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Viñales

We stand at the end of our trip to Cuba with Viñales as the last stop. Initially we planned on going to Viñales at the very beginning of our journey, right after Havana. We wanted to explore for two full days the nature (especially the caves) and do some horse riding. But the lack of transportation and organization made us change our plans, and frankly I am not such a cave fan. In the end we opted for a day trip from Havana, which turned out to be good. Usually when we travel we like to be independent and to arrange our itinerary by ourselves, this time though it proved to be way easier to take an organized trip and just to follow the guide.

The Viñales Valley is situated in the Pinar del Río Province, some 180 km north-west from Havana. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since November 1999.

Viñales is a town and a municipality in the valley. It consists mostly of one-story wooden houses with porches.

A typical Viñales casa. Source Accommodations Cuba.

The municipality is dominated by low mountain ranges of the Cordillera de Guaniguanico such as Sierra de los Órganos. Typical outcrops known as mogotes complete the karstic character of the landscape. (Source: Wikipedia)

Except for the mesmerizing nature, Viñales is known for its vast tobacco fields. The Cuban cigars, luxury goods cherished in all of the world are made and produced in Viñales. And so we started the trip, with a tobacco factory, where we could learn about the process from the field to the end product.
The tobacco leaf takes up to a month to dry, which after other ingredients such as honey, lemon, or cinnamon are added to it. The process then is called fermentation and takes up to three months. Then the cigar gets folded by tobacco farmers.

To draw near the whole experience here is a little excerpt of a video to follow:

Even though I am a non-smoker I must admit I was fascinated by the dedication of the farmers and how much love they invest into what they do.

In the tobacco fields.

After the tobacco farms, we were supposed to visit the Viñales Indian Caves. Before European settlement Viñales was home to the native Taíno population. Unfortunately nowadays the Indian Cave of Viñales is known for a horrific story, namely that a vast part of the population was kept and burned alive in the caves by the Spanish crusaders. Nonetheless the cave is a beautiful natural experience, since many endemic plants and animals are specific to this valley. I had to pass on that experience though, because once we entered I started feeling claustrophobic and for the sake of my own health, stayed out of it.

Viñales Indian Caves

As mentioned before one activity famous for the Viñales Valley is horse riding. Instead of exploring the region with horses as we planned in the beginning, I just took a short ride. This was the cherry on the top of the whole trip.

Horses are still a common means of transport in Cuba.
But not only horses…
Cherry on the top…

With Viñales I am ending my Cuba travel series. I hope you had as much fun reading about this beautiful country as I had exploring it. To say it was a wonderful experience is an understatement. Always remember everything looks different from the inside. That is why I can only recommend to you to go to the far away lands as much as possible and to learn about other cultures as much as you can. It helps bringing this wonderful world together. In the end we all have much more in common than what sets us apart.

xx Azra/Swedish Avenue

Swedish Avenue March 7, 2017