SARAH BEARDHavana and the westHavana is one of Latin America's most evocative cities. Linger to explore the crumbling alleys and its many restored public buildings. The province of Pinar del Rio to the west is fertile and picturesque, with a spine of rugged mountains dividing coastal plains. In and around sleepy colonial towns such as Viñales you can dine with a local family; a memorable experience. Explore the forests, caves, rivers and limestone mogotes? lofty cylindrical rocks studding the valley bottoms. Tobacco for Cuba's finest cigars is grown here. The coast is marshy but small coral islets are fringed with white sand and there are some isolated hotels serving them.For a quiet stay in pretty countryside werecommend La Moka Ecolodge, which sits on a hillside in the Sierra del Rosario Reserve. The park is the main centre for ecotourism within Cuba. The lodge and its grounds complement the surroundings rather than dominate them?a tree grows up through the lobby and its branches disappear through the roof. There are artificial and natural pools for swimming and nature trails for hikes and bird watching.Hotel María La Gorda is a modest property of wooden bungalows on the remote western Peninsula de Guanahacabibes with excellent diving opportunities among reefs and wrecks. You can hike the fossil coastline; there are caves, woodland and mangroves to explore, with many species of mammals, birds and reptiles in residence. For a day trip from Viñales to the coast you might visit Cayo Levisa, a coral caye of powdery sands backed by mangroves alive with wildlife. Swim, snorkel or kick off your sandals and stretch out on the beach.56 Cuba
FABIENNE FOSSEZJOY BLAKECUBAHavana.Trinidad.Cayo Ensenachos..Cayo Las BrujasLuxury Cuba 12 days, 10 nightsHavana 3 nights, Trinidad 3n, Cayo Ensenachos 3n, Havana 1n.Day 1 Fly from the UK, arriving Havana the same evening. Private transport to your accommodation, the classy, neoclassical Hotel Saratoga, on the fringe of the old city, overlooking the capitolio. Day 2 Tour of the historical highlights of the city. Day 3 Explore on your own the attractive and seductive corners of the capital; maybe visit a museum, see some live music or a cabaret, or drop in to a bar for a refreshing mojito cocktail. Days 4-6 Transfer to Trinidad (p58) by private car. You will stay at the Iberostar Trinidad Hotel, a small and elegant property occupying a meticulously restored colonial building in the heart of the town. From here you can easily explore on foot the cobbled streets, mansions, churches and parks of this beautifully preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site. Days 7-9 Drive across the causeways linking a necklace of cayes on the north coast to the Royal Hideaway Resort on undeveloped Cayo Ensenachos. This all-inclusive property is particularly graceful with arches and fountains, and a style harking back to a bygone age of prosperity. Day 10 Fly from Cayo Las Brujas for a night in Havana. Day 11 Transfer to the airport for your flight home, arriving day 12. Prices from £1,106pp based on two sharing, excluding transatlantic flights. Daily from the UK city tour with a difference Enjoy a ride round Havana in the back seat of one of the many pre- revolutionary, chrome-embellished American classic cars which still cruise the streets. You might feel as though you're driving through a film set: the soundtrack is provided by Havana's many talented musicians whose music exudes from the atmospheric bars and tree-lined plazas throughout the city. Centre stage is 'Habana Vieja' which has many museums, galleries and churches lining its cobblestone streets. Viñales?just breathtaking scenery and wonderful view from Los Jazmines Hotel. IE, Ross-on-Wye020 8747 8315 / journeylatinamerica.co.uk bookings, consultant advice and additional information 57Below Rooftop pool at Saratoga.