Cuba is a small, but dense and still unexplored, country. Most tourists won’t go far past Havana and the beach, but for adventurers and hikers there’s a wonderful world of trails, rainforests and mountain tops to discover out there. Our top 3 hiking trails in Cuba explore some of the most amazing view points and landscapes of the country. Put on your hiking boots and go tour Cuba.
1. El Yunque
El Yunque is a bit out of the tourist way, but anyone passing through the Guantanamo Province will hear about this flat top mountain. It’s an absolute landmark for both foreigners and Cubans, so there’s really no way of avoiding this one if you come anywhere near the city of Baracoa. Indeed, you can see El Yunque from the city center so it’ll always be there to remind you to go hiking!
To bag the summit, take good hiking shoes, a bathing suit (you’ll understand later) and a guide. The guide is pretty much mandatory as it’s easy to get lost in the meandering trails going through forests and cocoa plantations, especially when the path gets very slippery and muddy.
Another fun obstacle to overcome during this hike is a river. The lucky ones will find a cayuca to get them across, the others (or the ones that need a refreshing bath) will swim to the other side. Just know that you might need to get your feet wet.
Be reassured, all this work is still worth it, as you’ll be able to see the incredibly blue waves of the Caribbean Sea from the top of El Yunque! On the way back, rip the other reward by asking your guide to show you the natural pools waiting back across the river. After walking all that way, a bath in those clear, fresh waters will be the highlight of your day!
2. Salto de Caburni
Situated near Trinidad, the Topes de Collantes is a nature reserve park and a true paradise for hikers! Many trails cross this abundant landscape full of animals and exotic birds, but the one not to miss out on is the Salto de Caburni.
Although this trail is only seven kilometers round trip, it’s still a serious hike that demands good hiking shoes to negotiate through all the steep and rocky sections. The first part of the trail goes downhill through a lush forest. Slowly, the tree-ish landscape will become more and more of a canyon-ish space.
At the bottom (the turning point), you’ll discover the highest waterfall of the country. The waters are very gentle, not rushing and impressive, and create a beautiful natural pool. Start early enough to give yourself plenty of time to swim, eat and relax in this little wonderland!
If you want to make the hike longer, try to combine Salto de Caburni with Salto de Vegas Grande, another beautiful waterfall. If you wish to go this way, hire a guide as the trail is less used and less obvious than the one to Salto de Caburni!
3. Pico Turquino
Last but not least, the Pico Turquino is the highest peak in Cuba! Situated in the beautifully green Sierra Maestra Mountains, the summit is 1972 meters high and offers an incredible view on the rainforest, all the way to the sea!
This is easily the most arduous hiking trail on this list but it’s an iconic landmark that shouldn’t be ignored! Still, keep in mind that most people need around ten to twelve hours to complete this trail and that the conditions require a reasonable level of fitness.
A guide is mandatory as well to climb the Pico Turquino, as the trail is not always obvious and the way can turn out to be very difficult in bad weather. If it rains, the path can quickly become a full blown river, so plan according to the weather conditions!
If you feel like you can’t do this hike in one day, it’s also possible to sleep in a small lodge a few minutes before the summit. This way, you’ll get to the top just in time for sunrise!
Are you ready? Hiking boots on? Map, water and snack packed? One hike during your tour to Cuba will show you a side of the country you’ve never seen, a world of lush forests, water drops hanging in the air, waterfalls and exotic bird songs!