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Cayo Santa Maria Day Trip to Topes de Collantes

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A day trip from Cayo Santa Maria to Topes de Collantes whisks you away into the cool, verdant mountains of Cuba, where you can hike, discover stunning waterfalls, and sip some of the best coffee the island has to offer. Tours are easily arranged at your Santa Maria resort, or you can hire a private taxi for a more personalized adventure. If you opt for a taxi, we highly recommend hiring a guide to enhance your experience.

A local guide can offer historical and ecological insights about Topes de Collantes, ensuring you get the most out of the area’s outdoor experiences and magnificent waterfalls.

Cuba is brimming with underrated gems and may just be the surprise you need to reignite your sense of adventure.

Back to nature in Cuba

Nature takes centre stage in this Cuban rainforest with its caves, waterfalls, mountains, hummingbirds and woodpeckers. Topes de Collantes is home to 40 species of orchids, pine forests and numerous varieties of coffee planted along the mountain slopes. This vast nature reserve is divided into seven tourist areas or parks, each with its own trails and outdoor activities. Ask your guide or tour company which area of the reserve you’ll be visiting. Our top picks are Parque Guanayara and Parque Altiplano.

Parque Guanayara

One of the most popular eco-tours in the Topes de Collantes is at Parque Guanayara. Your adventure begins aboard old Russian army trucks, rumbling up and down the steep mountain roads – a bumpy, petrol-scented ride that’s surprisingly fun.

Thankfully, the bumpy ride doesn’t last long and you’ll soon be exploring the area’s most scenic trails. A 3km hike along the Guanayara River includes a stop at the breathtaking Cascado El Rocio waterfall. The trail then descends to Poza del Venado, a natural pool perfect for a refreshing dip.

Bring water shoes and a swimsuit to wear under your clothes if you plan to swim. The tour ends with a well-deserved lunch at Casa la Gallega, a traditional Cuban hacienda. The menu includes chicken, rice, potatoes and salad – simple Cuban fare that’s absolutely delicious after a day of exploring.

Parque Altiplano

Salto Caburni, one of the highest waterfalls in Cuba, is located in Parque Altiplano. This eco-park is the most developed area in the Topes de Collantes, with hotels, a museum of contemporary Cuban art, the Casa de Café café and the Mi Retiro restaurant. Most of the trails are well marked and easy to follow without a guide, but it’s always a good idea to discuss your plans with park staff.

The trail to Salto Caburni starts at the Kurhotel Escambray, a hotel and former tuberculosis treatment centre. The first part of the walk is relatively easy, but be prepared for a challenging climb back after visiting the waterfalls and the large natural pool below. Wear walking shoes, take breaks and bring plenty of water, especially on warm, sunny days. If time allows and you’re feeling adventurous, continue your walk above the falls via a wooden ladder to La Cascada, where you can climb a steep rock face. Good footwear is essential for this climb. The views are spectacular, with surrounding canyons and the roar of the river cascading beside and below you.

Finish your day in the Parque Altiplano with a visit to the Casa Museo Del Café. This fascinating combination museum and café offers an excellent cup of coffee. If you’re a coffee lover, consider buying the Arabica beans. They’re a little pricey at around 5 CUC for a small bag, but it’s as organic and local as it gets, and you’ll savour every last drop.

All photo credits: Visit Cuba

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