Known as the first Cuban village, Baracoa is a magical city full of color and adventure, the first town in the island, famous for being an indispensable place for visiting. It’s now known by tourists from all over the world that this eastern and remote city has plenty attractive charms for those who love ecotourism holidays. Its complete name is Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa and it’s a place with urban constructions located in a small space surrounded by abrupt coasts, woods, mountains and rivers. The Taino aborigines (descendants of the Araucanians) were the main inhabitants of this region when the admiral Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492. It was the trip where he discovered America and landed twice by that area. It’s said that the word Baracoa is an aborigine term meaning “existence of the sea”; it was a reference, made by its original inhabitants, to the marine ambiance that surrounds the place, in contrast with the mountains and the rivers of the zone. Baracoa is located in Guantánamo, the most eastern Cuban province –around one thousand km to the east side of the capital- and was founded by the Governor Diego Velázquez on August 15, 1511, becoming the first capital and diocese in the island. Afterwards the city lost this condition and the capital was transferred to Santiago de Cuba first and then to Havana due to requirements of the Spanish colonization. It’s a very colorful place that covers 921.2 square kilometers. The population is circa 82 thousand inhabitants in which most of them live in the urban area and the rest is rural. This area is located in the Sagua-Baracoa mountainous system, famous by the density of its foliage. In the country there are only two areas where vegetation has remained practically untouched: In the center of the island (Sierra del Escambray)and in the Baracoa area. The main rivers, especial to be navigated with tourist ships, are Miel, Duaba, Yumurí and Toa, the last one the most copious in the country, composed by several cascades one of them 17 meters high called “El saltadero”, a very special one for rafting. Towards the east side, the mouth of the river Yumurí is the remarkable part with a wide canyon the makes the landscape very quite and with fishermen settlements around it, places where you can spend a wonderful afternoon. Although the path conducting to the city doesn’t belong to Baracoa, but to Imías, a place close to it, it’s a very peculiar road that goes through the mountains called La Farola. The construction of this asphalted road was finished in 1965 and the most interesting point of the trip is Altos de Cotilla, more than 600 m over the sea level, a real feast for those on a trip around Cuba. The main natural resource is the Yunque of Baracoa, a flatted mountain -with 575 m high- just like a blacksmith’s work that is very well seen from the small village.
In Baracoa, there are several accommodations available. Try El Castillo, with unbeatable views over the town!
posted by Alisont L. Pompa