Published on 28 May, 2017.
Wherever you might be in the Baracoa region, the captivating sight of majestic mount El Yunque (The Anvil) seems to call you to hike to the summit through beautiful endemic flora and fauna.
A strikingly iconic natural presence, El Yunque is closely tied to Baracoa’s identity. Baracoans consider it a symbol of our city and our region.
You are in a beautiful natural protected area!
El Yunque stands within a natural protected area – part of the Cuban sustainable environment management system.
With its summit at 575 meters above sea level, El Yunque attracts hundreds of travelers every year, inspired by adventure tourism, nature tourism, ecotourism and sustainable travel.
The local flora and fauna are at the core of protection efforts. Thus you can only access the summit following an official guide via a well-defined, narrow trail.
Wade through the Duaba, keep your eyes open for the local fauna
As you engage this medium-difficulty hike, you will wade through the crystal-clear waters of river Duaba. After walking through a cocoa farm, you’ll be able to observe a variety of species of plants and trees, including tree ferns and different types of palm trees.
You will come across various animal species, some of them unique to the area:
- The “tocororo” (Cuban trogon, Priotelus temnurus) Cuba’s blue, red and white-feathered national bird
- The bright green “chipojo” or “saltacocote” lizard (Anolis baracoae)
- The tiniest frog on earth at barely 9.8 mm (Eleutherodactylus iberia)
- The colourful, Baracoa-endemic Polymita picta snails.
Half-way up – a fruit bar and a lookout point
Mid-way up, a small wooden cabin waits at an excellent lookout point, with a fruit bar offering a variety of seasonal produce: papaya, mango, coconut, orange, grapefruit, guava, star fruit, etc. A great way to rebuild your energy for the second half of the hike!
At the summit – the fresh air and the unique views!
The going gets significantly steep towards the last part of the hike – you will feel the burn! But when you get to the summit you will be rewarded by an amazing view that reaches out all the way to the town of Baracoa, both the Baracoa and Miel Bays, and rivers Duaba and Toa’s tibaracones (long sand banks where the rivers meet the sea).
At El Yunque’s summit you will also find the Coccothrinax Yunquensis, a palm tree endemic not to the region, but exclusively to mount El Yunque. Something you can see nowhere else in the world!
Going down, another perspective on the local environment
After enjoying such beautiful sights, the hike down will certainly offer you a different perspective on the natural environment you crossed on the way up. But do keep minding your step!
Once you reach the base of the mount, you can bathe in the crystal-clear waters of river Duaba and treat yourself to a tasty, traditional countryside meal at a peasant family’s home!
Practical information – and budget tips!
- Duration of the hike: 2 hours going up and 2 more hours to come down from the top (a total of 4 hours).
- El Yunque sits in a protected natural area. Taking a guide for the hike to the mount’s summit is compulsory. The guided hike to top of the mountain costs 13 CUC, to be paid at the entrance to the protected area.
- Recommendations: bring water to drink. Wear good hiking shoes. There will be some slippery stretches (the hike is best done on a day when it didn’t rain the previous day). Start the hike early in the morning, to avoid the stronger heat later around noon or in the afternoon.
- There are washrooms at the entrance of the protected area, as well as a small convenience store selling bottled water, soft drinks, snacks.
- A taxi from Baracoa to the entrance of the protected area will charge you 25 CUC. It will wait for you there to bring you back to Baracoa.
- A traditional meal at a peasant family’s home will cost you around 5 CUC, plus 1 CUC for a soft drink or 1.50 CUC for a beer.
- You can also cycle from Baracoa to the entrance of the protected area. Renting a good bicycle in Baracoa for the day can cost between 5 and 6 CUC. Villa Paradiso offers its guests beautifully created cycling maps to the Baracoa region – our treat! We invite you to learn more about cycling and cyclotourism in Baracoa.
- You can combine the hike to El Yunque’s top with a splash at the pristine pool by the Duaba waterfalls (Las Cascadas, fee: 8 CUC, to be paid at the entrance of the protected area). You can do them both on one day or each one on a different day.