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  • Cuba of a glance

    History: It was discovered by Christopher Columbus on October 27th, 1492. Conquest and colonization brought about the extermination of the aboriginal inhabitants, and then they brought blacks from Africa as slaves. This mixture defined Cuban population and culture. On October 10th, 1868 began the struggle for independence against Spain, whose domination was kept for four centuries. The United States intervened in the conflict and established a pseudo republic in 1902 until January 1st, 1959, when the Revolution led by Fidel Castro triumphed, bringing in essential transformations for the country.

    State and Government: The National Assembly of People´s Power (Parliament) is the State's supreme power, represented by the Council of State, between session periods; and with representation at provincial, municipal and circumscription levels. The Council of Ministers is the supreme executive and administrative organ and constitutes the government of the Republic of Cuba.

    Political-Administrative Division and Main cities: The country is divided into 14 provinces and a special municipality. The most important cities according to their economic development and population are: Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Santa Clara, Holguín, Camagüey, Cienfuegos, Matanzas, Pinar del Río, Ciego de Ávila, Bayamo and Guantánamo.

    National Symbols: The Flag - It was first raised in the city of Cárdenas (Matanzas Province), when in 1850 a group of insurrectionist took up arms against the Spanish colonial power. The three blue stripes represent the departments that the Island was divided into at that time. The two white stripes evoke the purity in the intentions for independence of our people. The equilateral triangle stands for freedom, equality and fraternity. Its red colour is the announcement of the blood that would be necessary to shed in order to achieve our independence. The white and lone star is the symbol of absolute freedom. When the War of Independence started on October 10th, 1868, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes ordered another flag with a different design; that one now stands next to the national emblem during sessions of the Cuban Parliament. The Coat of Arms It is shaped like an oval shield. Its upper section portrays a golden key that symbolizes Cuba's key position between the two Americas, therefore the name "The Key to the Gulf". The rising sun stands for the emergence of a new nation. The three blue stripes, separated by two white ones, represent the departments that Cuba was divided into, during the colonial period. The Royal Palm that appears in the third space or quarter represents the noble and serene firmness of the Cuban people. National Anthem - It was the patriot Perucho Figueredo who composed, in 1867, the music of the Anthem. Later, in 1868, when the independence forces seized the city of Bayamo (Granma Province), Figueredo himself wrote the lyrics: People of Bayamo, up on arms to go into battle for the Homeland contemplates you with proud Fear not a glorious death, for dying for the Homeland is like living. To remain in chains is to live in dishonour and vile subjugation O, hark to the call of your nation take up arms, all ye brave sons, The National Flower The White Mariposa or Butterfly Lily (Hedychium Coronarium Koenig). An endemic jasmine species used by the Cuban women in the wars of independence to pass messages on to the battlefields. It symbolizes purity, rebelliousness and independence. It grows in humid places as river banks and lagoons, but it is also cultivated in yards and gardens of many Cuban houses. National Tree - It is the Royal Palm. Although it is not indigenous of Cuba, it is present in the country's whole landscape.

    Cuban archipelago extends itself on the north of the central and west Caribbean Sea and closes the great Antilles arch. Due to its high biological diversity and endemic flora and fauna, besides its high historical and patrimonial values, 35 protected areas, seven national parks, six Ramsar wetland sites, six world Biosphere Reserves and nine sites that have been proclaimed World Heritage are worth mentioning.

    Climate: In relation to its geographical position and location, in Cuba a tropical climate with humid maritime influence is predominant. Average annual temperature is 25,4º C and 26º C in the eastern region.

    Flora and fauna: In the Cuban archipelago there are not dangerous animals or plants. It is considered a real habitat mosaic that allows the development of a great biodiversity, among the best varied, preserved and attractive in the Caribbean. Among the many species registered there are 963 fish, 1100 crustaceans, 350 birds and 1468 mollusks. Some species, very-well known for their small size are also registered; among them we have the Cuban little frog (eleutherodactylus iberia), the butterfly bat (Matalus lepidus) and the world´s smallest hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae). Cuban flora is considered one of the richest insular floras in the world, with 4% of all the species reported on the planet.

    Population: More than eleven million inhabitants make up Cuban population, in a peculiar Spanish, African and Asian race mixture.

    Language: Spanish is the official language.

    Currency: Peso is the national currency, with the equivalence of 100 cents. There are 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pesos notes in circulation. There are 1 and 3 pesos coins and 1, 2, 5 and 20 cents coins. There is also the Peso Cubano Convertible (CUC) in circulation, which is exchanged for foreign currencies according to the officially established exchange rates.

Info very important, travel´s tips and more

Cellular Mobile Telephony in Cuba

In Cuba you can bring your phone there is a wide coverage to customers of any operator with which CUBACEL have roaming agreements, you will be automatically active service since arriving in Cuba, if the client is POSTPAID and is active with its attendant International Roaming service, and if the terminal you use is compatible with the characteristics of our network, ie that supports the 900 MHz band, upon arriving in Cuba and turn on your phone, this should be recorded in our network automatically and display at 368-01 display / CU-CCOM / CUBACEL, depending on your phone settings. But, in case of failure to achieve automatic registration, indicate the visitor to perform manual network selection through the phone menu options. For more information visit www.cubacel.cu

When is better to travel to Cuba?

Low season: May 1-Jun 30 & Sept 1-Oct 31

High demand for Christmas and New Year at Nov-Dec

Camaguey Carnival (San Juan - Saint John festivities) June 23-29. Book a casa now

Santiago de Cuba Festival of Fire July 2-8 - Popular Carnival July 18-26. Book a casa now

Havana Carnival August 1-30. Book a casa now

Baracoa 500th Anniversary Party August 1- 7. Book a casa now

Cienfuegos Carnival August 1- 7. Book a casa now

Remedios Carnival (Famous Parrandas) December 19-24. Book a casa now

Best time to visit

Hot, sub-tropical climate all year. Most rain falls between May and October and the hurricane season officially runs from July to November, with most storms historically occurring in October and November. Humidity varies between 75% and 95%. Cooler months are January to April when the least rain falls.

Required clothing: lightweight clothes most of the year; the high humidity makes it unwise to wear synthetics close to the skin. A light sweater is advisable even during the hottest months for installations with air conditioning (e.g. the Viazul bus which is always frigid) and a heavier sweater or jacket for December through March when cold fronts can drop the mercury to 10 degrees Celsius. Light waterproofs are advisable all year round.

General info about Cuba. Regulations, traveler information and more.

Cuba Information

Located at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, The Republic of Cuba is actually an archipelago comprised by the Isle of Youth (a special municipality) and 4 195 keys and islets for a total area of 110 860 Km2. Its neighboring countries are Haiti, United States, Jamaica and Mexico.

The weather is always mellow in Cuba. This hospitable and multi-ethnic country is blessed with a sunny tropical climate and a mean annual temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. The average temperature in summer is 27 degrees C and 21 degrees in winter. December, January and February are the coolest months while July and August are the warmest.

Official name: Republic of Cuba.

Capital: Havana City, with a population of 2´ 200, 000 inhabitants.

Official language: Spanish.

Area: 110,860 Km2 (42, 843 square miles)

Population: 11´ 200, 000 inhabitants. (Demographic density =101 inhabitants x Km2).

Ethnic Composition: 60% Spanish descendents, 22% mulattos and mixed, 11% African descendents and 1% Chinese descendents.

National Holiday: January 1st

National Anthem: Himno de Bayamo (Hymn of Bayamo) by Perucho Figueredo).

Religion: 47% Catholics, 4% Protestants, 2% Santeria and other African cults also practiced by many Catholics.

Political regimen: Socialist Republic.

Head of State and Government: Raúl Castro.

GDP: $ 20 billions USD.

PIB per capita: $USD 1.786

Annual growth: 2.5%.

Leading industries: Sugar, mining, tobacco, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and tourism.

Leading Trade Partners: Western Europe, Latin America, Russia, China.

Currency: Cuban peso (CUP) and the freely convertible Cuban peso (CUC).

Political-Administrative Division: Cuba is divided into 15 provinces and a special municipality Isle of Youth (formerly Isle of Pines).

Climate: Sub-tropical and humid, with two distinctive seasons: dry (winter) from November through April and rainy (summer) from May through October. The mean annual temperature is 25° C, with an average of 20º C in winter and 26-27º C in summer.

Immigration Regulations

All visitors must show a valid passport in his/her name, stamped with a visa issued by a Cuban embassy or consulate abroad or a Tourist Card, except in the case of citizens from countries that have subscribed visa exemption agreements with Cuba.

When traveling by sea, crew members must notify Cuban authorities before entering national jurisdictional waters (12 nautical miles from the island shelf). Communications with the Cuban authorities can be established through channel HF (SSB) 2760 of the National Costal Network and 2790 of the Tourist Network or via VHF through channel 68 for the National Costal Network or Channel 16 for the Tourist Network.

Customs Regulations

Tourists are not required to fill-in the customs declaration. The import of narcotics, pornography or fire arms is prohibited, except in cases of duly authorized individuals traveling to Cuba for sport hunting.

Tourists may bring in personal effects, jewels, cameras, camcorders, sports and camping equipment, two bottles of alcoholic beverages, one carton of cigarettes and up to 22 pounds (10 kg) of medicine.

Articles up to a value of $250.00 USD can be imported, of which $50.00 are duty free and the remaining $200.00 will be levied a 100% tax.

The amount of money in cash that travelers may bring in is unlimited. However, travelers are advised to declare sums over $5,000 USD in order to be able to take out a similar or greater amount, since they will be required to present the relevant customs declaration form.

When leaving the country, travelers can export up to 23 Cuban cigars (Resolution No. 41-2003 in force since October 8, 2003). Purchases of more than 23 and less than 2,000 cigars must be accompanied by the relevant receipt. Purchases of more than 2,000 cigars must be carried out in stores designated by Habanos S.A. specifically for this purpose.

The export of Works of arts or antiques must be accompanied by a permit issued by the National Artworks Register under the Patrimony Division of the Ministry of Culture.

When leaving the country, travelers must pay an airport tax of 25.00 cuc (convertible Cuban pesos).

Sanitary Regulations

Sanitary regulations apply only in the case of visitors arriving from regions where yellow fever and cholera are endemic or have been declared infected areas by the World Health Organization, in which case they are required to show an International Vaccination Certificate.

The import of products produced from animals or plants is prohibited.

Domestic animals or pets entering Cuba require special arrangements such as the presentation of vaccination and health certificates

US Citizens

US citizens traveling to Cuba should be aware that: Like other visitors, US citizens require a passport valid for at least 6 months upon the date of entry to Cuba. The laws of the United States prohibit American citizens from traveling to Cuba without a license issued by the Department of Treasury. Those who nonetheless decide to travel to Cuba must do so through a third country, usually Canada, Mexico or Bahamas

US citizens do not require a visa. However they must present a document called Tourist Card which can be obtained in the Cuban Embassy in another country or through a travel agency when traveling via Canada, México o Bahamas, or at the airport in Cancun.

Your passport WILL NOT BE STAMPED by Cuban Immigration authorities, however, your tourist card will be stamped and therefore you are required to present it upon departure.

Migration and Customs regulations

Persons traveling to Cuba should bear a valid passport with the relevant visa or tourist card issued by a travel agent or by the Cuban Consulate in the country of origin. Customs Offices at the 11 international airports in the country use the internationally renowned Red Channel and Green Channel system. Personal effects are allowed in the country duty-free. Tourists can also import new or used articles for a value up to $250.00 CUC. Articles under $50.00 CUC are allowed in duty-free. Travelers shall pay tax equal to 100% of the value of articles over %50.00 CUC. Although the amount of freely convertible currency that can be imported to the country either in cash, bank transfers, checks and in other forms of payment is unlimited, travelers who import -for the purpose of re-exporting- money or effects for a value of more than $5, 000 (five thousand) CUC, shall fill-in a Customs Declaration Form. The import-export and consumption of drugs and narcotics is prohibited. Import and export of explosives; objects, photos, literature and other forms of pornography; animals, plants (whole or parts) and species considered protected or endangered is prohibited. Persons who violate this regulation may be subject to criminal prosecution. The import and export of firearms without the expressed authorization of the Public Security Division of the Ministry of Interior is prohibited. Permits shall be obtained before arrival to the country.

Forms of payment

You can find detailed information about forms of payment in Cuba here. El Cuban Peso(CUP) is the national currency. However, payments for goods and services can be made preferably in Convertible Peso (CUC). Payments can also be made in Euro in Varadero, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Largo del Sur, Santa Lucia, Playa Covarrubias and at the beaches on the northern coast of Holguín. Travelers can also pay for goods and services with VISA INTERNATIONAL, MASTERCARD, ACCESS, BANCOMER INTERNATIONAL, BANAMEX, DINNERS CLUB INTERNATIONAL, JCB and CARNET credit cards or with those issued in the country (BFI and RED). Credit cards issued by banks of the United States of America and their branches are not accepted.

Medical services

Travelers from countries where diseases such as Yellow Fever and Cholera are endemic or from areas that have been declared infected zones by the WHO must present a vaccination certificate issued at least 10 days before traveling and not more than 10 years after the date of entry to the island. Medical services are available in all the hotels. There are international clinics in all of the major tourist resorts in the country.

Regarding export

When leaving Cuba, you may carry with you up to 23 Habanos without having to show the official purchase receipt. If you exceed that amount, you will be obliged to claim the original purchase receipt and of it at the shop, and hand the copy in at the Customs Office at the exit point from where you'll be leaving with cigars, which must be contained in original cases with all official seals, including the new holographic seal. Any failure to abide by the basic requirement of a legal purchase, the product will be seized by Cuba's Customs Office. The export of goods not considered national heritage shall be permitted only after prior presentation of an expressed authorization by the National Register of Cultural Goods. Books or other publications more than 50 years old, books published by Ediciones R, Publishing House or others stamped by libraries or other entities shall not be exported.

More about Cuba

Freedom of Religion is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic. Due to the country's climate , travelers are advised to wear clothes made of light fabrics preferably cotton. Don't forget to pack your bathing suit and sun blocker. A sweater or light jacket will come in handy when travelling in winter or to the mountain areas. Electricity: 110 volts, 60 cycles. Most hotels and Casa Particular also have 220 volt and sockets for flat plugs. Cuba is located on the 5th Greenwich Time Meridian (Eastern Standard Time in USA and Canada). Daylight Savings Time is from April to October (the clock is advanced one hour) in order to take advantage of daylight.

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