The Mar­ve­lously Real

Excelencias Turísticas del caribe y las Américas - - Reportaje / Interview -

TRA­VE­LING TO CU­BA AND FAILING TO DROP BY TAN­QUE AZUL AND LA GRIE­TA, IN THE PRO­VIN­CE OF HOL­GUIN, MEANS MIS­SING OUT ON THE CHAN­CE TO GET AWED BY SO­MET­HING NA­TU­RE BUFFS AL­WAYS CALL FOR

For true na­tu­re lo­vers, the­re are two si­tes in eas­tern Cu­ba they just can't pass up; ot­her­wi­se, they'd be let­ting go of an op­por­tu­nity to meet the mar­ve­lously real: Tan­que Azul (Blue Tank), nestled in the Ca­le­to­nes Pro­tec­ted Eco­lo­gi­cal Re­ser­ve, in the so-ca­lled “whi­te vi­lla­ge of crabs”, Gi­ba­ra; and La Grie­ta (The Crack), per­ched on Ce­rro de Ya­gua­jay, in the mu­ni­ci­pa­lity of Ba­nes. They sha­re so­met­hing in com­mon: they are both pas­sio­na­tely run by Em­pre­sa Agro­fo­res­tal Hol­guín.

A trip to un­ra­vel the beau­ties of an un­der­wa­ter world, th­rough dif­fe­rent and ex­ci­ting forms of re­crea­tio­nal scu­ba di­ving is the smart choi­ce pic­ked by tho­se who ma­ke up their minds to del­ve in­to Tan­que Azul, the lar­gest floo­ded ca­ve on the is­land. Its two in­ter­con­nec­ted main en­tran­ces (a west and an east en­tran­ce) ma­ke it the most com­plex un­der­wa­ter ex­plo­ra­tion you could ever do in Cu­ba. Yet the pos­si­bi­lity to ta­ke a clo­ser look at this pa­ra­di­se of sta­lac­ti­tes, sta­lag­mi­tes, co­lumns and mantles is worth the ef­fort. They do pack a wa­llop among tho­se who ven­tu­re in­to pond of crys­tal­clear wa­ters and bluish re­flec­tions this en­cla­ve owes its na­me to.

Gi­ven its high na­tu­ral and sce­nery va­lues, let alo­ne its well-roo­ted ru­ral traditions, La Grie­ta is no doubt an irre­sis­ti­ble si­te for tho­se who opt to do trek­king and trail­bla­zing. Lo­ca­ted in the li­mes­to­ne heights of Ma­nia­bon, the clim­bing tho­se 286 me­ters abo­ve sea le­vel is a on­ce-in-a-li­fe­ti­me chan­ce to ha­ve a clo­se en­coun­ter with 110 plants from 50 dif­fe­rent ve­ge­ta­ble spe­cies –many of them hail ex­clu­si­vely from this lo­ca­tion- that ma­ke visitors catch their breath as they walk 1.2 km full of fresh air, ad­ven­tu­re and an en­vi­ron­ment to re­mem­ber for fo­re­ver more.

La Grie­ta.

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