Mil Cumbres: Treasures of the Cuban Flora
BY YAHUMILA HIDALGO CERUTO, PHOTOS: DANY HERNÁNDEZ HERNÁNDEZ
Mil Cumbres is a protected area in the province of Pinar del Río, where nature tourism services promote its well preserved flora, its diverse mountain landscapes are ideal for photography and the possibility to learn local traditions is always present.
In this Protected Area of Managed Resources, covering part of La Palma, Los Palacios and Bahía Honda municipalities, visitors can enjoy, among other things, hiking, bird watching, climbing, horseback riding and lodging in the El Cuabal visitor center or in the beautiful Casa de la Montaña and its surroundings.
Its very varied terrain makes Mil Cumbres unique, a protected area administered by the Flora and Fauna Business Group. Its diverse landscape is provided by plains, depressions, elevations and mountains, where Pan de Guajaibón stands out at 701 meters above sea level, the highest point in the Cuban west. There are four river basins in the area, where San Marcos, Tortuga and Puerco rivers are born, so there are many waterfalls and cascades.
On the way to Caimito, trails such as Regreso al Jurásico and El Cuabal show the visitors the culture of Mil Cumbres, as well as the rich biodiversity of the area. The traditions and the exchange with the local residents are part of the itineraries of the site, which include the town of San Juan de Sagua, where the visitor can hear from the locals the traditions of the Cuban farmers who live in the mountains of the West.
Mil Cumbres is one of the most endemic areas of flora in Cuba. The Regreso al Jurásico and El Cuabal trails boast some of the 52 species of local endemic plants, with rare and curious botanical characteristics of the area, among them the cork palm (Microcycas calocoma), a living fossil whose existence dates back more than 62 million years. It is a local endemic species with only a small population.
Bird lovers will be able to capture images of species in tours that allow them to see, in their natural environment, the tocororo, the nightingale, the stygian owl, the green woodpecker, the bare-legged owl, the bee hummingbird, the great kiskadee and the Cuban pewee, among others. Some of them are only found in Cuba.
The charming picturesque Casa de la Montaña, built in 1852 and part of the routes designed for the area, offers gastronomic delights with local recipes, interesting history of its original inhabitants and the possibility of taking magnificent photographs from the comfort of its portals.
The conservation of all these natural values is ensured by a group of dedicated specialists who study and monitor the area, guided by strategies defined by the National System of Protected Areas.
A visit to Mil Cumbres is a tour around one of the sites that form part of the Cuban natural heritage. Long-living and unique plants and beautiful mountainous landscapes offer the visitor a journey to the treasures of the flora of the Cuban western region and the rural traditions of Pinar del Río.