One of the most spectacular drives in Cuba


Many people don’t often travel to the south-eastern part of Cuba, but there’s a road there that gives a unique glimpse into the country’s history.

I went to the car rental office in Bayamo and told them I wanted to take the scenic route to Santiago. The manager warned me that the road is remote and doesn’t have cell service, so if the car breaks down, it could take a while for help to arrive.

This road, called the Carretera Granma by locals, follows the edge of eastern Cuba’s Granma province. It’s where Fidel Castro started his revolution against the government in 1956. The province is named after the yacht Castro sailed on from Mexico to Cuba to start the revolution.

The road is stunning, with views of the ocean and mountains. It’s about 130km from Bayamo to Santiago, but the journey is worth it for the scenery and history.

I hired a second driver because of Cuba’s fuel shortages and the remote nature of the road. We set off, passing through fields and small towns. Along the way, we saw monuments and museums that tell the story of Cuba’s rebellious past.

One stop was at the La Demajagua sugar plantation, where Cuba’s first wars of independence against Spain began. Another was at the birthplace of Cuban revolutionary Celia Sánchez, who helped Castro and his men during the revolution.

We also visited Cabo Cruz, where Castro and his men landed in 1956. It’s a remote area with a lone lighthouse and beautiful marine terraces.

The road continues through the Sierra Maestra mountains, where the rebels hid out during the revolution. We passed by Pico Turquino, the highest point in Cuba, and stopped at La Plata, where Castro had his first victory.

Finally, we reached Santiago, where Castro gave his victory speech in 1959. It’s amazing to think that after all these years, we can still follow the same path that Castro and his men took during their epic journey.


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