Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New adventures across the Pacific: outdoor attractions in Cuba

There are many remarkable sights to behold within the Philippines. Pristine and white beaches, cities that are rich in culture and excitement, incredible trekking and fascinating underwater worlds like in Tubataha Reef and Palawan diving sites. These attractions are impressive, but were Archipelagically spread out over many islands, separated by sea and with long hours of travel if by commercial ship.  Other islands right now had already its own airports except for some that can only be reached by boat.

Holidays to Cuba offer adventurous visitors a rare chance to experience incredible geographic and cultural diversity within a relatively compact island. Within a few hours you can travel from the vibrant cosmopolitan culture of Havana to the remote wilderness of the Sierra Maestra. Cuba is so much more than beach clubs and coconut cocktails and for outdoor enthusiasts, there are several highlights to choose from. Take the Viñales Valley: a broad flat area featuring beautiful and unusual limestone karst hills called mogotes. 
Photo Credits : David Bacon

The views of this valley are best from the surrounding mountains which can be accessed via a range of means. This area is ideal for bikers, hikers, bird-watchers and rock climbers. The limestone landscape of this region also means that there are several incredible caves to explore. 

For an entirely different landscape, the Parque Nacional Ciénaga de Zapata or The Zapata Swamp National Park is an incredible area covered with a patchwork of mangroves, swamp and wetlands which are home to an impressive variety of flora and fauna. Travellers with a special interest in birds, nature, fishing and diving will not find a more spectacular destination in Cuba to pursue these interests.
 Photo Credits : David Bacon
The National Nature reserve of Topes de Collantes features dense pine forest blanketing the stunning mountains of the Sierra del Escambray. This nature reserve is a beautiful oasis away from the nearby town. With several hiking trails leading through the mountains and forests, visitors will enjoy the cool respite of these walks, the most impressive of which lead to magnificent waterfalls. 

Last, but certainly not least, is the Sierra Maestra, Cuba’s longest mountain range. While this region boasts towering peaks, it is the cultural lore of these Sierras that is the true attraction. These mountains were the backdrop for the young rebel Fidel Castro and his band of guerillas who waged war on the Batista government in the 1950s. Exploration of this incredible area will connect travellers with nature as well as the legendary story of how modern Cuba came to be. 
Photo Credits : David Bacon
In fact, there is so much to see and do on this magnificent island, and it would be a waste of resources and time to simply lie on a white sand beach, especially if you normally have access to the beaches of the Philippines. 
 Photo Credits : David Bacon
 Photo Credits : David Bacon
Explore the landscape and investigate the impressive and lively culture of this varied island for a Cuban adventure you’ll always remember. 

  Cuba is a bizarre and atmospheric place - the most fantastic country I've ever been to. It feels frozen in time. Go, before it changes and becomes like everywhere else.
                                                    Fiona Tomlinson, News Editor, Channel 4

Sarah Carrant is a travel journalist who has spent time in both the Philippines and parts of the Caribbean such as Cuba. She enjoys long treks and is currently working to improve her climbing skills.

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