After a long day of trekking and sweating, we looked forward to taking a nap in our cabin at Camp Joaquin. When we were handed our ‘one blanket per person’, we realized it wouldn’t do the trick. It was too small and too thin to keep us warm. We were lucky that there were no other tourists and that we could have all the blankets, otherwise it would’ve been a very, very cold night. To prevent others from making the same mistake, we’ve assembled a comprehensive packing list of essential items you’ll need for your trek to Pico Turquino.
Packing list for hiking in Sierra Maestra
Sleeping bag: as mentioned earlier, it can get very cold and windy in the mountains at night. The cabins offer one blanket per person and whereas that is enough at La Plática, it really doesn’t suffice at Aguadas de Joaquín, situated at an altitude of 1 350 meters. Make sure to take a warm sleeping bag with you to enjoy a good night's rest.
A roll of toilet paper: The camps have toilets, but they lack toilet paper.
Something to keep yourself busy in the evening. Unless you hike at a very slow pace, you’ll reach your camp in the afternoon with nothing to do until the next morning. You’ll be happy to have a book to kill time. Or you can just spend your time sleeping (like we did).
Camera: if you’re lucky enough to enjoy clear skies, you’ll be treated to some beautiful views that you’ll want to capture with your camera. You should know though that if you plan on taking photos at Comandancia de la Plata, you’ll be charged 5CUC. If your device isn’t too large, you can avoid this fee by tucking it away in your pocket when you pass the checkpoint.
A spare battery for your camera: given that the cabin at Aguadas de Joaquin has no plugs, an extra battery will ensure you’ll be able to bring home evidence of your ascent of Pico Turquino. Once at La Plática, you’ll be able to charge your gear again.
A battery pack: as mentioned above, you won’t be able to charge everywhere, so a battery pack comes in handy to keep your phone charged.
A headlight: this is really important if you’re hiking up to Pico Turquino in the dark. It will also be useful at Aguadas de Joaquín where they turn off the power at night.
Tootbrush and toothpaste
A towel to dry yourself after showering
Deodorant, although I’m not sure about its necessity. You’ll be sweaty and smelly anyways.
Extra water and snacks: even though you will be receive enough food, it’s wise to provide something extra, just in case.
Mosquito repellent: useful in the lower regions of the mountain range
Decent hiking boots
An extra pair of socks
A blister kit
Knee braces if you have weak knees. They’ll come in handy on the long descents.
A rain jacket: possibly the most important item on this list, as it rains A LOT in Sierra Maestra
A Rain cover for your backpack
A pocket knife: to slice freshly picked fruit
Plastic bag to keep your stuff dry or to bundle the gear you don’t need on the leg from Aguadas de Joaquín to Pico Turquino. You can leave the bag behind in the camp and pick it up again on your way back.
Have you got questions? Did you experience something similar? Did you notice a mistake? Please share!