Between the bustle of the capital and the idyllic beaches lies this fertile valley region; lush with tobacco and banana, rural homesteads and strikingly unusual scenery. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, this is the finest example of a karst valley in Cuba, where mogotes - soaring dome-shaped hills with rounded tops and steep slopes - contrast with the flat surface of the valley in which they stand. These unique natural landmarks make the area - already beautiful and charming - really interesting and memorable.
Old-fashioned farming methods are still used in Viñales, notably to grow tobacco. The local population is an ethnic mix and as you walk through the countryside, you'll see oxen, wooden hand carts, and tiny scattered dwellings among the palm trees and patchwork fields and trees. For those who have visited Mount Roraima and seen other tepuis in Venezuela will be reminded of that other-worldly scenery here in this region.
Other attractions in Viñales include the Museo Municipal, Casa de Caridad Botanical Gardens, Museo Paleontológico, and the nearby caves in Valle de Viñales National Park which were used as refuges for runaway slaves. For those looking for a little nocturnal action there is even a cave which doubles up as a nightclub!
Northwards, off the coast lie the islands of the Colorado Archipelago, where we recommend a stay on Cayo Levisa, which has just the one simple hotel and a private beach to go with it.
|Vinales & Cayo Levisa|