Introducing La Gran Piedra
Located in Parque Baconao, La Gran Piedra is a mountain range situated 15 miles southeast of Santiago de Cuba.
It is renowned for the huge rock that crowns its summit, as well as for its Unesco-listed site: the coffee plantation La Isabelica. But its incredibly diverse wildlife also makes La Gran Piedra worth a visit. The mountain harbours a large variety of plants and birds, including the famous tocororo, the emblem of Cuba.
Reaching la Grand Piedra
To get to La Gran Piedra, you have two options. If you’re motivated and enjoy hiking, you can take the 214 bus from Santiago de Cuba, and then walk the remaining 7.5 miles to the top of La Gran Piedra. Be warned though, the road is steep!
If you’re not feeling like hiking, you can take a taxi from Santiago. The taxi ride will amount to 50 to 65 CUC. For an additional 25 CUC, you can ask the driver to take you to El Cobre as well.
Exploring La Gran Piedra
Admiring the view from the top of La Gran Piedra
At the end of the the 7.5 mile road leading to the top, you will have to climb 459 steps to reach the summit of La Gran Piedra, 1234 meters above sea level. In order to climb up top, you’ll be asked to pay an entrance fee 1 CUC (it includes une free drink).
The summit of La Gran Piedra is crowned with a huge rock weighing 63,000 tons. According to specialists, it is the result of an underwater volcanic eruption, though some wacky theories attribute its appearance to the fall of a meteorite.
In any case, whatever its origin, it is an incredible vantage point on the Sierra Maestra.
Visiting the coffee plantation La Isabelica
If coffee plantations are quite numerous in the eastern half of Cuba, there is a reason: a large number of French settlers running from the Haitian uprisings in the 18th century took refuge took refuge on Cuba’s eastern coast.
This explains why Parque Baconao counts as much as sixty coffee plantations, the most famous of which, La Isabelica, is listed as a Unesco world heritage site (2 CUC / person).
Perched 1,150 meters above sea level, La Isabelica is very well preserved and features coffee crops, dryers, a mill, etc. The old mansion has been converted into a museum retracing the stages of coffee making as well as the history of the culture of coffee in Cuba.
Onsite, you’ll find local farmers offering their services as guides.
La Gran Piedra is also home to a botanical garden which will be an absolute delight for nature enthusiasts. Birds of paradise, dahlias and magnolias grow abundantly, thanks to the microclimate of the mountains.
Sleeping at La Gran Piedra
Nature lovers will find a hotel where to spend the night on top of the moutain: the Gran Piedra Hotel. It features a bar as well as a restaurant.