By whims of nature, the Ariguanabo River disappears completely when being swallowed by the earth in a sink.
San Antonio de los Baños, a beautiful city of the old province of Havana, well known for its tobacco plantations and for being the Humorous Villa, owes its existence to the Ariguanabo River, which cuts it in two and uses it from north to south. Precisely the name of the town San Antonio de los Baños (Saint Anthony of the Baths), is due to that in ancient times they were famous places to the river bank, at that time with more caudal and a crystalline water that were lent for the swimming and the fishing.
The Ariguanabo River starts just 11 km north of this city, in several springs and water eyes of the Ariguanabo Laguna, near the town of Bauta.
Ariguanabo River disappears in the Sumidero Cave
Mysteriously, after crossing several corners the town of San Antonio, disappears being swallowed by a cave or underground cave, to surface again about 20 kilometers away, in the area of Cajío Beach, south of Güira de Melena. It is said that in an intermediate place of this route, in the Caves of Eustaquio and Homobono, you can see the river running beneath the earth towards the sea. The place where the river disappears is known as the Sumidero Cave.
The sink of the Ariguanabo River is a well-known site of all of the place and a must visit for all who pass through the village. It is one of the symbols of the population, appearing in its coat of arms, in paintings and illustrations referring to San Antonio, in addition it is a natural accident of marked relevance, and unique in Cuba.
The walls and roof of the cave are filled with inscriptions and names of visitors and explorers who have come to the place over the years, from the seventeenth century. There is a facility around the cave and an artificial channel built to avoid overflowing the river when it rains heavily and the summit does not provide enough to swallow the entire flow of water.
It impresses the descending until the entrance, since it seems that it is going to collapse and open the earth swallowing the visitors. Currently on the edge of the canal there is a mural created by local plastic artists.
History and Legends of the Sumidero Cave
It is said that from ancient times, when people began to settle, there was just above the entrance to the cave a ceiba and a royal palm. Later the palm was destroyed by lightning and the damaged Ceiba fell on the entrance of the cave.
La Ceiba that exists today was re-planted in 1877 with large popular festivals, but the palm was not restored since it was considered by the Spaniards as a symbol of Cuba and independence.
There are ancient legends that refer that several people over the years have been swallowed by the cave in cyclones, floods of the river.
Visitors to San Antonio and Sumidero Cave cannot miss the famous Quintica, a swiming and recreation area, taking advantage of a place where the Ariguanabo River makes some nice meanders when entering the village.
The lovers of ecotourism will find on the opposite bank that is accessed by a bridge, a place with virgin and exuberant nature to explore.