Alejandro de Humboldt National Park (Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt) is UNESCO world heritage-listed and located north-west of Baracoa in the provinces of Guantánamo and Holguín. The park is famous for its endemic flora and fauna including the northern hemisphere’s smallest frog, the Monte Iberia Eleuth, which we were lucky enough to see and photograph!
A destroyed bridge over the River Toaheightened the challenge of visiting the park from Baracoa without private transport. However, with Rocío’s persistence we succeeded and, after waking up early, arrived to the park by 8am. This is despite the power failing on our bridge-replacement electric cable ferry.
Getting there from Baracoa involved:
- A bus from Baracoa to Turey (1CUP/US$0.04 each)
- Hitch-hiking in a private vehicle to Toa (3 CUC/USD for both)
- Electric cable ferry across River Toa (free)
- Colectivo to Humboldt National Park (5 CUC/USD for both)
For those also without their own vehicles, being at the park early is recommended as the passing traffic for the return journey is less frequent the later the day goes.
The park entrance is located adjacent the beautiful Taco Bay (Bahía de Taco) which, on a map, resembles the shape of a taco. Near the entrance we purchased sweets from locals selling them on the roadside and saw Baracoa’s symbol, the spectacular Polymita land snail.
Entry to the park cost 10 CUC (US$10) each and is only possible accompanied by a Spanish speaking guide. After our 3 hour-plus guided hike, we tipped the guide an additional 10 CUC. Our entry ticket states MN (moneda nacional), also known as CUP, Cuba’s other currency which is worth 25 times less than CUC. 10 CUP is likely the price Cubans pay for park entry.
Hurricane Matthew had damaged the park 2 months earlier, although the hike and effort getting there was still absolutely worthwhile.
At a particular location the guide found an adult specimen of Monte Iberia Eleuth, one of the world’s smallest frogs. We felt privileged seeing such an animal.
Near the end of the hike on this hot morning I went for a swim amongst the fish in the refreshing stream while Rocío took photos of lizards.
On our colectivo journey in the old US van back to the River Toa, we sat next to this man and his fighting cock. Unfortunately, cock fighting is prevalent in Cuba, like much of Latin America. At one stage the van stopped for for a house detonation. We heard the blast but couldn’t see it.
A boat ride across the River Toa followed by a 3 CUP (US$0.12) bus and we were back for our final night in Baracoa.