Viñales and Pinar del Rio Province
Viñales, a small town with a nearby national park, boasts the most stunning valley and vistas in all of Cuba. Viñales town is in the Pinar del Río Province of western Cuba. The area is surrounded by low mountain ranges of the Cordillera de Guaniguanico, and features unique karst rock outcroppings known as mogotes (“pincushions”) that complete the topography of the landscape. The mogotes reveal caves, many containing rivers or small lakes that are technically underground. However, because the motoges jut prominently above the Viñales Valley floor, their caves appear as large dark holes in the karstic pincushions.
Before European settlement, the Viñales Valley area was the home to the Taíno population overflowing with runaway slaves. People came to Viñales towards the beginning of the 1800’s as tobacco growers from the Canary Islands. The town of Viñales was established in 1878 as a typical community, with a church, school, medical facilities, and a park.
The Viñales region is primarily agrarian with many organic farms. Prominent crops that are grown by traditional methods include fruits, vegetables, coffee, and especially tobacco. Fishing is also an important part of the area's economy.
Tourism centered on the Viñales Valley is developing rapidly. The area is protected by constitutional decree dating to 1976, and was declared a national monument in 1978. The Viñales Valley was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in November 1999 for its stunning landscape, agriculture, architecture, crafts and music. Because Viñales offers up Cuba’s very best hiking, climbing, caving and vistas, it has become the country’s second most visited tourist destination after Havana.
Cuba Travel Adventures Group offers travelers the unique opportunity to visit Viñales either as a day trip or for multiple overnights; there is certainly enough to experience in the province to justify staying longer. The drive from Havana is via the orchid gardens and river of the Soroa region, revealing beautiful waterfalls. Pinar del Rio province travelers have an opportunity to tour self-sustaining family agricultural enterprises, dine on amazing organic lunches with produce from the farms, visit a pinto horse farm, hike through small hillside villages and also hike, oxcart ride, or horseback through the Valley to witness first-hand the natural beauty of this amazing countryside. Along the way, tour a tobacco farm for a hands-on experience with cigar rolling techniques, and purchase samples of Cuba’s main crop at the source.
On travelers’ return to Havana they can stop for lunch or an additional overnight at the UNESCO Biosphere of Las Terrazas, hike with a resident naturalist through the Terrazas rainforest, and sip plantation coffee in the local cafe. There is even a zipline adventure for those eager for a dose of treetop adrenaline!