Cuba, a first-class tourist destination in the Caribbean, has a large portfolio of leisure options which include the country’s cultural and historic heritage and the environment.
The promotion of nature tourism, by the Cuban tourist industry, takes into account the protected areas where important ecological and environmental services of high economic impact are provided.
In general, the abovementioned places have large fresh water reserves and thick forests where medicinal plants are abundant.
The Cuban protected areas include forests and wooded zones; as well as marine and river areas, which have been selected to preserve and protect the ecosystems and the biogenetic diversity.
In this sense, the island has about 260 protected areas, seven of which are located in the eastern province of Guantánamo.
The list includes the biosphere reserve Cuchillas del Toa, the Alexander von Humboldt National Park, the Hatibonico ecological reserve, the floral reserve in Sierra Canasta and the geographical features in Yunque de Baracoa, Cañón de Yumurí and Yara-Majayara.
The mountain ecosystems in the country are also involved in the dynamic growth of the sector, and many options already feature excursions and stays in these areas.
The Cuban relief has a great potential for these activities since the nation has four mountain ranges which extend over 21 percent of the island’s surface, also including 37 percent of all wooded zones.
On the other hand, the cave systems represent an underground attraction for thousands of visitors who arrive in the country every year to know about the natural features of the island.
In addition, it is important to mention that more than 60 percent of the Cuban territory is made up of calcareous rocks which, under the influence of the glacial periods and the weather, have contributed to the formation of the largest caves in the region.
The abovementioned natural values are complemented by a rich fauna including about 16,500 registered species, in a context where certain zoological groups show and endemism above 90 percent.
The country’s ecological diversity is huge and the central provinces of Villa Clara, Cienfuegos and Sancti Spíritus have a strong potential for nature tourism.
Likewise, the Ciénaga de Zapata (the largest swamp in Cuba), is one of the most attractive tourist options in the western province of Matanzas, since it is regarded as an ecological paradise for nature lovers.
Blue-water beaches, exotic forests, rivers, lakes, underwater caverns, natural swimming pools, unexplored areas and swamp savannas provide shelter to 30 percent of the island’s endemic fauna.
The avifauna includes 171 species, and 18 of them are endemic to the territory, which has become one of the richest areas in the island for ecological tourism.
Specialists mention the existence of a unique variety of crocodile and the presence of the manatee, regarded as a jewel of the national fauna.