GRANMA PROVINCE, CUBA
Updated: Oct 4, 2019
YES! IT'S GRANMA LIKE GRANDMOTHER
Located on the eastern end of the island of Cuba, Granma Province is named after the yacht that transported Fidel Castro and the men of the 26 of July Movement from Mexico to Cuba in December 1956. It makes for a great destination for Americans who travel to Cuba on a people-to-people cultural exchange tour. The province is known for its contrasts, from the Sierra Maestra Mountains, to fertile valleys, and Caribbean beaches. The Sierra Maestra Mountains contain Cuba’s highest peak, and are full of vibrant vegetation, and abundant fauna. There are several significant national parks in the province, including la Demajagua, Turquino, and Desemabrco del Granma, this last a World Heritage Site. Parque Turquino is home to Cuba’s highest peak, Pico Turquino, which is one of the highest peaks in the Caribbean basin.
The city of Bayamo is the capital of the province, and was the second city founded in Cuba in 1513. The city has been declared a national monument, and is known as the cradle of Cuba’s nationality because of its prominence in so many significant events in Cuban history. The architecturally rich city of Manzanillo is the second largest in the province, and has a small malecon in the style of Havana’s, and the famous coastal areas of Guacanayabo and su Glorieta. Manzanino was a bustling and cosmopolitan provincial town until 1959, when it started its slow decay and now has a patina, like the rest of the island, that most visitors find enchanting.
The colonial section of Bayamo has places of interest to Americans visiting Cuba on cultural exchanges. There is La Ventana de Luz Vazquez where the Cuban National Anthem was sung for the first time, the Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Museum, the Wax Museum, the San Salvador Cathedral, the Church of the Holy Conception of Manzanillo, the ruins of the La Demajagua sugar mill, and the Monumento Nacional Dos Rios. Marea del Portillo beach is distinguished by its brown sand, pristine waters, and is ideal for anyone looking for something different. It is located at the foot of the Sierra Maestra mountains, which are arid on their southern side, and make for extra salty sea water. The diving in the area is excellent, and your group may be the only one in the water.
HIGHEST PEAK IN CUBA
Located within the Sierra Maestra Mountain Range is Turquino National Park, at 6,476 feet it is the highest peak in Cuba, and the fifth highest in the Caribbean. Also worth a visit are the Parque Nacional Desembarco del Granma, and the Jardin Botanico Cupaynicu. Located well within the Sierra Maestra mountains is the Comandancia la Plata, where the headquarters of the Cuban Revolutionary forces were located during the battles against the Batista regime in the late 1950s. The highest point in Cuba is also open to hikers, and reaching the top usually requires an overnight stay at the Aguada de San Joaquin campground, but obtaining the requisite permits is difficult.
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By Frank Gonzalez