A paradise for ecotourism lovers
By Yanais Vega Bacallao, Photos: Rodolfo Blanco Cue
In addition to the colonial charms of the half-acentury- old city of Camagüey, just 30 kilometers north by road is the Limones Tuabaquey Ecological Reserve, a unique paradise. Here ecotourism lovers have the exclusive opportunity to go hiking, spot endemic birds, camp in tents and enjoy the charms of Cuba’s secret nature.
A half an hour drive takes you along some stretches of road and then the Vial Sur embankment to Paso de los Paredones, in the very heart of Sierra de Cubitas municipality, where visitors can enjoy nearly 2 000 hectares of leisure and adventure.
This unique gorge is the most beautiful of the many in the area, and as you pass among gigantic karst rocks up to 40 meters tall, you will be won over by the pleasant coolness of the lush native flora, made up of over 700 plant species.
It is a place where giant tree ferns, lichens and mosses abound, as well as other important specimens of precious wood: cedar, mahogany, Spanish elm and ebony, several on the verge of disappearing due to indiscriminate logging years ago, and now part of an ecological management program of natural resources within the reserve.
Hikers also have the opportunity to visit the Las Mercedes, María Teresa and Rolando caves, as well as others, inside which there are indigenous pictographs on the walls, testimony of the presence of the first Cuban settlers in the area.
Specialists say that there are extensive caves that have not yet been studied or even discovered by science, making this region one of the country’s most important in terms of caving, while offering greater exclusivity, since four of them are National Monuments.
The route becomes more beautiful as you pass through the Cerro de Tuabaquey, the Mirador de Limones, the Paso de los Paredones, the Paso de la Vigueta and, perhaps the best at the end: the Hoyo de Bonet.
It is a gigantic depression about 90 meters deep and 300 meters wide, with the bonus of being the only one of its kind in all of Cuba, and in the Caribbean area, the only one similar is in Puerto Rico.
In addition, the walk becomes a golden opportunity to observe a wide variety of endemic birds, such as the tody and the trogon “tocororo”, multicolored jewels of Cuban bird-watching, as well as the parrot, bee hummingbird, parakeet, gundlach’s hawk and the quail-dove, among many others.
All these species are at high risk due to the massive destruction they suffered, but now some recovery is being seen thanks to the integrated management of some local sectors to increase their protection.
At certain times of the year, more than 70 species of migratory birds from the United States and the Bahamas can also be seen, as they make this mountain range their natural habitat during the winter.
Although much can be written about the wonders of the Limones Tuabaquey Ecological Reserve, nothing compares with experiencing it and being captivated by so much natural beauty and its resources.