Turquino National Park

In the mountain range of Cuba, there lies a true sanctuary of biodiversity, a silent witness to history, and an adventure awaiting intrepid travelers. The Pico Turquino National Park, also known as the Sierra Maestra National Park, promises to provide unique and memorable experiences for those willing to delve into its wondrous geography.

Turquino National Park Information

Turquino National Park

Geographical Location

Located in the Sierra Maestra, the highest mountain range in Cuba, the Turquino National Park is an unforgettable natural sanctuary situated at coordinates: 19°59′22″ N, 76°50′9″ W.

Brief Park History

Designated a national park on January 8, 1980, through the approval of Law 27/1980, it is named after the Pico Turquino, the highest point in Cuba that has long been a symbol of Cuba’s resistance and independent spirit, although it also boasts other well-known mountains and peaks. The total area of the park is 229.4 km².

Ecological and Cultural Significance

The Turquino National Park is home to astonishing biological diversity and is a cultural gem filled with historic sites.


The geology of the Turquino National Park is diverse and fascinating, offering a wide variety of rock formations and stunning landscapes. The region is primarily composed of volcanic and metamorphic rocks dating back millions of years. These rocks have been shaped by erosion and the elements over time, creating rugged and mountainous terrain.

The Sierra Maestra was formed due to the fracturing and sinking of blocks in the Eastern Region of Cuba. This process generated the Caimanes Trough, which extends more than 7,000 meters below sea level in the Eastern Trench.

In the area between the crest of Pico Turquino and this trough, there is an impressive elevation difference of approximately 9,000 meters, one of the largest in the world. From an orographic perspective, the area belongs to the Turquino Range, which is part of the Sierra Maestra mountain massif. These mountains are young and subject to uplifting geotectonic movements.

The predominant relief in the area consists of medium-sized mountains with intense erosion and a high number of canyons. It’s a complex landscape with slopes exceeding 40%, deep dissected valleys of over 500 meters, and a high density of dissection, with more than 4 kilometers between crests and valleys. This makes it the most vigorous relief in the country, highlighting the following peaks and mountains in terms of relief and geology:

Pico Turquino

It’s the highest point in Cuba, with an altitude of 1,974 meters above sea level. It’s an iconic symbol of the park and a major attraction for hiking and climbing enthusiasts.

Pico Cuba

With a height of 1,872 meters, this peak offers impressive panoramic views of the surrounding region.

Pico Real

With an altitude of 1,732 meters, Pico Real is another prominent landmark in the park, offering challenges and rewards for adventurers.

Pico Suecia

With a height of 1,723 meters, this peak offers a unique experience for hikers, with its steep trails and panoramic views.
These mountains and peaks offer stunning and challenging landscapes, providing visitors of the Turquino National Park a unique opportunity to explore and enjoy the mightiness of the region’s geology.

Turquino’s Climate

The Turquino National Park, being situated in the highest orographic group in the country, exhibits a characteristic microclimate with abrupt changes in certain meteorological variables over short periods of time.

The climatic conditions are primarily determined by altitude and exposure, showing distinct vertical zoning. Average maximum temperatures decrease from 30°C on the coast to 16°C in the higher parts during the summer. Conversely, minimum temperatures are lower in the higher altitude areas like Pico Cuba, Pico Real del Turquino, and La Aguada del Joaquín, where they can drop to 5°C in the winter.

Cloud presence is frequent throughout the year at higher altitudes, leading to relatively high relative air humidity. Starting from 1000 meters in altitude, intermittent ground-level fog is common.

Surface-level local winds vary considerably throughout the day, while in the upper atmosphere, a northeast to southwest direction prevails. Consequently, cloud masses release the most rainfall on the windward side, meaning the northern part of the Park.

Precipitation is more abundant between 600 meters and 1900 meters in altitude, with an annual average ranging from 1500 mm to 1700 mm, making this region the rainiest in the country.

The annual average of rainy days ranges from 70 to over 140. Climatically, four zones have been established in order of altitude, classified as:

  • Very warm and partially dry.
  • Very warm and humid.
  • Warm and humid.
  • Warm and very humid.

Biodiversity in Turquino National Park

Unique Fauna

From the majestic Tocororo (Priotelus temnurus), Cuba’s national bird, to the endemic Polymita (Polymita picta), considered the world’s most beautiful snail, the park’s fauna is unique. It includes various mammals such as the conga hutia (Capromys pilorides) and the calabari (Capromys prehensilis), birds like Dendroica caerulescens, Mniotilta varia, Setophaga ruticilla, and invertebrates of the Rhopaloceras Group, Greta cubana, Parides gundlachianus, Phaebis avellaneda, Anetia cubana, and Anetia briaria, among others.

Endemic Flora

The park boasts rich plant diversity, including several species of orchids and ferns that are endemic to this region. It exhibits a high degree of endemism and houses several threatened species such as Juniperus saxicola, Prothium cubensis, Tabebuia oligolephis, Talauma minor, Pitecellobium cubensis, and Magnolia cubensis. Research projects are undertaken to study key aspects of these species, such as flowering period, fruit maturation, seed collection, germination time, and abiotic factors affecting their development.

These species have a restricted distribution, found solely between Pico Joaquín, Loma Nevada, Loma Redonda, Pico Turquino, and Pico Cuba, at altitudes ranging from 1300 to 1800 meters above sea level. Their limited distribution area further underscores the importance of protecting and conserving these unique habitats within the park.

Ecosystem Diversity

From cloud forests to rugged coasts, the park offers an impressive variety of ecosystems.

Main Attractions of Turquino National Park

Hiking and Climbing

The park offers several hiking routes and climbing opportunities, each with its own charm and challenge.

Pico Turquino Route

Cuba’s highest peak, Pico Turquino, is a prime attraction for those seeking an unparalleled hiking adventure. This is the most prominent and challenging route in the park. It starts from the town of Santo Domingo and follows a steep path to the summit of Pico Turquino, the highest point in Cuba. During the journey, visitors traverse dense forests, cross rivers, and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views.

Comandante Route

This route is known for its historical significance. Starting from the La Plata Command Post, former refuge of Fidel Castro and other revolutionary leaders, it heads towards the mountains. Along the way, historical sites can be visited, providing insights into the Cuban revolutionary struggle.

Revolution Museum

The Revolution Museum at the La Plata Command Post offers an intriguing glimpse into Cuba’s history.

Rebellion Trail

The historic "Rebellion Trail" allows visitors to follow in the footsteps of Cuban revolutionaries.

Activities and Experiences

Hiking Guides

Guided by local experts, the trails lead visitors through jungles, mountains, and up to the summit of Pico Turquino, providing an unforgettable experience.

Camping Experiences

Campers have the opportunity to spend the night amidst the majesty of the Sierra Maestra, under a starry sky and surrounded by the serenity of nature.

Birdwatching and Wildlife Observation

For nature enthusiasts, the park offers unique opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife observation.


Thanks to low light pollution, visitors can enjoy a stunning view of the starry sky.

Tips for Your Visit

Best Time to Visit

While the park is open year-round, the winter months offer cooler weather and are ideal for hiking and climbing.

How to Get There

The park is accessible from several major cities in Cuba, including Santiago de Cuba and Bayamo, and there are numerous transportation options available.

Park Rules and Environmental Considerations

Respect for the environment and adherence to park rules are essential to ensure the conservation of this fragile ecosystem.

What to Bring for Your Visit

Appropriate hiking gear, sun protection, and sufficient water are essential items for any park visit.

Services and Facilities

Nearby Accommodation and Restaurants

There are a variety of lodging and restaurant options near the park to meet all needs and budgets.

Facilities Within the Park

The park has basic facilities, including restrooms and picnic areas.

Accessibility and Services for Visitors with Special Needs

Efforts are made to improve accessibility in the park, but due to the nature of the terrain, it can be challenging for some visitors.

Conservation Implications

Threats to Park Biodiversity

Climate change, deforestation, and the introduction of invasive species are some of the threats facing the park’s biodiversity.

Ongoing Conservation Initiatives

The Turquino National Park is at the center of various conservation initiatives aimed at protecting its valuable biodiversity.

How Visitors Can Help

Visitors can contribute to park conservation by following park rules, respecting the environment, and participating in environmental education activities. Additionally, supporting local organizations and promoting sustainable tourism are effective ways to preserve this natural treasure. Together, we can safeguard biodiversity and history for future generations.

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