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Cuba: Explore Escambray

12th Oct 2024 - 20th Oct 2024

9 days/Cuba /Moderate to Challenging


Join us on this brand new destination for 2024 as we trek across central Cuba’s Escambray mountains!

Discover the old-world charm of the vibrant and buzzing capital city Havana with its iconic architecture and beautifully maintained vintage American cars. Then slip off the tourist trail to discover the island’s second largest mountain range.

Spend five days in the Escambray mountains traversing its verdant slopes, swimming in waterfalls and natural ponds and sleeping in rural haciendas and casas along the way. Round off your trip by stepping back in time with a walking tour of the historic town of Trinidad.

You don’t have to fundraise to join an open challenge but you can support a charity of your choice if you wish. See the costs tab for more details.

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The trek is rated moderate to challenging for someone of a good fitness level. You will be trekking for five consecutive days, averaging 6 hours each day. The terrain is steep and can be slippery in places. The basic facilities, simple foods and tropical climate can also be challenging for some.

The mountains of Cuba may not be very high but the trails can be steep and very slippery. Some of the steeper paths do have wooden steps but they can be uneven and difficult to navigate. Underfoot the terrain will vary and some sections will be through dense vegetation.

Cuba has a tropical climate with the rainy season running from May to October. There is a risk of stormy weather but these usually recedes towards the end of the month. It can feel quite humid through the year and temperature in November can be between 22°C and 31°C, averaging around 27°C during the day.

However you must be prepared for variations to this which are out of our control. Please note: the temperatures and conditions above are historically accurate but climate change can impact the seasons so you may experience uncharacteristic conditions during the trip which are out of our control.

The guides will assess the situation and make decisions to ensure the best enjoyment and safety of the group.

Meals are provided as per the itinerary but it’s worth noting that Cuba does not have the same variety of international cuisine as we may be used to at home.
It may not be very varied or exciting but you can expect to eat traditional soul foods such as rice, black beans, slow roasted meats, seafood and plenty of tropical fruit.
Please inform us in advance if you have any dietary requirements or preferences and we will do our best to cater to them.
We recommend that you bring snacks from the UK, especially vegetarians/vegans as the variety can be lacking.

You will be staying in a mix of hotels and casa particulares throughout the trip.
Hotels may be very basic and old fashioned by usual standards but they will be comfortable. Rooms will be based on a twin-share and have ensuite facilities.
Casa particulares are Cuban B&Bs and range from bunk houses with dorm rooms to private rooms in family homes. Spending time at the casas gives you a great opportunity to live like the locals and learn about their way of life.
You will also spend one night camping during the trek. This will either be in shared tents (two to a tent) or on foam mattresses under the eaves of a hacienda.

The trip is accompanied by local professional English-speaking guides who have an excellent knowledge of the culture and trekking in the region. The guides are first aid trained and will support you throughout your journey. You will also be accompanied by a team of support staff  and a Different Travel Company UK tour manager.

You must be 18+ to participate on this trek unaccompanied. It may be possible to participate if you are 16 or 17 years old but you must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. There is no upper age limit. The ideal candidate would be fit, healthy and determined, open to adventure and adaptable to unexpected changes.


Trip Itinerary for Cuba Escambray

Day 1 (Saturday 12 October 2024):

London – Havana
Depart from London on an indirect flight to Cuba’s capital city, Havana.  On arrival we will transfer to our hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.
Meals: Dinner

Day 2 (Sunday 13 October 2024):

Havana – Hanabanilla Lake
This morning we will have to time to explore Cuba’s capital and also the Caribbean’s largest city – Havana. Founded in 1519, you will feel transported back in time 50 years or so as we explore the city’s colourful and eclectic historic centre. This afternoon we will set off for Hanabanilla Lake, set high in the Escambray Mountains and the starting point of our trek.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3 (Monday 14 October 2024):

Hanabanilla Lake
We begin our day with a hike around the Hanabanilla reservoir – a favourite spot of the former high level Cuban leaders who used to visit the area to rest, walk and fish.  The spectacular surroundings provide a wonderful introduction to Cuban endemic flora and fauna as we take a step away from the usual tourist trails.
Trek distance: Approx. 15 km
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4 (Tuesday 15 October 2024):

Hanabanilla Lake – Guanayara
Today we will take a boat across the lake and start trekking across the Escambray Mountains, Cuba’s second largest mountain range.  We will head towards the Salto de Rocio, a 25m high waterfall, for a refreshing swim before we reach an old hacienda where we’ll set up camp overnight. On the way you may see Cuban trogons, hummingbirds and woodpeckers. Tonight you can choose to sleep in your tent or you may prefer to sleep on mats under the eaves of the hacienda.
Trek distance: Approx. 15km
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5 (Wednesday 16 October 2024):

Guanayara – Codina
We continue uphill into the mountains today where you’ll be surrounded by slopes of Caribbean pines and an abundance of ancient tree-ferns, bamboo and eucalyptus.  After a packed lunch at a small farmhouse we head for a second hacienda which we reach in the late afternoon.  From there we have a bus transfer to our hotel where we’ll be staying for the next 2 nights, making a relaxing stop at a local Coffee House enroute.
Trek distance: Approx. 12km
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6 (Thursday 17 October 2024):

Codina – Caburní – Vegas Grandes – Codina
After breakfast you will have an arduous, mostly uphill trek along the trail known as Caburní – Vegas Grandes. This trail takes you through dense vegetation deep into the heart of the Escambray Mountains until you reach an astonishing waterfall and natural pond, the “Vegas Grandes”.  This is a great place to swim and relax before we continue to a hacienda for a late lunch before returning to the hotel.
Trek distance: Approx. 13km
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7 (Friday 18 October 2024):

Codina – Mangos Pelones – Javira – El Cubano – Trinidad
The last day of our trek is through dry scrub with occasional views of the turquoise Caribbean. After breakfast we drive to the starting point, Mangos Pelones, and head towards another beautiful waterfall, where you’ll have a final chance to swim. Then we continue towards El Cubano and complete our trek.  Celebrate with a Cuban cocktail before heading to the hotel for a light lunch and a well-deserved afternoon at the beach.
Trek distance: Approx. 13km
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8 (Saturday 19 October 2024):

Trinidad – Havana
After breakfast we check out and enjoy a walking tour of Trinidad, the town is a living museum, with cobbled streets and colonial-style housing. It has changed little in the last 150 years, and is a wonderful place to wander around and soak up the atmosphere of Cuba. We’ll have some free time for an early lunch and then set off for Havana where we have dinner and overnight stay.
Meals: Breakfast and dinner

Day 9 (Sunday 20 October 2024):

Havana – London
Depending on the flight time, we may have some free time to explore Havana further, before transferring to the airport for our indirect flight back to the UK which arrives the following day.
Meals: Breakfast

N.B. This itinerary may change due to weather, the ability of the group and so on. We do our best to keep to the itinerary but we cannot be held responsible for changes that occur outside of our control. Your guide and tour leader has the final say in the interest of the group’s health and safety

Costs & How to pay

Registration fee: £495
and then either…

Self-funded: £2495


Sponsorship: £4990


Flexi: £2495 trip costs and £2495 sponsorship for a charity* of your choice


This option is for those who wish to raise sponsorship to cover both the costs of the trip (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) and a donation to their chosen charity. There is a minimum sponsorship amount for each trip that you are required to raise in order to participate.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • The minimum sponsorship must be paid to the charity 12 weeks prior to departure.
  • The amount the charity receives is at least 50% of the minimum sponsorship total.


This option is for those who choose to pay the trip costs (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) themselves while still raising some funds for the charity.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • Trip cost balance is payable to Different Travel and your fundraising is payable to the charity 10 weeks prior to departure.
  • Any fundraising undertaken cannot be used for your trip costs.


This option is for those who choose to pay the trip costs (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) themselves. There is no sponsorship required although if you wish to raise sponsorship for a charity you are welcome to do so.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • Trip cost balance is payable to Different Travel 10 weeks prior to departure.
  • You are welcome to fundraise separately for any charity of your choice but this is not mandatory. Any fundraising undertaken cannot be used for your trip costs.

*If your chosen charity is not on this list, please seek permission to fundraise for them by taking part in this challenge before making your booking.

What's included

  • Return flights from London
  • Airport taxes and charges
  • All transport in Cuba
  • All accommodation (hotel ( 6 nights), camping (1 nights), casas (1 night))
  • Meals as specified
  • English-speaking guide
  • Different Travel UK tour manager

What's not included

  • Any visa or vaccinations required
  • Transport to/from UK airport
  • Personal expenses (e.g. drinks, souvenirs, etc.)
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips (approx. £45-50 per person)

Got a Question?

If you’ve a question about this challenge that you can’t find the answer to within the given information then complete this quick form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.