CUBA'S MOUNTAIN RETREAT
TOPES DE COLLANTES
Cuba isn’t only the sandy beaches of Varadero and the colonial buildings of Old Havana, the island has various mountain ranges, which have played a significant role in Cuba’s history. One of these mountain ranges, Cordillera del Escambray, traverses the Province of Sancti Spiritus. Within the range is The Grand Natural Park Peaks of Collantes, Gran Parque Natural Topes de Collantes, which encompasses one of the most enchanting areas of Cuba’s geography. It feels far from modern life, with wide, open valleys, creeks, grottos, natural pools, streams, and amazing waterfalls. Topes de Collantes has the third highest elevation of the range at 2,600 feet above sea level, the second highest is Potreillo at 3,054 feet, and the highest peak is San Juan with an elevation of 3,740 feet. The beautiful colonial town of Trinidad is only ten miles away, and the nearby Valle de los Ingenios, Valley of the Sugar Mills is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is home to endemic flora and fauna, including Cuba’s national bird, the Tocororo. There are many camping sites in the area, and several hotels, including the Hotel Los Helechos, and the Kurhotels Escambray and Topes de Collantes. All three have rooms with magnificent views of the surrounding mountains.
Temperature extremes are one of the areas traits, with colder winters and warmer summers than the surrounding area. Make sure to arrive in good shape, and with a good pair of hiking shoes, because to truly appreciate Topes the Collantes you must do so on foot. From the sound of the waters of the Caburni River, to the mountain breezes, and beautiful waterfalls, all are restricted to those who approach them on foot.
Summer months are a great time to visit and go for a dip in all the rivers and natural pools in the mountains and valleys, and in the winter months the temperature is cool, and perfect for long treks. But remember, you must be in good shape!