Topes de Collantes
About the Topes de Collantes Nationalpark
Just 20km northwest of coastal Trinidad is the Topes de Collantes National Park. This National Park is located in the Sierra Escambray, the second highest mountain range in Cuba. Here there are numerous hiking trails, most of which are suitable for less ambitious hikers. Even though there are trails for all skill levels you will require a guide for almost any hike. One of the most popular paths is the Guanayara Trail.
You will need to get a ride in a 4x4 to the trailhead so it is best to book a package which includes transportation, lunch, and a local guide (Tours can be booked in Trinidad). Your tour will start off in a former coffee plantation and from there you will travel to the “El Rocio” waterfall where you will have time to go for a swim. Next we will head to the Hacienda “la Gallega”, located along the Rio Melodioso, for lunch. This area is known for having some truly spectacular wildlife so keep your eyes out for hummingbirds and colourful parrots. Depending on how ambitious your hiking plans are, we recommend bringing hiking sandals or sturdy shoes. You should also bring your bathing suit!
Another lovely hiking trail leads to the Salto Caburni waterfall. This route is a bit more demanding than the Guanayara Trail, but hiking enthusiasts will not be disappointed. It takes about 45 minutes hiking downhill to get to a stunning natural swimming pool fed by a 62m high waterfall. Around the pool there is a lush grove full of vanilla plants, orchids, cedar trees, teak trees, and nearly 700 different species of ferns. The hard part of the hike is on the way back, as the trail winds steeply uphill.
What to see and do in Topes de Collantes National Park
Most tourists visit "Topes de Collantes" (1000 meters above sea level) as a day trip from Trinidad, but there are also some stunning mountain resorts available. We recommend the Hotel Los Helechos which is in a quiet location, nestled in the center of the idyllic mountain landscape. There are plenty of charming hiking trails around this hotel and it even has an indoor swimming pool – perfect for those odd rainy days.
The road from Trinidad to Topes de Collantes is a bit rough but it does offer spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea. On the map, the road towards Santa Clara is marked as a normal country road but it has been poorly maintained so it is not actually a shortcut. If you choose to take this route you will get to enjoy beautiful views of the Hannabanilla Lake and the lush rainforest but you must drive carefully. Under no circumstances should you take this route at night!