A cool contrast from hot Havana, Las Terrazas is the lush result of a 1968 reforestation project as a part of President Fidel Castro’s “green revolution.”
In an effort to salvage mountains mangled by Spanish conquistador loggers, land scarred by coffee plantations, and natural damage sustained by hurricanes, Castro's reforestation project included planting an abundance of trees that would sustain the biosphere and its people. More than six million trees were planted, including cedar, mahogany, hibiscus, grapefruit, mandarin, papaya, and avocado varieties. Shortly thereafter, homes, playgrounds, schools, and clinics were constructed.
In 1984, Las Terrazas was deemed a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Under this protection, the success of the reforestation project is home to 117 bird species (12 endemic) and more than 70 ruined coffee plantations. Perhaps the most notable of birds is the zorzal, which is commemorated in a song by one of Cuba’s most loved singers and Las Terrazas local, Polo Montanez: “Me gusta como canta el zorzal en la monte,” which means, “I like how the zorzal sings in the mountains.” The verdant vegetation and colorful birdlife of the biosphere makes it a majestic destination for hiking, bird watching, and gaining cultural insight from locals.
The region’s sole accommodations, Hotel Moka, opened its doors nearly twenty-five years ago. Since then, Las Terrazas has seen a positive economic impact. Income generated by tourism funds a community library, café, museum, and Hotel Moka. Local artisans create everything from woodwork to vibrant paintings, and sell their pieces in studios. Food is locally-sourced, and Las Terazzas is home to what is called the “best vegetarian restaurant in Cuba.” Whether exploring 19th century coffee plantations, visiting family-owned restaurants and studios, hiking, birdwatching, or ziplining, there is plenty to be discovered in Las Terrazas.
Looking forward to an amble through Las Terrazas' green world?