Cuba // Isla de la Juventud and Cayo Largo //

Sierra de las Casas

The best way to appreciate Nueva Gerona’s diminutive scale is to take the short but exhilarating climb up the hills of the gently undulating Sierra de las Casas range, just to the west, for a bird’s-eye view over the town and the surrounding countryside. It’s under an hour’s easy climb up to the highest summit, beneath which are spread the town’s orderly rows of streets, curtailed by the stretch of blue beyond. To the east, below the cliff-edge, the island’s flat landscape is occasionally relieved by a sparse sweep of hills; to the south, you can see the gleaming quarry which yields the stone for so many of Cuba’s marble artefacts.

To get to the hills, head 500m west from Neuva Gerona’s centre down Calle 24; take the first left turn and carry on another few hundred metres along a well-trodden path until you reach the foot of the first hill, marked by two lone concrete poles poking out of the ground

Before heading back to town from the Sierra de las Casas, make time to explore the underground Cueva del Agua, whose entrance is at the foot of the hill. The steep, narrow staircase cut from the rockbed can be slippery, so take care descending and bring a torch. There’s a natural lagoon and captivating rock formations but the real treat here lies along a narrow tunnel on the right-hand side just before the mouth of the pool, where intricate, glittery stalactites and stalagmites are slowly growing into elaborate natural sculptures.

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