Backpacking through Cuba: Day 4, Mount Yunke.

Day 4: 23/10. Mount Yunke.

Early breakfast at Carlo’s where we leave our backpacks and the tent and take only the necessary with us: Some bread, water, chocolate, juice and rum. With little struggle we find the bike rental place and equip ourselves with two fantastic red mountain bikes for 2 CUC a day each (around 1,60€). On bike we take off in direction Mount Yunke and pass through astonishingly fertile pastures and woods. Roads are horrible and mostly non-existent but we’re already used to that and our bikes have gears so that’s not a big problem. Shortly before arriving at mountain Yunke we pass by a part of the river bed of the river Miel where we take a quick bath. The water is absolutely crystalline and refreshingly cold, hard to move on from such a tropical paradise!

At the foot of mountain Yunke we park and lock our bikes in the entrance to the corresponding national park and find ourselves confronted with 13 CUC entrance fee for foreigners. Of course entrance is free for Maricel but they can not give me the same price, not even to a german who lives and studies surgery in Holguin. We end up with a compromise and pay 13 CUC for a guided tour of all the national park, including even the waterfalls which usually cost some more. Our guide, Fernandito, turns out to be a charming young fellow of my age who takes tourists to the top of the mountain every day. He knows the area like the back of his hand and even lives just about 15 minutes from the mountain in a small cabin with his pregnant wife and a couple of chicken and pigs.

We have a great time chatting and walking together through the beautiful nature and stop by some natural swimming pools that the river has formed. Nature is simply incredibly, throughout all the day I have the impression that every single tree or bush has either beautiful flower, houses even more beautiful animals or bears some delicious fruit. Passing through the woods We see coffee, rice, beans, banana, guayabas, mangos, coconuts, maracuya and much more and continue our way up to the top of the mountain which becomes steeper and steeper. At 400 meters we stop to rest in a small shelter where we buy an entire table full of fresh fruit for 1 CUC and learn that chewing coconut and bananas at the same time gives you a sensation that can only be expressed as a tastilicious orgasm in your mouth! Try it!

When we finally reach the mountain (650m) peak it’s around 1 in the afternoon. The view is stunning. 2 danish guys show up with their guide (who climbed the mountain in flip-flops!!!), smoke a cigarette, take no pictures and leave quickly. They’re doing a tour of all of cuba in week, they tell us, so they don’t have much time to lose. How stupid can you be…

We take our time, chat about Fernando’s past in Cuba’s special forces and slowly descend the mountain to continue our tour in direction of the waterfalls. To get there we have to cross the river a couple of times barefoot and walk about an hour more. When we finally arrive at the waterfalls we wash our sweaty clothes in the fresh, cold water and take a sip of rum. What a day! The weather couldn’t have been better, our guide couldn’t have been cooler, nature couldn’t have been more beautiful! When we get back to our bikes we leave Fernando with a 5 CUC tip and ride our bikes on surprisingly sore buttocks back to town. We buy some chicken, break and Coke for supper at Carlo’s place and put up our tent. The second we get into the tend rain starts to fall and I guess this lucky detail completed what could be called a perfect day.


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