Located on the southernmost point of Cuba, the province of Granma is renowned for its history and awesome natural beauty. It is also home to the stunning stretch of the Sierra Maestra mountains that can be seen from the coastal regions of the province. Granma also holds the accolade of being the home to the country’s longest river, the Rio Cauto.
Some of the most pristine coastal marine reefs in the Americas are situated along its rugged southern coastline. The province boasts two national parks, the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra and the Parque Nacional Desembarco del Granma, habitat of such botanical wonders as the dwarf orchids and the ancient giant cactus and indigenous wildlife such as the tocororo and zunzun bird species. The tocororo of course being Cuba’s national bird.
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The province of Granma is Located 730 km. (just over 450 miles) from Havana on Cuba’s southeast coast and has many natural tourist attractions.
Granma has “made in Cuba” stamped all over it. This is the land where José Martí died, Fidel Castro landed with his revolutionaries, and the native Carlos Manuel de Céspedes freed his slaves and formally declared Cuban independence in 1868. And, if history doesn’t provide it, you can always ponder over the geographical significance of Cuba’s longest river (The Cauto), it’s most pristine coastal marine barrier reefs (in Parque Nacional Desembarco del Granma) and its third-highest mountain (Pico Bayamesa, 1730 m).
With a lot of its interior and southwestern coastal areas cut off from the main transport grid, one of Granma’s primary attractions is the isolation that goes with its virgin territories, begging to be discovered by the visitor. Street parties in town such as Bayamo, Manzanillo and Pilón are a weekly occurrence and are uniquely enlivened with homemade street snacks, hotly contested games of chess, and the kind of archaic colonial streets that were last seen in Europe when Cuba was still a property of Spain.
Juxtaposing its pancake-flat rice fields with the soaring peaks of the Sierra Maestra, Granma is more rural than urban and, even the two main cities of Bayamo and Manzanillo retain a faintly rustic air.
But far from sucking on sugar stalks in the safety of their remote background refuges, the resourceful locals are renowned for their creativity, particularly in the field of music. Two of the giants of Cuban “Nueva Trova” (philosophical folk guitar music) were born in Granma (Pablo Milanés in Bayamo and Carlos Puebla in Manzanillo), and in 1972 the province hosted a groundbreaking music festival that helped put this revolutionary new music style on Cuba’s and Latin America’s cultural map.
Granma has 837, 8sq.km. (Without including the keys whose area is around 9,6 sq.km.) And its territory includes natural regions which are very differentiable: The Cauto’s flatness and part of Sierra Maestra´s mountains systems where you’ll find the highest peaks of the country. On its flank, you’ll distinguish the longest river of Cuba, El Cauto, with many small lakes and numerous reservoirs. On the River Cauto’s banks farmers work some of the most fertile land in the province.
Bordering to the North with Las Tunas and Holguin provinces; to the South with Santiago de Cuba and the Caribbean Sea; to the East with Holguín and Santiago de Cuba; and to the west with the Guacanayabo‘s Gulf. Granma’s population is over 830,000. Therefore, based upon its dimension it occupies the sixth position in a national ranking for square miles and the fifth places for its population.
Between its mountains there are on The Sierra Maestra, La Bayamesa’s peak (the highest, with 1,756 meters), Marti’s peak (1,722 m.), Palma Mocha’s peak (1,388 m) and Caracas’s peak (1,234m.). The caves are “Ceremonial del Guafe” and “Cabo Cruz”. The rivers are known CAUTO (343km long) drainage area (8,969 sq.km.); it’s affluent: Bayamo (115 m. long) drainage area (690sq.km), and Cautillo (74, 4 m. long) drainage area (648sq.km).
Its economic profile is agriculture and cattle. Its principal productions are: sugar cane, rice, coffee, seafood products, marble and cocoa.
Granma’s capital city, Bayamo, was founded by Diego Velázquez de Cuellar in 1513, making it Cuba’s second oldest city after Baracoa. Many of the original colonial buildings were ruined in the Great Fire of 1869, when the city’s residents set the city ablaze rather than surrendering it to the invading Spaniards. The restored city center has since been declared a national monument by UNESCO.
As with virtually every town in the Granma province, the streets of Bayamo come alive with street parties on Saturday evenings, a lively and long-standing local tradition of fun and frolics that many foreign visitors equally enjoy. The province’s capital is also famous for its annual Bayamo Carnival.
About 8 km southwest of “Las Coloradas beach” you’ll find the Archaeological Trail of El Guafe which is about 3 km in length. The Desembarco del Granma National Park’s only advertised archaeological site. An underground river here has created 20 large caverns, one of which contains the famous “Idolo del agua” (water’s idol) carved from stalagmites by pre-Colombian Indians.
You should allow about two hours for the stroll in order to take in the butterflies, 180 different species of birds (including the tiny “colibrí”) and multiple orchids. There’s also a 500 year old cactus en the route.
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A Casa Particular in Granma or home stay in Granma province or cities like Bayamo will ensure you experience both the wonders of Granma’s amazing culture, immersed in one-on-one contact with your Cuban hosts in the UNESCO acclaimed city. Learn about Granma’s rich history, together with true Cuban hospitality. The owners of your casa particular in Granma speak fluent English and have a profound knowledge of the city and its many sights. Any questions you wish to ask will be answered instantly by the Cuban family you are staying with. Some of our casa particulares also offer meals and drinks, meaning you’ll get to try some authentic Cuban food also.
Here is a list of just a few Casa Particulares in Granma which can be reserved online through us.
See all 11 Casa Particulares in Granma
Granma province manages to blend unique environmental diversity with important historical significance, this place includes 275 sq km of teeming forests peculiar topography and staggered marine terraces and reefs. It’s also a spiritual shrine to the Cuban Revolution, the landing place which brought Fidel Castro and The Revolution to Cuba in 1956. A large monument and the museum called “Las Coloradas” just beyond the park gate marks the exact landing spot. The Granma museum outlines the routes taken by Castro, Ché Guevara and the others into the Sierra Maestra, where there´s also a full scale replica of the Granma vessel.
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 the park protects some of the most pristine coastal cliffs in the Americas; of the 512 plant species identified thus far, about 60% are endemic and a dozen of them are found only here. The fauna is equally rich with 25 species of mollusk, 7 species of amphibian, 44 types of reptile, 110 species of birds and 13 types of mammals.
In “El Guafe” archaeologists have uncovered the second most important community of ancient agriculturists and ceramic markers discovered in Cuba. Approximately 1000 years old, the artifacts include altars, carved stones and earthen vessels along with 6 idols guarding a water goddess inside a ceremonial cave. As far as archaeologists are concerned, it’s probably just the tip of the iceberg.
The Granma provinces offers an alluring natural sanctuary that still echoes with the gunshots of Castro’s guerrilla campaign of the late 1950s. Situated 49 km South of Yara (small town with a big history located between Bayamo and Manzanillo) up a very steep 24 km concrete road from Bartolomé Masó, this precipitous and untamed region contains the country’s highest peak, “Pico Turquino” (just over the border in Santiago de Cuba province) unlimited birdlife and flora, an the rebels’ onetime wartime headquarters, “Comandancia la Plata”.
Comprising a sublime mountain-scape of broccoli-green peaks and humid cloud forest, and home to honest hardworking country folk. Towering 1972 meters above the azure Caribbean “Pico Turquino” so-named for the turquoise hue that colors its steep upper slope is Cuba’s highest and most regularly climbed mountain.
Carpeted in lush cloud forest and protected in 140sq.kms national park’s lofty summit is embellished by a bronze bust of National Hero José Martí, designed by a Cuban sculptor Jilma Madera (she also fashioned the famous Christ statue that stands on the eastern side of Havana harbor). In a patriotic test of endurance the statue was dragged to the top in 1953 by a young Celia Sánchez and her father Manuel Sánchez Silveira to mark the centennial of the Apostle’s birth.
The Granma province has two expansive national parks, GRAN PARQUE NACIONAL SIERRA MAESTRA (sometimes called the National Park of Turquino) and PARQUE NACIONAL DESEMBARCO DEL GRANMA (National Park Landing of Granma yacht).
Celia Sánchez Manduley, called “the flower of the Revolution” was born in Media Luna, Granma.
In La Plata, located in the Turquino National Park, you can see the principal headquarters of Fidel Castro’s guerrilla outpost from which he overthrew Batista.
In Marea del Portillo, where mountains meet the sea, you’ll enjoy the ambience of one of Cuba’s nicest all-inclusive resort areas.
-In Turquino National Park, well-blazed trails lead hikers upward through the Sierra Maestra Mountains to the highest peaks in the country. Scuba divers love exploring the coastal waters just off the area made famous by the landing of the Granma yacht (Desembarco del Granma National Park) and other areas.
The marine terraces and coral reefs at the base of the mountain are the best-defined and preserved in the world. This fact, in addition to the area’s flora and fauna, mean it’s more than 40 archeological sites containing artifacts of Indian culture are a great attraction to visitors. Furthermore, many historic events related to Cuba’s wars of independence in the latter half of the 19th and middle of the 20th centuries took place here, and the more than 35 miles of caves and caverns in the area that are ideal for spelunking-led. UNESCO declared “The Desembarco del Granma National Park” part of World Cultural Heritage on December 3, 1999.
Granma province –especially the city of Bayamo– has been scene of many key events history and culture from Cuba’s war of independence in the 19th century to the war of liberation wage in late 1950s, which wound up with the triumph of the Revolution on January 1st 1959.