Today we travel inland to Topes de Collantes Nature Reserve Park, famous for its many endemic species of flora and fauna. We can look forward to a two-night stay here to explore this glorious area.
After a ride in an old Russian military-style truck up a steep, switch-back road into the lush Escambray Mountains, we arrive at the park entrance. Here we meet our local guide who, along with our Tour Leader, will help us to explore the park. -There is an eight kilometre trek to our hacienda accommodation. Those who would prefer not to walk can continue with the truck to the hacienda.
Our hike can vary slightly, depending on the weather and the group, but it is likely to take us into the coffee-growing valley of the Guayanara River. The paths are undulating and can be uneven underfoot, but the views and sense of remoteness are truly rewarding. Along our route, we see Cuba's highest lake, Embalse Hanabanilla, pass rural homes and watch shepherds minding their herds of goats. After about four hours' walking, we arrive at our hacienda, a small farmstead set in a rocky valley, for lunch.
The afternoon is free. However, we recommend the five kilometre circular walk (approximately three hours) to the Salto de Rocio Waterfall - an area flush with trogons, hummingbirds and woodpeckers. To get to the waterfallwe follow a riverside track where we are likely to see impressive tree fern, bromeliad and orchid species. On arrival at the spectacular waterfalls and lakes, adventurous swimmers can enjoy a dip, while others may choose to relax on the banks.
The accommodation at the hacienda is simple. After supper, we sleep out under the eaves of the hacienda's veranda or on covered sleeping platforms, with male and female washing facilities in a block nearby. Foam mattresses are provided, but you will benefit from bringing a sleeping bag. Tents may also be available for those who prefer camping. The fresh mountain air and the peace and quiet of the night, with its canopy of stars, is usually enough to ensure a good night's sleep. Day 5 and 6 may be swapped around.