BY LILLIAM RIERA | Granma International staff writer
Every year more than two million Cubans and 15,000 foreign visitors enjoy this healthy tourist option called Campismo Popular ( the national vacation resort system).
The organization is celebrating the 27th anniversary of its foundation by President Fidel Castro – on May 16, 1981 in the western province of Pinar del Rio – with new efforts to continue the development of this type of healthy recreation as an option for Cubans and foreign visitors.
Approximately 50 of the 84 installations within the country will, by this July or August, be equipped with a computer and informatics lab, reported Dagoberto Yumar Alfonso, vice president of operations and development for the campismo popular enterprise in an interview with Granma International.
The new service was inaugurated April 4, on the 46th and 47th anniversaries of the founding of the Union of Young Communists and the José Martí Pioneros children’s group, respectively, in various facilities. These included four sites that are part of the Habana province northern shore group, the largest among the country’s 22 regional enterprises conceived to offer healthy recreation and tourism options to promote knowledge, admiration and protection of the island’s natural, cultural and historic resources. Campismo popular nationally includes a network of sales offices, 84 cabin resorts, seven youth recreation centers and 15 transportation bases.
Additionally, the enterprise includes a mobile camper tourist option, CAMPERTOUR, highway kiosks, a tourist park, an information center and other services including the travel agency CUBAMAR. Every year more than two million Cubans and 15,000 foreign visitors enjoy the facilities and services offered according to data published in the third edition of the country’s campismo guide.
MORE THAN 30,000 VACATIONERS EXPECTED IN JULY AND AUGUST
Yumar Alfonso told GI that this summer, in July and August, they expect to welcome, on a national level, some 300,000 vacationers to the 79 facilities in operation, which have been renovated and provided with games and sports equipment, while efforts continue to improve food services.
During a recent tour of several of the 11 resorts within the Habana northern shore group, these reporters were able to confirm the improvements made to cabins; above all, to those rented to Cubans in national currency (some with televisions, the majority with private bathrooms and fans), as well as improved recreation options for all ages and tastes, which include the new computer and informatics salons.
Director Jesús Boza Wong reported that last year 320,800 vacationers stayed at the regional group’s 11 installations, six of them along the western section of the coastline (Los Cocos, Las Caletas, El Abra, La Laguna, Playa Amarilla and Peña Blanca), located in Playa Jibacoa, very close to the beach, and five further east (El Mirador, Puerto Escondido, La Terraza, Las Cuevas and El Narigón), extending from the Puerto Escondido River to the area around the Bacunayagua River.
Each site features cabins for 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8 people, a swimming pool with life-guard and a television-video room. Public telephones have been installed in Los Cocos, Las Caletas, El Abra and La Laguna.
Pinar del Rio campgrounds:
Horizontes Maria la Gorda
Matanzas Cuba camping areas:
Horizontes Playa Larga Hotel
Horizontes Playa Giron Hotel
Camping in Cienfuegos Cuba:
The only Villa Clara Campground is Villa La Granjita but Finca María Dolores and Marina Trinidad are located in Sancti Spiritus while the Ciego de Avila Hotel and the Nautica Marina Cayo Guillermo run by Cubanacan are in Ciego de Avila Cuba.
In Camaguey, you can bring your motorhome or RV to Horizontes Camaguey Hotel or the drive out to the Las Tunas Hotel in Las Tunas.
Marina Gaviota Puerto de Vita is in Holguin Cuba and the Las Coloradas campground is on the beach in Granma, not for from Villa Bayamo.
If you are going all the way down to Santiago de Cuba for camping, you can stay at the Caleton Blanco camping area or the Sierra Mar Los Galeones beach area.
MEDICAL SERVICES AVAILABLE
Jorge Luis La Rosa, operations specialist, explained that each resort offers basic medical attention with a nurse available 24 hours per day and has a small car to transport visitors to a polyclinic if necessary.
Certified nurse Raúl Crespo, who works at La Laguna, indicated that in addition to treating the most common problems such as cuts and scrapes and poisoning caused by contact with jellyfish, the medical staff also offers counseling and educational talks on sexuality, taking into account that it is mostly young people who visit the camp sites.
A doctor is also available at La Laguna and Las Cuevas. These two facilities have sterilization equipment for medical instruments, while the first houses a pharmacy which serves the entire northern shore complex.
In the opinion of several visitors interviewed, Minerva Betancourt for one, food services need continued improvement. The options include restaurants with carry-out service, snack shops and stores selling standard unprepared items, as offered in neighborhood bodegas. Alcoholic beverages and cigarettes are not available.
Among the options visitors can enjoy are dancing, sports, swimming in the ocean, pools and rivers, games rooms with equipment for rent, horseback riding, guided excursions and hiking to discover, enjoy and learn to protect the natural environment, as well as monuments declared heritage sites nationally or internationally, given their contribution to the cultural landscape.
Approached by GI as they enjoyed one of the many table games available for rent at Los Cocos, Randy and Ranier Víctores González, 10 and 14 years old, respectively, who live in Santa Fe in the capital, said they were “very happy.”
“We like the resort, we’re having a lot of fun watching movies in the video room and swimming in the ocean and the pool,” they said.
This facility has 20 cabins that are rented in Cuban convertible pesos (one CUC equivalent to 24 national currency pesos). These have air conditioning, solar water heaters and other conveniences. Two of them are accessible to people with disabilities.
WITH FAMILY AND CLOSE TO NATURE
Standing in the door of their cabin at Las Caletas, a big family from San Antonio de los Baños share their happiness: “We come every year to enjoy the healthy recreation, close to nature, with our family.”
The computer and informatics lab, open here since April 4, was full of children and youth playing educational games and accessing multi-media and dictionaries. Others, in the same location where there is a mini-library, were requesting works of Cuban and universal literature, free of charge.
In Los Cocos, Las Caletas, La Terraza and Las Cuevas salons of this type, equipped with 10 computers, have been opened. By summertime those at El Abra, La Laguna, Playa Amarilla and El Mirador should be up and running. An information technician will be on hand in all of these.
Be sure to visit Cubamar Viajes Tourist Program page for lots of information regarding campgrounds in Cuba, ecotours and nature recreation in Cuba.