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El Yunque National Park: Complete Travel Guide

If the mysterious anvil shape of El Yunque troubled Christopher Columbus himself, it is not for nothing!

Classified as a national park, El Yunque invites visitors to discover the incredible diversity of Cuban flora and fauna.

So put on your hiking boots and let yourself be seduced by the beauty of the landscapes of this small lush paradise!

El Yunque in a few words

Located a few miles from Baracoa (where we strongly recommend you to take up residence for a few days to discover the region), it is in the Province of Guantanamo, in the extreme west of Cuba, that you will have to go to discover El Yunque.

El Yunque, literally “the anvil”, raises its distinctive silhouette 575 meters above sea level.

In his logbook, Christopher Columbus described it as “a high, square mountain, like an island.”

Wedged between the Duaba and Toa rivers, El Yunque is actually a “mesa,” a mountain topped by a plateau caused by erosion.

baracoa cuba
baracoa cuba photo ©TristanQuevilly

The region’s tropical climate, characterized by abundant rainfall, fosters a very rich ecosystem

You will discover many endemic species, including the famous tocororo, the Cuban national bird, the zunzuncito or polymitas, small colored snails.

You may also be able to observe Taino vestiges: the indigenous community that inhabited Cuba before the arrival of the Spanish.

How to get to El Yunque

To reach El Yunque, you have to head about 10 kilometers west of Baracoa.

Cubatur offers a daily excursion for (16 CUC per person).

Please note that a minimum of 4 participants is required for the excursion to take place.

You can also rent a cab for the day: count about 20 CUC.

The bravest can also take a bicycle cab to the intersection between the road to Moa and the road to El Yunque.

The bicycle-taxi can only go so far and the rest of the way (4 kilometers) must be done on foot.

The walk is nice and allows you to enjoy beautiful views of El Yunque.

El Yunque is a national park: you will have to pay an entrance fee (8 CUC to access the waterfall, 13 CUC for the ascent of El Yunque) and you must be accompanied by a guide

The ascent of El Yunque

A 4 kilometer trail leads to the summit of El Yunque (8 km round trip).

It took us about two hours to get there and one hour to get back.

The hike begins by crossing a lookout on the Duaba River.
Some portions are a bit strenuous, especially by

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big heat, but the climb is quite feasible, even if you are not a great walker.

Our guide was not very talkative but knew the region like the back of his hand.

He made us discover the birds, the insects and the endemic plants of the region.

From the top, the view on Baracoa, the delta of Toa and the sea in the distance is magnificent.
On the way back, a small refreshing break in the river is welcome! It is also possible to extend the hike to the waterfall.

Before you start climbing El Yunque, make sure you take at least 2 liters of water per person.
We only had one liter per person and bitterly regretted it.

By the time you take a short break at the top and take a dip in the river, the hike can easily take 4 to 5 hours, and there is no way to buy food along the way (there is only a small store at the “campismo” at the bottom of El Yunque).

It may be useful to bring some snacks with you.

And finally, don’t forget your bathing suit: the little splash in the Duaba River at the end of the hike is providential!

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