How to spend 9 days in Cuba: Viñales (part 2/3)

This 9-days trip to Cuba is from blogtravels friend Amandeison. You can follow her trips on her Instagram account. The trip will be presented in 3 different parts. The second part is about Valle de Viñales. Enjoy! The first part about Havana can be found here.

Viñales

Next stop Valle de Viñales. A taxi colectivo picked us up at 8.30am from our casa in Havana and we started our adventure to the famous valley of Viñales, the valley with the tobacco plantations and the farms of all sorts! We spent two days there. The journey with the taxi colectivo was quite an experience. Backpacks on the taxi roof and 6 fellow travellers. 2 French, 2 Spanish, 2 Italians and us 2 Greeks all squeezed in an old American red car speeding to at least 100km/hr but …with no speedometer! The taxi costed 40CUC per person. The journey to Viñales lasted 2.5 hours and we very quickly me met our next host, Omar Blanco, the town’s salsa teacher!

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The town of Viñales itself is not great, the reason to visit Viñales is the outstanding landscapes of Viñales valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. Viñales valley is beautiful and lush, encircled by mountains and rocky outcrops, the famous mogotes which were formed following depression of the karstic limestone formations. The town is also well known for its traditional agricultural practices and its authenticity. And as a bonus, from Viñales you can easily reach beautiful beaches such as Cayo Largo and Cayo Levisa.

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The day we arrived at Viñales, we devoted the afternoon on a 4hr horse riding tour in the Valley which was incredible. It was straight forward to book the tour from one of the official tour providers located in the central street of Viñales across the church. The horse riding tour included a stop at a tobacco planation farm where a farmer fully explained the tobacco growing and cigar making process. And all that whilst smoking a cigar that the tobacco farmer rolled in front of us.  The tour also included a stop at a small coffee house. After a cup of coffee we continued horse riding, soaking up the valley views and the sky colours in this tranquil and authentic place. The horse riding tour was one of the most enjoyable activities we did in Viñales, I cannot recommend it enough! At night we had dinner at El Olivo and wandered in the town …still no music & alcohol.

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The second day at Viñales was also devoted to the valley! A taxi drove us around the valley to see the main viewpoints such as the mural de la Historica and Cave Indigo. You can do the same with the hop on hop off bus which runs throughout the day or you can rent a bike and do it yourself. It is a very enjoyable way to spend your day in this rural area of Cuba. In the afternoon we visited the Gran Cavernas de Santo Tomas which were 30’ away from Viñales and which was not included in the bus tour. The caves are the 2nd largest cave system in Latin America. On the way back we walked in Viñales town. This small town was very charming early in the evening, we stopped at one of the few cross roads where you could witness the city’s activities: farmers after work having a rest, children playing baseball on the streets, tourists enjoying churros, horses, cyclists, taxi drivers, everyone in one mass!

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At night we finally made it to the Casa de la Musica of Viñales, located in the central square. The music and alcohol were back on! The salsa night out of the entire town, happening every day at the same place, fills up with locals and tourists and the party begins from 9pm. With a live band an essential part of this fiesta and salsa teachers all around you, and literally everyone dancing with anyone, was another unforgettable highlight of the trip.

End of part two. The third and final part is coming!

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