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Desembarco del Granma National Park, nature, sun and beach…
Visiting the Cuban East, one of the beauties that you cannot miss is the Desembarco del Granma National Park.
Nature, sun, beach, hiking and other activities will make direct contact with the environment unique moments in your life.
If you want to know details about this Great park, the first in Cuba declared a World Heritage Site, read us to the end.
A park, a natural treasure
The Desembarco del Granma National Park is located in the southeast of the Province of Granma in the municipality of Niquero.
It was the first natural site in Cuba to receive the status of World Heritage Site, granted by UNESCO on December 1, 1999.
Together with the Maisí system, it has the largest and best preserved marine terrace systems on calcareous rocks, both emerged and submerged.
It is also one of the most notable sites on the Caribbean island, for its natural values and for having been the scene of important events in the history and culture of the country.
Location and extension
The park is located in the extreme southwest of the island, in the territory of the municipalities of Niquero and Pilón in the province of Granma, very close to Playa Las Coloradas.
It ranges from the Sierra Maestra to Cabo Cruz, the southernmost point of the country.
It extends over an active tectonic zone between the Caribbean and North American plates.
It includes the limestone terraces of Cabo Cruz at the western end of the Sierra Maestra, which rise to altitudes between 180 meters below sea level and 360 meters above sea level.
The total area of the Desembarco del Granma National Park is 32,576 hectares, of which 26,180 are terrestrial and 6,396 are marine.
It also has a land buffer zone of 9,287 hectares.
System of marine terraces in the Desembarco del Granma National Park
One of the most important sites in the park is the marine terraces of Cape Cruz, arousing the interest of scientists and visitors, discovered by Admiral Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in May 1494.
It is shaped like stone steps and is considered one of the most unique landscapes that man can admire.
They reach 360 meters above sea level and up to 20 levels emerged, some of them with 100m of unevenness.
8 regional levels of emerged terraces, which reach up to 20 levels in 6 meso blocks and 29 micro blocks, reaching a maximum height of in the Alegría de Pío area.
Under the sea there are 3 regional levels, -9m, -18 and -180 meters and it is assumed that there must be more local levels, but it has not yet been studied.
The highest heights and number of levels are in Punta Escalereta with a total of 20.
These terraces sit on solid organodetritic limestone and coral rocks of the Cabo Cruz, Maya and Jaimanite Formations.
Cape cross from the middle to upper Miocene, Mayan from the Pliopleistocene and Jaimanitas from the Pleistocene or Upper Pleistocene.
Considerable is the development of karstic and tectonic-karstic forms of relief on these terraces.
The Hoyo de Morlotte stands out, according to some an emerged Blue Hole 77m deep and in diameter, the systems of flooded sinkholes of Punta Escalereta, the Fustete cave, the fluvial canyon of the Boca del Toro river and others of smaller extension.
The state of conservation of the escarpments, tidal niches, fossil dunes, storm ridges, fossil reefs, karst forms, among others, is significant.
Also the forms of the relief, due to the hardness of the rocks and the dry climate, are perfectly preserved.
Given the inaccessibility of people, they are very well preserved. There are only two communities in the Cabo Cruz and Alegría de Pio area.
Flora and fauna of the Desembarco del Granma National Park
More than 500 species of plants in what is considered an incomplete inventory so far, exist within the park.
60% of the known plants are endemic, twelve exist only in the park’s territory.
110 birds, 413 mammals, 7 amphibians and 4 reptiles are identified. The endemism of reptiles and amphibians is remarkable, reaching 90%.
Along the entire coast there are coral formations and strips of mangroves.
The Desembarco del Granma National Park is one of the foci of floral endemism in the Greater Antilles.
What can we find in the Park?
Valuable archaeological sites can be found in the immediate vicinity of the park.
Caves and square-shaped spaces that were ceremonial places for the indigenous inhabitants of the place, petroglyphs, pictograms and Taino artifacts, pottery production sites from the pre-ceramic era, and even the pre-agricultural era, can be found in the area.
Earthen vessels, carved stones and small altars dating back a thousand years have been found.
The Cueva de Fustete is one of the biggest attractions. It is located near the Alegría de Pío community, approximately 5 km from the coast.
It is an aboriginal trail with remains of pre-Columbian engravings, its greatest value lies in the geomorphological formations.
There is also the Cueva de la Diosa Atabeira, also known as Cueva del Agua.
It is a group of caves located in the archaeological site of Guafe. It has small stairs that lead to its interiors, there the visitor can recreate an image of one of the first native cultures on the island.
The recreational options are varied within the Desembarco del Granma National Park.
Some of them are diving courses, hiking routes to walk the path of the rebels after the landing of the yacht Granma, contemplate nature, learn history, among others.
All the planned activities include the town of Marea del Portillo, to directly contact the peasants of the area, learn about their customs and way of life.
Hiking is the most recommended activity because it is the one that allows you to better capture the natural beauties of the site.
For this we suggest the use of comfortable clothing and suitable footwear, of course without forgetting protection with sunglasses and water to hydrate.
Horseback riding is very popular. The park offers a service of eight hours of horseback riding with a guide included and with different routes and starting points.
If you travel with children or get tired, you should know that there are also other activities to get to know the territory without making notable physical efforts.
There are the Jeep Safari-Tour, excursions in Jeep 4×4 through the Comandancia de la Plata with guide service.
This tour includes the towns of La Habanita, Bartolomé Masó and Caridad de Mota.
At the end, you will arrive at the Santo Domingo tourist village with a welcome cocktail.
In the Comandancia de la Plata, there is the General Command of the Rebel Army.
There is the house of the press, the kitchen, the house of passersby, the house of the lawyer and the house of Fidel Castro. The tour ends with a Creole meal in the Santo Domingo town.
For lovers of nautical activities, Marea del Portillo offers enviable entertainment options.
The excursion to Cayo Blanco departs early in the morning from the Cayo Portillito pier.
The night is spent in Cayo Blanco with all the necessary comfort and the service also includes a bar with an open bar, entertainment, lunch and diving.
An hour of snorkeling that departs from the Cayo Portillito pier to reach the coral reef, may be your ideal option.
Includes boat transportation, bilingual monitor and all diving equipment included.
Deep-sea fishing is also carried out from the pier itself. Three fishing spots, includes the service that begins early in the morning and includes an open bar and lunch.
The open sea excursion is an added option. Departs from the Cayo Portillito pier and bilingual monitor.
During the journey you can snorkel, fish and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Caribbean.
Excursions in the Desembarco del Granma National Park
The Morlotte-Fustete excursion
Considered the best option for hikers. It is the 6 km journey through the dissimilar paths of the park in four hours.
The cave offers a view of all kinds of relief features such as stalagmites and stalactites. It includes a visit to the Hoyo de Morlotte, the only karst accident in Cuba that is without water and that surprises with its enormous measures.
The excursion includes lunch and soft drinks.
The Las Yaguas excursion
17 km route with a specialized guide and duration of six hours in a 4 x 4 Jeep.
It includes a mandatory stop at Alto de la Vigía to observe the panoramic views of the Marea del Portillo bay, where there are waterfalls with up to 5 waterfalls elevated to 360 meters above sea level.
It also offers the possibility of bathing in its natural pools.
The excursion El Guafe and Cabo Cruz
Recommended activity for those who seek to know the aboriginal culture of Cuba.
It is a 4 km walking tour through the trails of the park, with a tour guide, as well as lunch and refreshing drinks.
Includes interpretive panels to explain Aboriginal history, life, and customs.
Add among the options a visit to the fishing town of Cabo Cruz, where the Vargas Lighthouse is located, one of the most representative lighthouses in the country.
The lighthouse was built during the second half of the nineteenth century and is 32 meters high.
The El Samuel route
This route is for hikers interested in caving. It lasts four hours and covers a distance of 3 km.
During the tour, the sinkholes, the virgin dog’s tooth, the caves and the typical landscape of the terraces will be observed.
El Samuel cave is one of the most popular and visited places because it contains elements of great archaeological interest.
In the immediate vicinity of the cave there is a natural viewpoint with views of the Caribbean and the marine terrace system.
The Granma Landing excursion
This is the best opportunity to get to know the region where the National Park is located.
It is a tour of the most symbolic places in the park.
The modality is traveling by bus with an expert guide who will explain every detail. Niquero and Pilón are crossed and one of the obligatory stops is the El Guafe archaeological trail.
Where to stay if I visit the Desembarco del Granma National Park?
The preservation of the area prevents the construction of hotel accommodation, but there is the option of the Las Coloradas camping base 5km from Belic.
It is a set of duplex cabins with all kinds of amenities on the beach: air conditioning, restaurant, game rooms and material for water sports.
How to get to the Granma Landing National Park?
You can get to the park with rented vehicles. You must take the road that leaves Media Luna to the southwest.
After driving 10 km, the road splits. Pilón is 30 km to the southeast and Niquero 10 km to the southwest.
16 km from Niquero is the town of Belic, which in turn is 6 km from the National Park.
There is also an irregular bus service that goes to Las Coloradas, trucks and vans.
Other attractive places are:
– The Coral Barrier of Cabo Cruz
– La Cueva del Fustete (an aboriginal path whose walls appear interesting pictographs)
– The Hole of Morlotte
– The crocodile lagoon
– La Boca de Río Toro, a virgin beach that emerged at the mouth of the river
– La Cueva del Bojeo, one of the largest sea caves in the country.