Comandancia de la Plata

Top choice Landmark

in Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra

Topping a crenelated mountain ridge amid thick cloud forest, this pioneering camp was established by Fidel Castro in 1958 after a year on the run in the Sierra Maestra. Well-camouflaged and remote, the rebel HQ was chosen for its inaccessibility, and it served its purpose well – Batista's soldiers never found it.

Today it remains much as it was left in the '50s, with 16 simple wooden buildings providing an evocative reminder of one of the most successful guerrilla campaigns in history. It's easy to appreciate the site's strategic location. The main site, culminating in the Casa de Fidel (Fidel's House), is approached via an open space and then a climb through thick trees.

Highlights include the small museum near the beginning of the complex, the masterfully designed Casa de Fidel with its seven concealed escape routes in case the revolution's leaders were discovered, and the steep climb up Radio Rebelde to the radio-communications buildings where the rebels' early broadcasts were aired. The hospital buildings, a wake-up call to the brutality of guerrilla medical care, lie far below along a separate path (positioned here so the injured wouldn't give the camp location away in their agony).

Comandancia de la Plata is controlled by the Centro de Información de Flora y Fauna in Santo Domingo. Aspiring guerrilla-watchers must first hire a guide at the park headquarters and then get transport (or walk) 5km up to Alto del Naranjo and then proceed on foot along a muddy track for the final 4km. You can organize it at the Ecotur office in Villa Santo Domingo.