Cuba, described as the pearl of the Caribbean, is a gem of an island known as much for its unique, colourful culture and history as for its golden beaches. Vintage cars, art deco mansions, colonial plazas and Baroque churches, set against a backdrop of salsa music and captivating street-life … and that’s just the icing on the trekking cake!
Heading to the heart of the island, we trek through the lush tropical rainforest and coffee plantations of the Escambray Mountains. Waterfalls tumble into crystal-clear pools and hummingbirds dart among the orchids and giant ferns. Hot and hard-going at times, it’s inspirational and diverse trekking.
Finishing on the south coast at colonial Trinidad, this trek offers the perfect combination of trekking through pristine natural surroundings and discovering the authentic culture of this unique island.
Arrive in Havana, a legendary city of faded beauty where the street life is as captivating as the colonial buildings and former seafront grandeur. We transfer to our casa, a traditional guesthouse in Old Havana and relax! Night hotel.
After a good sleep we load up and depart vibrant Havana to Santa Clara, where we’re free to spend the afternoon exploring. Santa Clara has a revolutionary spirit; scene of Che Guevara’s Battle of Santa Clara– you can’t go far without seeing statues and images of Che, and an eternal flame marks his mausoleum. The history of the Revolution aside, Santa Clara is an unspoiled and authentic Cuban town, and a fascinating place to wander. We meet again for dinner and a briefing, and prepare our kit for the start of our trek tomorrow. Night hotel.
After breakfast, we transfer to Hanabanilla Reservoir, where our adventure begins with a ferry ride (approx one hour) across to the southern tip of the lake. Nestled between foothills and the higher Escambray Mountains, it’s a scenic start to the day. We then begin our trek, passing through beautiful shady forests on wide tracks, passing cascading waterfalls. It’s a relatively gentle introduction to the natural beauty – and the heat – we will be trekking through. We’ll pass old campesino (farmer) houses, which often provide a good coffee-stop. Reaching our camp at Rio Guanayara, in hacienda grounds, we settle in for the night. Night camp.
After a hearty breakfast we set off on a day which ramps up both the scenery, and the challenge! Our route climbs steadily on small mule tracks through lush orange and mango orchards; it’s beautiful but an energy-sapping start to the day. 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 the road, and on to El Sirio for a convenient drinks stop before continuing on to lunch. The afternoon sees a long, fairly gentle climb on narrow paths up to Codina. Night camp.
A shorter day today, which may be very welcome! We head out from camp after a fuelling breakfast, along a small track passing coffee plantations. Our route undulates - steeply at times – to La Batata, where the river dramatically pushes through a crack in the limestone. If time permits, we’ll enjoy a refreshing swim and find a picturesque stop for lunch. We then walk through more dense forest on undulating paths which are steep at times, continuing onwards until we reach the Nature Reserve of Topes de Collantes. Night camp.
A tough day today, which sees us dropping from an elevation of around 800m to 375m, and then ascending back up the other side of the valley, to a similar height. The paths are steep at times, and it’s a challenging day – though the scenery is stunning. After breakfast we head down to Caburni Falls, a 62m waterfall which cascades over rocks to meet with the Rio Vegas Grande, where our path takes us along the river-bed for a short section. It’s then a steep, narrow, tiring ascent to the Vegas Grande Falls – this picture-perfect waterfall is the perfect reward for our efforts. We’ll have some time to enjoy this beauty spot, before easier paths take us more gradually uphill to Mi Retiro for the night. Night camp.
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 rural farmland, passing campesino houses, we come to the beautiful Cabellero waterfall and its surrounding crystal clear pools. There should be time for a dip, and it’s a beautiful place to reflect on your achievements this week. From here it’s not far to the end of our trek. Night hotel.
A free day to explore the delights of Trinidad, generally viewed as the most beautiful town in Cuba, with its colourful pastel-hued houses, rust-red roofs and colonial architecture in a stunning location between mountains and sea. It’s also easy to arrange transport to the coast; the white sandy beach of Playa Ancon is not far. We gather together in the evening for dinner and to celebrate our achievements. Night hotel.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick on scheduled airlines 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).
Your journey may involve a transit en route, details of route and flight times will be confirmed several months before departure. We do not always use the same airline for each destination; if you wish to know the probable carrier and flight times, please call for details. 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 is usually on a twin-share basis in hotels or camp. Occasionally we may use hostel-style accommodation. Please tell us if you know somebody else on the trip that you would like to share with and we will try our best to accommodate your request. If you don't know anyone else in the group don't worry, we always pair you up with someone of the same gender, and a similar age where possible. We do not charge a single supplement if you are a solo traveller in a shared room.
We camp at ranches and homesteads, using two-man expedition-style tents (ie sleeping-room only). Some night-stops have wooden sleeping-platforms and overhead shelters, with use of communal rooms for cooking and dining, and toilets and showers. They are atmospheric places to stay, often with incredible views. Others are simpler, but usually still have access to communal facilities. At the start and end of the trip we usually stay in authentic Cuban casas particulares, hotel/guesthouses usually in traditional old buildings with plenty of character.
The food provided is plentiful, often local in style and freshly-cooked, and will give you plenty of energy. Sometimes we enjoy a buffet-style lunch-stop, other times we might have packed lunches. On some trips we stop at small local restaurants. Dinners are generally eaten in camp or at the hotel, depending on accommodation. In some regions there may be less variety than you are used to, and in others fresh meat or produce can be harder to come by. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally on travel / free days, giving you the opportunity to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit different budgets.
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 may be in very rural or remote 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 we strongly recommend you bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice.
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. They are also trained in expedition first aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader. Usually leaders are based in the UK or other English-speaking countries and lead for us regularly throughout the year in many different countries. In some instances, trips are led by in-country guides with a wealth of knowledge about the region; they have been trained by us to provide the level of support expected on a Discover Adventure trip.
Our local support crew is made up of local guides, assisted by drivers, porters, cooks and other support staff, depending on the type of trip. Local guides know the area well, and are a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Not all support crew will speak English well, but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely.
Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your trek, and you will be provided with a guideline amount in advance. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in many countries we travel to is far below what you would spend on a normal night out.
Your luggage, food, water and equipment is transported for you from one night-stop to the next. If there is easy road access this is done by vehicle; if not porters, mules or even camels might carry your bags, depending on the destination and terrain.
Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
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 communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They 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 medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.
Your booking is part of a group challenge, and the tour costs and fundraising targets listed on our website are based on a minimum number of participants which is shown on the challenge Our typical groups run with approximately 20-30 participants; however you may find your group is smaller or larger than this.
We will confirm at least 12 weeks prior to departure that your challenge is guaranteed to run. Occasionally it may be possible to still run the challenge with less than the minimum numbers, subject to a small group supplement. If we think a small group supplement may be necessary, we will discuss this with you as soon as possible, usually 5 months before your departure date.
Minimum numbers and groups sizes may vary on Bespoke Charity challenges. If you are booked onto a bespoke challenge please contact your charity for full details.
In the unfortunate circumstance that you need to cancel your booking, we would ask that you notify us in writing either by post or email. Your cancellation will be considered effective from the date the notice is received. Registration fees, amendment fees and insurance premiums are non refundable and, depending on your payment option and how close it is to your challenge departure date, you may be liable for a cancellation charge.
Full details of all cancellation charges may be found in the Terms and Conditions of booking.
We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. 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.
This is designed to be a challenge, and it is vital that you train sufficiently for it. We will supply you with a thorough training guide once you have registered. We expect all participants to train hard in advance, but we respect everyone’s limits and do not expect everyone to maintain the same pace. Inadequate training is likely to have an impact not just on your chances of completing the challenge, but enjoying it too - and we want you to have the time of your life!
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience, fitness and ability as well as all ages and backgrounds. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. If you have concerns about your fitness or if you have reduced mobility please do contact us for a confidential chat about whether this challenge is appropriate for you.
For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners may 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.
Entry requirements vary depending on your destination and nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure your passport is valid, and any visas are obtained in good time. Check the FCO’s advice on entry requirements for your destination to be sure. To find out if you need a visa you can check your requirements using our partner, Visa Machine, website here; please ensure you allow plenty of time.
Your routine UK schedule of vaccinations should be up-to-date (especially tetanus). We recommend you check Fit For Travel for further details. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
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 participants 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!