EAST­ERN CUBA

Excelencias from the Caribbean & the Americas - - Eastern Cuba -

East­ern Cuba is a place of strik­ing scenery, pop­u­la­tion and cul­ture. The ter­rain is some­what rugged and boasts such hall­marks as the Sierra Maes­tra moun­tains to the south and the Sierra Cristal, with its Sagua Bara­coa ridges, to the north. The prov­inces of Las Tu­nas, Granma, Hol­guin, San­ti­ago de Cuba and Guan­tanamo make up what’s known as East­ern Cuba, a sur­face of some 13,500 square miles.

Ac­cess

On the ground, the Cen­tral Road reaches through the en­tire area. A mess of high­ways and dirt roads takes visi­tors to other lo­ca­tions, cities, towns and sight­see­ing spots across the ter­ri­tory. By air, the main en­try points are the in­ter­na­tional air­ports of San­ti­ago de Cuba (An­to­nio Maceo), Hol­guin (Frank Pais) and Granma (Car­los Manuel de Ce­s­pedes and Sierra Maes­tra. There are two ex­cel­lent mari­nas in Bahia de Vita (Hol­guin) and San­ti­ago de Cuba.

Weather

The coastal ar­eas and the plains show a balmy and slightly milder cli­mate, even cold up in the moun­tains. The higher the ground, the higher the tem­per­a­ture, though hot con­di­tions are com­mon. July and Au­gust are ex­treme months in this sense.

Pop­u­la­tion

Blacks, whites and mixed-race peo­ple are the three largest racial groups of east­ern Cuba, with as many as 3.9 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants.

Lan­guage

Span­ish. (In all ma­jor tourist cen­ters, staff mem­bers speak for­eign lan­guages such as English, French, Ital­ian and Ger­man).

Re­li­gion

Mostly Catholic, Apos­tolic and Ro­man, though African-cuban rit­u­als are well rooted. The Day of Our Vir­gin of Char­ity of Co­bre, Cuba’s Saint Pa­tron, is ob­served on Septem­ber 8. Thou­sands and thou­sands of de­voted pil­grims head for San­ti­ago de Cuba in a mas­sive pro­ces­sion to the steps of the Vir­gin’s church in the out­skirts of the city.

Main Cities

San­ti­ago de Cuba, Cuba’s sec­ond­largest city, sec­ond best to Ha­vana. Other ma­jor cities are Hol­guin, Las Tu­nas, Bayamo, Guan­tanamo, all cap­i­tals of the re­gion’s prov­inces.

Traf­fic

Like in the rest of Cuba, traf­fic is on the right side of the road. When it comes to driv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas, it’s com­mon­place to see trac­tors, horse­hauled bug­gies and bi­cy­cles, so there’s need to take ex­tra pre­cau­tion mea­sures when hit­ting those roads. Up in the moun­tains, drivers must dou­ble those pre­cau­tions due to reg­u­lar rain­fall and the ex­is­tence of zigzag­ging and nar­row dirt roads.

Ac­com­mo­da­tion

The main travel des­ti­na­tions across the re­gion, from the north of Las Tu­nas and Hol­guin all the way to far­away Bara­coa, fea­ture ex­cel­lent ho­tels and re­sorts next to top-class beaches or in the cities and in­land nat­u­ral lo­ca­tions with a va­ri­ety of op­tions in terms of rates and cat­e­gories.

Trans­porta­tion

Roads are in good con­di­tions across the board, but it’s im­por­tant to h a v e maps or ask your way around with the lo­cals. Road signs are not ev­ery­where. When tour­ing around or plan­ning group trav­el­ing, visi­tors may rely on trans­fer in/trans­fer out ser­vices from their ho­tels. There are plenty of car rentals at air­ports, tourist cen­ters and ma­jor cities.

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