The usual routes are good. They take you to spectacular places, are well signalised and the professional guides are very helpful. However, they do not cover all the remarkable places, There are always beautiful geographical spots that, for a variety of reasons, have no routes established and promoted by the travel agencies. There are several places around Cuatro Vientos town in Escambray that are out of the common tourist route maps, but can contend in terms of beauty and uniqueness with the best and most frequented tracks. El Salto del Nacimiento is one of these untravelled and beauty by-result places.
|Location:||Cuatro Vientos, Escambray, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba|
|Difficulty:||High (out of trim tracks and no signalling)|
|Distance:||About 4 Km|
|Start point:||Cuatro Vientos (Four Winds) town|
|End point:||Salto del Nacimiento (Birth Waterfall)|
|What to see:||Waterfalls, mountain tracks, tobacco and coffee plantations, farmer houses|
|What to take and wear:||Waders that can protect your ankles, shorts, long-sleeved shirt, and bathing suit. Take with you insect repellent, sunscreen, water, towels|
Salto del Nacimiento
This natural accident is a 15-meter-high waterfall. Its size per se is of no relevance amongst the many waterfalls in these mountains; neither does its flow, which is not little, but does no impress for its strength. What distinguishes this fall from the rest I have seen in Escambray is the designer landscape in which it is inserted. Everything around it looks as if wilfully sketched, like the Zen gardens, but in a not-so-probable scale for the Japanese gardeners.
Small bamboo forest in el Salto del Nacimiento
Nature has conferred it an air of intimacy and quietness that one cannot find in the highly frequented routes. It is located in the bottom of a valley northeast of the town and one can get there by two different ways. An essential issue: it is unwise to venture to go to El Salto del Nacimiento without a local guide. I have tried it and it doesn’t work well; the tracks are confusing, with no signs and many branching. In Cuatro Vientos town you can bargain a guide for a reasonable price ($8.00 CUC or £5.00). This may be easy; many villagers will be willing to take you there even for free. However, at the end of the tour, a thank-offering will be appreciated.
Valley of the waterfall
You should trust the guide as to what way to take. If it does not look like rain and the roads are dry, it is better to take the track that goes down directly to the valley. Otherwise, the ideal track is the one that goes by the road from the junction to the ranch at about a kilometre and a half ahead. This second track is the most “impermeable” and you have fewer possibilities to get lost, but it is more physically demanding. You should do this route early in the morning. The probabilities of raining in the afternoons are very high and the roads and tracks get worse.
Pine trees on the way by the road
The dirt track is much shorter and more natural, but don’t ever take it if it has rained recently. This track passes by several farms so you will have to cross some fence lines. Always look for the gates or other entrances which are usually open. Jumping over the fences can damage them, and you can bother the owners who are generally very agreeable with passers-by. Bear in mind that all the fruit trees you will find on your way have an owner, and taking anything without permission would be inappropriate.
Road that connects Cuatro Vientos with El Salto del Nacimiento
From a fenced crossroad, the track starts to go down into the valley and becomes less rideable, even flooded at times. You have to be ready to use improvised bridges made of logs and go down slippery steeps and crossing small becks. Having a guide is essential in this part of the route because of the highly branched track.
A beck near the Salto del Nacimiento
Once you have arrived to El Salto del Nacimiento, you can enjoy the caress of its very cold waters. There are several pools for having a swim, even diving under the fall. We recommend you to have a towel at hand; having a sunbath is not an option, for there is little sunlight in this part of the cannon.
Keep in mind that it is highly probable that it rains after two-three p.m., so you should start back before this time. If you happen to ignore these advices, and you are caught out under a heavy rain, don’t ever say I didn’t tell, and take shelter in a farmer’s house to the right above the fall. You can also take shelter under a rock ledge some tens of metres away on the track.
Don’t fool yourself, trekking on a track like this is challenging, but there is a worthy reward at the end. You can stand at ease in one of the most beautiful and cosy falls of Escambray, and prove your skills in trekking hard tracks. You will even see nature and the living conditions on these mountains au naturel; an enriching experience of your stay in Cuba and the possibility of matching together with your fellow trekkers.