Relations between Cuba and the U.S. have been warming, and as they do the barriers to U.S. travel in Cuba have been eroding. Although trade with Cuba is still officially banned, travel has become much easier since January 2015, when the Obama administration expanded the categories of authorized travel to the Caribbean island nation from just a few to 12. Of particular importance is the “educational activities” category.
Tourism, strictly speaking, is still forbidden, but the expanded categories incorporate huge gray areas of wiggle room that make it much easier to travel to Cuba for essentially tourist-type activities. This opens the door for interested Americans to participate in small tours such as the Cuba on Classic & Modern Bikes tour being organized by Eligio Arturi at Mototouring in Milan, Italy.
An old Russian Ural on the streets of Havana, Cuba. Old socialist bikes like this are going to be a common sight during the Cuba motorcycle tour this December. Photo by Joshua Withers
The tour starts Dec. 27, 2016, and will certainly be educational, taking motorcycle enthusiasts on an 18-day trip covering the length and width of Cuba. It will start and end in Havana, with stops in Santa Clara, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba and Playa Santa Lucia, just to name a few. Arturi is no stranger to Cuba, having travelled there many times. Unlike the U.S., Italy has no sanctions against Cuba, and travel to Cuba has been routine for Europeans for years.
We took part in Mototouring’s 2014 Benelli Vintage Tour in Pesaro, Italy, and this year’s Isle of Man tour for the 2016 Classic TT (look for our story next issue), both great adventures that underscored Arturi’s love for adventure and meeting new people, requisite qualities for any successful traveler. Arturi has lead riders on tours around the world, including New Zealand, South America, Central America, Africa, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam.
However, getting to Cuba is still a bit of an iffy proposition for Americans. Flights from the U.S. are currently limited to Santa Clara only. That’s set to change in November or December, but an exact date has yet to be announced for when the 10 U.S. airlines given tentative approval for flights to Havana can actually initiate limited flights. That will be an important step, because when it happens travel to Cuba will be significantly simplified, making a tour to Cuba — once unthinkable in any capacity, much less by motorcycle — a reality. We’re looking into touring Cuba with Arturi in the near future, but if you’re ready to go now go to mototouring.com to learn more. MC