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recaro94 Trinidad - A travel report by Cody
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Trinidad,  Cuba - flag Cuba -  Sancti Spíritus
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recaro94's travel reports

Trinidad - Cuba's Time Capsule

  6 votes
I was excited to experience Trinidad's old world feel and was not disappointed. Trinidad embraces its nature, cobblestone streets and ornate churches. We also explored the nearby Iznaga Tower and El Nicho waterfall.

View of the mountains from Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco's bell tower
View of the mountains from Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco's bell tower
Trinidad is a beautiful city that lies at the base of the Escambray mountains near the south coast of Cuba. It is probably the second most popular tourist destination after Havana, a distinction it deserves. It feels very rustic as its street layout is complex, poorly labelled and predominantly cobblestone. Trinidad was also the best place to buy paintings we found in Cuba. There were more art shops here than even Havana. Trinidad also has an extensive market selling lace tablecloths and things of that nature. If you're into that sort of thing, it seemed very impressive. Trinkets and little tourist items are also much cheaper here than anywhere else. Little cigar holders for 3-4 cigars were going for 2 CUC here, whereas they were upwards of 10 in Havana and Cienfuegos. The Iznaga Tower nearby is also worth the 10 minute drive for the views it offers and to see the wonderfully designed old tower. El Nicho waterfall was worth the drive as well, dubbed one of the worlds most beautiful. We got extremely lost on our way to El Nicho but I will detail our mistakes and how to get there later. I had great difficulty finding any information on the internet about how to get to El Nicho. El Nicho cost 4 CUC, the bell tower at Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco and Iznaga tower were one CUC each.

Favourite spots:
Church on the east side
Church on the east side
My favourite spot was the square across the street from the large old church on the east side of town. Unfortunately I didn't get its name, but it is roofless and crumbling, a beautiful old church. Like most of Cuba, you can explore it at will and its lovely to walk through and gaze up at the steeple from inside. I also enjoyed climbing the bell tower at the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco. The museum in the back holds a Cuban army boat, truck, many artifacts and the wreckage of an American plane. The tower offers unmatched views of the town and surrounding area. In general, the best part of Trinidad is just spending time in its streets.

What's really great:
View from the Bell tower at Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco of central Trinidad
View from the Bell tower at Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco of central Trinidad
While the drive from Trinidad to Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus is undeniably beautiful (countless beaches, mountains, crab migrations!) I'd like to say something about the drive from Santa Clara through the mountains. Not the best road, as it is insanely steep, curvy and peppered with unpredicatable potholes, but it was one of the most beautiful drives we did in Cuba, which is saying something considering we drove the entire country. One local called it the Road of Death, but after having driven all three routes into Trinidad I have to say the Santa Clara one was my favourite. The view of Trinidad and the ocean when you come over the last hill is breathtaking, and it goes past both Hanabanilla and Topes de Collantes (which is a two hour walk, no one warns you about that). Trinidad is a city of beauty in its old world churches, streets and houses, but the surrounding area is equally as special and I feel deserves as much or more of your time.

Part of El Nicho
Part of El Nicho
El Nicho was a spectacular series of waterfalls. We walked through the entire park, exploring at will the waterfalls and pools, swimming where ever we felt like it. There were two good places to jump off into a pool below, and least one good waterfall to swim under. The drive there is tricky. Our map showed us two roads there: one from Cumanayagua in the north and one from Buenos Aires in the south. Upon driving through the area, the south road does not exist. The north road is paved, relatively flat and goes straight to El Nicho. When looking at it on a map, it seems like going from Trinidad to Cumanaygua is the long way around, but it only took us about an hour. To get there from the south, we asked for directions and fought through steep horse trails and gravel remenants of old roads for about four hours to get our tiny Hyundai there. If we hadn't taken the paved road out and had to fight that car back up the insane hills and roads we took there, we'd have been trapped.

View from our roof
View from our roof
We were told by our spectacular host in Bayamo that he knew a lady with a wonderful Casa Particular in central Trinidad, Carmen Louisa. He tried his best to draw it on our terrible map in our Lonely Planet book, insisting it was important we go straight there or we'd be stopped by others offering us a place. He was more than right. Before we even entered Trinidad a man on a bike flagged us down, insisting the city was closed and that we had to follow him to find a Casa. He wouldn't take his arms out of our car window and insisted we follow him. We agreed but tried to lose him. In asking for directions in the winding cobblestone streets we met three men and women all claiming to be Carmen Louisa and that they had the only accomodation in town. We were very frustrated, only a cop would tell us where our street was. When we finally found Carmen Louisa she told us her place was full, but took us to a beautiful three story apartment with a roof top patio we had to ourselves for 25 CUC/night

Other recommendations:
Iznaga Tower
Iznaga Tower
At this point, having spent two weeks in eastern Cuba where tourists are stared at like aliens, we were unaccustomed to being constantly hassled by people. Trinidad offered us a crash course. We were harassed to buy cigars, marijuana, hookers, cocaine, horse rides and rum. After you're accustomed they become easy to ignore but it is frustrating when every time you try to drive back into town, someone throws themselves in front of your car and insists the city is closed today, you must follow him to his house! Overall Trinidad was as impressive as I expected it to be, I was slightly disheartened by the constant hassling and getting lost going to El Nicho, but our amazing Casa more than made up for it. Though Carmen Louisa's English was limited, find her and ask about it!

Published on Thursday May 26th, 2011

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Mon, Jun 13 2011 - 04:07 PM rating by mistybleu

Trinidad sounds like an incredible place to visit. Great report.

Sat, May 28 2011 - 04:37 AM rating by krisek

Cody, thank you for this great report. When I was in Trinidad ten years ago, I enjoyed the town very much, too. Your style is very easy to read and the personal touch makes this entry so interesting. I love the photos, too!

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