Baracoa, Cuba

Baracoa was founded by the first governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez in 1511 and is the oldest settlement in Cuba and uts first capital. Five centuries have passed, but Baracoa has lost none of the exquisite beauty that so impressed Columbus.

Baracoa itself looks and feels antique, with its little fortresses and streets lined with venerable wooden edifices, rickety and humbled with age, with red-tiled eaves supported on ancient timber frames.

Surrounded by fruitful countryside; the uplands are smothered in humid tropical forests festooned with epiphytes. Much of the mountainous region is protected as a last refugee of the ivory-billed woodpecker (now though to be extinct) and the amique, an insectivorous mammal. This area is as far off the beaten track as you can get in Cuba. Perfect for the nature enthusiast and if your looking for a nature vacation this is the place to be.

The fecund mountains are cut into deep valleys by rivers spilling onto the narrow costal plain. Several of the rivers have precipitous lower courses that one day will surely be touted as classic white-water runs.

Dark sand beaches extend east of Baracoa as far as the mouth of the Yumuri River.