Apart from the vibrant and colorful streets of Havana, Cuba has something more to offer on the completely other end of the spectrum – a lush countryside.Hiking in Cuba means you’ll get to see a display of vivid greens and blues while walking along revolutionary roads that were once witnesses to the rich history of this beautiful country.
Walking sticks at the ready? Check out this list of best hikes in Cuba below.
Despite being a relatively short hike (it will only take you two hours to reach the peak, and then two hours to climb down), El Yunque can only be triumphed by hikers who are in excellent shape.
Being within the vicinity of a rainforest where it rains day and night, but can get hot and humid certain parts of the day, hiking through the jungle could test your physical strength and limits. Be prepared to get wet as well as you cross rivers along the way.
While El Yunque is considered to be a flat-top mountain with an altitude of only 575 meters, this mighty mountain wouldn’t give you an easy pass. Consider a guide if you don’t want getting lost in the middle of a cocoa plantation!
The closest hike from Havana is Vinales, which can be reached in just under two hours. It’s an agricultural town so don’t be surprised if you see tobaccos and sweet potatoes along the way. This is a rural town, so be ready to be greeted by roosters and farmers as they go on with their daily grind. That’s life in Vinales, and to get a glimpse of this beautiful culture is a treat in itself.
The valley is made for walking with dedicated walkways, but the real crux of the matter is the absence of signs and information along the path, so hiking with a dedicated guide is recommended (and if you’re in a daredevil kind of mood, there are some guides who offer rock climbing tours as well). You can hike Vinales on Discover Corps’ Cuba: Preserving Nature’s Wonders trip.
Salto de Caburní
Salto de Caburni is located in Topes de Collantes, one of the many stunning natural parks in Cuba. It’s a 5-kilometer trail that ends up at the edge of a grand 62-meter high waterfall where you can dive down into a natural pool.
This is where you’ll be delighted by how locals jump from the top of the waterfalls down to the pool like there is nothing to be scared of. Such a display of courage is tempting enough for tourists to do the same.
With that being said, there’s no other attire that we’d recommend but swimwears, or something that you feel comfortable in even if it’s drenched in water. Swim your hearts out in the freezing water against such hot and humid weather to re-energize your body.
Just take note that the water level in the natural pool can go low during the dry season, which is around March to May, so it’s not advisable to jump right in.
El Nicho is one of the many Pinterest-y trails in Cuba. While some of the more experienced hikers may not consider this a hike, this beautiful trail offers a beautiful display of nature all around and is perfect for beginners and even families. The most exciting part of this mini-hike is the chance to take a dip at one of the natural pools in the park, and as a bonus, you’ll get treated to the El Nicho waterfall, a mesmerizing spectacle you won’t soon forget!
There are four levels that you need to go through to complete this hike. Although easy ones, there are some points that can get muddy, so wear sturdy footwear. You can also do some spelunking and bird watching while you’re here.
Located in the Artemisa province, Las Terrazas is a nature reserve that’s been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1984. The generation before us has succeeded in planting 7 million trees between 1968 to 1978 to be able to give the children a chance to commune with nature leading to where we are now—finally getting a firsthand Las Terrazas hiking experience.
Today, many people skip this place to head to the more popular Vinales Valley, but Las Terrazas is equally just as stunning as Vinales with a different texture to add to the plate. You can go ziplining in this area and even do some bird watching as well. Check out a guided trip to Las Terrazas here.
Tucked within El Terrazas is the lovely El Taburete – a 6-kilometer hike also perfect for bikers looking for a change in sceneries. My only advice is that you hike early in the morning if you have no plans of camping overnight, and don’t forget to pack insect repellants as mosquitoes could pester you. It’s 2 to 3 hours of hiking, so it’s better that you protect yourself from anything that could slow you down, and that includes insect bites!
When we talk about hiking in Cuba, we can’t end the list without mentioning the highest peak in the country – Pico Turquino. The peak stands the tallest among all the other peaks on the list with an elevation of 1944 meters, and is considered Cuba’s most challenging.
The lush forest that you hike through is the exact same forest that cradled Fidel Castro and his army during their conflict with the Batista Regime. Thick cloud forests and climbing vines make up a part of the hike, so get your hands ready for some extreme gripping.
If you plan to hike this mountain, make sure to pack binoculars with you for an opportunity to spot the smallest hummingbird in the world!
Author Bio: Jean Deruiter is a brand consultant and an outdoor enthusiast from the US. He writes about high quality and innovative travel gears, as well as the dos and don’ts of outdoor traveling.