Heading west on the autopista nacional, the first attractions you’ll come to, just inside the provincial border, are Artemisa’s star attractions, the isolated mountain valley resorts at Las Terrazas and Soroa. These are by far the best bases from which to explore the densely packed forest slopes of the protected Sierra del Rosario, but only Las Terrazas can uphold the claim popularized in tourist literature of connecting tourism with conservation and the local community. Considerably smaller but no less popular than Las Terrazas, Soroa’s compact layout makes it more accessible to day-trippers from Havana.
The sierra was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1985, acknowledgement in part for the success of the reforestation project of the 1970s, and visitors are encouraged to explore their surroundings using official hiking routes. There’s a comprehensive programme of guided hikes at Las Terrazas and some gentler but still rewarding walks around Soroa. Though sometimes referred to as such, the peaks of the Sierra del Rosario don’t quite qualify for mountain status, the highest point reaching just under 700m, and although there is some fantastic scenery, it’s rarely, if ever, breathtaking.