Alejandro Malagon

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I was born in 1981, and I have been travelling through the island with my friends since I was 18. On holidays, whether long or short, I always visit some new spot or return back to a place I liked.

I have other hobbies like reading, music and robotics (oh, wait! I'm sorry, that's not a hobby; it's my job as a Engineering teacher at the Technical University of Havana). No matter how much I enjoy these other hobbies, I never hesitate to pack my backpack and travel with my friends to any place in Cuba that is worth visiting.

We have made many of these tours in a "guerrilla" style - nothing to do with warfare though! In Cuba, we use this word to refer to going camping with friends and walking around natural and rural areas foregoing every luxury or comfort. We usually hitchhike (when we cannot afford the cost of a regular bus line) and carry our tents and supplies for several days (to save on the cost of food). No matter how heavy the baggage might be, this is how we feel freer.

Travelling in this fashion means that we do not follow the usual tourist routes, and go away from the regular tours by bus or with a tour guide. This allows us to make a stop whenever and wherever we want and get in direct contact with the locals; learning from their customs and way of life.

From the Cuchillas of Toa River (the word "Cuchillas" refers to the low-lying hills running along the river delta and they are named after the way their hilltops look, as if sharply cut with a blade) in the easternmost part of the country to the organos Mountain Range in the west, I have been to many good hiking areas. They are very picturesque and are seldom visited by tourist groups. In my blog, I will describe these beautiful landscapes out of the beaten path and away from the main tourist trail; I want to share my experiences with you.

I also want to tell you about my personal views on the things you can enjoy in the packaged tourist tours. They can take you to some spectacular sites in a safer, more comfortable and faster way.

Escambray is my favourite place, so I will probably write more about this part of Cuba, although I also hike through the mountains of Pinar del Rio and some parts of Sierra Maestra mountain range.

My second favourite thing I like to experience during my travels is the open-air festivals of different towns in Cuba. Ever since I first attended the Parrandas of Remedios in 2004, I regularly go to many events like this in different towns and cities around the country. The Romerias in Holguin, the Parrandas in Chambas and Remedios, the Charangas in Bejucal and Quivican and the carnivals in Santiago de Cuba are crowd-pleasing festivals. They are true examples of the talent and character of each city's residents and of Cubans' lively flair and fun-loving attitude in general.

By writing this blog, I'm making a dream of my "guerrilla" gang come true: unveiling all this hidden beauty. Therefore, I will include photos, maps, guides, tips and all the necessary information for you to plan your next holidays hiking in Cuba. It would be great to meet you in one of these adventures, hiking up and down a nature route of the Island.

Alejandro Malagon

Alejandro's Been There Done That

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Recent articles by Alejandro

  • 21 Dec 2016
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Hiking Cuba - Off the Beaten Path Journeys

El Salto del Nacimiento: the hidden beauty of Escambray

El Salto del Nacimiento is a breathtaking beauty not included in the commercialised tourist routes of Escambray. It is possible to get there departing from Cuatro Vientos town, a few kilometres away from Escambray Hotel in Topes de Collantes. The tracks to get there are hard to walk because they are out of trim and there is no signalling. It is a route that demands the best of your skills as tripper, and puts you in touch with the innermost places of the mountains of the central part of Cuba.
  • 08 Nov 2016
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Hiking Cuba - Off the Beaten Path Journeys

An underground waterfall: the incredible beauty of La Gruta

La Gruta, located in Topes de Collantes, part of Cuba's Escambray mountain range, is a cave worth visiting through which an underground river flows with a waterfall and a deep pond. The route to get there is hard, mostly due to the poorly maintained roads that take you to this marvel of nature. It's still a good route if you want to go trekking in Cuba, especially if you are in this area.
  • 23 Aug 2016
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Hiking Cuba - Off the Beaten Path Journeys

Mountain-climbing in the most beautiful land human eyes ever saw: the Yunque de Baracoa

The Yunque de Baracoa is a peculiar anvil-shaped mountain that stands about 500 metres high. Located near the city of Baracoa, it's a natural attraction to visit if you find yourself in Cuba's easternmost province. It's a true paradise that stands out amongst the many trekking and hiking trails in the heights of Cuchillas del Toa (Ridges of Toa). It's a route of great interest not only for its lush vegetation, the rivers and the scenic topography to be observed in this area, but also for historical reasons: it is the second landing point of the voyage of the discovery of the Americas made by Christopher Columbus. It is a medium difficulty route that can be made in about eight hours, and includes crossing the ford of the river and climbing to the top of the mountain (about 3,000 metres), from where you can enjoy a heavenly view.
  • 03 Jun 2016
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Hiking Cuba - off the beaten path journeys

Cuba's mysterious, undiscovered places: La Cueva de la Virgen

Caves are abundant throughout the Sierra del Rosario (Rosario mountain range) in Pinar del Rio, one of the main natural attractions in Cuba's westernmost province. One of the most interesting and least explored is La Cueva de la Virgen, crossed by the Taco-Taco River in the paradisiacal area of Jardines de Aspiro (Aspiro's Gardens). Even though finding the cave and reaching it is a challenge in itself for it is a very tough route, diving down the almost-underwater chambers and arches of this cavern, becomes an adventure not completely fear-free. If you are looking for a place to live out a natural adventure with a somewhat complex route near Pinar del Rio City or Las Terrazas Resort, this might be your ideal choice.
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