Our day trip to the lush valleys of Viñales was the perfect escape from the bustle of Havana. We explored tobacco plantations, spotted colourful houses, and had an amazing meal at an organic farm. Even though it was a really long day it, was amazing to see another side of Cuba.
We started our day early with the long drive from Havana. At first it was pretty smooth driving and we enjoyed seeing the landscape change as we headed west. The road became increasingly bumpy and we were glad we’d chosen the new taxi option rather than the classic car with no suspension! Soon we were gazing over the amazing karst landscapes of Viñales. The unusual mounds, known as mogotes, looked to me like a family of elephants.
Far from home
Making friends with the locals
We walked for a couple of hours through the tobacco fields and caves of this unusual landscape. One of our stops was to meet a tobacco farmer, whose family has grown tobacco on their land for four generations. He showed us how he selected the leaves and rolled the perfect cigar in front of us – it was pretty impressive!
Never too early for a Coco Loco
Pachito, a Cuban hutia
Tobacco leaves drying in a hut
Loved this colour scheme!
Another friendly local
We had thoroughly earned our lunch by the time we arrived at the Finca Agroecologica El Paraiso, an organic farm in a stunning location. Luckily, their specialty is a buffet lunch with lots of tasty Cuban food. We stuffed ourselves on fresh avocado, pork and rice, and so many delicious dishes – it was amazing how they just kept coming! Satiated and content, we gazed out over the valley and watched hawks gliding on the breeze. Friends of mine have stayed at the Finca and raved about it – now I can see why. I’d love to return to this peaceful place – and have that buffet again!
I couldn’t get over the amount of horse-drawn carts we saw – it felt like stepping back in time
Even though it was a long day, and it would have been great to stay longer in Viñales, the day trip was an amazing experience. It was fascinating to see rural Cuba and to meet and chat with some of the locals – bovine and human! If you’re visiting Cuba, I’d highly recommend west to this special place.
Want more? Check out Cuban Colours and Classic Cars in Havana here