Vinales valley – a peaceful unique beauty
The Viazul (tourist public transport) brought us on an hours long journey to Valle de Vinales where we planned to stay for four nights. Other traveler told me before 2 nights would be enough but the fully booked bus left us no other (affordable) choice. But when we left after four nights we did not regret to stay longer at this beautiful place with its amazing landscape.
It took not a very long time to explore the small town of Vinales where the Cubans have their pigs and horses in the garden front of the small houses.
But already on the next day we planned to give the idea about riding on a horse through the valley for two hours a chance.
The idea was good but we ended up riding on the horses for five hours. Through thick red mud, a river, crossing a tabac farm and visiting a cave. A result of the lack of Spanish language skills.
On the next day it seemed to be another good idea to explore more parts of the valley also riding but this time on a bike. Like the horse ride day before the host of the Casa Particular organized the bikes.
This time she also organized but this time instead of making an ordinary phone call by shouting down the street to a neighbor who was arriving 10min later with two bikes. One of many situations on Cuba which showed how good the Cubans are connected and help each other to make a better life by earning some CUC (Convertible Peso).
The bike ride brought us to the prehistoric paintings after a visit at the indian cave in the late morning which was followed by a extensive tropical afternoon rain and a very welcome work out break for us.
Vinales is one of those relaxed places where you just can walk around a day, stop at a nice place for a coffee and watching the local life goes by. The botanical garden is also worth a visit to get an introduction to the local plants like the hundred years old Ceiba tree, beautiful flowers and delicious fruits.
Where to stay
Casa Particulares are everywhere in Vinales. All have a sign whichs makes it very easy to find them. Prices starts from around 20CUC per night. Meals are not included. For booking a Casa Particular in advance I can recommend http://www.bbinnvinales.com or http://www.bandbcuba.com.
Where to eat
The breakfast in the Casa Particulares starts with 3-4CUC per person and is worth the money. It is mostly very nice and the portions are big. Especially for a country where groceries and other things are limited. Mostly that big that we did not need food till dinner which is also possible to enjoy at the Casas. Home made food prepared by the landlady.
The town and its surrounding also offers a variety of Paladares – the private restaurants -. The cuisine they mostly offer is Cuban food as well as pasta and pizza, which seems to be very popular on the island.
For a cocktail and some tapas style food or just some people watching on the terrace the “3J Bar de Tapas” is a good place.
Another popular place especially for dinner is “El Olivo” where the serve Cuban and Italian style food. The portions are big and the food was flavoursome as well as the rum we tried after our meal.
How to go around
Walking is the easiest way to go around the town or renting a bicycle to explore the surrounding which is offered everywhere.
An 4-5hours long lasting riding tour is perfect to immerse into the local life and the countryside.
How to get to
The distance from Havana is around 180km and the most relaxed but also most time killing way is going by Viazul – a countrywide bus company for tourists and locals who have the money for -. The prices are reasonable but sometimes the busses are fully booked why it is better to check out in advance the booking situation.
Another possibility is going by a rented car which makes sense if you are traveling with family/friends to share the price.