A Trip to Vinales

16.05.19 10:35 PM By Putri

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. 

Wait, what? A tour? Ewwww… 

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. 

I went to the digital abyss (read: the internet) for some reliable tour agents in Cuba, and I could hardly find any who are run by the locals or who aren't trying to rip me off with redonkeylous prices. At the end, I managed to pick two that seemed to be less shady than the others based on their excellent rating from Tripadvisor. I sent my inquiries to both agents, and both replied me back after some worrying delays, which is (kinda) normal since the internet in Cuba is like my mood in general; very unstable, highly untrustable.

The funny thing with these Cuban travel agents is the fact that the only booking confirmation you get from them is an e-mail saying "YOU ARE NOW BOOKED".  No booking number nor receipt whatsoever. They might also say that a Juan (a rep of their company and usually called Juan) will meet you at your hotel's lobby the night before your trip so you can settle your payments and shoot out any doubts and questions you might have about the trip. But what if nobody shows up? And how creepy is that to let a stranger knows where you stay at during your vacation, it does sounds like a recipe for troubles, doesn't it? 

Dun dun dun... 

Judging by the adrenaline rush I got when I sent out my inquiries to those agents, it is safe to say that a line of cocaine would immediately kill me. 

Cheesus, this post is supposed to be about my Vinales day trip, why am I still ranting about anything else. Let's hurry this up!

We finally got our own driver, our private tour guide who speaks English very well (he also deserved a medal for putting up with me and my endless questions along the way), and a reliable car. Let's the adventure begin!

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

First of all, I thought it was a mural where I would see pre-historic drawings made by the cavemen, depicting their days hanging out with their pets; the mammoths and sabretooth cat. You know, like we'd see in the Ice Age movie. 

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.

Some people say this mural is overhyped and even a sore on the eye. I, however, loved it simply because it's gigantic. I have this peculiar tendency to appreciate anything that is out of normal proportion, let it be bigger or smaller.
Ignore my MCHammer pants; I do have questionably misguided fashion choices.  You've probably seen me wearing it in lots of pics in this blog. Let me reassure you, I don't belong to any stereotype of people who likes wearing tribal motif MCHammer pants. The only reason I wear them is that they are very comfortable, the elastic waistband allows me to eat a lot. Trust me, you should get a pair. 

The highlight of the trip: the tobacco farm

The visit to the plantation gave us a deep in-sight of Cuban tobacco business and an opportunity to taste few types of cigars. We got to see how the famous cigar is produced right from a farmer family who has run their tobacco plants for six generations.  The visit gave me a better understanding of Cuban cigar, from the planting process to production. I have a whole lot more respect an admiration for Cuban cigars. I wrote a whole article about this farm in here.

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

We even had the chance to ride the shortest, most useless boat ride ever on an underground river at Cuevo del Indio. But that 400 m long boat ride, my friends, felt like a tourist trap. There are a few caves in Vinales to explores apparently, but this one is famous because it was once used by the native Indians as a passage way. I was expecting to see bats, albino fish, Indiana Jones, or anything, like anything at all that would give me a cave-spook. Yes, IMHO, a good cave should give me a spook and makes me feel like I shouldn't even be there yet I was there so that made me a badass. 

Nico: you shouldn't even expecting anything out of a cave. that's ridiculous
Me: We just paid 10 USD to ride a dinghy in the dark for 3 minutes, that's two pinacoladas you know, we should expect something out of it. 

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). 

PS: on the way back, we had to stop at a gas station because we needed to fuel up and I needed to empty my bladder. As any public toilet in Cuba, you will find a lady outside the bathroom with a roll of tissue in hand. Normally, they will give you a toilet paper before you enter the toilet and you are expected to tip them in return once you're done. 

This lady at the gas station toilet tho, has brought her service à la clientele game to the next level. Once I was done doing my business in the toilet, I went to the sink to wash my hand which of course was out of order (the sink, not my hands. My hands have only been out of control but never been out of order). So the lady poured me some water from a hose that she was holding between her legs, it was like she has this super long, rubbery blue dick with metal tip. Then she lathered my hands with soap (from a pump bottle she kept under her left armpit), rinsed off my hand, and dried them with a towel she magically pulled-out out of nowhere (perhaps her other armpit?). It was AWKWARD. 

It happened so fast I wasn't even sure what happened. All I know that in the end I was clean. This is probably how dogs feel after they are taken to a grooming salon; Involuntarily pampered with a hint of the feeling of being non-consensually groomed.  And I was expected to tip afterward. but how much?? it was a toilet, not a spa, first of all. So, I gave her my last 2 CUC, thanked her, and hurried back to the car. 

The essentials

Roundup impression of the trip: awesome possum! I can't recommend it enough


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.