If a few days ago we posted about 5 awesome nature activities in western Cuba ,today we will explore a unique spot of eastern Cuba, the nature routes in Baracoa.
The east of the island of Cuba is a special region to enjoy the nature and adventure tourism. Exuberant nature, unspoiled natural areas, colonial cities full of charm and stories that go back to the times of the corsairs and pirates. Within this Cuban region, we are especially attracted to the city of Baracoa. It is the easternmost part of the provinces in the Island, Guantánamo.
Why does Baracoa fascinate us?Well, first of all, because this city has natural attractions like nowhere else in Cuba. They are little explored and commercialized. This makes it a paradise where you can fully connect with nature and enjoy its peace and incomparable beauty without feeling disturbed by mass tourism. On the other hand, it is a destination specially designed for those who prefer nature activities and adventures. Of course, in unspoiled natural environments. At the same time they can also enjoy interesting historical tours.. And of course, in the area you can also find secret beaches, such as Manglito or Playa Maguana. They attract for their almost remote location and the tranquility of their surroundings, full of vegetation and wonderful views. Depending on the time of year, you will be practically alone on these beaches. Its sands are not as fine and white as other beaches in Cuba such as Varadero. Its waters, however, are equally wonderful and invite you to bathe, as they are crystal clear and refreshing.
And last but not least, because Baracoa would be the ideal destination to close a route through Camagüey, Holguín & Santiago de Cuba, the most interesting cities in the eastern region.
So, in our Travel Agency to Cuba we love to include Baracoa within the tailor-made trips we design, whether you travel with your family, or travel with a group of friends or for those who have decided to travel as a couple to Cuba or in a honey moon and you share varied interests, ranging from a love of history and nature to caving, hiking and regional culinary culture.
And you should not worry about anything, as we will take care of all the details of your route, from the itinerary, to the type of transport -from a plane to a car with a driver or a cart pulled by oxen-, as well as the selection of field trips and accommodation, from simple but charming private homes ideal for all tastes to exclusive accommodations, and thus you will save a lot of time and headaches ...
Nature routes in Baracoa, city of waters and mountainsThe name "Baracoa" is of Araucanian origin (aboriginal community), and means "existence of the sea". It is the oldest city on the island, as it was the first town founded by the Spanish; This is why it is known as "the first city of Cuba." It is bathed by more than 20 rivers - among the most notable are the Macaguaniguas, the Duaba, the Toa, the Miel, and the Yumurí.
Baracoa is a landscape city, as it is surrounded by mountain ranges. Adorned by a great vegetation of unspòiled forests, full of endemic flora and fauna. It has crystalline rivers and beaches surrounded by cove grapes, almond and coconut trees. All this gives it its distinctive stamp, if we compare it with the rest of the country.
So that you enjoy this natural paradise to the fullest, we propose you 5 experiences that are not the usual ones, and cannot be found in tourist guides. The experiences that we have designed in CubaUnique, based on our unforgettable experiences in Baracoa, are committed to discovering this city from a less touristy perspective. A freer and more adventurous perspective, led by a specialized local guide. For this we recommend you stay 3 nights in Baracoa, so you will not miss anything.
1 History and nature: from baracoa to the duaba river falls
This experience is combined. It begins with a tour of the historic center of the city, which starts from the Plaza Independencia, where you will learn more and better about the conquest and colonization, about the indigenous rebellions led by the chief Hatuey and you will be able to appreciate, in a visit to the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa Cathedral, the famous Cruz de Parra, the first founding cross that Christopher Columbus placed in a Cuban village.
Walking along the boulevard, where you will see the people of Baracoa in their daily life, you will arrive at La Punta Fortress, an important milestone in the town's defensive system in the 18th century. From here you can enjoy a spectacular view: Baracoa Bay on one side, the Miel Bay on the other.Don't miss the visit to Hotel La Rusa, to discover this local gem that treasures the interesting history of its owner, Magdalena Menasses Rovenskaya, an artistic character who traveled to Cuba in the 1930s and settled in Baracoa. She died in this place, conquering the hearts of everyone who knew her and donated her hotel, jewelry and money to the Cuban Revolution.
After this historical tour, you will be ready to get in touch with the natural beauty of the waterfalls of the Duaba river. A little less than 30 minutes from the center, you enter an imposing path of intact nature, along which you will listen to the songs of endemic birds and you will delight in the sight of the crystal clear waters of this river, which runs between huge rocks that will take you back to the Jurassic era.
Taking a bath in its refreshing waters, alone, probably, will be an unforgettable experience. Those more intrepid will be able to climb a sort of rocky staircase to the Duaba Falls, which fall into a beautiful natural pool.Nearby, a neighbor in the area has arranged his patio to offer service as a paladar. You can taste what he and his wife have cooked that day, but with the certainty that it will be an excellent Creole meal. And now a plus for the more adventurous! After coffee and a good rest, try and dive to the “Charco de la piña”. From a rock that is 4 meters high, you can jump into this natural pool of crystalline waters with a depth of 5 meters.
2 cocoa route with the queen of chocolate
One of the main attractions of Baracoa are its cocoa plantations, since this region is where the best chocolate in Cuba is produced.
This time we do not suggest you visit the Casa del Chocolate, which is in the center of the city. In this experience you are going to discover a family cocoa farm, where they will explain the whole process of planting, cultivating and collecting this fruit, until obtaining the much liked chocolate.
What will make this an unforgettable and special experience will be your hostess, known as the queen of cocoa, who will surprise you because of her skills, her friendliness and loquacity. Here you will taste the authentic artisan chocolate from Baracoa, which comes from hard-working and self-sacrificing hands, and you will learn about all the properties of cocoa butter. You can also get special souvenirs, sold at a very good price, such as the curious potiches made by hand with granadillo wood and containing cocoa butter.
3 DISCOVER THE YUMURÍ CANYON AND ENJOY A BUFFET BY THE SEA
The Yumurí Canyon, one of the most important and impressive rivers in Baracoa, it is a natural landscape that you cannot miss. From the viewpoint, which is the highest point in the canyon, you will enjoy an eagle's eye view of this wonder of eastern nature.
They say that, from that height, the aborigines used to jump into the water while shouting “yumurí” (i will die), before being captured by the colonizers. In the surrounding fruit trees you will find the beautiful polymitas, snails endemic to Baracoa and unique in the world for their beautiful and bright colors.
The experience continues with a boat ride on the river, during which you can take “postcard” photos, until you reach an area of the same river where you can take a refreshing bath (the water is usually really cold !! ).
A buffet-style meal, prepared by chef Mileidys, awaits you on the seashore. Mileidys is a specialist when it comes to prepare fish with coconut milk, a regional culinary delight, and tetí, a tiny fish that is abundant only in this area of the country.
A helpful tip: Polymitas are an endangered species, so if a local offers you necklaces or other objects made with the shells of these snails, please do not buy them! Anyway, they would pick them up at the airport customs.
4 crossing the Miel river to reach the archaeological balcony
The «Tibaracón» is a natural phenomenon that only occurs in Baracoa. This name of aruaco origin is given to the sand bank accumulated by the sea waves at the mouth of the rivers, which reach the coast with little pressure; which forces them to deviate their course and follow a route parallel to the coast. In the Miel River Mouth you will find one of the most recognized tibaracones, which you will see before crossing this river by boat.
The Miel River is also famous because one of the milestones of Cuban cinema was filmed in its surroundings, the feature film “Miel para Oshún” (2001), by filmmaker Humberto Solás.On the other bank we find the Archaeological balcony a gallery of calcareous terraces, considered the highest in Cuba, which are part of the Parque Natural Majayara. In this sort of interconnected caverns, you can see everything from fossils to spaces that supposedly once served as rooms for the cacique (head of the community) or the behíque (witch or shaman), as well as a sensational coastal view.
This adventure requires physical dexterity and a lot of care, since the galleries are abrupt and are high above sea level; in addition to appropriate and comfortable footwear for walking on rocks.
Very close to here there is a site that is a secret for many: la cueva del agua (water cave), an underground natural pool. You can take a refreshing and fun bath in its crystal clear waters. The guide usually carries a flashlight, as the cave does not get lighting.
5 hiking to the top of the Yunque (anvil), endurance test
To the east of Sierra de Moa we find the outstanding Yunque, a 575m high mountain. It is distinguished by its peculiar shape, as it resembles a large isolated plateau with a horizontal surface and almost vertical slopes. It is the natural symbol of the city of Baracoa and was declared a National Monument.
It is visible from anywhere in the city and its slopes have lots of endemic species. Getting to the top, medium-hard 2 hours long experience, requires a lot of physical effort, as the climb becomes steep towards the last stretch of the walk.
The reward will be an incredible view that reaches the city of Baracoa, the bays of Baracoa and Miel and the tibaracones of the Duaba and Toa rivers. The descent, which takes another 2 hours, will certainly give you other perspectives of the natural environment. You can finish this excursion with a refreshing bath in the Duaba river and with a typical and tasty meal at the home of one of the local peasant families.So, if you like to enjoy nature and are thinking of organizing a trip to Cuba let us help you from our specialized travel agency CubaUnique , don't miss any of our recommendations to travel to Cuba without complications and to know about the evolution of COVID-19 situation in Cuba. We suggest some of our most popular preset routes , and, if possible, spend at least 10 days in Cuba soyou don't miss the essentials, and above all, enjoy Cuban nature 24/7. We are waiting for you very soon!
Article written by Gabriela Rodríguez, independent Cuban guide.
Video produced and edited by Javier Ernesto Hernández-López.0