In this post I will present our itinerary, some more interesting stops I might describe more in detail … someday. Our trip can be divided into two parts – western part of the island, or more touristy one and eastern part, more pristine and especially less crowded. If I had to choose between them, I’m not sure which one I would pick, a combination of both was truly the perfect mixture. Our journey began and finished in Havana, as flights there are usually the cheapest option. Nowadays, flights to Cuba departure mostly from either Europe or Canada.
Reasons why you should visit the Cuba and some general information you can find in post I have already written.
In Havana we spent one whole day in the beginning of our trip and one at the end. We haven’t visited any museums, so if you plan on doing that, additional day is strongly recommended.
Viñales was our second stop and we spent 2 and half days there. It truly is a magical place, everything is so lush and green. Magnificent limestone monoliths that look over the whole region are very unique and breathtaking. In Viñales we also visited the largest cave system in Cuba and second largest in Latin America – Cueva Santo Tomas. We found it very strange that entry to the cave is up in the mountain as we are used that entries are usually on ground level or even underground. A very unique painting can be found on a wall of one of the limestone monoliths – Mural de la Prehistoria – a whole side of the monolith is painted in colourful prehistoric motifs.
After we left Vinales we stopped in Cienfuegos, a city that is named after one of the commandates – Camilo Cienfuegos. City is famous for its colonial architecture, mostly renovated, and cape – Punta Gorda. But we mainly decided to stay in Cienfuegos, because it was a starting point for a trip to El Nicho falls which we did in a following day. So next day, as I already said, we went to El Nicho Natural Park. Although it was just the end of dry season, park was very green, but water level was a bit low so falls were not as magnificent as they could be. We went swimming in a lagoon just below one of the falls. Water was rather cold and offered a needed chill. Views from up there are spectacular- the entire region can be admired.
Next day we continued our travel to Trinidad, small city on the southern coast protected by Unesco as a historical site. And it really feels like time has stopped here quite some time ago. Streets are very narrow and mostly paved so cars can have plenty of trouble getting anywhere, so bikes are recommended way of transportation here. Or you can just walk like we did as city is rather small. On the day we came to the town we have done some sightseeing and walking around. Children here still play on the streets and people are just sitting on the side of the roads chatting and basically doing nothing. It was really nice to experience real Cuba and the way people are living there. On the next day we went to Playa Ancon – a very beautiful beach that still has some pristine charm. We spent the whole day there just lying and enjoying the sun. Water was rather warm to what we are used to, but nevertheless it was a very nice day.
From Trinidad we followed our plan and went to Santa Clara or as I would call it – a city of Che Guevara. Che is worshiped all around the town and propaganda was a bit more noticeable than in cities we have been to prior to Santa Clara. Here I would like to tell you that you really do not need one entire day in Santa Clara. We had one, but there is really not so much to do. After we left our backpacks in Casa we went to Museo del Tren Blendado. Museum is set on a place where an armoured train with Batista’s soldiers was derailed by Che Guevara and his group. This was one of more important actions and wins during revolution.
The most important sight in Santa Clara and the reason why most of the people come here is Che Guevara’s monument and mausoleum. I would say that I was not even that impressed. It is nice to see it but it is a classical socialist monument – a lot of concrete and the statue of Che on the top. If I would plan our trip to Cuba again I would plan at most half a day to spend in Santa Clara.
Next day was what I call a transport day. We spent almost 8 hours on bus on relation Santa Clara – Camaguey. Now we have started the not so touristy part of our trip. Camaguey is rather big city that was in the past often attacked by pirates. Because of that its streets were transformed into a maze to confuse pirates and protect people living in the city. We had spent there only an afternoon but a city centre was really beautiful. And we got lost in about 2 minutes – it really is difficult to get around and not get lost. Here we stayed in Casa that has an amazing garden with lots of plants.
Next day, very early in the morning we had a bus to Bayamo. It was our starting point for a trip to Comandancia de la Plata. City of Bayamo is very small so there is really not much to do or see. But they are planning to extend their offer of outside activities. The day we arrived we just wandered a bit around a town. That was also first time that was raining during our trip. Afternoon showers are actually something very common in May, especially on the eastern coast. Next morning we grabbed a taxi to Villa Santo Domingo – a small town 1 hour away from Bayamo, where all excursions to Comandancia de la Plata start. I would say this excursion was really a highlight of our Cuba, at least for me. Comandancia is a camp which was established by Fidel and his guerrilla soldiers, its location was so remote and well-hidden that Batista’s soldiers never came even near it.
After that, only one city was left for us to visit – Santiago de Cuba. That was the hottest place we have been to while on Cuba. It really was just too hot, so this is all I can remember :). Casa we stayed in was really nice, owners had a lot of pets – birds, turtles, peacock and a really nice big yard, where you could relax. We have done a walking tour recommended by Lonely Planet and it covers all the important places around the town – Cathedral, Plaza de Dolores, Plaza de Marte, Padre Pico steps and more.
So what was left on that point was Havana, again. This time we really enjoyed Havana, maybe because of cooler weather or because we weren’t totally lost in a hot, humid maze that Havana is. Capitolio, Habana Vieja and Plaza de la Revolucion greeted us with all the charm they have. We also visited other side of the bay – Fortaleza and castle. Some amazing pictured of the Havana can be taken from there.
And that was the end of our journey, so hopefully next one will follow soon!
Thank you for reading this 🙂