Alturas de Santa Clara
The Alturas de Santa Clara rise south and east of the city and merge into the Sierra Escambray. The hills and valleys are pocked with quaint timeworn villages and quilted by tobacco fields.
The Autopista and Carretera Central pass through the region.
The huge (32-square-kilometer) artificial Embalse Hanacanilla beautifies the northern foothills of the Escambray, below a backdrop of pine-studded mountains. It is stocked with trout and bass.
The Hotel Hanabanilla offers fishing trips (CUC25–50 per person), guided hikes (CUC5), and boat excursions to El Nicho (CUC12), Río Negro Restaurante, and the Casa del Campesino (CUC3), a small working farm where you can get a taste for the campesino lifestyle.
The turnoff for Hanabanilla is midway between Cumanayagua and Manicuragua, on Route 4-206, at La Macagua, just west of Ciro Redondo.
Accommodations and Food
The only hotel for miles was once a place of last resort. Yet in 2009 Islazúl’s Soviet-style Hotel Hanabanilla (tel. 042/20-8550, fax 042/20-1100, carpeta [at] hanabanilla [dot] vcl [dot] cyt [dot] cu, CUC14 s, CUC22 d low season including breakfast, CUC21 s, CUC36 d all-inclusive) was transformed from ugly duckling to swan. Perched on the lake’s western shore, it offers great views. The 125 air-conditioned rooms are pleasantly furnished and have modern bathrooms, plus French doors opening to balconies.
Criollo lunches such as roast pork or chicken with pineapple (the house specialty) are served at the Río Negro Restaurante, on the southern shores of the lake.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition