Las Terrazas (tel. 7/204-3739 in Havana, or 48/57-8555 on-site; www.lasterrazas.cu; open 9am-6pm) is a neat and organized project designed around a working community. The community and Hotel Moka are set just above the shores of the diminutive Lago San Juan. There are a half dozen or so trails and swimming holes, along with a smattering of other attractions, including the Cafetal Buenavista, an abandoned coffee plantation, and a few artists' and artisans' studios. If you're lucky, you might spot one of the area's endemic lizards or amphibians, including the world's second-smallest frog.
Officially you must have a guide to hike any of the trails here. Guides can be provided either by Hotel Moka or by the offices at Rancho Curujey (tel. 48/57-8555, ext 221 or 7/204-3739 in Havana; firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The trails around the Cafetal Buenavista make for a good couple of hours of gentle hiking, and the restaurant here makes the whole thing rather convenient. Another popular hike is the slightly more rugged La Cañada del Infierno (the Gorge of Hell), which follows a mountain river down beyond the ruins of yet another coffee plantation, ending at the Santa Catalina sulfur springs. A guide costs between CUC$12 and CUC$39 per person, depending on the group size and length of your hike.
The newest attraction and adventure here is a zip-line and harness-style Canopy Tour. The tour features five platforms connected by long steel cables, which you traverse with a climbing-style harness and pulley setup. The cables crisscross the little lake here two times. The tour takes about 50 minutes and costs CUC$25 per person, or CUC$15 if you are staying at the hotel.
Fans of the brilliant Polo Montañez can stop off at the Peña Polo Montañez (closed Mon) where the singer used to live. The small house overlooking the lake contains dozens of newspaper cuttings, his guitar, and his hat. His brother, Luis Borrego, is usually hanging around talking to visitors.
Soroa is a small community with one basic mini-resort. The area's claims to fame are a lovely 22m (72-ft.) waterfall and a wonderful botanical garden. You reach the base of Salto de Soroa after a gentle hike of around 250m (820 ft.). There's a small pool here fit for wading. If you're more adventurous, you can hike or hire a horse for CUC$5 to ride the steep 1.8km (1-mile) trail to the natural lookout, El Mirador. The rainbow that sometimes forms in the mist of this waterfall has earned the whole town the moniker El Arcoiris de Cuba (the Rainbow of Cuba). The entrance to the trails is just a few hundred yards from the hotel, on the road to Havana; admission costs CUC$3 per person for those not staying at the hotel. Another nearby road leads up to a hilltop lookout called El Castillo de las Nubes, where you'll find a derelict building built to resemble a small fortress.
With more than 6,000 species of tropical plants and flowers from around the world, including 700 species of orchids, the Jardín Botánico Orquideario Soroa (tel. 48/52-3871) is a must-see for anyone passing through Soroa. The compact grounds are well tended and pleasant and there are usually at least 20 or so species of orchids in bloom (most flowering blooms are btw. Dec and Apr). There's also a good chance of hearing and spotting the national bird, the tocororo. Admission is CUC$3 and includes a 15- to 20-minute guided tour. Open 8:30am to 4:30pm daily.
A 1-day taxi trip to this area from Havana costs around CUC$80.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.