Robaina's plantation

Monday 12 September 2016

Orquideario Soroa (Soroa Orchidarium) Pinar del Rio

                   When you talk to someone about Soroa they all think about the beautiful waterfall but there's a little more to Soroa than that. Coming here is a lovely way to spend a day away from Havana, the Orchid Garden coupled with the waterfall...(and if you have luck (I didn't) and can find it) and an abandoned coffee plantation, you could have a rather full day. I didn't discover the Orchidarium until we were on our way back to Havana after visiting the waterfall on a previous trip and vowed I would come back for the Orchid Garden and Coffee Plantation. Nobody could tell me about the plantation but everyone knew about the house that used to belong to a Spanish lawyer named Tomás Felipe Camacho (1886 - 1961). Tomás came from the Canary Islands in 1905 and at one time was a legal adviser to a Cuban President. In 1942 he buys a plot of land, 35,000 square meters, for 5000 pesos from Rojelio Carbajal, a banker. His first project was to build a house on the property, a weekend getaway. In 1943 Tomás' daughter Fallecida dies and from his sadness he creates the garden Rancho Pelida. In 1948 his wife Pilar gets cancer and dies shortly afterwards. It was at this time that he started his worldwide collection of orchids, as they were his wife's favourite flower. In 1952, after having collected flowers for 9 years, he had collected so many orchids (more than 5000 plants in total....700 orchids) that he needs to contract a gardener from Japan to take care of his garden, since he knows little about the complicated flower himself. He is the first to introduce the orchid to this part of the country in 1948. He visits his homeland, the Canary Islands, in 1960 and dies within the year.
                    Today, the Orquideario Soroa, with more than 20,000 plants & 700 species contained within 35,000 square meters, is the largest garden in Cuba. You'll also find thousands of different ferns & trees making it a World Biosphere Reserve.

(my history may be slightly incorrect as there were conflicting accounts related to the death of his wife and daughter, one of which have them both dying as his wife gives birth to his daughter)

3cuc admission plus 2cuc with camera
Guided tours in Spanish or English
Place to buy food & drink on the property
with seating.

PS.......The name Soroa comes from the two Spanish brothers Lorenzo & Antonio Soroa Munagorri  who came to Cuba in 1856 hoping to make it big in the coffee business.

                 You'll find Soroa approximately 80 kilometers from Havana, in the western area of Cuba near the Sierra del Rosario mountains. Here in the Pinar del Rio Province lies the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve. Something else I've missed is a Mirador (lookout) somewhere atop a mountain (a 2.5 km walk) time.