Jetting out of the ground like something out of southern Thailand, the limestone mountains of Viñales are a hiking, climbing, and exploring mecca. This is the perfect place to buy your rum and cigars, all organically made right in the area. As always in Cuba, the food is incredible and there are plenty of Casas Particulares around for accommodation.
Quiet, chill, and scenery for days – this is Valle del Silencio in Viñales. The organic tobacco farm tour through this region can be enjoyed by foot or by horse – the best time to do this tour is in the afternoon when the sun is cooler and you can end at a three-story viewpoint hut for a sunset over the limestone mountains. The first stop of the tour is at a very scenic tobacco farm house where they dry the tobacco for four to eight weeks in the air-cooled barn. Your guide will take you into the barn and teach you the methods and science that goes into farming tobacco organically in the countryside of Cuba. This is also your chance to buy organic cigars – don’t get fooled by the ones they try to sell you in Havana for a marked up price, wait and buy them here in their purest and freshest form. Learn how to roll the cigar from a seasoned tobacco farming veteran. Truly an authentic Cuban experience not to be missed.
Next on the tour, your guide will take you to a rum factory (fresh organic cigars and rum – does it get any better?!) Pinar del Río rum is sold all around Cuba but this is the fountain and source of the delicious rum (it’s arguably better than Havana Club!). The local brewers (or distillers if you will, although they probably wouldn’t call themselves that) will take you through the process right from the sugarcane harvest and then make you the best Cuba Libre you’ll ever have.
Hop back onto your caballo (Spanish for horse) and trot down the always scenic trail to a couple other local restaurants for some refreshments and snacks before making a stop at a swimming hole. Take an optional dip, or relax on the porch and enjoy the mountain and countryside vistas.
One of the last stops is the mojito house (you read that right), and this is where you have the chance to drink mojitos made of fresh mint grown right in front of you, with the rum you just saw being made. Everything else in that drink likely comes from Viñales as well. In fact, anything you have in Cuba likely comes from no further than 100 KM from where you are at that moment.
Back on to your horse, and trot along to the final stop for the best sunset Viñales has to offer – climb a few stories up the viewing platform and watch the sun go down over the countryside and mountains – the perfect way to end an authentic eco-adventure in Cuba.
Viñales is a town that perhaps never thought of themselves as an eco-destination, but by having their minds in the right place and staying true to their past farming methods, they’ve grown an ecotourism experience in Cuba that attracts travellers from around the globe.
For more information on travelling or road tripping Cuba, check out our guide to road tripping and travelling Cuba blog post.
Author: Eco Escape Travel | Date: May 1, 2017