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: (D)
Individual arrivals in Havana and transfer to our hotel for check-in. Rest of the day at your own leisure. In the evening we meet for dinner and introduction to our staff and guides.
Day 2 Tuesday February 20: (B,D)
Our first morning commences with a guided walking tour of Old Havana. We include Gran Teatro, Capitolio, Floridita, Obispo, Castillo de la Real, Catederal, Plaza de Armas, Coche Mambi, etc. and all of the significant sites of old Havana before lunch (not included). After we continue to Antiguos Almacenes San José where 5 steam locomotives are preserved and with an opportunity to visit a motor museum (self pay). Late afternoon we hope to have a Steam Train working along Ave del Puerto from Termial de Ferris to Iglesia de Paula and complete our program at the nearby New Port Avenue Brewery!
Day 3 Wednesday February 21: (B,L,D)
Today we visit Central and La Coubre Stations with the adjacent steam loco depot. We have requested to take our railcar from La Coubre Station (Central closed for refurbishment) to nearby Luyanó with an option by bus, to photograph our charter under the elevated railway leading to Central Station. Our bus meets us at Luyanó, for the short distance to Cristina Railway Museum. From Luyanó we continue by rail to the attractive Bejucal Station, terminal of Havana’s first railway, for a small railway artifact museum. Then our bus will continue to Parque Lenin locomotive shed to look at the steam engines. Finally it’s to Cienaga and the 19 November stations (we view through the fence at the Cienaga Workshops.
The Parque Lenin Railroad near Havana
Day 4 Thursday February 22: (B,L,D)
We commence with a demonstration of the cigar making and an explanation of the origin of coffee with a chance to sample both! Then, we go to the Havana Club Museum, with its magnificent model railway and a chance to sample rum! We then cross over the bay to the Casa Blanca terminus of the Hershey Railway for the train just after midday. This antiquated electric line was built to deliver sugar to Havana for the Hershey Chocolate Co., but 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 there will be time to visit the two other railway stations before continuing on to Varadero on our charter bus and check in ate the all-inclusive Barcelo Solymar Resort.
Havana Club Model Railroad
Above photos of the Hershey Railroad's electric equipment at the main workshops
Day 5 Friday February 23: (B,L,D)
Today we plan two steam charter trains. We first transfer to the sugar mill of Jose Smith Comas near Cardenas where a number of steam locomotives are nicely preserved. This is now a nice operating railroad museum. Our charter train returns behind steam to Cardenas, and onwards with a small amount of street running on the town’s derelict rum factory branch. Lunch is at a hacienda before we then pay a visit to the Central Australia mill for yet another charter steam excursion to a banana plantation. There will be opportunities for photos and to run the steam locomotives. We then return to the main Cuban freeway on our bus for the trip to Santa Clara, where time may permit a visit the railway station and its facilities prior to arrival at our hotel.
Visiting the Jose Smith Comas Sugar Mill and their railroad
Day 6 Saturday February 24: (B,L,D)
We commence our day with a transfer north-east past the city of Remedios to Caibarien where there located a coach and railcar repair yard and workshops. The Cuban government will not allow any groups to enter this yard and workshops but we can view it all from public property and take photos through the fence. We then travel to the sugar mill of Marcelo Salado which is now been made into the Museo de Vapor (Museum of Steam). Here that is a large collection of steam locomotives. We have a charter steam excursion planned. We have lunch in the central square of the colonial city of Remedios. After lunch we travel to nearby Central Herberito Duquesne sugar mill, where British-built narrow gauge diesel locomotives are expected to be hard at work bringing in the sugar cane from the fields. We then transfer to beautiful Sancti Spiritus, one of Cuba’s oldest towns, for a brief city visit en route to our hotel, Los Laureles .
The Marcelo Salado Museum is a steam lovers paradise
Day 7 Sunday February 25: (B,L,D)
This morning we plan on riding and linesiding a midmorning scheduled regular train to Tunas de Zaza. You can either ride this train or follow it for photos. Next we travel to Manaca Ignaza and, if operating, those who wish can ride the Tourist Train to Trinidad station through the Sugar Mills’ Valley. This train is pulled by steam. Alternatively, one continues to extraordinary Trinidad by bus, for a walking tour before regrouping again at the station where we will try and take a ride on an antiquated railbus on the Casilda branch. After our railbus ride we will stop at a local bar to sample a popular local special drink made from honey. We then return to Sancti Spiritus and our hotel.
Day 8 Monday February 26: (B,L,D)
This morning we board our chartered RDC Budd car at the Sancti Spiritus station. During our journey we will make a stop at Jatibonico to observe some sugar plantation rail action at Central Uruguay sugar mill then continue to Ciego de Avila. Here we board our waiting bus which will take us to the north end of the city to visit the locomotive depot. After our visit to have lunch then return to the main station to reboard our waiting RDC Budd railcar. As we head north towards the city of Moron we make a stop at the Central Ciro Redondo sugar mill to photograph their plantation trains, then continue on to Moron. Here we plan to get off of our Budd car and board our waiting steam charter which will take us to Central Patria O Murte, a former and very welcoming sugar mill with a railway museum, and many preserved locomotives. We expect to be given some of their home-produced alcoholic potion (Oh Boy!!) before continuing to the end of their line. We round off our day with a visit to the Moron workshops of the FCC, which is the home terminal to a fleet of classic American built EMD G-8 road switchers which are now over 50 years old. Some of these diesels are very unique as they have been re-fitted with Baldwin motive power. Also the remaining fleet of Budd RDC railcars are based here. Once these railcars develop a major mechanical problem they are made into a non-powered passenger car. Additionally the Canadian GMD 1's are base here for heavy maintance. If all of this classic equipment was not enough the workshops are a partial roundhouse with an operating turntable. After our workshop visit we check into the four star Hotel Moron.
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)
This morning we reboard our Budd railcar and head for the city of Camaguey. Departing here we will go slowly past the workshops of which the former USSR diesel locomotives are based here. At Las Tunas, we leave our railcar and hope we can connect with one of the local street railcars, following which we transfer north to the Manati Railroad. This is a local rail system operating a Brill Railcar. Our day is completed by transfer to an all-inclusive resort near the town of Rafael Freyre for two nights.
Day 10 Wednesday February 28: (B,L,D)
We visit Central Rafael Freyre, a charming narrow gauge former sugar system which continues to operate a public passenger service. In the morning, we hope to travel to Potrerillo at the end of the west branch by a unique railbus. We will return to our resort for lunch. In the afternoon, we return and wish to travel as far as possible with a steam charter train on the east branch to Altuna and beyond.
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,L,D)
In the morning we transfer by our bus to Holguin Station to reboard our Budd railcar, which by now will have turned on the ‘wye’. We plan to pause at Caocum Junction to watch and photograph the train activity and then travel to Julio Antonio Mella for transfer to visit an active working sugar mill photographing the sugar cane trains. We then continue on our Budd car down the long steep hill to Santiago de Cuba. Before checking into our hotel we take you on a brief city tour. Santiago is the cultural music and dance ‘capital’ of Cuba.
Day 12 Friday March 2: (B,L,D)
We transfer to Combinado to board our Budd car at the top of the steep grade above Santiago and then ride on to Guantanamo. Then, we transfer to a local Brill car and take the it out on the Caimanera branch, past salt pans into a restricted area close to the American Naval Base border. We take lunch at a hotel in Caimanera where we can look across to Boqueron, on the other side of the bay. We then return to Santiago by bus.
Our charter Brill Railcar on
the Caimanera Branch
Day 13 Saturday March 3: (B,L,D)
This morning we fly back to Havana. Afternoon flights back to the USA. If you would like to spend a few extra days in Havana we can arrange lodging for you.
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.
2. 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$1,500
FINAL PAYMENT DUE BY NOVEMBER 19 , 2017
EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT EXPIRES JULY 31, 2017 ($-250)
TOUR CONDITIONS FOR 2017 **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.