Welcome to Sierra del Cristal
Cuba's own 'Little Switzerland' is a rugged amalgam of the Sierra del Cristal and the Altiplanicie de Nipe, with two important national parks. Parque Nacional Sierra Cristal, Cuba's oldest, was founded in 1930 and harbors 1213m Pico de Cristal, the province's highest summit. Of more interest to travelers, the piney 53-sq-km Parque Nacional la Mensura, 30km south of Mayarí, protects the island's highest waterfall. Notable for its cool alpine microclimate and 100 or more species of endemic plants, La Mensura offers hiking and horseback riding and accommodation in a Gaviota-run ecolodge. It also hosts a mountain research center run by Academia de Ciencias de Cuba.
Flanking the Sierra del Cristal, the landscape inspired Buena Vista Social Club's hit 'Chan Chan'. Now frequented by aficionados of lead singer Compay Segundo, the route is often dubbed Ruta de Chan Chan.