Varahicacos: a natural sanctuary on Varadero beach

Published on 2020-12-02 by Norlan Echevarria

By Roberto Jesus Hernandez

ACN Special

Varadero is proud of its status as the second-best beach in the world and the main resort in Cuba, although it also offers international visitors a space to enjoy its native nature: the Varahicacos Protected Area.

With a little more than one square kilometer of extension, the place shows a different facet of the famous tourist pole of sun and beach, which allows you to appreciate a remarkable diversity of plant species, reptiles, bats, butterflies and birds in environments such as shrubs, forests and mangroves.

Varahicacos Protected Area, Varadero, Matanzas, Cuba

Located almost at the end of the Hicacos Peninsula, more than 120 kilometers east of Havana, Varahicacos is an ideal environment to enjoy the environment thanks to a service of specialized guides and interpretative trails, now with the proper sanitary protocols due to the COVID-19.

According to Katia González Rodríguez, director of the Matanzas Environmental Services Center (CSAM), the Protected Area today offers a renewed and more attractive image, in part thanks to the installation of new eco-wood walkways, a durable material whose manufacture contributes to the recycling of plastic.

Varahicacos Protected Area eco-wood walkways, Varadero, Matanzas, Cuba

The recently installed modern infrastructure now allows for a more extensive tour through the mangroves and the extension of the trails that lead to the Ambrosio and Los Musulmanes caves, important sites for the conservation of bats.

While the cave of Los Musulmanes invites you to learn more about the adaptations of the flora and fauna, the cave of Ambrosio raises questions about the imaginary of ancient aboriginal cultures, whose pictographs appear on its walls.

Varahicacos Ecological Reserve, Varadero, Matanzas, Cuba

   The also Ecological Reserve founded in 1997 shows that it is possible to have a natural space in harmony with the growth of the hotel plant and among its main attractions is The Patriarch, a giant cactus with more than 500 years of life considered the oldest plant on the island.

In the zone located in the north of the western province of Matanzas almost 300 botanical species and around 200 of birds coexist, among which are included those that migrate from Canada and the United States.

Varahicacos Protected Area, Ambrosio Cave, Varadero, Matanzas, Cuba

A true rarity is the population of the Cuban lizard Aristelliger reyesi discovered in 2007 whose exclusive habitat is in the Protected Area; this small species of saurian is the only representative of its genus existing in Cuba, and it is in critical danger of extinction.

Varahicacos offers the opportunity to explore the "other Varadero", as a perfect complement to the traditional sun and beach offerings in the tourist pole known for the charms of its turquoise blue sea and fine white sand.  

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