Las Terrazas

On the
autopista
, 51 km west of Havana, the Sierra del Rosario appears on the right and a roadside billboard announces the turning to Las
Terrazas/Moka , 4 km north of the
autopista
. However, after that there is little signposting through a confusing series of side roads; you will have to ask the way. There is a barrier at the entrance to the
Biosphere Reserve
, which covers 260 sq km of the eastern Sierra del Rosario. Admission to the reserve includes a horrible lunch, unless you have a reservation at the hotel. Las Terrazas was built in 1971 as a forestry and soil conservation station, with nearby slopes terraced to prevent erosion. It is a pleasant settlement of white-painted houses and a long apartment block overlooking the lake of San Juan, which now houses an ecological research centre. In Las Terrazas there is a
paladar
, as well as craft workshops, a gym, a cinema and a museum which sometimes holds
canturías
or folk music sessions. Nearby there are waterfalls where you can picnic.

Following the death in a car accident of the popular singer, Polo Montañez in 2002, his house was opened as a museum, run by his brother. In nearby San Cristóbal, a clay statue of the singer has been put on display. Once a woodcutter, he rose to fame as a singer/songwriter with many hits in the three years before his death, touring Latin America and Europe.

Hiking around Las Terrazas

The hills behind the hotel rise to the
Loma del Salón
(564 m). There are several easy hiking trails: to the partly restored 19th-century
Buenavista
coffee plantation (restaurant has
pollo brujo
, cheaper for hotel guests than for others); 3 km along the San Juan River to the old
La Victoria
coffee plantation and sulphur springs; 4 km along
La Serafina
path to the ruins of the 19th-century
Santa Serafina
coffee plantation, excellent for seeing birds like the Cuban trogon, the solitaire, woodpeckers and the Cuban tody; 8 km along the Cañada del Infierno valley to the
San Pedro
and
Santa Catalina
coffee plantations. There are also more demanding whole-day hikes. Other activities include riding, mountain bikes, rowing on the lake and fishing. There is also a zip line,
Canopy Las Terrazas
, which crosses the lake into the trees.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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