Quote — André Gide

Soroa Main Logo

Villas Soroa in the Sierra del Rosario, surrounded by wooded hills and trekking senderos © sogestour
THE CASAS WE SUGGEST
Soroa, uphill from highway
10
Las Terrazas, lake and beyond
5

¬ In 1856, Brothers Lorenzo and Antonio Soroa Muñagorri successively acquired, west of Havana, several coffee plantations including Neptuno (now Villas Soroa), La Merced, San Luis and San Ramón de Aguas Claras making up a veritable territory, eventually known by their family name.

Others claim the name comes from French settler
Jean-Paul Soroa who fled the revolution in Haiti and settled here in 1802. In November 1895, during Cuba's first war against colonial Spain, locals joined independistas for a two-day which left both sides even.

In 1970, the town of
Las Terrazas was founded to provide housing for the area's families. The town was designed with good taste and nature preservation in mind; a large fruit and coffee coop employs a large part of the population.

Since 1985, when it was named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the 25,000-hectare area called the Sierra del Rosario around Soroa has been a vital part of Plan Turquino, created by the Cuban Environment Ministry

DISTANCES
Bahia Honda, 28
Cayo Jutias, 190
Guahanacabibes, 194
La Habana, 65
Las Terrazas, 16
Maria la Gorda, 141
Pinar del Rio, 100
Puerto Esperanza, 151
San Cristobal, 17
San Diego de los Baños, 40
San Juan y Martinez, 122
Viñales, 127



Province Pinar del Rio

MAPS & LINKS
Map - La Habana to Soroa and Las Terrazas
Map - Soroa trek trails from Manantiales River
Map - Soroa around resort hotel with our casas
Map - Las Terrazas attractions and general area
Map - Las Terrazas center in detail
Weather for nearby Artemisa (Wunderground),
Some photos by Dan Heller
Las Terrazas "Canopi" ride link
Daily exchange rates
All that's natural in Pinar del Rio province
Island-wide bus connections (horariodebuses.com/cu)
Las Terrazas official web site

All the Web particuba.net

POPULATION
About 1,400 (est.) in some 220 dwellings spread in Soroa and Las Terrazas. Soroa has individual housing whereas Las Terrazas is almost all large public housing. The regional municipality of Candelaria (south of the highway) which administers the area counted 19,945 people in 2007

SERVICES
Getting here by car : exit at km 51 of the highway that goes to Pinar del Rio. Havanatur runs a minibus service to Villas Soroa, leaving 8 am from some Havana hotels for 12cuc per person one-way. Stops here on request at 10:30 am on its way to Viñales. Return Viñales-Havana goes by here at 4 pm. TRAIN "El Lechero" (the Milk Run #225) leaves La Habana at 22h05 every 2nd day arriving Candelaria (across the highway) at 01h40; then a taxi ride here; returns (#224) leaves Candelaria at 12h16 arriving Havana at 15h30. BUS See below.

LODGING
The "best ecolodge in Cuba" according to Frommer's can be found in Las Terrazas. Hotel Moka (26 cabinas, swimming pool, 5 restaurants) is not exactly cheap : 100-125cuc per room Tel. (82) 78-600. More affordable, Villas Soroa, stretching across a valley floor — pool, snack bar waterside, dining room, motel-type lodging for 61-76cuc per night; two mountain bungalows rent for 90-122cuc per night (max. 6 persons) Tel. (48) 52-3534 Bucolic and tempting are Cabañas del rio San Juan : 5 cabins on stilts near the namesa

RESTAURANTS & PALADARES
One of Top 5 culinary finds in Cuba, El Romero (rosemary) in Las Terrazas, just below the Moka Hotel : fabulous bio food creations. Seats 20 only. Reservations (7) 640-4375 Suggestion : drive up (or be driven) to the Moka and park, have a drink at its lovely bar, then walk down to the Romero.

The Paladar
La Fonda de Mercedes is another top choice in the Las Terrazas building complex (6 choices incl. Camaguey Lamb or Pinareña chicken, only 6 tables) tel (48) 57-8647; other choices Hacienda Union, Buena Vista and Rancho Curujey in the Biosphere Reserve.


The Habana-Viñales bus leaving at 0900 stops at 1020 in Las Terrazas. The 1400 hrs return from Viñales stops in Las Terrazas at 1635 and arrives in La Habana at 1735. Will set you back 6cuc each way, eh.

Nestled in the forest cover, this is Villas Soroa which used to be well-run but lately has been a disappointment. Such a pity because it has huge potential; anyway, the casas particulares nearby are a better choice ; )

Eye views with a dog
Another unique specimen as shown in the orquids of cuba. a lovely book by Juan A. Llamacho and Julio A. Larramendi published by Greta Editores

Stunning waterfalls
Located 40 miles
west of the capital, Soroa and Las Terrazas are nested in total greenery } One of the many stunning waterfalls or saltos in the area.

Lago San Juan
The
Casa del Lago, on lake San Juan in Las Terrazas : bar, restaurant, rowboat rentals © sogestour } Overlooking the river and its natural pools, the Cabañas del rio San Juan are for lodging. © sogestour

The El Romero restaurant in Las Terrazas
The El Romero in Las Terrazas : creativity and bio goodness to satisfy any palate : Best Restaurant West of Havana and surely Top 5 in Cuba © Tito Armando Núñez Gudás, the Chef } The welcoming piscina at Villas Soroa : get a drink at poolside bar and dive in, no questions asked © sogestour

Orquideario boasts some 700 varieties
Second largest on the planet, the Soroa Orquideario boasts 700 varieties of ... orchids © sogestour


Refreshing in the afternoon heat, Baños del rio San Juan are a must. A few km's before Las Terrazas, coming from Soroa © sogestour

RIOS, RUTAS & RIDES
Among the many streams in the area are the San Juan and its baños (literally, baths which they are not), more like gentle, 40-foot wide cascades where bathers may sit and sip a drink from the nice bar; a few meters away up a gentle hill, the remarkable Cabañas del rio San Juan — photos here; also, El Bayate natural cristal-clear waterwells; not to be missed is Salto del rio Bayate, a 60-foot high waterfall which creates superb rainbows.

From the
Moka Hotel (guides are 12-35cuc) in Las Terrazas one can thread six footpaths (senderos), such as Serafina (5 km towards Serafina coffee plantation), Las Delicias (4 km, ends at Mirador), El Terracero (3 km, bird watchers like it), El Taburete (8km to the summit of Taburete (453 meters) with views all the way to the Gulf of Batabano), La Ruta de la Cañada del Infierno (5 km passing by coffee plantations San Pedro and Santa Catalina; swim in Bayate river) and El Canto del Tocororo (5 km of bird-filled forest up to La Union).

The
best trek in Soroa leaves Villas Soroa (with Alberto as guide) and follows La ruta del Brujito along its 17km. Figure on walking about 6 hours there and back. On a difficulty scale of 0 to 5, it's a 3-4 but not risky.

Down a few steps from the Moka, in Las Terrazas, try the
Canopi Tour to glide on a cable above the trees and cross San Juan lake in the air. Link here.

Agelaius Phoeniceus Dendroica pityophilia Myiarchus sagrae Dendroica petechia Geotrygon caniceps
DISCOVER
The Biosphere Reserve of Sierra del Rosario (a UNESCO World Heritage site) covers about 61,700 acres of mountainous forests crossed by many rivers. The oldest established reserve of Cuba (1985), it is located at the easternmost point of the Sierra de Guanibanico in the province of Pinar del Río and shows great fauna and flora with some trees reaching 30 meters; 34 % of its 800 plant species are endemic.

In 1940, rich landowner Antonio Arturo Sánchez Bustamante had himself a castle built, called it Castillo de las Nubes (Castle of the Clouds) and asked it be located on El Fuerte, high up and overlooking a valley. Its interior showed off some of the medieval furniture the owner found in European auctions. From its terrace (transformed into a restaurant and abandoned in 2001), there are great views of the Sierra del Rosario all the way — on a clear day — to Pinar del Río. From the Orquideario, one can walk up the path to see the sad state of the house and two more nearby, one with its empty swimming pool. The Salto (waterfall) de Soroa is 22 meters high and a must-see, gentle hike up some 250 meters from across the Villas Soroa.

In 1952, Tomás Felipe Camacho, a lawyer from the Canary Islands started arranging a large garden for his wife and daughter. He allowed only orchids to be grow, gathering them from Central and South America and Asia and adding all of the Cuban endemic varieties. It became known as the Orquideario and it covers 35,000 square meters : there are 700 species of orchids numbering some 20,000 examples. Visits with guides only for 3cuc (from 9 to 4:30). The garden also boasts 6 000 species of ther ornemental plants, trees and flowers from various countries. As most of these species start flowering in November, it and the following two months are best for a visit. Since the terrible hurricanes which ravaged the province in late August and early September 2008, the Orquideario has slowly come back from the devastation which cut down trees and destroyed installations. Alas, it will take close to a generation before it's back in its natural shape.

The Peña Polo Montanez in Las terrazas is the house where the famous singer who became an icon when he died in a highway crash which his wife and daughter survived.

WALK, WATCH & WONDER
The woods about and around abound with bird songs : almost 100 species of birds to listen to; some 22 of these are endemic (found only in Cuba) like the Cuban Trogon, the national bird.

Best trekking choice for bird watchers : Placer de Caminar (Pleasure of Walking) running 9km from the Mirador of the San Juan Valley to coffee plantation Buenavista and others through waterfalls La Joven Niagara and Salto Escondido.
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HEED THE HINTS IN THIS FINE PRINT
::: Unless you only want a room in any house which may be of the same quality, but not the specific casa you booked through these photos, say or write : "Quiero asegurir que mi cuarto reservado esta situado en tu casa propria." ::: So as to not abandon honest owners with empty rooms, reconfirm your booking by phone as soon as you can after arriving in Cuba. ::: Please write or phone a casa owner to cancel a booking. As late as it may seem, it allows them a chance to rebook. ::: Children under the age of 16 may share a bedroom with adults for free. Specify the child's age when booking. ::: Since October 2010, maximum bedroom capacity is not limited to two adults (we will erase all mention of this on our pages). ::: Also, large casas are not limited to renting only two bedrooms per night. ::: At the end of the casa name, the V signals the casa was suggested by travelers or owners but not verified by the website staff. If you try it and like it, write us about it. ::: Unless otherwise mentioned, the average room rates and service prices are : 20-25cuc per bedroom per night [up to 40+ for 4 in a room]; breakfasts 3-5cuc, dinners 7-10cuc. ::: Any casa particular anywhere in Cuba must have a hot water shower, otherwise it cannot have a permit to rent. ::: Please share your Complaints, comments & suggestions webmaster [@]cubacasas.net
BOOK BY PHONE
From Canada and the USA : 011 53 + number preceded by 48, the area code or 5 for cell • From Europe, Great Britain, Scandinavia, Mexico : 00 53 + phone # preceded by 82, the area code • In this phone area (48), most casas which have a phone, use a cellular (5). HOW TO DIAL A CUBAN PHONE NUMBER HERE


BOOK BY EMAIL : Click on above logo to open an email message addressed to that casa in your email application. Spanish words here. Google translate here.

Click photos to see each casa's page and description. See our new Soroa hotel and casas MAP here and area trails MAP here.
See most casas in sequence.
See all casas in sequence.
Move to next casa by clicking logo.

Casas are located up the road from the gas station on the main highway — all the way to Villas Soroa (and its welcoming swimming pool) with a couple more casas further up. The road eventually leads to San Juan lake and Las Terrazas, 16 km beyond, through jungle — perfect training ground for the very discreet Fuerzas Armadas Republicanas, Cubas armed forces. Some fearless cyclists ply these roads but one can deduct from their body language, as they climb hills and more hills, that they are saying "Never again !".

LOS SAUCES
Two independent aircon bedrooms, ensuites
Carretera Soroa, 1 km from the highway and its Servi-Cupet gas station; 5 km from Villas Soroa and the orquideario. First rental casa you see up the road. Cell 52 28 93 72



HOSPEDAJE ESTUDIO DE ARTE
One independent ac bedroom, ensuite bath
Carretera Soroa, km 8,5 or about 300 metres from Hotel Horizontes Villas Soroa right by the Iglesia/Escuela with its steeple. Tel. (48) 59-8116



VIRGINIA
One aircon bedroom, ensuite bath
Carretera Soroa, 5km from Candelaria, in Finca La Flora zone. Cell 52 94 20 39

Hospedaje Virginia, Soroa © sogestour
Virginia refers guests to neighbour ROSA 5 225-5455

ODALIS
Two aircon bedrooms, ensuite baths
Carretera Soroa, km 5,5 Candelaria. Cell 52 47 95 69 ou 52 23 98 41



MAITE
One independent aircon bedroom, ensuite bath
Carretera Soroa, about 7 km de Candelaria, on top of hill before a right-hand curve (curva) Cell 52 27 00 69


LA CURVA
Two independent aircon bedrooms, ensuites
Carretera Soroa, 7km from Candelaria, overlooking a right-hand curve (hence the name, mame) past the Villa militar. Still no phone as of Spring 2014.



PEPE
One aircon bedroom, ensuite bath
Carretera Soroa, km 5,5 Candelaria. Check for the sign. Cell 52 19 31 23 c/o neighbour

Chez Pepe

AGAPITO
Two aircon bedrooms, ensuites
Carretera Soroa, 8km from Candelaria; 180 meters before Villas Soroa in curve, sharp left, steep climb. Tel 52 23 98 31 casa 58 12 17 91



PAPITO y YUMYO
Two aircon bedrooms, shared bath
Carretera Soroa, about 9,5km from Candelaria; 600 m up after Villas Soroa, before the campismo. Tel. (48) 59-8487



OLIVA
Two air-conditioned bedrooms, shared bathroom
Carretera Soroa, 3km from Candelaria, 1 km from the main highway; next door to Los Sauces.




Viazul sked
Viazul sked




The community in Las Terrazas mostly works for a fruit & coffee coop; others man lovely lake San Juan installations, the (troubadour) Polo Montañez museum, the mountain treks to the old coffee plantations, the two freshwater bathing areas and bars along rivers San Juan and Bayate, the « canopi » ride, the chic Hotel Moka, the sabroso El Romero restaurant.
Las Terrazas (pop. 1200), though not significant in terms of size is certainly one of the region's most interesting towns, some 16 km from Soroa on a hilly road : attempt at your own risk on a bike ; )

Its value has been consecrated as a
Unesco World Biosphere Reserve. Its history of poverty began in the late 18th century when coffee crops planted by French exiles from Haiti began to fail.

After that, the locals relied on sales of charcoal to feed and clothe their families. Not only did they become appallingly poor, but much of the forest had been
clear-cut and was ecologically dead.

It became
one of the poorest places in the province of Pinar del Rio. Even for years after the Revolucion, the area was still impoverished and fully reliant on charcoal exports. The people were still isolated from the health care and education that would be necessary to escape the cruel cycle of poverty.

In 1967, noting the region's horrid conditions, the government established programs of
rural development and ecological restoration in an attempt to renew the community. [The program was guided through by Camilo Cienfuegos' brother Osmany in 1968.]

Similar to the Agrarian Reform laws, and other projects around the country,
the people were provided with housing and employment.

In return, they were given the responsibility of working
to replant the forests.

Exports of charcoal can now be considered a renewable resource, as
only those trees which are sick, dying, or overcrowding are used for charcoal, and much replanting is done. Source : Global Exchange .org © Team 18355

Habana-Viñales bus leaving at 0900
The Habana-Viñales bus leaving at 0900 stops at 1020 in Las Terrazas. The 1400 hrs return from Viñales stops in Las Terrazas at 1635 and arrives in La Habana at 1735. Will set you back 6cuc each way, eh.


Between Soroa and Las Terrazas, the road crosses uninhabited protected nature and nothing else © sogestour
A recent popular attraction called canopi
Hang on, Simone ! Gliding over Lake San Juan in Las Terrazas is a recent popular attraction called canopi } Another view of Las Terrazas.


A picnic by the San Juan river at Baños San Juan — before or after a dip — is something to look for, after a mountain trek under the midday sun © sogestour

Click photos to see each casa's page and description. See our new Las Terrazas MAPS here and here.

See all casas in sequence.
VILLA JUANITA
Two aircon bedrooms, shared bath
La Pastora No. 601, Cayajabos, 3.5 km east of the entrance to Las Terrazas near tiny El Establo. Cell (5) 221-0634



VILLA DUQUE RENT A ROOM V
One aircon bedroom, private bath
Finca San Andres, 2 km from the park gate and entrance to Las Terrazas and about 3 km from the autoroute; lovely balcony-terrace. Cell (05) 322-1431


One beeg bedroom with two double beds, stocked fridge, ensuite bathroom. Rates : 20cuc for bedroom per night including breakfast
DOÑA ESTRELLA
One aircon double-bedroom, ensuite bath
Finca La Pastora, on the road to Cayajabos, 3.5 km east of the entrance to Las Terrazas. Cell (5) 275-8416


Living room, kitchen, two bathrooms, three bedrooms (one only rented), terrace and a vast patio.
HABITACIONES COMMUNITARIAS
BELOW, three villas named Habitaciones communitarias managed by the Las Terrazas office in La Habana, Calle 8 Nº 306 e/ 3ra y 5ta Miramar. In the village of Las Terrazas, one could enquire at the Moka. OK ?


In Cuba, phone reservations are only available from the office in La Habana Tel. (7) 204 3739 or (7) 204 6108

VILLA CIRILES - CIRILO RODRIGUEZ V
Casa 36A - In the heights of Las Terrazas, near Hotel Moka. Locate (#15) on this map.

One aircon bedroom with two double beds, national tv chains, minibar, small patio; ensuite bathroom.

Rates : 40-50cuc for villa per noche in low season; 60-85cuc in high


VILLA CIRILES - CIRILO RODRIGUEZ
Mouseover for room plan.

VILLA MARDU V
Closer to lake San Juan than the preceding villa; near the casa-museum of singer Polo Montanez. Locate (#17) on this map.

One aircon bedroom with two double beds, national tv chains, minibar, small patio; ensuite bathroom.

Rates : 40-50cuc for villa per noche in low season; 60-85cuc in high


VILLA MARDU
Mouseover for room plan. • Click to agrandize
VILLA MODESCO V
In the heights of Las Terrazas, near the Moka, practically under Café de Maria (best java in Cuba, some say). Locate (#16) on this map.

With its own balcony and a larger patio than the preceding two villas : One aircon bedroom with two double beds, national tv chains, minibar, small patio; ensuite bathroom.

Rates : 40-50cuc for villa per noche in low season; 60-85cuc in high


Villa Modesco
Mouseover for room plan.

SIGNATURE


Content & photos © sogestour

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Updated 25.09.2014