Viñales Cuba Guide
Viñales
Cuba

The town of Viñales is situated in the Valle de Viñales (Viñales Valley), one of Cuba's most impressive national parks and for that reason one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Pinar del Río province.

Covering a mere 11 by 5 kilometres within the Sierra de los Órganos mountains, the valley was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1999 for its impressive natural landscape.

The valley is full of pine trees where you can also find taro and bananas protecting the tobacco that is farmed there using traditional methods.

Viñales itself is still not set up with a tourist infrastructure, despite the numbers that visit. All the important buildings in town can be found in the main plaza, including the Casa de Cultura which dates back to 1832.

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The small town (app. 15,000 inhabitants) itself is characterised by a laidback atmosphere and enthusiastic locals that are happy to help you out with anything you could want. It offers a wide range of lodging, from renting rooms in Casas Particulares, camping and hotels, including some of the best hotels in Cuba.

From Viñales one can plan excursions to the mountainous countryside, notable for its flora and fauna, caverns, and valleys. What stands out in the scenery are the so called mogotes (or hummocks), tower-like hills of limestone shaped in the course of billions of years. The area provides great opportunities for those interested in hiking, caving (spelunking) and mountainbiking.

Whilst out on a hiking trip, look out for some of the many endemic Cuban plants that can be found there including Mycrocycas Calocomo which is a kind of palm tree and Jurassic fossil. There are also plenty of endemic animal species to see if you are a fan of the incredible Cuban wildlife.

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The history of Valle de Viñales goes back to Jurassic times when the rocks of the region were formed which have slowly been eroded away by the rain and in addition to the mogotes have also produced some impressive caves.

The Cueva del Indio is the most comprehensive of the cave systems which can be accessed and provides a great opportunity to see a mogote close up. Look out too for the Cueva de San Miguel and El Palenque de los Cimarrones which used to be used by slaves who were on the run and in hiding.

Cuba's largest system of caves, the Caverno Santo Tómas can also be found here.

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