CUBA: Hiking and other sights in Topes de Collantes

Upon arriving in Trinidad, we simply couldn’t overlook the beautiful mountain range that flanked the town. The Escambray Mountains dominate every view on this city and are just begging to be discovered.

Our travel agency had organised a day for us in the Topes de Collantes, a nature reserve park in the Escambray Mountains. At 800 meters above sea level, it is the third highest peak of the mountain range. The weather up there can be entirely different than in the town itself as it sort of has its own ecosystem. It’s such a facinating place.

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In the morning we were picked up at our hostal and led to our transport for the day; an open back old russian army truck. It was a rough, cold ride from Trinidad to Topes de Collantes but so much fun when I look back on it. We were very happy our guide adviced us to bring a sweater because if not, I’d probably have died because of the cold wind. (That might be a bit exaggerated but it really was cold) But seriously, bring a sweater if you think about visiting this area. It can get quite chilly.

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The first stop of the day was the look out point, El Mirador, halfway up the road to Topes de Collantes. From there you have a stunning view on the ocean and the area. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t really on our side, but still what a view!

After another bumpy, cold ride we arrived at the Topes de Collantes visitor center. There we got some brief information about the area and the hike we were going to do later that day. The center is quite sober – as is common for everything in Cuba – so apart from a big map and some information about the hikes you can do in the area there isn’t much to do.

Before our hike, we first went to a former coffee plantation where we got an explanation about the process of growing and cultivating the beans. It all seemed very rushed and it wasn’t all that interesting in my opinion. The information we got in Las Terrazas was way better, as was the coffee.

Another pit stop at a little farmer’s market which we didn’t really see the use of, and then it was fi-na-lly time to get active. We were going to do the hike to the Caburni Falls. This 3 km trail is the most popular hike in the area. First you go down all the way through the forest and past rock formations to the amazing cliffs where the Caburni river falls down 62 meters into a series of ponds. The way back up obviously is a lot heavier and you certainly can’t underestimate the first part. You definitely need to bring enough water and snacks, especially if it’s a sunny day. We were lucky enough that it was a bit cloudier so the weather was milder.

Around 2:30 pm, we were back at the starting point after about two hours of hiking and we were starving. Luckily our next and final stop of the day was lunch at Mi Retiro. We got the customary rice with chicken and pork but as usual it was tasty.

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And that was it for our Topes de Collantes excursion. The hike itself was really awesome, but the rest of the day sort of disappointed us. I guess we were just really eager to be a bit active that we lost interest about the other stops. But the area is definitely a must visit whenever you’re close. The nature is just so stunning and I wish I could have explored more than just that one trail.

Until next time,

With love, Ellen

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