By Mayté Solano Gómez
As Cubans say: “Cuba is an eternal summer.” On the Island there are hot temperatures almost 12 months of the year. However, they are more intense between June and September, with more than 30 degrees and 37-38 degrees Celsius in the country’s easternmost provinces. Rain is also common, in summer, in the afternoon and evening hours.
Tropical storms and cyclones are also common on the island. They occur mostly between the months of June and November and can sometimes be very devastating. These are climatological phenomena characterized by strong winds and intense rains that cause great damage. In these cases, the country’s Civil Defense has designed an effective system, aimed to protect material and economic resources, but the fundamental thing is the protection of human lives. It is recommended to follow the official recommendations.
Taking into account these weather factors, as well as the main events that usually take place on the island in the summer months, we propose the following July circuit. We thus hope to help you plan your trip to Cuba in 2021.
For those who like parties
In July, eastern Cuba dresses up with the Caribbean Festival and the Carnivals of Santiago de Cuba. From the second half of the month the party does not stop on the streets of the city. Music is also constant. During the night, the groups, floats, congas and marches create a lively and festive atmosphere. People from Santiago shows the typical Cuban joy, solidarity and joviality. A vast array of local dishes and drinks are also available.
To close, the celebration of July 26, the day of the National Rebellion, takes place in commemoration of the start of the Cuban Revolution. Although this party takes place in every province of the country, it is on the east side where the hubbub and pride are greatest.
Our recommendation for July circuit
Taking all this into account, the July circuit we recommend, if you like parties, if you are interested in knowing and sharing with the Cuban people and if you´d like to learn about their customs and traditions, is Santiago de Cuba- Baracoa- Santiago de Cuba.
The ideal time would be between August 15 and 31, for a period of 5 to 7 days. In addition to the festivities, you can visit the historical sites of Santiago de Cuba, also known as the “Hero City”, as well as admire the natural beauty of Baracoa, in the easternmost of the Cuban provinces: Guantánamo.
Among the most representative places are:
In Santiago de Cuba:
• The Sanctuary of the Virgen del Cobre, Patroness of Cuba. Oshun in the Yoruba religion, is the deity that reigns over the fresh waters of the world, streams, springs and rivers, personifying love and fertility. Also known as Virgen Santa María, her image was found by three fishermen. Its main shrine is located in the sanctuary built high in the mountains, near the mines of Santiago del Prado, very close to the town of Santiago de Cuba, where one of the largest open-cast copper veins in America was located. Every September 8th she is honored. Currently, people who visit the church of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre usually return to their homes with tiny stones which shine thanks to the copper from the mine. People keep them in glasses of water, pockets or bags as a special protection against evil, since these stones are guardians of a good future.
• The Castillo del Morro San Pedro de la Roca was declared by Unesco in 1998 as a World Heritage Site. This Renaissance military fortification was built in 1638 to protect the city of Santiago de Cuba against naval attack. It has been rebuilt on many occasions, the most important after being almost destroyed by two earthquakes in 1758 and 1766, a remodeling that gave it its current appearance. It is considered an architectural jewel of indisputable aesthetic and historical value.
• The Archaeological Landscape of the first coffee plantations in the southeast of Cuba has been a World Heritage Site since 2000. The remains of these 19th century coffee plantations are a unique sample of a pioneering form of agriculture in the difficult terrain of virgin forest».
In Guantánamo, Baracoa:
• Alejandro de Humboldt National Park. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2001. It is a protected area of Cuba and is located in the provinces of Holguín and Guantánamo. It is one of the most important sites for the conservation of native flora in the entire western hemisphere. Near this Park, there is the Caridad de los Indios community, the last direct descendants of the Cuban aborigines (Taíno culture), whose culture was wiped out by European colonization. This population is still here thanks to the isolation of the area, which has allowed them to preserve their way of life.
• The Stone Zoo has a sample of animals, aborigines and “palenques” of black slaves carved in stone, with more than 426 sculptures. For its creation, each figure was placed in an environment, similar to the areas they inhabit in their countries or regions. To climb to the highest point there are 324 steps and 245 on the way back down. Visiting the whole zoo is tiring in this jungle environment, but visitors do so with pleasure for the beauty of their sculptural work, the climate and the vegetation of the place. For all this, the Stone Zoo was declared a “National Cultural Heritage” site in 1985.
• The Farola (Lantern) Viaduct is the most recent of the seven wonders of civil engineering in Cuba. It´s the most important and direct land link between the first town founded in Cuba, Baracoa, the most mountainous Cuban municipality, and the capital of the easternmost province of the island, Guantánamo. The road crosses the entire Nipe-Sagua-Baracoa mountain range, with heights that sometimes reach 450 meters above sea level. Very novel techniques were used to build the viaduct because, due to the geological situation in the area, the use of explosives was impossible. The views from La Farola are spectacular. Along the route, if you go from Guantánamo to Baracoa, you will go from a desert-coastal landscape to one dominated by the rain forest.
Baracoa is one of the 34 biodiversity hotspots on the planet, according to the World Conservation Forum.
In the meantime you can go on an excursion to the beaches of Holguín, a true earthly paradise.
To take into account on this July circuit
Although tourists in Cuba traditionally arrive through Havana, the city of Santiago de Cuba also has the Antonio Maceo International Airport, so in this province you can start and end your visit.
In addition to having hotel facilities of recognized quality and comfort, private houses in the region offer foreign tourists the best of Cuban hospitality. With them you can get the help and information necessary to make your stay a better experience. Furthermore, you can enjoy the breakfasts and meals they offer, some typical of the region.
As for transportation, there is also an efficient state network. However, through the owners of the houses where you stay, you will also receive help to manage your transfers, safely, comfortably and very economically.
To sum up…
Visiting only the eastern part of Cuba is not the usual route that tourists take on the island. However, it is very enriching for anyone who wants to learn about the most deeply rooted Cuban traditions and customs, and enjoy the July festivities that take place in the eastern region of the country. It is here that the Cubans are most caring, selfless and jovial. Definitely, it is worth it …