Cuba’s highest and most extensive mountain range, the Sierra Maestra stretches along the southern coast of the island, running the length of both Santiago and Granma provinces. The unruly beauty of the landscape – a vision of churning seas, undulating green-gold mountains and remote sugar fields – will take your breath away.
Access to the mountains is restricted, but there are some excellent trails, most notably through the stunning cloudforest of the Parque Nacional Turquino to the island’s highest point, Pico Turquino, at 1974m. Although a considerable part of the Sierra Maestra falls in Santiago province, Parque Nacional Turquino included, the best chance you have to do any trekking is to base yourself in Bayamo, where you can arrange a guide and suitable transport.
The main trails begin at the lookout point of Alto del Naranjo, 5km southeast of Villa Santo Domingo, which marks the start of the mountains proper. When the mountains are off limits this is as far as many people get, but at 950m above sea level, the panoramic views are awe-inspiring. Most people, especially those planning to trek further into the mountains, make the journey up the immensely steep ascent road to Alto del Naranjo in a sturdy jeep provided by Cubataxi or Ecotur.