Saturday, 26 August 2017

Valle de Vinales, Cuba

Our second last port of call in Cuba was Vinales.
After our long drive from Trinidad, we were relieved to arrive before dark - it was hard enough finding our pre-booked accommodation in the late afternoon light without trying to do so at night time.

The town of Vinales is situated on the western side of Cuba amongst gigantic karst formations called mogotes and tobacco fields. The area is known as Valle de Vinales, and is another UNESCO World Heritage Site within Cuba.

One of the many mogotes in the valley is the famous Mural de la Prehistoria.
Cuban painter, Leovigildo Gonzalez Morillo (a pupil of Diego Rivera), painted the history of evolution after the revolution. It took 18 people four years to complete this timeline from ammonites to Homo sapiens.

It seemed like a rather bizarre thing to do.

We still had our hire car for this portion of our trip, but we noticed that many of the tourists were hiring bicycles to get around the various sites to see in the Valley.

It felt like an obligatory thing to do to visit a tobacco farm in Vinales.
I think we managed to find the one mentioned in the Lonely Planet called La Casa del Veguero.
We weren't part of a tour group, so we just wandered around, had a brief chat with one of the workers in the drying shed and came away with a handful of the cheap unbranded cigars that the Cubans tend to smoke. 

A brief drive through the stunning magotes, brought us to Cueva del Indio.
The cave was only (re)discovered in 1920 but it was once part of an indigenous settlement.
It was an interesting trip, but the caves were far from pristine or conserved. 
Electric lighting, the touch of too many hands and the fumes from the outboard motor have wrecked the health of the cave.

Hotel los Jasmines was not our home for our two nights in Vinales, but it was a recommended stop off to see the view by the pool. 
We 'enjoyed' a late lunch and beer by the pool as well. I emphasise the word enjoy, because as with everywhere else in Cuba, the state run food options were pretty basic and bland. Hotel los Jasmines was no exception.
Home cooked meals at casa particulars and family run paladars were the MUCH preferred option whenever possible. In fact, I would go so far as to say, that you should only eat out if you are planning on going to a family run paladar. Otherwise stay at home, and enjoy the fresh, seasonal produce and hospitality of your casa host.

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.


  1. What an interesting post. You packed a lot in to your visit.

  2. Beautiful photos. Sounds like you covered a lot of territory. Since eating local foods is part of the fun of travel for me, I appreciate your advice about opting for home-cooked meals.
    My Saturday Snapshot post features Dungeness Spit.

    1. Cuba is not a gourmet food destination, but most of the food we ate was seasonal, fresh and certainly did not come from a packet or processing plant.

  3. It's hard to believe that a place with so many artists and so much color could be a long time communist country. I can't explain that. It seems disconcerting.

    1. I believe the Cubans consider themselves to be more of a socialist country rather than a communist one. They are very proud of their hard won independence, even though many probably also see their political model as deeply flawed at the same time. The anti-consumerism sentiment was quite strong wherever we went, but whether it's based on necessity and making the best of the embargo will only be revealed as time goes by.

      Wikipedia says - Cuba has had, according to the Constitution, a democratic centralist political system since 1959 based on the "one state – one party" principle. Cuba is constitutionally defined as a Marxist–Leninist "socialist state guided by the political ideas of Marx, one of the fathers of historical materialism, Engels and Lenin". The present Constitution also ascribes the role of the Communist Party of Cuba to be the "leading force of society and of the state" and as such has the capability of setting national policy.

  4. Thank you for sharing . this is so interesting . Great photos

  5. Wow, more stunning photos of Cuba - you are so lucky to have had this opportunity! It looks like you went to a lot more places than most people I know who've gone recently. This region looks beautiful - I especially like the pics through the cave. And that mural is amazing!

    Thanks for sharing!


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