I wasn't really left with much choice as I was pushed into taking part by my casa's cousin/farmer/cowboy/salsa instructor. He insured me it was a must while in Vinales however I was still quite reluctant to give it a try. I was led in near silence by my semi-automatic horse through the backs of farmer’s fields, besides prying wild life and had the chance to pick exotic wild fruits which were the most delicious I had yet had in Cuba. The Avatar style mountains closed in on us as we wandered through the valley's rising floor. We dismounted and explored the dips and creeks, into the caves and cooled by the plunge pool with the plumpest (wild) pigs I had ever seen. I was also promised a trip to a cigar factory which was delightful! We smoked handmade cigars for about an hour washed down with an ‘authentic’ rum, lemon and coconut water concoction. It may seem touristy but it was a worthwhile experience, being able to speak to the locals and explore a tourist excursion that the Cuban government isn’t controlling.
It's best to just ask someone at your casa for details.
There's plenty of lovely beaches in Cuba, but this is special. While other beaches are all palm trees/blue water club med cliches (not that there's anything wrong with that) this is the only place where you'll feel like Captain Jack Sparrow might just be lurking behind the next mangrove tree. You'll wish you brought a treasure map to this (almost) desert island.
Google map: bit.ly/ya7GCt
The image of Vinales is one of verdant fields of tobacco and deep red soil, but a journey of just one hour takes you to one of Cuba’s finest beaches. Cayo Jutias is easily reached on a day trip from Vinales, and is well worth it. A white sandy beach, clear blue water, mangroves, and very few other visitors make for a relaxing time. The Cubanacan package includes transport and lunch at the only restaurant on the beach.
A hike through Vinales Valley is much more than just a nature ramble, it is a cultural experience. The valley is stunningly beautiful, with limestone karst “mogotes” rising straight up from the fields, lush green fields and rust-coloured soil that produce tobacco and coffee. But it is also home to caves, thatched tobacco houses with leaves drying from the rafters, farmers who roll cigars on their knees, and the 120-metre Mural de la Prehistoria on the side of a mountain. There are several guides that can be arranged to lead a tour that takes in all of the above, plus a stop for coffee in a local farmhouse, but Omar comes recommended.
Arrangements: Cubanacan office on the main street, or ask at your Casa Particular.
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