Located in the Sierra del Escambray is the fertile nature reserve of Parque Guanayara. The reserve has several hiking areas, of which Parque El Nicho is one of them. Many people arrive here from Cienfuegos city, which is around a 60km journey. The long, snaking road that leads towards El Nicho is known for its curvaceous beauty and it’s worth taking the time to visit El Nicho for the route alone.
Once inside the park, take the time to appreciate some of Cuba’s most stunning scenery. You’ll come across crystal-clear rivers and streams, secluded woodland, picturesque waterfalls and dramatic mountains that slowly give way to the ocean. The area is also home to the Cueva Martin Infierno - a cave and national monument that boasts Latin America’s biggest stalagmite, standing a breathtaking 67 metres tall. In addition, the remnants of Cuba’s indigenous Taino civilisation can still be found here.
Most visitors choose to head out on the beautiful nature trail known as Reino de las Aguas. This 1.5km route leads you far away from the beaten path, offering stunning views along the way.
Follow Reino de las Aguas and you’ll eventually wind up at El Nicho - the name of the park’s splendid waterfall. Fed by the Río Hanabanilla, El Nicho reaches 15m at its peak and seeing its wall of water cascade and crash over the jagged rocks below makes for a pretty impressive spectacle. You can also take a swim in the surrounding pools, which after all that walking will no doubt come as great relief. Nature lovers will also be enthralled by the abundancy of birdlife and it’s worth bringing binoculars and a camera to catch a glimpse of the variety of species on view here, which includes flamingos and various seabirds.
Reaching El Nicho is fairly straightforward. The journey from Cienfuegos will take you around two hours and you can hire a car or go by taxi then travel around the park independently. However, you can also easy book a half-day guided tour in Cienfuegos. Tours often include your lunch (the park has its own restaurant) and naturally take a lot of the hassle out of navigating around the park yourself.
The natural beauty of El Nicho offers a relaxing escape from Cuba’s busier tourist destinations, and for anyone travelling between Cienfuegos and Trinidad it’s an essential stop along the way.
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If you are interested in Cuba's incredibly diverse indigenous biodiversity, the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park is worth a visit. Featuring 16 of the 28 protected national plant species and several endemic animals and birds, even those less attracted to flora and fauna will be impressed by the landscape and unspoilt beaches. It is best accessed from Baracoa.
A visit to the Almendares Park is an opportunity to relax in a lush, green setting in the heart of the city. Located by the river-side of the Playa neighbourhood, the park is an example of forward-thinking urban planning and offers some leisure activities for adults and children alike as well as the chance to see Habaneros relaxing with their families.
Playa Ancon just might be Cuba's best south beach. A 15-minute drive from Trinidad, visitors will find white sand, clear water, great diving, and sunny skies on the end of Ancon peninsula. There are three luxury resorts for those looking for an opulent holiday, as well as more modest options for the budget-conscious.
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