Located in the beautiful province of Artemisa, the eco-village of Las Terrazas is an absolute must-visit for those who appreciate nature and ecotourism!
💡 Planning Your Trip to Cuba 💡
✈️ Flights: To find the best deals on flights, Captain Ulysses highly recommends using Skyscanner or Omio.
🇨🇺 Visa: Before you depart, be sure to apply for your tourist card (which is your visa for Cuba). You can easily order your tourist card online through CubaVisa.
🛏️ Accommodations: To book your accommodations in Cuba, the Captain recommends Expedia. You’ll find here a list of accommodations in Las Terrazas.
🐴 Activities: Horseback-riding, hiking, day trips… there’s plenty to do in Cuba. To book your activities, the Captain highly recommends Civitatis.
Las Terrazas in a nutshell
Brief history of Las Terrazas
The history of Las Terrazas is quite fascinating. It was in this region that the oldest coffee plantations in the country were established in the early 19th century. Fleeing from the Haitian Revolution, a group of French settlers sought refuge in the Sierra del Rosario and introduced coffee cultivation to Cuba. At its peak in the 1820s-1830s, the region boasted 54 coffee plantations.
However, during the 19th century, coffee production gradually declined and eventually ceased. The region was frequently ravaged by hurricanes, which led to the destruction of the plantations. Additionally, Americans, who were significant consumers of Cuban coffee, began to prefer coffee from Colombia and Brazil.
The establishment of the sustainable community of Las Terrazas
Fast-forwarding to the 1960s, a visionary group of Cuban environmentalists became alarmed by the deforestation threatening the Sierra del Rosario. To combat this issue, they initiated an extensive reforestation program in 1968, planting an impressive seven million terraced trees—hence the name Las Terrazas.
In 1971, an eco-village was created within this reforested area, along with a reservoir, giving birth to what is now known as Las Terrazas. The community currently has a population of just over 1,000 residents.
In 1985, Las Terrazas and its surrounding areas were designated as a UNESCO “biosphere reserve.” Less than a decade later, the Hotel Moka opened its doors, marking the community’s foray into ecotourism. Today, more than 60% of Las Terrazas’ residents rely on tourism as their primary source of income.
Las Terrazas: A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
Since 1985, Las Terrazas and its surrounding areas have been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. And it’s safe to say that the region is truly remarkable with its intricate geology and abundant biodiversity. There are around 800 plant species here, with 35% of them being endemic, and a diverse array of animal species.
In a nutshell, botanists, ornithologists, and nature enthusiasts of all kinds will find immense delight in visiting Las Terrazas!
Getting to Las Terrazas
Las Terrazas is situated between Havana and Viñales in the Province of Artemisa, approximately 15 kilometers / 9 miles away from Soroa (which, by the way, is also worth a visit).
There are several options for reaching Las Terrazas:
By car: If you have a rental car, you can easily drive to Las Terrazas by yourself. The journey takes about an hour.
By bus: Some Viazul buses that travel between Havana and Viñales make a stop at Las Terrazas.
By shared taxi: Shared taxis that operate between Havana and Viñales may make a stop at Soroa. It’s advisable to remind the driver at the beginning of the trip that you intend to go to Las Terrazas, as they might forget otherwise!
Organized excursion: If you prefer a hassle-free experience, you can choose an organized excursion to Las Terrazas from Havana. While it may not be the cheapest option, it’s undoubtedly the most convenient one! The excursion usually includes stops at Soroa, round-trip hotel transfers, transportation, a welcome cocktail, and a private tour.
👉 To check prices (group rates) and availability: excursion to Las Terrazas
Upon entering the community, there is an entrance fee of 2 CUC per person, unless you have a reservation for an overnight stay, in which case the fee is waived.
What to do in Las Terrazas?
As you’ve probably gathered, there’s no shortage of activities in Las Terrazas, ensuring you’ll have a fulfilling day!
Exploring the Old Coffee Plantations:
The region is home to some of Cuba’s oldest coffee plantations. Many of them are now in ruins and overgrown with vegetation, offering a fascinating sight during hikes in the surrounding areas.
However, two plantations have been preserved:
Cafetal Buenavista: Established in 1801, it is Cuba’s oldest coffee plantation. Visitors can explore a stone mill, former slave quarters, and even dine in the attic of the master’s house, which has been transformed into a restaurant.
Hacienda Unión: This site features a small restaurant and a lovely flower garden. Horseback riding excursions are available in this area.
Hiking in Las Terrazas:
Hiking is the highlight of Las Terrazas, whether you prefer to go on foot, horseback, or by bike. There’s something for everyone!
Keep in mind that hiking in Cuba without a guide is not permitted. To get information and select your hike, visit the Oficinas del Complejo near Rancho Curujey or the Hotel Moka. The cost ranges from 15 to 25 CUC per person, depending on the chosen hike.
Note: Although some hikers venture out alone despite the prohibition, it’s recommended to be an experienced hiker to take the risk, as the trails lack directional signage.
Some popular hiking trails include:
- El Contento: 7.6 km, exploring the ruins of El Contento and San Ildefonso plantations, as well as the Baños del San Juan.
- El Taburete: 5.6 km, a walk to Loma El Taburete, where a monument pays tribute to Cubans who trained in the Sierra del Rosario with Che Guevara.
- Sendero La Serafina: 6.4 km, birdwatching and discovering the ruins of Santa Serafina plantation.
- Sendero Las Delicias: 3 km, exploring Cafetal Buenavista.
- Bajo del Corte del Tocororo: 6 km, birdwatching and discovering Hacienda Unión.
Similar to the Vinales Valley, you can explore the region on horseback. Guided horseback rides are available from Hacienda Unión, among other options.
Bicycles can be rented at Hotel Moka for 2 CUC per person. There is a 30 km cycling trail that passes through the main points of interest in the region (22 CUC per person).
Ziplining/Canopy Tour in Las Terrazas:
Las Terrazas is home to Cuba’s only ziplines, offering a thrilling canopy tour experience. There are three ziplines in total, allowing you to soar above the village and the picturesque Lago de San Juan. The cost is 35 CUC per person. If you’re enticed by this adventure, make sure to visit the Oficinas del Complejo next to Rancho Curujey.
Baños del San Juan, Natural Pools:
Situated 4 kilometers / 2.5 miles south of Las Terrazas, Baños del San Juan is a collection of natural terraced pools formed along the course of the Río San Juan. This site is primarily frequented by locals.
You’ll find various tourist facilities there, including restaurants, showers, and bungalows for overnight stays (more details on this below in the article). The entrance fee is 10 CUC, which includes lunch.
The House of Polo Montañez:
Polo Montañez, who passed away in 2002, was one of the most renowned musicians in Cuba, specializing in guajira music (traditional rural music) from eastern Cuba.
The House of Polo Montañez now welcomes visitors to explore the life and legacy of this esteemed Cuban artist.
Las Terrazas proudly hosts the workshops of several acclaimed Cuban artists, including Lester Campa. His studio-gallery is located just a few steps away from the House of Polo Montañez. There, you can admire his artworks, which are deeply inspired by the landscapes of Las Terrazas. The visit is free of charge.
Our recommendations in Las Terrazas:
Accommodations in Las Terrazas:
If you wish to spend the night in Las Terrazas, the options are somewhat limited. Here are three recommendations, ranging from basic to more comfortable:
Hotel Moka: Opened in the 1990s, this hotel (whose decor is starting to show signs of wear) offers various amenities, including a bar, restaurant, swimming pool, tennis court, and excursion desk.
La Villa Duque: Located 2 kilometers / 1.2 miles from Las Terrazas, this casa particular offers a more affordable option compared to the rooms in the village. The hospitality and breakfast are of high quality.
To check prices and availability, click here.
👉 More accommodations in Las Terrazas
Restaurants in Las Terrazas:
To indulge in a delicious meal, we recommend the following:
- Le Patio de María for coffee.
- El Romero for enjoying delicious vegetarian dishes in an ecological restaurant.
- Casa El Campesino, a simple, generous, and affordable option.
👉 Book now:
Alex Johnson | Wikimedia Commons | Melanie K Reed Photography
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