Las Cuevas to Santiago de Cuba--Cuba, Part 2 (2014)

Las Cuevas to Santiago de Cuba--Cuba, Part 2 (2014)

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 19.94067°N / 76.85999°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jun 8, 2014
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Summer

Las Cuevas to Santiago de Cuba

NOTE: Do not eat any meal made from a pig from this area.
arriving at las cuevas

Las Cuevas
: Not much here.No kitchen or cooking facilities. 1 dorm room with 3 beds. 1 shower and 1 toilet (bucket flush), and of course, no sink. You can sleep here for 10cuc, either take a bed or sleep out on the covered patio or lawn. They will get you a mattress to sleep on or you can use your own stuff (tent okay). I choose the bed (I was the only one here) since it was next to the bathroom, and it looked like rain was coming. Not really a store around, but I found a family who sold beer from their house. I thought that was funny, so a walked down and over and had a few with the father (10np=cheap). There is no beach here—just a rocky shoreline. Nothing to do here.
las cuevas  campismo

pico turquino and pico cuba from las cuevas

My guide said you can arrange to hike from this side, and that there was an Eco-Your guide in the village next door, BUT, you can avoid them and arrange the hike with the guides at the campismo and save money. He told me you can arrange the following with these prices:
Las Cuevas to Pico back to Las Cuevas (1 day) = 20cuc
Las Cuevas to La Majagua (overnight) to Pico back to Las Cuevas = 65cuc
Las Cuevas to a waterfall and back = 20cuc

Buses: If you want to catch a bus (3rd class gua-gua) towards Santiago de Cuba, here are the following bus times:
Las Cuevas to Chivirico—6:30am—daily—10np
La Mula to Chivirico—6am and 7am—daily—5np
Chivirico to Santiago de Cuba—various buses—every 30 minutes—from 10np to 5cuc

I decided to hike to La Mula and overnight it there at the campismo. It’s a 12K coastal hike from Las Cuevas to La Mula. There is nothing to see, but it is a quiet, peaceful hike. No water sources except a small village 1/2 way. Took me 2 hours. Here is my breakdown:
1—5K: Coastal road hike. Absolutely no traffic at all and no shade. At 5K there is a small beach to swim at.
coastal road

beach before la mula

6K: A small village with zocalo and plaza. I kept walking, but this is a nice spot to rest or get something to eat and drink if you want. There is no other watering spot until La Mula. I think this place is called Punta Turquino, or Ocujal.
8K: Small beach to swim at (after large horse ranch).
9—12K: Nothing. Start asking anyone you come across the distance to La Mula.

La Mula: It’s easy to miss. Once you turn a bend and see a bridge, that’s it on your right. Right at the bridge, you take a path down to the campismo area. Rooms cost 7cuc night for a double w/o AC; 11cuc with AC. (The electricity is turned off 2x/day and turned back on in the early evening because it runs on a generator. Restaurant open. Dinner cost 2-3cuc. Small bar available from 9am to 7pm—cheap drinks. Ask the bartender about the dance hall music next door after 10pm. Have fun! No beach here—rocky shoreline, but there are a few watering holes to swim in in or take a dip. Keep your food and snacks closed up in your room. I found a large cockroach in my backpack in the pm, and when I went to take a midnight pee, there was a large rat in the bathroom. If you have a second night here, ask the bartender about a waterfall to go swimming at. Bus from here to Chivirico leaves at 6am and 7am—daily. Catch it right on top of the bridge where you came down the path.
la mula room


There are 3 types of Gua-guas in Cuba:
1st class gua-gua = Viazul Bus
2nd class gua-gua = older a/c buses
3rd class gua-gua = cattle trucks with covering.

The bus you catch from here to Chivirico is a 3rd class gua-gua. There is one that comes at 6am and one at 7am. It is packed, so you will stand for the entire ride. The continuous bouncing and jolting will be treacherous on your back, but hiking from here to Chivirico is too far. This bus cost only 10np. Takes about 2 hours to Chivirico—no rest stops. Everyone gets off at Chivirico. There are many food stands and a cafeteria. Walk up the street about 2 blocks and ask someone where the bus stop is. They’ll point to a blue sign behind some tree branches. This is where you can catch a 2nd class gua-gua to Santiago de Cuba. Right across the street is a store (La Bodega). If you need English-speaking help, there is a guy (Ismael) who speaks English who lives in the light-blue house behind La Bodega. He told me there is a casa particular—Casa de Eva—1 block south around the corner form the bus stop. Bus to Santiago de Cuba costs 5cuc. Takes 1 hour to get there.

Santiago de Cuba:
Everyone gets off at a stop just outside of the city. Walk up 2 blocks to the Centrol de Negocios. From there, flag down a moto-taxi (bici-taxi) to take you to the Viazul Bus Terminal (If there is more than one of you, flag down 2 moto-taxi dudes. This costs 1cuc. They will let you off in front of the Viazul/Astro Bus Terminal. I went ahead and bought my return ticket to Havana (They fill up fast). Here are the bus times from Santiago de Cuba to Havana:

Viazul: Daily, 8am—arrive 12pm, 3pm—arrive 7am, 645pm—arrive 7am (express), 10pm—arrive 10am = cost is 51cuc
Astro: Daily, 5am—arrive 7pm = cost is 41cuc  (Not as classy of a bus, locals say Viazul is better).

I bought the Viazul 6:45 express bus. Has only 1 stop, but has a toilet on board. It is 2 hours shorter than the other ones, more open seats because there are fewer stops, and I can sleep through the night.

Places to Stay in SdC: Many casa particulares up in the central plaza area. I choose one that is the closest to the bus station, Casa Isabel. It is literally 2 minutes from Viazul bus terninal. Hard to find, so ask someone if necessary. Looks like a slum area, but people are nice. Find the bici-taxi stand and walk past them 20 meters. There is a doorbell on the gate. Narrow staircase up. There are 2 rooms, 20cuc with breakfast, 15 without, your own bathroom (and a sink!), A/C. She’s a great help with phone calls and recommendations. No Internet.
Another casa I checked out but did not stay at is up in the central plaza area. I liked this area and walked there daily from Casa Isabel. Casa Celita, Heredia No. 613, %Marti y Paraiso. 2 rooms, 20cuc with breakfast, roof balcony, near all the downtown action. The only thing I did not like about staying at Casa Isabel is that someone stole my Monte-Bel Insulating Jacket ($80) when I stored some stuff while up at Gran Piedra. Be careful with your belongings. As nice as people are here, they’re just like other poor people. I spent Wednesday-through Friday in Santiago de Cuba.


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