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The Viñales Valley, the Cathedral of the Cuban Carzo, a natural treasure of Cuba.
When visiting Cuba you will find several options to enjoy the landscape and the green environment that characterizes it, but without a doubt, the Viñales Valley is one of the options that you can access very easily and with offers that you will not be able to reject.
It is located in the province of Pinar del Río, the westernmost area of Cuba, in the Sierra de los Órganos, in the Guaniguanico mountain range.
Some characteristics of the valley, important to know.
Its territory is located in the municipality of Viñales, famous for the mogotes with a height of 25 meters, tobacco and for being the homeland of Polo Montañés.
These mountains are limestone. According to studies it was due to the intense rains of the Caribbean that characterize the region and that were in charge of giving it this shape throughout centuries and centuries. There you can also see caves and caverns formed by underground rivers.
The Viñales Valley National Park.
Viñales National Park is located 178 km from Havana. It is a special site, due to the beauty of its environment, care and conservation, in addition to the rich history it keeps, it was declared by the National Monument Commission, “National Monument” in 1979, “Cultural Landscape of Humanity” by UNESCO in 1999 and “National Park” by the Council of Ministers in 2001.
The region is also known by the name of the Cathedral of the Cuban karst for the cave systems that exist there and it is valid to mention the diversity and endemism of its flora and fauna.
Some options when visiting Viñales.
You choose the way to visit Viñales, but first you should know in detail what options you will have in addition to admiring the beauty of the environment.
I inform you that access to the Viñales Valley National Park is free and free. You can request guided tours and go on horseback excursions, about 4 hours will allow you to discover the main sites of interest.
The Cocosolo-Palmarito Route.
There is also the 8-kilometer Cocosolo-Palmarito route, a trip to closely observe the mogotes and also visit a peasant house, a tobacco growing area and a drying room.
San Vicente-Ancón circular route.
The San Vicente-Ancón 4-kilometer circular route will walk you through the valley, you will enter the Cueva del Indio and enjoy direct contact with the vegetation and waterfalls. The Maravillas de Viñales route of almost 5 kilometers is especially attractive for lovers of flora and fauna.
Cuban tobacco route “From seed to smoke”.
If the views, the mogotes and the caves are interesting, there is another possibility of enjoyment in the Viñales Valley, the visit to the tobacco plantations, the area where the largest tobacco production on the entire island is located.
You can see the plantations, visit a factory and learn about the most famous tobacco production process in the world. You can also visit a peasant house and see what their most traditional ways of life are like, and a rum factory or a guarapera to drink guarapo, a drink obtained by squeezing sugar cane.
The most daring can take a zip line among the lush vegetation, along a one kilometer route starting from the Loma del Fortín.
Los Mogotes of the Viñales Valley.
Definition of mogotes.
Mogote are medium to small elevations, which are isolated or together, their tops are rounded and have almost vertical slopes; They are made up of ancient limestone rocks, dark in color.
The biggest attraction in the Viñales Valley.
When one thinks of Viñales, the word mogotes instantly comes to mind. These are the main attraction of the Valley for its history, shape, the unique intense green color of the Caribbean and the palm trees that together with them dominate the Valley.
This area has more than 60 species that only grow in mogotes and other unique species due to its age, such as Palma Cork, declared a National Monument for having survived since the Jurassic. If you want to have the best view, we recommend you do it from the viewpoint of the Los Jazmines Hotel.
Los Jazmines and La Ermita viewpoints.
Los Jazmines is 4 kilometers from the town of Viñales. It is a hotel complex that offers restaurant and pool options but the most beautiful are its views, totally free. From there you can see how the hours pass, the light, the mist, even the characteristic humidity on the vegetation. There is also another place where the beauty of the environment can amaze you: the Mirador de la Ermita.
The Viñales Caves
If the mogotes are interesting, the caves are no less interesting, especially the largest of them, La Cueva de Santo Tomás.
The Cave of Santo Tomás.
The Great Cavern of Santo Tomás. It is more than 40 kilometers long, it is the largest and most important cave system in the country, declared a National Monument in 1989.
La Cueva del Indio.
Another option that you like a lot is the Cueva del Indio because it offers the possibility of visiting it by boat, inside it two underground rivers flow.
The Cave of San Miguel
The Cueva de San Miguel where the life of the first inhabitants of these lands, the pre-Columbian aborigines, has been left there with numerous examples of cave art. The maroons, black slaves who escaped from their masters and took refuge within these walls, also left their marks.
Mural of Prehistory.
The Mural of Prehistory is a large painting 120 meters long by 80 wide, made directly on the rock of the Pita mogote. This work of art shows the evolutionary history of the area, from the first marine mollusks to the aborigines who inhabited the area.
It was painted entirely by brush by the Cuban muralist Leovigildo González Morillo, a job that took more than five years to complete.
How to get to the Viñales Valley?
To get to Viñales you can rent a car, you will find the best prices in Rentacar. Another option is taxis, officials or individuals. The price ranges from 120 CUC, in any case it is better to ask before. A guided tour that includes food and a walk through the Indian Cave with transport is much cheaper.
There is also the Víazul bus trip that departs twice a day from the Havana Bus Station, at 09:00 and 14:30.
Where to eat in the Viñales area?
There are three hotels with several restaurants and hundreds of private restaurants such as La Pimienta, between Cueva del Indio and Palenque de los Cimarrones.
Hiking in the Viñales Valley.
To bring people closer to the natural environment and to the knowledge of the area through heritage, there is a hiking modality in Viñales. A walking route is essential to get to know the area better.
Come to the Visitor Center, there they will explain the alternatives, the pros and cons of each, the degree of difficulty of the tours, and you can hire a guide.
In this way you will guarantee to see everything and not get lost, of course as an addition, your guide will be able to better explain every detail and every doubt. Prices range between 10 and 15 CUC per excursion.
When visiting Cuba, be sure to stop at El Valle de Viñales, another of the most precious green spaces on the island.