#CubaIsAwesome: Put a check mark in the centre of Cuba
Stuck in the middle and an important junction for cross-country travelers, the city of Santa Clara hides a sharp youthful energy beneath its grandiose Che veneer. Villa Clara Province is home of the most prestigious university outside Havana, placid lakes and misty tobacco fields. This land wedged between the Escambray Mountains and Cuba’s northern keys is a surprisingly diverse must-travel destination.
He wasn’t born here, never lived here and died thousands of miles away, yet cocksure Villa Clara will always be synonymous with Che Guevara, its proudly adopted Argentine son.
The monument/mausoleum/museum complex, 2km west of Parque Vidal, is in a vast square guarded by a bronze statue of ‘’El Che’’ and the sublime mausoleum below contains niches dedicated to the guerillas killed in the revolutionary attempt in Bolivia. The adjacent museum collects the details of Che’s life and death.
Villa Clara’s main gateway to Sierra del Escambray is a 36-sq-km reservoir that nestles picturesquely amid traditional farms and green hills. The lake is world-famous for its largemouth bass so fishing trips are highly recommended. You can also enjoy ‘’comida criolla’’ (creole food) here surrounded by nature. The place is the perfect opportunity to enjoy fresh fruit at Casa del Campesino, coffee and a taste of bucolic Cuban life.
Laid-back and pretty, with a personality to match, Remedios (when it isn’t parranda-ing) is used as both a cheap base for the Cayerías del Norte and a cool, colonial getaway in its own right. The town has managed to maintain its unique cultural charisma, that is best enjoyed in its striking but somnolent central square. Among the highlights are the Museo de Música Alejandro Garcia Caturla and the Museo de las Parrandas Remedianas, which is probably a poor substitute for partying here on December 24…!!
Cayerías del Norte
Hundreds of small keys lie off the north coast of Villa Clara. Three of the largest keys are Cayo Las Brujas, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Santa María, where the top Melia Cuba resorts are splayed. The existing hotels are all linked by an impressive causeway called El Pedraplen that runs across the shallow Bahia de Buenavista from the fishing port of Caibarien.
Meliá Las Dunas, Meliá Cayo Santa María, Sol Cayo Santa María and Meliá Buenavista –the latter with so much as private beaches and butler service- are all encased in wonderful settings; the stay is a personified Caribbean beach paradise extremely recommended.
The sustainable development of the zone due to the network of flora and fauna reserves and the presence of the adjacent Buena Vista UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is also worth-mentioning.
The center of the Caribbean Cayman treasures many more curiosities that meets the eye. It represents a great holiday destination with ‘made in Cuba’ stamped all over the region!