Trekking holiday in Cuba

“An active addition to any Cuba holiday, this tailor made trek departs whenever you're ready, for as many days as you fancy, in the pristine forest of the Sierra Maestra.”


Sierra Maestra | Pico Turquino National Park | La Comandancia - Castro's secret HQ | La Platica eco-community | Las Cuevas | Trekking in virgin forest | Optional beach extension

Description of Trekking holiday in Cuba

This trekking holiday in Cuba is a four day trip into the Sierra Maestra Mountains, a large part of which is protected by Pico Turquino National Park, named after its highest peak, also Cuba’s highest, at 1,972m. As the largest island in the Caribbean, we believe that it has some of the most spectacular and pristine mountain trekking terrain, its biodiversity just adding to the all round beauty.

We are often asked, when is the best time to go trekking in Cuba? The answer is anytime as each season brings something special and we organise hiking tours for guests all year round. This itinerary below is for four days, although we are happy to adapt this according to your interests and timeframe.
Starting in Santiago de Cuba you are then transferred to Santa Domingo, a small town in the heart of the Sierra Maestra mountains where you will have a guided walking tour and also settle into your hotel. Located on the Yara River, this hotel is the perfect location for hiking in the Pico Turquino National Park, as well as visiting La Comandancia, Fidel Castro’s secret headquarters in the mountains and one of the most iconic sites to visit in Cuba. From here we walk to La Platica ecological community where we stay in a mountain refuge.

The next two days are spent on the Pico Turquino Trail, guided by a local expert through rich rainforest to an overnight refuge at Aguada de Joaquin refuge via luscious virgin forest and then, on the final day summiting Pico Turquino itself.*

*IMPORTANT NOTE: Please check with the tour operator for an update on this four day hiking itinerary because at time of writing, the night at the mountain refuge is not possible due to no running water, but this should hopefully be restored in the near future. In the meantime, we will be running two and three day hiking itineraries on the lower slopes of Pico Turquino National Park. Please chat with us so that we can create the perfect hiking itinerary for you in this stunning mountain region of Cuba.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Our top tip:
Porters are rarely available on this trip so you
Trip type:
Tailor made.
Activity level:
Challenging. 4-6hrs trekking/day.
1 night in 3* hotel in Santo Domingo, 2 nights in mountain refuges.
Solo travellers welcome. Price depends on number of travellers.
Accommodation, transfers to and from Santiago, meals, specialist, bilingual guides, park fees.
All meals included. Picnic lunches provided when trekking.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Trekking holiday in Cuba


When out on tour we encourage learning about the country we are travelling in, the local culture of the people we work with and the areas we pass through. Our guides and tour leaders hold informal talks with all groups to inform about and discuss with them all aspects of local life. This helps understanding of the area and appreciation of the people who live there. It is our policy to carefully dispose of all waste whilst we are on trek. All non-organic waste is carried out and organic waste is buried at a suitable depth.

Food is purchased locally and we use food products with as little packaging as possible, and encourage cooking with local products. We cook with gas and use recyclable glass as opposed to plastic wherever possible. Whilst in towns we use homestay accommodation or small locally owned hotels wherever possible, and all our staff are fairly treated and fairly paid.


We encourage everyone to stay in local homes whilst we are in Cuba so that our clients have an opportunity to meet and spend time with local people to learn something of local life. It also enables them to use their Spanish language skills, even at a basic level. Importantly, this also ensures that monies are spent at a very local level and go into the pockets of Cuban households. All our dance/music/language tutors and specialist guides are professionally trained Cubans and they are treated and paid fairly.

We support local Cuban businesses in every aspect of our trips - accommodation, transport, meals, drinks and activities - thus contributing directly to the local economy and community. We also regularly organise donations for local schools and educational projects. We recommend that clients consider donations of items such as toiletries, baby and childrens clothing, some medicines and luxuries such as soap to the families they visit and projects we support.
We also regularly provide donations to two youth theatre and drama companies in Santiago de Cuba, bringing material for costumes and stage make from the UK or buying essential items locally such as paint for props.

On our dance and music holidays, we recommend that clients bring with them any musical or dance items which they can leave for their tutors, such as shoes, strings, instruments or dancewear. On our hiking trips, we encourage the donation of appropriate items such as hiking shoes or boots, small rucksacks, water bottles, penknives and other such items for the specialist guides accompanying the tour.

5 Reviews of Trekking holiday in Cuba

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 11 Jan 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Getting to know the Cuban people and staying in their homes was an invaluable experience. By far my favorite moment was the tobacco wanting tour! We enjoyed it so much we returned 2 days later and had a great time visiting the owners of the different farms.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

When visiting Vinales there are many casa options even if you haven't pre-booked. The advantage of using responsible travel was not having to carry the extra cash for our stays, transportation, and tours. Best tip: Go with out fear. Cuba is beautiful and greets you amazingly. We found people resolved an problem we had by calling a friend of a friend etc.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Absolutely, we engaged with the local people and supported their businesses. We learned about the travel impact and how it is changing their own economy.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

5 stars! This was a trip of a lifetime and we made great connections. I felt as if I were a part of the family in each casa we stayed in. I look forward to returning.

Read the operator's response here:

We are delighted that you enjoyed your trip to Cuba with us, and that you made good connections with local people. We would be very happy to help organise your next trip to the island, and look forward to hearing from you again.

Reviewed on 07 May 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The nature in Topes de Collantes National Park and Turquino National Park.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Coordination of several travel blocks done by our tour operator was great, in Cuba self, all the arrangements performed by San Cristobal deserve the highest ranking of 5 stars where the local arrangements performed by Paradiso would be a 3 star experience.

Utilize the experience from Caledonia to coordinate your travel through Cuba.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Our holiday for sure benifited local people but mainly those who are associated with tourism, we also hung out with other local people and can only say that
what we've experienced great hospitality and friendlyness.

The only thing what's truly a pitty are (semi) public toilets where even without paper or water to flush they still expect you to pay 1 CUC, especially in the
Viazul stations.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Overall we've had a great holiday and enjoying a short period of time in the great (current) environment of Cuba is leaving us a beautifull memory for life.

Read the operator's response here:

We are very pleased that you enjoyed your trip to Cuba so much, and that you felt that it benefited local people. With 20 years of experience in Cuba, we always strive to involve local suppliers as much as possible, from your guides and drivers to the homestay accommodation hosts.

We take great care in selecting our local partners but, as you have pointed out, some work differently than others. We have already followed up your comments about the Paradiso arrangements and will be in touch with you separately about that part of your trip, but are delighted that the rest of the holiday went very well.

Cuban people are extremely hospitable and naturally friendly and it is good to know that you were able to enjoy meeting local people and getting to know more about Cuban culture. The natural environment in Cuban national parks is outstanding and we are really pleased that you enjoyed this element of your holiday so much.

However, you are absolutely right about the toilet facilities in bus stations and similar public places, as they are not always very good. Often an attendant will leave CUC$1 on a small plate as an indication of what you could tip, but you are not obliged to leave as much as that. Tipping is not compulsory, but is expected, and you can be assured that whatever you do leave for the toilet attendant, that person will be most grateful for the supplement to their normal local salary.

Thank you for your positive feedback - overall it certainly sounds like you had a truly memorable holiday in Cuba!

Reviewed on 26 Feb 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Being in the beautiful nature of Cuba and being with local guides.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The first day hike it a bit intense, you need to be in good shape.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent! However, not cost effective for single traveler.

Reviewed on 14 Aug 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

On the front end prior to the trip to Cuba, we had some very practical recommendations that helped harness expectations to match reality, which helped make the trip more enjoyable. Event and tour ticket pickup points and times were mostly easily understood and accurate. Most of the contracted guides were helpful, courteous, and provided a lot of insight into Cuban culture. I'll be a repeat customer.

Read the operator's response here:

Many thanks for your positive comments about your hiking trip in Cuba. I am delighted that our practical recommendations proved to be useful on the ground and that our trip instructions were correct and easy to follow. Looking forward to hearing from you again in the future!

Reviewed on 17 Nov 2006 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Certainly interesting was the venture to see Castro's headquarters in Alta Naranjo.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Ask cost of tour before accepting offered tours. The city tour of Holquin, was more expensive than I would have thought. It was not clear to me when we were dropped off, that it was/ was not included in our payments. Also, I definitely think the trek should be condensed into 2 days in the park and not 3. When we were there we met a large UK group who did it in 2 days, and others who did it from the Caribbean side who did it in one day. The down side to only 2 days, is that the refugee on the Caribbean side, was in a nicer location.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. Due to the time spent in the park.

Read the operator's response here:

We provide a detailed itinerary for all clients, including everything that has been booked by us and whether it needs to be paid for locally or has already been included in the price paid by the client. We have no information on Holguin city tours, nor was this at any time mentioned to Mrs Parsons by us so it naturally would not have been included in our arrangements for her. We are very sorry if she misunderstood the local representative who met her at the airport and would agree with her that you should always check the cost of an additional element of the trip before booking it. If we had had this information, we would certainly have passed it on to her before departure.

Re the trekking, we have tried various options over the last 4 years for hiking over Pico Turquino, and in our opinion three days in the national park is the best length of time to spend there. The trek that was booked in this instance was our full 5 day round trip which includes 3 nights in the national park. We are able to book abridged treks in this beautiful national park but it means cutting out some aspects of the overall programme.

The first full day in the park includes a guided visit to La Comandancia, Fidel's secret HQ in the Sierra Maestra mountains, which takes the best part of 3-4 hours from the starting point of San Domingo. It is such a significant place to visit that it would be pointless to rush the visit. The latter part of that first day is spent walking to the La Platica community, an hour from La Comandancia, where the first night is spent in a refuge with dinner cooked and served by a local chef. There is usually time to explore the community and to visit the local primary school and doctors post, which is all part of the cultural tourism aspect of our trips in Cuba.

The second day in the park includes trekking for 5-6 hours to the Aguada de Joaquin refuge about 2 hours from the summit of Pico Turquino. It would not be practical to push people on to the next available refuge on Pico Cuba which is 90 mins from the summit on the other side of the mountain. The third full day in the park includes hiking from Aguada de Joaquin to Pico Cuba where the third night is spent. The final day includes a 4 hour descent to Las Cuevas on the coast and the end of the trail. I do not see how anyone can do the whole ascent and descent in one day unless they were going up and down the same route from the Caribbean side rather than going down the other side of the peak to Santo Domingo.

We are always willing to amend our programmes to suit our clients and have a number of tailormade treks which can accommodate most itineraries.

We are delighted that Mrs Parsons enjoyed her trip overall and, as she suggests, we will advise future travellers to double check prices of local tours before booking them.

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