For a combination of natural beauty and rural hospitality, the small town of Viñales, on the edge of a valley of the same name, can’t be beat. The slow pace, friendly locals and variety of outdoor activities make it an all-time favorite destination.
Authentic Cuba comes alive on the streets of Viñales with its little yellow and blue church on the plaza, folks playing dominoes on their porch, and older couples rocking in wooden chairs. The streets are quaint and clean, and lined with freshly painted homes.
The valley is covered with oddly beautiful ‘mogotes’ – densely- forested pin cushion hills, steep on the sides and rounded on top. These limestone formations are extraordinarily striking and found nowhere else in Cuba.
These hills, part of the Sierra de Órganos, encircle the valley, with a random one here and there serving as a backdrop to a farmer tilling his fields. Pine tree forests add a deep dark green to the tableau and lace the air with an exotic (for Cuba) pine scent.
In 1999, Viñales National Park was designated a World Heritage Site for its unique natural splendor and its harmonic coexistence with traditional agricultural methods (such as tobacco).
As laundry dries in front yards and tobacco leaves hang to dry in their distinctive thatched triangular buildings, visitors trot through the valley on horseback or ride on the shuttle bus between landmarks. Meanwhile, cyclists whizz around the valley on rented bikes.
No matter how often you’ve visited Viñales Valley, it never looks the same twice.
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