Hacienda la Belén

Ranch in Sierra del Chorrillo

Nestled in grassy uplands, this handsome country ranch was built by a Peruvian architect during WWII. It is now run as a nature reserve by Ecotur. It's one of the best places in Cuba to view rare bird species such as the Cuban parakeet, the giant kingbird and the Antillean palm swift. Another curiosity is a three-million-year-old petrified forest spread over 1 hectare. There's also nonindigenous exotic animals such as zebras, deer, bulls and horses.

Visitors can hike Sendero las Aves for a fee. To find the petrified forest, drive several kilometers past the hacienda entrance to the road junction and bear right to reach a dead end at a factory. There's also a far-larger fossilized tree nearby.