Should you be making your way towards the Sierra de Sancti Spíritus (the colloquial name given to the eastern half of Cuba's Escambray Mountains), consider an excursion into the little-lauded Alturas de Banao. This modest ecological reserve is packed with limestone mountains (mogotes), forests, rivers (Rio Cayajaná), waterfalls, hiking trails, and unique plant and animal life, providing a great adventurous alternative to the more popular Topes de Collantes Nature Park nearby.
For starters, you'll want to set up home base at the Planta Cantú cabins/campsite, located about 4 km off Route 12 between Banao and Sancti Spiritus. From here, you'll have easy access to several hiking trails and waterfalls, including the small but refreshing Cascada la Bella and the 6 km La Sabina biological camp trek. If you prefer things a little more on the rugged/cultural side, consider setting up a mountainous excursion to El Pedrero, site of Che Guevara's former guerrilla headquarters dubbed "Comandancia del Guerrillero Heroico." Topping out at 842 m, the peaks around Alturas de Banao may not be breathtakingly tall, but the green-brown, craggy, river-strewn landscape will likely leave an impression that most other Cuban travelers will miss out on. Check our links for more details.
Location:Sancti Spiritus, Cuba