the Sierra del Escambray
is a challenging route that connects Santa Clara with Trinidad,
via Topes de Collantes. It is only about 75 kilometers from Santa
Clara to Topes and another 20 or so to Trinidad. The distance seems
reasonable, but only the strongest cyclists should consider doing
it in a single day because some of the climbing through the Sierra
del Escambray is very difficult.
Santa Clara the route leads first to Manicaragua, a small, pleasant
town to the south. At the corner by this church in Manicaragua,
you must decide whether to detour to Hanabanilla or head directly
for the difficult climbs to Topes de Collantes .
is a large man-made lake, actually a reservoir, that snakes through
the mountains almost like a river. It is very popular with Cubans
as a fishing resort. There is a large, inexpensive hotel on the
shore; this view is from the small balcony outside our room.
de Collantes is a small mountain resort noted for its hiking trails
and waterfalls. It is possible to stop at one of the hotels in town
or make the spectacular descent to the Caribbean Sea and Trinidad.
Cycling down the final descent feels like approaching a landing
site in a small plane!