Cuba has been become a booming winter climbing destination. Hundreds of overhanging sport routes draw Canadian and European climbers, and Cuba’s vast limestone walls are home to a developing community of local climbers. Cuba also has become a favorite destination for many other adventure travelers. For now, it is all over. An unexplained edict of the Cuban government has closed its western mountains, not only to climbers, but all visitors, climbers, hikers, and birders a like. This report is provided here because of the many U.S. climbers who ignore the lightly-enforced U.S. travel ban to climb in Cuba.
Trouble in Paradise
In January 2012 the Cuban authorities closed almost all access to the mountains in Western Cuba. The closure does not apply only to climbers, but all visitors, from cavers and mountain bikers to hikers and bird-watchers. In Viñales National Park, home of about 80 percent of the established routes, access is limited to walking with official guides on the few trails long ago “authorized” by officials for tourism. The authorized trails reach about one percent of Viñales Valley, and go nowhere near any of the climbing sites. The rest of this World Heritage site is off-limits to all visitors.
No one has seen a written decree, so the full scope, rationale, and penalties are unknown. Local officials themselves can’t say why the policy on access has changed.
This information is a public crowdsourcing effort between the Access Fund,
and Mountain Project. You should confirm closures, restrictions, and/or related dates.