Declared a biosphere reserve in 1987, Cuchillas del Toa is one of Cuba’s main evolutionary centres, as well as a place of refuge from the Caribbean and American biota. Found nestled between Guantanamo and Holguin, is it one of the largest and most well-preserved mountain ecosystems in the region, with 15 watersheds, and 32 sub-basins.
None of the mountains goes particularly high, especially when compared with the Sierra Maestra region, but the “Ridges of Toa” are a truly breath-taking experience. The nature reserve stretches across 2083 kilometres, so there are plenty of different starting points for a hike along these mountains, and some of the most glorious spots can be found close to the shore.
There is the occasional area around the Cuchillas del Toa mountain range that aren’t protected, and so you will see cattle farming and the like. Sure, this is less pretty, but a fantastic insight into the local culture and way of life for a typical Cuban farmer. If culture’s not quite your thing though, don’t worry; the isolated nature of the reserve means it’s very easy to escape any signs of humanity. Which, of course, is why it was a favourite spot among escaped slaves, running from nearby plantations in the 1800s.