We took the Via Azul bus to Baracoa, expecting to take a bus out again. We were informed by Havanatur that the buses were all full until the middle of the next week - no great surprise, as we had been warned about the problems of getting out of Baracoa by bus in our guide. However, we remain sceptical of this, as we never travelled on a full Via Azul bus, even when we were told we had the last tickets.
Anyway, we hired a car to drive to Gibara, near Holguin, which seemed preferable to going through Santiago again. Be warned that it is do-able, but very poor quality. The journey took us from 9am to 7pm, with no stops, and there seems to be nowhere to stay between the 2 places.
I arrived in Baracoa by plane from Havana. No-one at the Havana airport spoke English so unless your Spanish is good, expect some confusion. BTW a bici-taxi driver will happily take you the 4 kms between Baracoa and the airport if you prefer that to a regular taxi.
I left by taxi to Guantanamo (he asked 50 CUC and I didn't argue) and from by train from Guantanamo to Matanzas (28.50 CUC). Viazul is cheaper than a taxi but the taxi trip was great as I managed to converse with the driver.
The train from Guantanamo was, as I was warned, not intended for tourists. Late due to the breakdown that I was told to expect. Dirty, smelly, 20 hours. Bathrooms unlit and utterly filthy. The Cubans on board, of course, were mostly gracious. I'm actually glad I took that train because the point of my trip was to see Cuba, not to see tourists. But if you do decide to return west by train, take the Tren Francis from Santiago.
What an experience - the most easiest way to get to Baracoa - my Paradise.
Yes, by plane - cost one way, 185 dollars
From Santiago to Bara, only 25 minutes.
From Habana to Bara (via Santiago de Cuba)
about 3 hours and this last for 185 us dollars.
People getting to Baracoa in the east can confirm how hard it is to get there by car or bus.
Since the end of the cold war there has been a down-sizing and changing role of the Cuban military. They started to self-finance by doing some arms manufacturing and agriculture. Now they have joint ventures in the tourist industry including rentals, hotels and transportation. Here is one of their websites for their car rental services:
Gaviota also offersecotours of Baracoa area:
Each day 7 30 in the morning, via azul bus leaves santiago for its five hour journey to Baracoa. it returns from baracoa at 230 arriving back in Santiago at 7 pm. Via Azul connects with its santiago Habana and Santiago trinidad services
Bicycle is the best form to get around Baracoa. But there are numerous BICITAXIS which are bicycles with a seat attached to carry one to two passengers. or as the picture shows there are innovations of bicycle and transportation for another
On the picture a normal street scénary of transportation - the bus ( say truck) will get soon overcrowded - people has to wait a long time before they get to their destination.
Getting around in Baracoa - make your choice
by bike/horse taxi - private taxi or official tourist busses.
The roads most of the time hard, but so special in a scénary of pure nature
Visit the Centre by local transport !
It is cheap (1 US dollar-single) and the bike driver is just waiting for you to pick you up the time you want and get you back to your hotel.!
The best and nicest way to reach Baracoa is from Gunatanamo. It takes more or less 3 hours to reach Baracoa, 1 hour just to pass the 30 km long but outstanding nice Farola.