When to go
The Sierra Maestra is hot all the year around but especially in summer when there is little breeze to relieve the high temperatures. If hiking, best to avoid the hottest and most humid weather Jun - Sep. Hurricane and tropical storms are possible Aug - Nov.
Getting local currency
Acquire Cuban Convertible Pesos at banks or in money exchanges (cadecas
) in a large city before heading off to the Sierra Maestra. US dollars are not accepted so you need to take cash in euros or sterling. There are some ATM machines in Santiago (the nearest large city) which supposedly accept debit cards but they are not always reliable. You can also get cash with a credit or debit card (not issued by a US bank).
The more valuable convertible peso (CUC) has been reserved for use in the tourism sector and foreign trade. In October 2013, as part of a package of economic reforms its value will be gradually unified with the lower-value CUP, ending a system resented by ordinary Cubans.
GMT -5 hours; usually there is daylight saving in the summer but it is a moveable feast.
The Sierra Maestra is 150 km from Santiago (2 hours 10mins by road).
Baracoa, a small, unspoilt colonial coastal town; the city of Santiago de Cuba; the beach at Guardalavaca (174 km).