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.”

Highlights

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.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?

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 pack lightly
Trip type:
Tailor made.
Activity level:
Challenging. 4-6hrs trekking/day.
Accomm:
1 night in 3* hotel in Santo Domingo, 2 nights in mountain refuges.
Solos:
Solo travellers welcome. Price depends on number of travellers.
Included:
Accommodation, transfers to and from Santiago, meals, specialist, bilingual guides, park fees.
Meals:
All meals included. Picnic lunches provided when trekking.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Trekking holiday in Cuba

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

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.

Community

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
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Reviewed on 07 Feb 2018 by

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


The beautiful island of Cayo Levisa. And the salsa classes and dancing in the Casas de la Trova.

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


Check the location of bus stops in relation to your accommodation.

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


We hope our tips helped a number of people.

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


A good holiday. Informative, thought provoking, educational and relaxing.

Read the operator's response here:

We are delighted that you enjoyed your recent trip to Cuba so much and that you particularly enjoyed Cayo Levisa, a truly beautiful location. Cuba is such a diverse country and it certainly sounds as though you had a good holiday. In your final travel itinerary we included links to local maps indicating the best walking route between the bus drop off points and your accommodation in each location, so I hope these were helpful. Finally, I am sure that any tips you gave would have helped the Cubans who had been with you, and our payments in Cuba also go directly into Cuban pockets, particularly for homestay accommodation, guided hiking and other guided activities where local people are providing the service.

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?


Yes

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!

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