it's problems!) and toured the island staying in Casa Particulars (B&B's). If you want a taste of what Cuba offered then you can read a more lengthy trip report here

:-https://davewilliamsnaturephotography.blogspot.com/2016/02/cuba-self-drive-januaryfebruary-2016.html

 

At this moment in time the only option TUI offer besides flights are package tours to Veradaro. By luck the one area we didn't visit last time was the very far west including the capital Havana. Veradaro suited us even if "all inclusive" isn't my first port of call when looking at holidays. The majority of the hotels on offer where all on the same stretch of white sandy beach to the east of Veradaro however there was one exception.

Memories Jibacoa!

An hour away from the main tourist area, also an hour closer to Havana. On the beach but surrounded by wooded hillside. Beyond just agricultural land. Alongside one other hotel and several campsites. In January the campsites are empty. 

For wife Claire sunshine and a sun bed.  Box ticked.

For me, plenty of opportunity to wander with my camera and hunt out the local birdlife. I was also lucky to hook up with a local named Hulio who was quick to tell me he wasn't a pro guide but he organised some inexpensive trips to go birding a bit further afield, twice by car and once in a horse and carriage! He also organised a trip to visit Havana which I would highly recommend, and went walkabout with me locally several times. His sharp eyes and local knowledge were invaluable to me. I ended up photographing 50 species of birds so my time was suitably filled. We had 11 out of 14 sunny days so Claire's time was well filled too. The hotel was excellent value and I probably intend returning.

Cuba has severe financial problems but the hotels still manage to produce a good choice of food and drink. Once again, despite my attempt I couldn't hire a car. there were simply none available but to be honest it didn't really matter, I fared just as well without, and besides the trip to Havana would not have compared if I'd gone DIY instead of the 1957 Pontiac with guide and driver!

 

IMG_4754.JPG.4ac08c4581063057c79a9d52f9c04291.JPGIMG_4755.JPG.9fc7ff06d30f421ab0a84783812d56d4.JPGIMG_4762.JPG.3d3b196cd998c7a39d2c546ccbee78df.JPG

 

Anyway I won't add any pictures but if you want to see what birds I saw, I have added them to my 2022 BY and there are a few more images on my Flickr pages too.

Click on the photo to see more!

Cuba 2022

 

 

Any other questions feel free to ask!

cheers

Dave

 

Edited by Dave Williams
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wow that car :).

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23 minutes ago, wilddog said:

wow that car :).

 

Cars do little for me but I have to say I was in awe of the condition this 1957 car was in. Absolutely pristine, so much so when I got out of the car feeling guilty I insisted on shaking the foot mat in front of my seat where I had deposited a few pieces of gravel It was a lovely comfortable ride too!

In truth there are a few modifications to the original like the replacement Mercedes diesel engine but unless you were told the only thing you'd notice is the flashing indicator LED's built in to the wing mirrors!

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The car and the owl are stunning.

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what a cool car and in a spectacular colour! would love to drive one, except that it's probably manual driving, and i'm dead in waters in a manual. 

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