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eco-village (cuban style)

Leaving Vinales, I camp at an abandoned campismo in La Guira National Park, a lush forested region in the mogote hills.

The castle gates - no, actually, it's the entrance - or in my case, the exit - to La Guira National Park. The land was a privately owned hacienda pre-revolution and I'm guessing the grandiose crenallations date from then. This road is marked as a main road on the map but it's a pretty rough windy little track through the hills with scarcely any traffic.

A lot of bee-keeping goes on in Cuban. These hive are sitting alongside a main road.

My aim for the day is Las Terrazas, a settlement billed as Cuba’s exemplary eco-village. The project was initiated in the late 60s as a reforestation initiative to combat the environmental devastation caused, largely, by the unsustainable and exploitative agricultural practices of colonial coffee plantations in the 19th century. Reforestation is still provides most employment in the area but tourism, built on ecologically sustainable models, is also very important to the community.

Las Terrazas is a project developed in the 70s to regenerate a badly degraded coffee-growing area.

It is a peaceful kind of place...

... and I get to camp, for a small fee, beside the beautiful San Juan river with its lovely cascades and deep swimming holes. During the day the place is swarming with visitors - August in summer holiday time - but the evening and early morning were blissfully quiet. I lounge in the natural pools with only a couple of young people picking out aluminium cans out of yesterday's unfortunate litter for company.

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