Natural wonders of Cuba
TEXT PUBLICITUR, PHOTOS: PUBLICITUR, ASLAM I. CASTELLÓN MAURE AND TOMÁS MICHEL RODRÍGUEZ
Cuba is an archipelago privileged for its warm and humid climate with abundant natural goodness. All along the large island and in its more than 4,000 keys and islets, the landscapes are amazing, with extraordinary natural qualities. From the westernmost point, Cape San Antonio, to the tip of Maisí, in eastern Cuba, there are several unmissable places for ecotourism lovers, areas awarded the gift of beauty.
The Viñales Valley, in Pinar del Río is one of those and currently one of the most visited in Cuba. This beautiful extension of land, green all year round and uniquely distinguished by its imposing mogotes (steep limestone hills), is one of the best-known ecological zones worldwide for its extraordinary landscapes, rich flora and wildlife, and for having the largest cave system in Cuba and the Antilles. It was declared a Cultural Landscape of Humanity by UNESCO, a category that places it among the most interesting World Heritage Sites. In its expansive intermontane area it is interesting to see the extensive tobacco plantations and the typical houses of the local farmers. The valley also has great archeological wealth, as evidenced by the remains of indigenous peoples and maroons (runaway black slaves) found in subterranean cavities in the mogotes.
As far as the eye can see, Viñales is a true spectacle that captivates and encourages enjoyment to the full. A tour on foot, horseback or by bicycle is an exhilarating excursion.
Las Terrazas, another naturally charming landscape, also located in western Cuba, belongs to the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve. It has numerous scenic blessings, mountain ranges and narrow valleys, crossed by rivers and streams, with beautiful waterfalls.
Around it are mineral-medicinal fluvial flows associated with springs. The diversity of its ecosystems has given it an evocative fauna, in which the water lizard stands out; a small frog, no bigger than a human fingertip and a tiny bat, called a butterfly. In the midst of this whimsical landscape with curious specimens is the Las Terrazas Complex, a model of a rural community of sustainable development integrated with its surroundings and open to the world. In Las Terrazas time disappears, because in this magical space of Artemisa, everything is contemplation and pleasure.
In the center of the country we are also surprised by a rewarding panorama, enjoyable for anyone who values the spontaneity of the natural world: Topes de Collantes. Part of the province of Sancti Spíritus, this place is nestled in the imposing mountain range of Guamuhaya, about 800 meters above sea level.
With a microclimate that is unique from the rest of the island and a totally healthy environment, this natural reservoir is made for relaxation. Surrounded by a dense pine forest and crossed by numerous trails, ideal for enjoying the landscape and its wildlife and even interacting with the inhabitants of the region, this natural area allows the visitor to feel part of the environment. The rivers form deep intermontane valleys and their slopes create impressive waterfalls, such as: El Caburní, Vegas Grande and El Rocío. Because of the region’s qualities, in Topes de Collantes there is a National Center for Health Rehabilitation, where traditional medicine techniques and therapeutic physical exercises are used to provide effective treatment against stress, in order to improve quality of life.
All these geographical wonders, seductive in themselves, turn ecotourism into one of the most attractive ways of getting to know Cuba. Through different activities such as hiking, cycling, horseback riding, caving, flora and wildlife observation and photography, Cuba can be traveled and conquered, from one end to the other.