This amazing little place is far from Havana’s hustle and bustle… About three hour drive from the capital, in the Pinar del Rio province.
It’s said to be Fidel Castro’s favourite place, and has been UNESCO Heritage listed since 1999! I can totally understand why…. Let me paint you a picture you may be able to relate to. You live in the big smoke, where life is relentless, non-stop, rushed, disconnected, grey – apart from all the advertising screens shouting at you as to why you are not enough… Then you visit your relatives who live in the country side, enjoy lush green surroundings, fresh air, seemingly laid back lifestyle (say seemingly as animals and gardens need to be tended to and it ain’t an easy job! It’s certainly a lot slower pace) people are friendly, welcoming and smiling. Everyone seems to know everyone, they welcome you in without suspicion. They have a good ol’ yarn instead of watch TV, enjoy the simple things like having a dip at a waterhole or go for a walk in nature… would say watch the sunrise, but that really isn’t a Cuban thing, more of a watch the sunset kinda people and enjoy live music and dancing in the evening… Cuba Photography Tours
That’s what Vinales is about! When I go there, it’s like reconnecting with my long lost family.
The mountains are beautiful – lush green surroundings. Interesting limestone formations aka mogotes give a stunning view of the valley. It’s also an agricultural area, with fertile soil, thus amazing food, and the farmers grow the best tobacco in the world!
You get to watch the Oxen plowing the soil, hear about the processing of tobacco from tiny seed to being turned into a cigar. May be even have a go at rolling a cigar yourself. Have a chat with the farmers, about life, family, the best roast pork recipe. Taste coffee grown on the farm, ground and roasted just before making a brew. Wonder through the farms, be greeted with a great big smile by whoever walks past – if you want you can stop for a chat.
Enjoy the sight of the brightly coloured wooden huts in the fields. Or the rows of bright coloured colonial buildings in the township. Check out the crafts, the freaky botanical garden or the caves in the surrounding areas (will tell you more about them later).
Discover the sights, take light trek in the morning for the sunrise (tourists enjoy that one, let’s face it, the damn rooster keeps you awake, might as well enjoy the sunrise!) or wonder on past the pre-historical mural – and tell us what you really think!
In the evening you can check out one of many restaurants. Whether you are into local cuisine (I do recommend it!), fancy a farm to plate experience with truly organic produce or want something a bit more along the western world cuisine, Vinales has it all. And if you can still move after your amazing dinner, you can shake it all off at one of the venues offering a large dance floor, delicious mojitos and live music. Just don’t try to do it all in one day, as then you totally miss the slower pace life that’s on offer!
Are you up for a short break? Discover the wonders of Western Cuba!