Viñales valley is a small, green valley located in Pinor del Rio Province on the Western side of Cuba. It is a home for World’s famous tobacco farms and limestone mogote mountains. In 1999, Viñales valley was declared world heritage city by UNESCO for the agricultural production, the quality of landscape and history. Since, that time, the area became very famous among Cuban and tourists.
Viñales is a great combination of Mother Nature and traditional Cuban art and craft. The town offers plenty of paladares with local food and live music spots, placed along the main street. However, outside of the lively calle principal, the life is very relaxed and low-keyed around the natural beauty.
The interesting fact is that Viñales was Fidel Castro’s favorite place in Cuba. He also admire this place for both a center of Cuban culture and natural treasure.
Plan Your Horseback Riding in Viñales Valley
The scenic valley is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. People come here to experience real piece of Cuban agriculture and enjoy the most beautiful landscapes in Cuba. It is filled up with plenty of adventurous tours like hiking, caving, horse riding, rock climbing and cycling.
I had the pleasure to discover the Cuban tobacco plantation on the horseback trekking. The tour takes 4 hours through local farms, coffee plantation and typical limestone hills. During your trip, you learn about traditional cigar-making method, history of cigars and tobacco production process.
The tour should cost you 25 CUC per person during high season and 15 CUC per person during low season (June, July, August). Remember that tours offers in town are overprices. Instead of buying your trek on the main street, ask Cuban family in your casa de particular about local tours.
Cuban cigars are world famous. They’re known to be the first-rate cigars in the World. Tobacco seeds are plant in late October and harvest after around 3 months (March, April) by hand. Then, there are hung in the special storehouses to provide the best condition for high quality cigars. After they become dry and brown, they are stepping into special mixture to start the process of fermentation. Farmers have their own secret recipes for preparing an unique mixture. The most common ingredients are pineapple skin, lemon, guava leaves, cinnamon, honey, vanilla, sugar cane and rum. The process of fermentation is 100% natural and farmers do not use any chemicals.
The next step is to put all the leaves into the palm leaves box and storage for a year. Every handmade Cuban cigar is made from four to six leaves and it is bind with honey. The aroma and taste is remarkable.
Every tobacco plantation is committed to sell 90% of the harvest leaves to the government for prearranged rate. The rest 10%, it is allowed to be sold on their own price.
More Natural Beauties in Viñales
If you are willing to explore more natural beauties of Viñales, you should definitely visit the Cuba’s largest cave system, Cuevas de Santo Tomas. Most of the tourists take the organised trip with guide from Viñales. For water enthusiasts, there is a paradise beach Cayo Jutia about one hour drive by car from Viñales. This is a perfect place for snorkeling, diving and relaxing on the sand with cold mojito in your hand. As, there is no accommodation available, you can only visit this place at day time.
If you are looking for a unique place to visit during your cycling and take beautiful photos, visit the Mural de la Prehistoria. The 120m-long painting mural is located four kilometers from Viñales valley on the side of Mogote Pita.
How to Get to Viñales
Viñales village is situated about 3-4 hours drive from Havana. You can easily get there by bus or taxi colectivo. The Viazul bus company designed for tourists is the most common transport on this route. During high season, I would recommend buy your ticket one day before, because tickets might be sold out. The bus runs 2 times per day and costs $12. Another option is taxi colectivo for about $70, which you can share with friends.