Thoughts of Cuba evoke images of pristine beaches, far-reaching ocean, and tropical drinks. Cuba is a renowned beach destination but it’s also so much more than that: think wild, unspoiled wilderness, sun-bleached landscapes, lush forests, and abounding diversity in wildlife. This is an Indiana-Jones-worthy backdrop with plenty of places uninterrupted by throngs of people. Capture peaceful authenticity in Cuba across wonderful landscapes outside of hot spots and enjoy rich, fulfilling experiences. Mountain ranges, natural reserves, lavish jungle, traditional villages, and historic sites reveal a side of Cuban most never get to know.
La Boca is a bonafide fishing village in Cuba’s Camagüey province where clapboard huts are tucked along the coastline, overlooked by palms offering slices of beach shade. The village offers a look at local life through residents hustling catches out of the water, laundry swaying on taut lines between homes, and kids playing in the streets. Two seafood restaurants are located at La Boca beach’s far end, mostly catering to tourists day-tripping from popular Santa Maria. Avoid it and you’re likely not to see another tourist all day. Go a step further and rent a room from a villager. Trade buffet fish for a fresh catch grilled in front of you, a packed sand beach for a secluded coastal stretch, and a night sky filled with constellations that seem to belong only to you.
Anyone considering hiking in the Cuban mountains has likely come across the names Pico Turquino and/or Sierra del Escambray. One of the best spots is the mountain retreat Reserva Ecológica Alturas de Banao, accessible from Banao less than 20 kilometers from the central Cuban city of Sancti Spíritus. The area is reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands, with barren, sheer, craggy cliffs and four distinct ecosystems easily explored from the base of Campismo Planta Cantú. One of the top highlights is a nod to Che Guevara; hike to his old guerilla headquarters, Comandancia del Guerrillero Heroico, in the thick of the mountains close to the village of Gavilanes. Combine a visit to Banao with a hike through Parque Nacional Caguanas. The conservation area protects semi-deciduous forests, coastal swamps, offshore cays, and lush mangroves along with 35 caverns painted with pre-Columbian images.
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