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Cuba

Trek across the Escambray Mountains, Cuba

Activity
Trek
Duration
n/a days
Grade
Grade 3

About the challenge

Cuba, described as the pearl of the Caribbean, really is a gem of an island. Our challenge takes us from the cultural and historical city of Havana on the north coast right through the heart of the island to the UNESCO World Heritage site, Trinidad on the South Coast.   This is a challenging trek through remote and rarely visited regions, via lush jungle, plantations and waterfalls. The terrain is demanding with some strenuous ascents, but there are some great spots to swim and relax too. You will not forget Cuba in a hurry!

The itinerary

Day 1: Depart London

We fly from London to Havana. Transfer to our hotel. Evening briefing. Night hotel.

Day 2: Havana – Hanabanilla – Guanayara

After a good sleep we load up and drive away from the hustle and bustle of vibrant Havana and out into the Escambray Mountains. At Hanabanilla we take a short ferry ride cross the across to the southern tip of the Hanabanilla Reservoir; we then drive by truck along jeep tracks upstream above the Rio Guanayara. We pass through beautiful shady forests to our hacienda, where we will camp for the night. Night camp.

Day 3: Guanayara – Codina 
Trek approx 7-8 hours (17km)

After a hearty breakfast we set off on our challenging day. Our route climbs 400m on small mule tracks through the lush orange and mango orchards and stunning scenery. After a brief stop we continue to climb through coffee plantations affording great views back down to the reservoir. We then drop steeply down to join up with the road briefly and on to El Sirio, for a convenient drinks stop before continuing on to lunch. The afternoon sees a gentler climb up to Codina. Night camp.

Day 4: Codina – Mi Retiro
Trek approx 6-8 hours (14km)

After breakfast and a good night’s sleep we head through more coffee plantations down to La Batata, where the river forces itself through a crack in the limestone. We then walk through more dense forest on undulating paths which are steep at times. The day’s final challenge is a steep climb towards Pico de Potrerillo (972m) and its surrounding protected reserve. We then dip down into the valley at the end of the day to our evening’s campsite. Night camp.

Day 5: Mi Retiro – Trinidad
Trek approx 6-7 hours (15km)

Our final day! We set off along a hillside path, high above the valley floor. We encounter the obligatory steep climbs en-route but are rewarded on reaching the top with stunning views down to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Trinidad and our first glimpse of the sea. As we descend through the rural farmland we stop for lunch in a local farm before heading to the Cabellero waterfall and its surrounding crystal clear pools. There is a chance for a dip and time to reflect on the challenge. Night hotel.

Day 6: Free day Trinidad

A free day to relax on the beautiful white sandy beaches or to explore the delights of Trinidad before getting together in the evening for a well deserved celebration meal. Night hotel. (Dinner included)

Day 7: Trinidad – Havana
Drive approx 5 hours

We load up and drive back to Havana, where we have the rest of the day free to explore the sights. Night hotel. (Lunch and dinner not included)

Day 8: Havana; Flight Departs

More free time to enjoy Havana, before transferring to the airport for the international flight home. (Lunch not included)

Day 9: Arrive London

Detailed information

What's Included?

The tour cost includes all accommodation as well as all flights, transfers, travel insurance, camping equipment (other than sleeping bag and mat); all meals except four as specified in the itinerary; National Park entry fees and all other sites visited as part of the itinerary. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and doctor are also included, along with a local support crew of porters, guides, cooks and drivers.

What's Excluded?

It does not include  three meals as specified, or any entrance fees to any optional sites you may wish to visit on your free day. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. There is plenty of opportunity to buy souvenirs. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes.
We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.

Flight Information

Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights), and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost. 

Accommodation

We camp for 3 nights during the trek in two-man tents; you will be sharing with someone else on your trek. Camp facilities include tables, chairs and dining-tents. The hotels are comfortable and clean with private facilities, but please do not expect the same standards as you would in a tourist hotel in the UK!

Food

All food is included when camping. The food is great, will give you plenty of energy, and there is plenty of it. Three meals as specified in the itinerary are not included.

Dietary Requirements

Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.

Trip Support

Discover Adventure Crew

Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.

All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size), who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but at Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: trekker ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.

Local Support Crew

Our local support crew is made up of local guides, drivers, cooks and porters. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Drivers, cooks and porters do not always speak much English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely.

Luggage

All luggage, food, water and camping equipment is carried by vehicles to start with and horses for the last part of the trek. Each participant is expected to carry a day sack for items needed during the day: sunscreen, camera, waterproofs etc.  You will not have access to your main luggage until the evening. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already.

Trip Safety

Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.

Preparing for the challenge

Trekking Information

Terrain

Walking is on terrain ranging from good open track to narrow and overgrown jungle paths and is very steep both up and downhill at times. We are travelling through remote mountains where we could be exposed to a variety of weather conditions at any time.  

Trekking Distances

You will trek approximately 90km on this trip overall. Because of the varied terrain and lack of accurate maps, it’s impossible to give more accurate daily distances. It’s also much more useful when training to think about the hours you need to walk for, and the terrain! We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.

Clothing & Equipment

We are trekking in remote areas, where we could be exposed to adverse weather at any time so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountain. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.

Weather

The weather will vary based on the ecosystem and altitude.

Fitness Levels

Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.

Passport & Visa

A valid ten-year passport is essential; it should be valid for at least six months after departure from Cuba. You will be required to purchase a Cuban Tourist Card before departure from the UK.

Vaccinations

We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. You should always check with your GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.

Cultural Differences

For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for!
We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow trekkers and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!

Worldwide Sustainable Tourism

Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.

Discover Adventure Projects

We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up. Please see our website for more details.

Carbon Offsetting

We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with The Conversation Volunteers and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org.uk or call 01302 388883.