Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve

The Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve
The Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve

Biosphere Reserve Cuchillas del Toa, a miracle of nature.

If passing by Cuba you want to admire the wonder of nature in a place almost virgin that has facilities for your rest and relaxation, visit the Biosphere Reserve Cuchillas del Toa, a place to contemplate the nature almost untouched by man.

¿ Where is located Cuchillas del Toa ?

Cuchillas del Toa is a space native of Cuba located in the east and belongs to the Group Sagua Baracoa.

It is a special site because cherishes the greatest biodiversity of all the islands of the Caribbean and is declared Reserve of the Biosphere since 1987.

One aspect important to note is that in its territory is located the famous Alejandro de Humboldt Natural park, Natural Heritage of Humanity that is one space committed to the protection of flora and wildlife and use rational and sustainable of natural resources.

Cuchillas del Toa occupies territories of the province of Holguin, southern part of the municipality of Frank Pais Garcia, all Sagua of Tánamo , Moa and all of the province of Guantanamo including Baracoa , Imías , San Antonio of the South, Manuel Tames and Yateras.

From this it can be deduced that it has a large territorial extension and this at the same time causes a large number of roads to exist, although it is worth noting that many of them are in poor technical conditions.

The most important highways are those from Guantánamo to Bernardo, Alto de la Clarita to Palenque, Baracoa to Moa and the Mulata road.

Some interesting aspects about the area.

Cuchillas del Toa has one of the most large and well preserved ecosystems mountain of all the region , are there 15 basins , 32 sub – basins and more than 300 courses of third order , all well protected.

The area is inhabited by about 18,000 inhabitants distributed in 498 communities.

This wonderful place has an extension of 208 thousand 305 hectares, of which about six thousand are marine , a territory blessed by the waters as it is crossed by the Toa River with 71 tributaries and that reaches the Atlantic Ocean after covering 118 kilometers.

Las Cuchillas del Toa, a natural setting.

Cuchillas del Toa is a natural scenary by excellence . It has great attractions such as the great Cueva de Cabeza de Moa, one of the five natural monuments in Cuba and the great cave systems in the eastern part of the country.

Its tributaries stand out by contributing to the area one moisture without precedents that make the more moist and wooded of the country.

The Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, Heritage World of Nature, occupies more of half of its area and is full of pine trees, humid and xeric forests and abundance of mangroves and reefs coral.

Very high biodiversity of flora and wildlife can be found at this site which has with 928 species endemic informed, including some primitive and sites without exploring still a real natural treasure. The reserve protects the forest and ecosystems marine / coast.

It surrounds the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park and also contains El Yunque de Baracoa, a curious volcano- shaped mountain , the Great Moa Cavern and the Taco Bay , north of Baracoa.

The different areas of the reserve are divided into other protected areas, such as the Quivijan-Duaba-Yunque de Baracoa Ecological Reserve and the Pico Galán Flora Reserve.

¿ How is the highlight in Biosphere Reserve Cuchillas del Toa?

In the Cuchillas del Toa the mountains stand out. It is formed by them and the point more high is the Pico Awning with 1175 m.

Highlights also the package calizo of the Farallones of Moa, there is found the system cársico of the Great Cave of the headlands of Moa, one of the five monuments national that exist in the country and one of the largest systems cave in the eastern Cuban.

Are beautiful its forests of pine, of fog and scrub semi – desert , complex coastal of mangroves and reefs of coral.

The weather in Las Cuchillas del Toa

Las Cuchillas del Toa is the wettest region in Cuba. Its rainfall reaches an average of 4,000 milliliters per year. Due to this, its thick forests and highlighted the rivers are the most plentiful and cleanest of the country and contain major reserves of water on the island.

Flora and Fauna of the Biosphere Reserve Cuchillas del Toa

Cuchillas del Toa stands out for its flora and fauna . Its own climate conducive the constant humidity and higher levels of biodiversity and endemism of all the country and of the Caribbean islands.


In its flora it contains 19 plant formations with great biodiversity of species. Among them are the montane pluvial forest, storm of plains forest, semideciduo mesófilo forest, always green mesophyll forest , always green microphyll forest and pine forest.

Also are other species such as scrub xeromorphic subespinoso on serpentinite (charrascal), scrub montane or cloudy, scrub side, forest side, savannas anthropic and vegetation culture.

Although much has been investigated in the area still remain spaces almost unexplored by man, but to the date have been inventoried 1,501 species of plants and is expected to exceed the 2,000 species plant after research more profound.

The totality of species 300 are ferns 23 families, of them 37 are endemic . There are 1,071 species of flowering plants of 123 families, including 616 endemic and 291 regional. Also they have recorded 130 species of plants cultivated and wild 21 families.

The vegetation is varied , it is common to find small hills entirely covered with ferns or clusters of arborescent ferns of different types , including the Cyathea arborea species. Our recommendation is that when visiting the place, you look at it from the outside and thus avoid damaging the delicate balance that characterizes them.


The wildlife of the region is considered the most rich of Cuba for its wealth, its diversity and endemism.

Among the birds that stand out in the area are the loggerhead hawk, a highly endemic local endangered and among the mammals is the Almiquí, a living fossil and also a threatened species.

It must be said that since these species can only be found in this area, several international organizations intercede in favor of their protection and conservation.

In the area there is large number of species of endemic birds as parakeets and cateyes, considered threatened. In the streams of water in generally live two species of fish: the guajacón and Joturo Guantanamo, exclusive of this region.

Also can be the polymitas , molluscs invertebrates of beautiful colors and some scorpions of medical importance.

This area is home of the almiquí , the Royal Woodpecker , the Cuban Kite and the manatees .It is also habitat of three of the smallest species of vertebrates in the world.

Of way generally are recorded 883 species of wildlife, of them 152 endemic and 84 regional. The fauna is made up of the following form: insects 406 species and 69 families; arachnids , 145 and 40; mollusks, 45 and 16; crustaceans, 2 and 1; amphibians, 20 and 4; reptiles, 42 and 10; fish, 19 and 9; birds, 188 and 35, and mammals with 16 species and 9 families.

The most studied groups are vertebrates and the marine fauna of the area has been little studied.

Hydrography of Biosphere Reserve Cuchillas del Toa.

As one of the more humid places in Cuba it is deduced the fact of the flow of its rivers and tributaries .

El Toa, the main river in the area has the most abundant and transparent waters and a length of 124 km, is the largest river in Cuba.

The Toa deploys a volume of water per second almost four times greater than other important currents in Cuba and flows into a wide swamp, it is fast and strong as it descends among the mountains. 71 streams and rivers pour their waters into the Toa River, some of them like the Jaguaní , are of a significant flow.

Its basin includes numerous breaks water of difficult access. One of them is Salto Fino a protected area, the highest in the Caribbean, with 305 meters drop.

Communities in Las Cuchillas del Toa

It is reiterated that the area is inhabited by about 18,000 inhabitants distributed in 498 communities. In its most inhabitants of the place they are devoted to agriculture and breeding of animals.

The majority of the houses farm located on the banks of the Toa are built in the style peasant, using wooden palm.

In the last eight kilometers of the Toa, running down before arriving at the sea, the river makes each time more width on a space level, there are several communities located on both sides.

They are common the called cayuqueros and rafters. The cayucas are canoes in background plane, used for generations as a means of transport, both for the people and for the fruits of the work farm.

Bamboo rafts are equally typical in the region, the natives of the place, also known as Toanos, learn to build them from an early age and also use them for children to cross the river when they go to school and return home.

Economy in Biosphere Reserve Cuchillas del Toa

Within the most important economic activities are the activities forest, but it should add other that also is performed as the mining (nickel, chromium, iron and of the cobalt), the cocoa, coffee and coconut, and as the livestock less.

The ecotourism begins to be encouraged but still are found in steps early and some activities proposed to visitors.

Activities for the preservation of Las Cuchillas del Toa.

The Board Coordinator of the Biosphere Reserve Cuchillas del Toa is responsible for the actions for the conservation and development sustainable in the area.

It also analyzes the violations that are committed in the heritage inside of the area and impinges on the compliance of the regulations in force.

The Board is responsible for the promotion of a comprehensive program of education environment that generate changes in attitudes to conservation and sustainability of the rich nature of the reserve.

The El Eden farm

Located in the area of Quibiján, Finca El Eden has one interest particularly for the people looking for the ecotourism . It is located in a small plain on the banks of the Quibiján river and is a family farm, a benchmark for the work they do.

There is harvested bananas, sweet potatoes, coffee, corn, various types of fruit and breeding of rabbits and pigs. It counts with important technical support by the government and non- governmental organizations specialized in agroecology and permaculture, as the Center Lavastida, one ecumenical organization in Santiago de Cuba.

The farm sells its products at reasonable prices to families in Baracoa.

¿What to do in Cuchillas del Toa?

For lovers of nature, Cuchillas del Toa , proposes actions of contemplation , cycling , hiking and others who might choose to pass by Cuba.

Almost at the mouth of the river is the restaurant Rancho Toa, located on the banks of the river and composed of several traditional caneyes, with columns of wood and ceiling of palm.

Shaded place, with traditional roofs, very cool due to the proximity of the Toa water.

Offer food a la carte or buffet of pork roasted in plectrum to the traditional way, the chili sauce, soup typical Cuban that contains several vegetables, as well as rice and salads.

You can enjoy of the juice naturally in fruits of the season, from the cold coco natural water or cocktails of rum with juice of orange and passion fruit, served in one shell of grapefruit and a remover naturally . Rancho Toa also offers also cayuca rides, above and down the river.

You can contact the Ecotur agency in Baracoa. From there you can book a day of hiking to Quibiján which includes transportation, service of guide and one visit to the Finca El Edén.

For this trip is required one at least 2 people , it is done in a jeep with capacity for three people a price of 49 CUC per adult and 37 CUC per child. The price includes sandwich and juice.

This trip can also be done by private taxi charges between 30 and 35 CUC for the ride to Quibiján. The driver will follow your instructions if you want to appreciate the views, take photos, among other decisions. He will wait for you where you indicate it for your return to Baracoa.

It is important to know that although you have your private transport you must introduce the day earlier in Ecotur to pay the access to the protected area and obtain the services of a guide to go with you in the taxi private (15 CUC per person for the access to the area protected and service of guide).

If you like the traditional food, you can order one lunch in one house peasant from the village of Quibiján with a price between 5 and 8 CUC per person. Is offered also the rafting.

Although there is a choice of the cycling do not you recommend to unless you ‘re in good shape and master the technique . The walk to Quibiján is very long, about 25 km from leg and other 25 back, steep slopes to climbing the road between the mountains and bad conditions of the roads.

But yes, it can do one tour on bicycle to reach more simple , some 9 km to the river Toa , and after about 8 km from the road paved along the river to the area of the bridge of Haze.

The section offers waterfalls and pools natural where is possible to bathe and then return to the Rancho Toa for typical lunch and a boat ride on the river.

This excursion can include, if you wish, a visit to the mouth of the Duaba river, from where you can appreciate the view of Mount El Yunque.

The rent of a bicycle in Baracoa has a price of around 6 CUC for the day. Villa Paradiso, one of the facilities in the area, offers its guests cycling maps of the region.


  1. Hi,

    I am looking for volunteering in wild nature protection in Cuba.
    Can youb advis me where I can do this for free or at low cost?
    I had a dream when I was young, which was to take care of wild animals in Africa, asia or South America.
    Now I am retired and have the opportunity to do it.
    I love your project and would like to participate in the caring of the primates.

    I am open minded, independent, enterpreneurial, and responsible in all aspects, I like to work my hands and to put them in the ground, taking care of animals, learning about natural farming projects, being in contact with people from other countries.
    I am Belgian and live in the south of France (Var).

    Thank you for your reply

    Best regards,

    Michel Wils

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