Best time to visit Cuba

Hiking Pico Turquino in Cuba

Conquer Cuba's highest peak and learn more about the rebellion stories of Fidel and Che

Best time: mid-October–April

Hiking Pico Turquino
Hiking Pico Turquino
Hiking Pico Turquino
Hiking Pico Turquino
Hiking Pico Turquino
Hiking Pico Turquino

Cuba's highest peak—Pico Turquino—sits in the heart of the Sierra Maestra National Park (Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra) and reaches an altitude of 1974 meters. The Sierra Maestra National Park is a great place to see endangered animals, wild orchids and giant ferns growing in beautiful cloud forests. Among the beauty of nature, hikers will also find La Comandancia, former headquarters of the rebel army of Fidel Castro.

At the entrance to the Sierra Maestra National Park, you have to pay an entry fee and a permit fee that includes a compulsory guide, accommodation in the lodges and some food along the way. It's also a good idea to bring some water and snack with you, as there are not too many freshwater sources and food provided by the park is often insufficient.

The hike usually goes southward from Santo Domingo (trail starts at Alto de Naranjo) to Las Cuevas or vice versa. The southbound hike allows to start with a visit to La Comandancia de la Plata (mountain headquarters to rebel army of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and their comrades). Also, it opens better views to the hikers and provides a more gradual elevation gain.

The hike usually takes two to three days. For those starting at Alto Naranjo, the first-day hike will take about five hours until they reach first lodge—Aguada de Joaquin. It's one of the few places in the area with fresh water. The lodge provides very basic accommodation with bunk beds and fairly primitive bathroom facilities. The good thing is that cooks are there day and night, so they prepare simple meals for the travelers. The next day, hikers continue their way to Pico Turquino, dealing with steep slopes and wooden ladders.

On the top of the mountain, you will see a bust of José Marti, the hero of the second war for Cuban's independence from Spain. The peak doesn't offer great views, as trees grow on the top. The best view of the majestic Caribbean sea opens a bit down from the peak.

You can spend another night in the lodge just after Pico Cuba, or head down to the seaside at Las Cuevas.

The best time to hike Pico Turquino is during the dry season from mid-October to April. The other half of year is less favorable due to hot and humid weather.

Practical info

Apart from hiking, what makes Sierra Maestra National Park famous?

Sierra Maestra National Park is renowned for its unique flora and fauna, featuring cloud forests where tourists can spot endangered animal species. The area boasts the legendary La Comandancia, the former rebel headquarters of Fidel Castro's loyalists. Show more

What does the permit fee include, and what is the charge?

To hike Pico Turquino in Sierra Maestra National Park, visitors have to pay an entrance fee and mandatory guide charges. The permit fee cost varies seasonally and can range from $20 to $70 USD, providing accommodation in the park's basic lodges and food en route. Travelers are usually recommended to bring their water supplies and snacks due to the limited food provisions along the hike. Show more

Can visitors rely wholly on Sierra Maestra's provisions for food and drink?

Although Sierra Maestra National Park provides food and drink, hikers are recommended to bring their refreshments. Along the Pico Turquino hike, freshwater sources are scarce, basic meals are available in the park's lodges, but they may be insufficient, especially for visitors with dietary restrictions. Show more

Why is the dry period the best time to hike Pico Turquino?

The dry season, which runs from mid-October through April, is considered the best time to hike Pico Turquino in Sierra Maestra National Park. The heat and humidity are less intense, making the weather more suitable for tourists. The other half of the year, characterized by downpours, makes the trail muddy, steep, and slippery, making hiking a challenge; thus, it is best to avoid hiking during the rainy season. Show more

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