We just returned from the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival this weekend. One of the vendor booths was for an international travel company selling spectacularly expensive, guided, group tours. Their brochure, full of colour photos of enticing destinations, is stunning. And throughout, the word “adventure” appears with wallpaper frequency.
Flipping through the brochure, we couldn’t help but shake our heads in dismay.
Is it really an adventure if everything is organized in advance for you? If you’re making none of the consequential decisions? If you’re sheltered among a group of well-to-do westerners much like yourself? If a guide is leading you?
Perhaps, if you’re mountain climbing or backcountry skiing. But if you’re simply traveling? No, it is not an adventure. It’s daycare for adults in exotic locales.
You want a travel adventure? Plan it and do it yourself. Most of the world is far more accommodating of independent travelers than tour companies would have you believe.
Prime example: Cuba. A couple winters ago, we took our bicycles to Cuba and rode across much of the island in five weeks.
We cycled from Havana, west to Vinales. Then we caught a bus back to Havana and on to Santa Clara. From there, we cycled through central Cuba and visited the UNESCO World Heritage town of Trinidad. Our favourite region was the three-day stretch along the south coast, between Montezuma and Santiago de Cuba.
It was a magnificent experience, sometimes challenging but always rewarding, because figuratively as well as literally we were self-propelled.
Exploring Cuba by bike is possible for anyone who’s athletically fit, reasonably adaptable and, yes, adventurous. If you’re intrigued, click on “Free” in the menu bar of this website. Under “Free Articles,” click on “Bicycle Cuba: They’ll Love You For It.”
That’s the article we wrote about our Cuba trip. It was originally published in the Calgary Herald travel section. Read it now. Winter is the time to go to Cuba.