Alejandro de Humboldt National Park
Outside of the major cities, the great majority of Cuba is agricultural or undeveloped. Cuba has a number of national parks where it is possible to see and enjoy some plants and animals that are truly unique to the region. Because it is relatively remote and limited in size, the Cuban Government has recognized the significance and sensitivity of the island’s biodiversity. It is for these reasons many of these parks have been set aside as protected areas and for the enjoyment of the people.
One of these parks is the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, named for Alexander von Humboldt a Prussian geographer, naturalist and explorer who traveled extensively in Latin America between 1799 and 1804. He explored the island of Cuba in 1800 and 1801. In the 1950’s during its time of the Cuban Embargo, the concept of nature reserves, on the island, was conceived with development on them continuing into the 1980’s, when a final sighting of the Royal Woodpecker, a Cuban subspecies of the ivory-billed woodpecker known as the “Campephilus principalis,” happened in this area. The Royal Woodpecker was already extinct in its former American habitats. This sighting in 1996, prompted these protected areas to form into a national park that was named Alejandro de Humboldt National Park. Unfortunately no further substantiated sightings of this species has bird has occurred and the species is now most likely extinct.
The park, located on the eastern end of Cuba, is tropical and mostly considered a rain forest with mountains and some of the largest rivers in the Caribbean. Because it is the most humid place in Cuba it can be challenging to hike. The park has an area of 274.67 square miles and the elevation ranges from sea level to 3,832 feet at top of El Toldo Peak. In 2001 the park was declared a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. Tours are available for those interested in learning more about the flora & fauna, wild life and the natural medicines that are indigenous to these jungles.
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