So... where were we? Oh yeah, we were in Cuba, trying to get the most out of our short trip. You know what (please read that in a thick British accent, it sounds much cuter. It should sound like this: yew no wo'?), I thought as a famous vacation destination, the public system in Cuba must be traveler friendly. Right?
Yeah, but no. Not at all, you guys. The public system is not even that friendly for the locals. I mean, wandering around Havana is easy, but going out of town is a bit tricky, although I have heard about the intercity bus called Viazul. That's when I decided that maybe instead we should just take a tour to visit places in Cuba.
Hey hey hey, please. We are not here to judge. God is.
I must admit, I once thought too highly of myself that I considered myself to be too awesome to join an organized trip or tour. Being herded in a bunch and follow a tour-guide and listen to his or her boring explanations and corny jokes were just not something I would enjoy. I was a snobby prick traveler. My hesitance toward organized trip isn't unjustified tho, I had some traumatizingly dreadful organized tours and I swore never to join any organized tours, ever again. But that story is for another post.
Our first stop was the Loz Jasmine viewpoint
This viewpoint offers an amazing panoramic view of Vinales, and you know what, Vinales has been listed as one of UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. Vinales landscapes are decorated with three things and three things only: tobacco farms, palm trees, and huge warts bumps made of either limestone, marble, or dolomite called mogotes. These mogotes provide a micro-climate for this area which contributes to the quality of the tobacco farmed in Vinales.
Next stop, Mural de la Prehistoria at the valley of Dos Hermanos
It turns out that this Pre-historic mural was painted by a neo-caveman called Leovigildo Gonzales Morillo in 1961. The painting itself shows a life cycle spanning from early mollusks and other ancient sea-organisms, the rock face mural moves through the age of the dinosaurs and ends with three giant red human figures. It was painted on an epic proportion in the Pita mogote, 120 meters high and 160 meters in length. This whole mogote graffity took 18 people four years to complete.
The highlight of the trip: the tobacco farm
The visit to the farm was actually our main reason for visiting Vinales, although along the way we realized that Vinales has so much more to offer. We got see the real side of what Cuban suburbs look and feel like, which is adorably humble. We also had some of the best Cuban folks food when we stopped at one of the local pie-hole (or is it more like a tamales-hole?) in Vinales.
Cave and river
The whole Vinales trip was about 10 hours including the road trip and overall it was amazing. At the end of the day, we were pooped but the trip was more than what we expected. The best part was the tour was so flexible, we could decide how long we wanted to spend for each site. We could really soak up the moment and had enough time to take a thousand selfies actually get the vibe of traditional Cuban village. There was no rushing from one site to another nor corny jokes (well, except mine).
Ideal for: anyone who believes Cuba is more than just Havana and beach resorts
Local travel agent to contact: Varadiving
Fee: 80 USD per person all included (private tour 2 person).
Tour or no tour: well, we did it with a tour and we loved every minute of it. But if we had more time to spend in Cuba, we'd might do it by ourselves.
Insider tips: Skip the cave and be ready for a hand spa ambush at the gas station toilet on the high way between Havana and Vinales.