slow train to guantanamo
the real cuba
Rail Historian/Educational & People to People Tour
February 19- March 3, 2018
GROUP SIZE 35
NEW POLICY REGARDING
TRAVEL TO CUBA
Under President Trump's new policy and restrictions for travel to Cuba only individual travel is effected and will no longer be allowed. All group travel to Cuba will not be effected and will still be allowed!
This tour is an in depth photo and educational study of the Cuban rail and transportation system and how it effects the Cuban culture and the people of this country. We will have two guides on this tour and on certain days the group will be split for special itinerary programs such as the rail historians and the transportation/culture historians plus people to people contact with the local Cubans . On days that we have arranged charter trains all tour members will be onboard or following by highway with our bus for trackside photos. On selective evenings we will have local Cuban railroad management and transportation experts present the challenges they face keeping the train wheels rolling in this county without the help of American technology since the early 1950's when the trade restrictions went into effect. The rail system of Cuba effects the everyday life of many Cubans and their economy. Railroad workshops throughout the country employ thousands of Cubans and we will have the opportunity to meet and talk with these rail workers when we visit these shops.
This tour will also appeal to those intrigued by many of the outlying places we visit and meet the local people, where the passage of time has been suspended. On rail we travel with diesel, steam and antique electric traction, and our own chartered vintage RDC Budd railcar. Additionally we will visit UNESCO heritage sites, see one of Cuba’s most distinctive anachronisms, roads full of 1950 classic American cars, look at cigar and rum production, and take to the countryside where the sugar harvest will be in full sway. The ‘zafra’ once employed fleets of American steam locomotives, many of which are preserved – we expect to see almost 200 of them, and make visits to where some of the locomotives are used for heritage operations. Come with us to Cuba before this country looses it’s fantastic time wrap! In fact things are already changing fast as Cuba tries to catch up to the rest of the world. Please keep in mind that our tour requires flexibility, as we must always be mindful of the laid back Latin way of doing things called “mañana” and the Soviet legacy. We will be accompanied throughout by our road coach, which will convey our luggage and undertake our transfers.
Day 1 Monday February 19:
Individual flights and arrivals in Havana and transfers to the four star luxury Hotel Mercure Sevilla in Old Havana, for check-in. Rest of the day and evening at your own leisure to explore Havana and relax. Since we have tour members flying in from all over the world , some with late arriving flights, we will not meet this evening.
Day 2 Tuesday February 20: (B,L)
We visit the Parque Agrimensores that has six ex-sugar steam locos displayed and a 15-inch gauge Cagney in steam. Next we move to the Cienaga engine sheds where another 15-inch Cagney will be in steam and giving rides to our group. Then we go to the Lenin Park which has a 3ft gauge railway with American-built steam locomotives which once worked in the sugar mills. The railway isn`t in an operable condition at this time but we will be shown around the engine sheds. Lunch will be taken at a convenient restaurant and then, in the afternoon, we visit a waterfront warehouse converted into a bazaar full of souvenir stalls. The warehouses used to be serviced by the Waterside Tram road, and several sugar industry locos are parked outside, one of which will be in steam and running along a section of the old Tram road for our inspection. Finally our bus will take us to the Cristina Railway Museum, with its interesting collection of USA-built steam engines from sugar mills around Cuba and diesel locomotives from various European manufacturers including the USSR which once belonged to the FCC national system. Once back at our hotel, you have a Free Evening to dine at the restaurant of your choice in historic Old Havana.
HAVANA HAS A LARGE VARIETY OF RAILROAD MUSEUM TO VISIT
Day 3 Wednesday February 21: (B,L,D)
Today we take Lunch Boxes from our hotel and cross over the bay to the Casa Blanca terminus of the Hershey Railway. But first we visit a near-by steel works which owns four Alco (American Locomotive Works) RS18 design diesels built by Montreal Locomotive Works in 1959 and acquired second hand from Canada. We have arranged to have one of them in operation for inspection by our group and even giving cab rides. Next we board the famous American built Hershey Railway antiquated electric line which built to deliver sugar to Havana for the Hershey Chocolate Company. Rolling stock used today is second-hand railcars from Spain. It may be possible to visit the Hershey Railway car sheds located at Hershey. This is a special arrangement that cannot be requested prior to the start of our tour. This is local permission that must be arranged one day in advance. If we do receive the permission to visit these workshops you will be able to view the Hershey Brill electric railcars and the GE built box cabs. At Matanzas, which is the end of the Hershey Railroad our bus will transfer us to Jaquey Grande where we visit the remains of the Australia Sugar Mill. We have arranged to have one of the steam locomotives fired up and in operation pulling our charter train out into the cane fields. At the end of the day we retire for the day at the all inclusive two star Playa Larga Resort near Varadero.
Day 4 Thursday February 22: (B,D)
First our bus will take us to the former José Smith Comas Mill, now a railway museum. We will have a steam train charter to the neighboring town of Cardenas. After Lunch we move on to Catorce de Julio Mill which is (or was) the last mill in Cuba hauling cane on a 2ft·6in gauge field railway, using USSR-built diesels. If the railway isn’t working, we will at least get into the engine shed. Then we go to Cienfuegos where there are four USA-built 2ft·6in gauge steam locos displayed at the old station that we will inspect. Check-in at the four star Jagua Hotel.
Visiting the Jose Smith Comas Sugar Mill and their railroad
Day 5 Friday February 23: (B,L,D)
oday we board our own special train, a single unit diesel RDC railcar built by the Budd Corporation in the United States in the 1950s. We cross from the south to the north coast, from Cienfuegos through Santa Clara to Caibarien. There will be beer and water and lunch boxes on board. Those who are not rail historians will be offered the option of detraining in Santa Clara, for a city tour which will include Ché Guevara’s Mausoleum and the Armoured Train Memorial Park (at the height of the revolutionary insurgency a government troop train was derailed and attacked near here, an important military success which led to the President fleeing the country). The Budd will continue to the amazing M.Salado museum of sugar industry steam locos. After a decent time to view the collection and talk to the Cuban staff , our bus takes us to the nearby Heriberto Duquesne Mill which still operates a 3ft gauge field railway using British-built locos. At the end of the day, everyone will meet up at the three star Hotel La Granjita in Santa Clara.
OUR RDC BUDD RAILCAR
The Marcelo Salado Museum is a steam lovers paradise
Day 6 Saturday February 24: (B,L,D)
We return to M.Salado for a steam train ride to Camajuaní, where we meet our charter RDC Budd railcar that will take us to Sancti Spiritus. There will be beer and water and Lunch Boxes on board the Budd. S.Spiritus is regarded as one of the oldest towns in Cuba and we have a brief city tour before going by bus to the four star Brisas Trinidad Del Mar Hotel.
Day 7 Sunday February 25: (B,L,D)
We plan to board the 9.30am Tourist Train which will take us to the former FNTA Mill which is now a railway museum. We have Lunch at nearby Manaca-Iznaga where we visit a former slave owner’s estate, and the tower he built so he could spy on the slaves who were running away, and eat in his colonial-style mansion. Then our bus will take us back to Trinidad, a finely preserved example of a Spanish colonial town and a UNESCO World Heritage site where we have a walking tour of the city center, although the rail historians may prefer to go to the station and ride the service railcar to Casilda (Trinidad’s port). 2nd night at the Brisas Trinidad Del Mar Hotel.
Day 8 Monday February 26: (B,T)
Our bus will take us back to S.Spiritus, where the Budd railcar has been waiting for us. In it we will travel to Morón, once the headquarters of the Cuban Northern Railroad; the town has a large locomotive works, and a handsome station building. Morón is the home of the 50901 Class G-8 American EMD built switchers built in 1955 and approaching 62 years old. This is the last place in all of Cuba/North America where the famous G-8 diesels are still hard at work everyday. Some of these diesels are very unique as they have been re-fitted with Baldwin motive power. These are the only American built Baldwin railroad power plants in Cuba. Also the remaining fleet of broken down Budd RDC railcars are based. This is where these railcars are made into a non-powered passenger cars. Additionally the Canadian GMD 1's are base here for heavy maintence. If all of this classic equipment was not enough the workshops are a partial roundhouse with an operating turntable. Oh, you will feel like you have stepped into a railroad yard in the United States in the mid 1950's. For the rail historian this is like letting you loose in a candy store. After our workshop visit we board a different railcar for transfer by rail to the former Patria sugar mill nearby, now a railway museum with several steam engines. One of these will be fired up and take us for a ride through the cane fields on what remains of the mill’s internal rail system. At the end of the line, at Rancho Palma, we will be served a Cuban-style afternoon tea (“merienda”) in a Cuban-style thatched barn. We return to Moron for Hotel check-in at the four star Hotel Morón.
Moron is where the classic American built EMD G-8's
are based, some with Baldwin power plants
Most passenger trains out of Moron are pulled by the G-8's with consists of American built heavy weight three axle passenger cars complete with operating RPO. Also some other trains are made up of non-powered RDC Budd cars now just being used as passenger coaches
The classic Moron roundhouse and turntable
Day 9 Tuesday February 27: (B,L,D)
Our RDC railcar takes us from Morón to Nuevitas, via the Brasil Mill, where we visit the sugar factory. Again there will be water and beer and lunch boxes on board. There are rumours the fireless locos which used to shunt the cane cars into the factory have been restored and, if Brasil is milling (it was in 2017), they will be able to charge them up with steam for us. Our bus will take us from Nuevitas to Manatí for a visit to the loco shed, hoping to find a couple of the USA-built diesels. These unique GE U6B built in 1959 are very rare. Our the bus then takes us to Guardalavaca where we will check-in to the all inclusive five star Playa Pesquero Resort.
Day 10 Wednesday February 28: (B,L,D)
Today we take you to the nearby Rafael Freyre mill, now a museum, with the remains of its 2ft·6in gauge railway system. There will be a steam engine working the yard and making up a special classic cane train for our group. After Lunch we charter one of their railcars for a ride to the end of the line. Return to our hotel for a 2nd night.
One of the highlights on this tour will be our visit to the Central Rafael Freyre Railroad
Central Rafael Freyre has a unique
home built railcar that we will charter
Day 11 Thursday March 1: (B)
Today we take our bus across the island, from Guardalavaca through Bayamo to Niquero, where we will visit the Roberto Ramírez Delgado Mill with its still-working 3ft gauge field railway. After Lunch, we return to Bayamo and check-in at the three star Hotel Sierra Meastra. On the way, we will stop at the Media Luna Mill for a visit to the engine shed and we plan on taking a ride on their railway.
Day 12 Friday March 2: (B,L,D)
Once again we board our Budd Car and continue eastwards, Bayamo—San Luis—Guantanamo—Manuel Tames. There will be water and beer on board, and lunch boxes. The M.Tames Mill isn`t working but is mothballed and ‘held in reserve’. It had a narrow gauge field railway and the locos are in the engine shed. We plan on visiting the workshops. Then our bus will take us to the four star Hotel Casagranda in Santiago de Cuba.
Day 13 Saturday March 3: (B)
Our bus will take us to the Santiago Airport for our 8:35am flight arriving in Havana at 9:50am. Our tour ends upon arrival back in Havana.
1. The Cuban authorities reserve the right to change any arrangements if circumstances should make it necessary, and we cannot promise that everything outlined above will be achieved. However, the Cubans are also good at offering an alternative and we will not have any “empty” days.
. This tour of Cuba goes off the beaten track and stays away from the tourist resorts. Some of the hotels we are assigned might not be of the same standard of other countries. People booking onto this tour are understood to have read these Disclaimers, and to accept the situation. We have always had a good time in Cuba but you need to remember thatsometimes things do not go exactly as planned!
3. There will be a special supplement to upgrade to a higher rated hotel in Havana to those that book early. The better hotel rooms in Havana are extremely limited at this time of the year so it will be first come first served.
all prices are per person
DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY$4,995
SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$695
DEPOSIT TO HOLD SPACE$1,500
FINAL PAYMENT DUE BY NOVEMBER 19 , 2017
TOUR CONDITIONS FOR 2018 **PLEASE READ CAREFULLY**
Tour Price: All tour prices are subject to change without notice, at any time. All prices based on double room occupancy. Those people that use a credit card for payments a 3% conveyance fee will be added to the tour price. We reserve the right to change tour prices if necessary without prior notice.