It's been over 50 years since the revolution but Cuba still remains a unique and intriguing destination. See why and book up before it changes.
Fringed by soft white sand and turquoise waters, Cuba is at first glance, not unlike its Caribbean neighbours of Jamaica and the Caymans. But with an unusual historical make-up and untouched landscapes, this island off the coast of Central America, moves to its own beat.
And while cruising around old Havana in a vintage car is the quintessential Cuban experience, strolling its streets and hiking its uninhabited mountains reveals a different side of the country. As long as you're reasonably fit, you can explore at your own pace and use a Cuba adventure holiday to help you discover this beguiling destination on foot.
Wander La Habana Vieja - Old Havana - with its entrancing time-warp feel and hints of revolutionary ideology. Flaunting clues to its colonial history, this area has been meticulously restored to its former glory, from beautiful neoclassical buildings at the Plaza de Armas to the baroque cathedral. Strolling its vibrant yet romantic cobbled streets will bring you closer to local life. Whether it's glimpsing curious old men perched on roadsides sucking on cigars, stumbling across an impromptu Latino dance, or dodging the ever-present taxis, Havana is always stimulating!
Topes de Collantes
Deep in the Escambray Mountains, this nature reserve park is laced with hiking trails, coffee plantations, traditional farmhouses and gushing waterfalls. Follow meandering paths, fringed by orchids, bromeliads and mahogany, while spotting trogons, hummingbirds and woodpeckers. Looking to cool off? Launch yourself into one of the many natural pools and waterfalls, like Salto de Rocio waterfall. Or wallow in the waters of the La Batata - a cave penetrated by an underground river.
La Comandancia de la Plata
Fidel Castro's headquarters lie hidden in the Sierra Maestra - a rugged mountain chain on the eastern side of the island. The site has only sometimes been open to visitors, yet in recent years photography restrictions have been lifted and a visit is undoubtedly worth the 6km round-trip. A calf-busting ascent on asphalt leads from Santo Domingo to Alto de Naranjo, but many visitors choose to catch a jeep ride up this 5km, 40-degree gradient to the trail's starting point. Hiking through lonely virgin rainforest along a ridge-top trail will give you a sense of the clandestine operations that were developed and discussed at this mountain hideaway. Occupying a large clearing, reached by a muddy narrow path, the hideaway consists of a number of wooden structures, including Castro's own cabin and attached escape route.
Santiago de Cuba
Cuba's second city is definitely worth a day or two of exploration with its pastel-coloured buildings and vivacious Afro-Caribbean character. Wander the pavements and alleyways of this surprisingly compact metropolis in the shadow of Sierra Maestra. As the launch city of Castro's nationalist revolution and location of Don Facundo Bacardi's first ever rum factory, it's myriad sites reveal its status as the epicentre for revolutionary ideals since the time of Cespedes - a planter who declared Cuban independence from Spain back in 1868.
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