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Grand Piedra Santiago de Cuba
Grand Piedra /the big stone/ is located 30 km south of the second-largest city in Cuba – Santiago de Cuba in Sierra Maestra mountain 1220 m above sea level.
The legends about the rocky peak are numerous – from a fallen meteorite /the locals’ favourite one/ to the more logical version of an underwater volcano eruption. The rock’s origin itself is volcanic.
I am more inclined to trust the first version because of the rock’s form. According to Wikipedia, it is one of the biggest monolithic rocks – 51 m long and 30 m wide. There 425 stairs carved into the rock and leading to the magnificent view on its top with the Caribbean Sea to the south, Sierra Maestra and Santiago de Cuba to the east and west аnd East Oriente to the north. You can also see a part of Guantanamo Bay where you can find the illegal US Naval Base. Nearby there is also a meteorological station.
The first time I climbed the rock the weather was quite foggy and I couldn’t see anything. However, the second time I was lucky enough to see the breathtaking view on the top. If you have decided to spend the night in the area you can find rooms and bungalows in Grand Piedra Hotel at the entrance of the park. If you are a camping fan the area will be ideal for you. Keep in mind that the road to Santiago de Cubа is quite bumpy and poorly maintained.
If you are lucky you might meet farmers that sell cocoa chunks, coffee grains, and fruit. In the past here there used to be a French coffee farm here. There is also a botanical garden nearby.