Not far from colonial Trinidad lies the Sierra de Escambray, one of the most mountainous regions in all of Cuba. Housed within this area is the Topes de Collantes National Park, which offers travelers one of the best spots to take in some of Cuba’s endemic wildlife and landscapes. The park offers a little bit of everything, which is perfect when traveling with International Expeditions’ small-groups of both causal nature enthusiasts and avid birders. On Day 3 of our people-to-people Cuba travel program, we board large Russian trucks traveling into the mountains. Remember, we’re exploring secluded areas that cannot be accessed any other way. Here are some of the activities our staff promise will be true highlights when you're visiting this spectacular park.

Take in the flora and fauna
Of course, no excursion to a national park would be complete without spotting some of the endemic species. Fortunately, a number of Cuba's most spectacular species live inside the park. Our local Cuban naturalist will point out Cuban trogon – the country’s national bird — and the Cuban tody (pictured above) during our hike. You'll know the trogon by its dark blue back and vibrant red stomach. The tody is much smaller, predominately a beautiful emerald green color, with a short, red beak and pink coloring on its wings. IE guests and staff on summer Cuba departures spotted five endemic species in the park within minutes of beginning our hike!

Walk in Nature
Stretch your legs and discover why we love Collantes! These won't be boring, monotonous nature walks, either. Many of the paths through the area pass along rivers and waterfalls that make for fantastic photo ops. Some of these waterfalls even include a cool and refreshing pool that you can dip your toes in to cool off.

Sip some very local coffee
Cuba is home to some of the world's best coffee farms, and when you're visiting Topes de Collantes, you have the opportunity to try some very, very local brews. The area is home to a number of coffee farmers, as well as a coffee shop where we’ll sample the region's beans while chatting with the shop owners and locals stopping by the re-fuel for their day. There are a couple of ways to get your caffeine buzz in Cuba. Cafe con leche is a delicious, sweeter coffee drink made with milk. Those who like the stronger stuff can order a Cuban espresso, but beware — this beverage is much stronger than what you're likely to find stateside. The espresso does come highly recommended by our Destination Manager Melissa.