Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Journey to the Highest Waterfall in Cuba

First, there is the sound of water falling; next a tourist guide saying, “This way.” The stairs to the viewing platform have an imposing presence, and there is no choice but to climb them to discovery immensity.

Two waterfalls can be seen from the viewpoint, though neither is the highest in Cuba. The Guayabo waterfall is 240 meters high, and the one next to it is 300 meters.

This miracle is located in a place called Pinares of Mayarí (Mayarí pine forest), among the thicknesses of the pines, and a host of birds – including the nightingale.

The coming and going of tourists mark the daily rhythm. Early in the morning people start walking. There is no smoking, no littering, and no killing of animals – these are some of the controls that visitors must abide by. Foreign tourists from the Cubanacan, Gaviota, Ecotur, and Cubatur agencies visit the site daily.

“The Guayabo waterfalls is located in the La MensuraNational Park, where there have being identified 293 species of flora and around 90 forms of fauna,” commented William, the guide, while he leads us along a path to the top of the waterfall.

According to him, one of the most unique plants of the area is the peinpalantus nipense, similar to a cactus but with a white flower. It is endemic of that region of the country.

Norge Torres, the manager of the Conservation Zone Unit of the park, also explained that the Forestal Company is carrying out 13 projects in the area. One of them is the Environmental Education project, whose first objective is to develop a conservation consciousness among people who live close to the park. The purpose of this is to preserve the ecosystem and habitat of all species.

The reconstruction of the forest is another project that supports the conservation of the ecosystem. Twelve hectares of forest area have been added to the park in the last six years. The “La Sabina” —a precious-wood tree that is at risk of extinction— is one of the most used in planting in the reforestation effort.

The sparrow hawk and the nightingale, among two other bird species in the region, are included in the project to save threatened birds.

The waters of the Guayabo expand over 576.7 hectares. It wouldn’t be the great waterfall that we all admire if it were not for this water that emerges from the fertile soil.

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