PROYECTO BELLAMAR by Antonio Danieli and Esteban Grau




 The "Proyecto Bellamar", born in 2003 by the two creators Antonio Danieli and Esteban Grau with the collaboration of the Speleological Group San Marco of Venice, the Comitè Espeleologico de Matanzas and the Federazione Speleologiva Veneta , with the patronage of the Italian Speleological Society and the Sociedad Espeleologica de Cuba, had as objectives the revaluation and safeguarding of the Cuban karst heritage, through the creation and diffusion of audiovisual (3D).




In 2006, after three joint speleological expeditions, we began the presentation of our first audiovisuals on the Cuban karst heritage and especially that of the Bellamar plateau. Thanks to these audiovisuals, we have been asked to participate in an important programmatic government meeting. The aim of the meeting was to deliberate a building progect dating back to the 1980s, which involved the development of the city of Matanzas above the Bellamar plateau to meet the housing emergency linked to a nascent refinery.




The amazement generated by our images was sufficient to convince the political authorities to desist in their intentions by canceling the meeting and declaring, shortly afterwards, the area of Bellamar and Santa Catalina, national natural parks, entrusting the management, for the first time in Cuba, to a private body, the Antonio Nuñez Jménez Foundation which from this moment fully enters to be part of the project.




 Since its inception, the project has aimed at its self-sustainability in Cuban land, and this goal was achieved in 2008, thanks to a 3D projection room set up at the tourist cave of Bellamar which, every day, shows our audiovisual and thanks to which, we have been recognized, a small percentage on the tourist ticket.




Thanks to this contribution managed by the Antonio Nuñez Jménez Foundation and thanks to the collaboration of France Latin America of Bordeaux, a multifunctional educational center dedicated to karst and sustainable development of the area has been built according to permaculture methods called "JARDINES DE BELLAMAR".





The Government, given the results deriving from the care of the territory, and given the interest of the campesinos who live on the plateau to embrace this culture of life aimed at self-sustainability, every year, has assigned to the Project new land around the center, which , are grown and reforested by the Bellamar campesinos.





Currently, around 40 families in the area are taking part in the project, undertaking to adopt in their own homes, without a sewage system, a dry bath and phyto-purification tanks for domestic waste water, in exchange, receiving the running water. This is guaranteed by an electric pump connected to a photovoltaic system, integrated by a wind pump for water lifting, which, thanks to a specially dug well, intercept a rich underlying water table, identified by speleologists.



 To date, around 12,000 trees, mostly endemic, have been planted in the Bellamar area, thanks also to the contribution of the Cuban forestry body, of which around 7,000 are fruit trees.

The quality of fruit and vegetables obtained through strictly organic cultivation methods has been highly appreciated by the restaurants adjacent to the tourist cave of Bellamar, which supply themselves daily with fresh products, thus generating a zero kilometer circular economy highly appreciated by the provincial government. and national.


The Project currently provides work to 18 operators who deal with it daily:


  • Project and center management;
  • tourist and school accompaniment at the Bellamar and Santa Catalina caves;
  • the organization of environmental education workshops;
  • surveillance and protection of the natural parks corresponding to the respective caves;
  • the development and management of the campesinos of the permaculture project called "Jardines de Bellamar".


In addition, the project helps to finance the "Cuba Bat" project, aimed at monitoring and studying Cuban chiroptera.

Last but not least, part of the proceeds also went towards the restructuring of the Sociedad Espeleologica de Cuba headquarters in Havana, which had been closed for several years because it was inaccessible and which is logistically strategic for SEC activities and for international speleological groups who come to Cuba.




Since 2009, an international team of 3D speleo-photographers
"LA SALLE 3D International Team" has started to take part in expeditions, and from this moment, expeditions, thanks also to the contribution of Michel Renda, have taken on an increasingly international character with the involvement of speleologists and researchers who participate in various capacities in our activities. Following this, since 2012 the Project has also benefited from the patronage of the French Speleological Federation.





It is good to specify that, in 18 years of activity, the Project has not only affected the Bellamar area but also all the main karst areas and caves of the island. Since then, over time, Esteban Grau has also become a very good 3D photographer, the interest has also spread to the avio-fauna and the seabed of the island. Thanks to this, we have come to have a 3D photographic video archive of remarkable interest, which, is not escaping the attention of the media and Cuban entities known to be sensitive to environmental protection issues.




 Numerous interviews have been given to the national media in recent years thanks also to a photographic exhibition that is exhibited at the main exhibition venues of the island such as the natural history museum in Havana and the "Fabrica de Arte Cubano", the most important and modern cultural space of Havana. Periodically our videos are also screened at the prestigious Palazzo Segundo Gauce which, inside, has a 3D projection room.




Furthermore, on the occasion of its 325th year of foundation, in 2018 the city of Matanzas was affected by an impressive renovation of the historic center, in order to redevelop it touristically. Thanks to this, the government has made available to us a completely renovated warehouse, located in a prestigious area along the San Juan river, for the construction of a 3D projection room with about 30/40 seats and a large space set up for exhibitions. photographic themed naturalistic.

Today the hall called "Grurra de San Juan" is fully functional and attracts the visit of numerous school groups and tourists.



 There are many activities related to the Project carried out in these years: photographic exhibitions, cultural events, itinerant 3D projections organized in different schools and communities of the Island, one of all, called "Adopt a source", began thanks to the involved of the Levi Ponti Institute of Higher Education in Mirano (VE) and the Ernest Telman Cuban school of equality in Matanzas, that allowed to set up a small educational laboratory.



The project, specifically designed for schools, was developed on the subject of chemical-physical monitoring of karst waters and required the setting up of a water analysis laboratory at the center. Overall, in two years of activity 2014/2015, the project involved about sixty people including students, teachers and specialized technicians, in addition to the speleologists who managed the programming, excursions and logistics.

some pictures of the activity carried out at the multifunctional center Jardine de Bellamar

Antonio Danieli & Esteban Grau