Closer to Trinidad but actually easier to access from Santa Clara, 50km away, Embalse Hanabanilla, a 36-square-kilometre reservoir, twists, turns and stretches around the hills in a valley on the northern edges of the Sierra del Escambray. On arrival, views of the reservoir reveal no more than a small section as it slinks out of sight behind the steep slopes which make up most of its borders, some of them covered in thick forest and others grassy and peppered with palm trees. Along with its unforgettable setting, the reservoir’s claims to fame are as the only reservoir powering an electric power station in Cuba and as the host to the largest population of largemouth bass in the world, making it one of the prime locations for freshwater fishing in Cuba. The bass in here reach record sizes, many weighing in at over 7kg, attracting a growing number of enthusiasts from abroad. Peak season for fishing is from November until the end of March.
Whether on a day-trip from Santa Clara or a longer stay, almost all visits are channelled through the Hanabanilla hotel. On the whole, the banks of the reservoir are difficult to access, though the various boat excursions offered by the hotel offer a way round this.