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Viñales

5,542 bytes added, 18:12, 3 August 2017
Added Casa reccomentation
[[Image:VinalesValley{{pagebanner|Viñales Banner.jpg|thumb|350px|Viñales valley, from the Hotel Los Jazmines]]}}
'''Viñales''' is a beautiful and lush valley in [[Pinar_del_Rio_%28province%29|Pinar del Río]] province of [[Cuba]], with a population of around 10,000. It's about 26 kilometers north of the city of Pinar del Río, and was declared a [[UNESCO World Heritage Site]]. This article also covers the town by the same name.
Viñales is said to be Fidel Castro's favorite place in Cuba. It also is one of the only places where Cubans seem happy. The mountains are beautiful, the farmers grow the best tobacco in the world, and tourists—who come every day by the busload—are allowed to mingle with the Cubans and spread money in a nice even sugar-coating.
==Understand==
'''Viazul''' [http://www.viazul.com/] runs buses twice a day from [[Havana]] and [[Pinar del Rio]].
They also run buses to [[Cienfuegos]] and [[Trinidad]].
 
'''Share Taxis''' Run daily from outside Havana's national bus station. 7-15 CUC can be haggled but maybe easier to pay 5 CUC to Pinar del Rio where you can catch another share taxi for 1CUC to Viñales. [2016-Jan]
 
'''Guided Tours''' Can be booked from a tour desk inside the Iberostar Parque Central Hotel (address: Calle Neptuno) in Havana. Group tours from several tour companies leave daily in front of the hotel at 07.30 am. The tours visit a cigar and rum factory Pinar del Río. In Viñales you will go to the Cueva del Indio, the Mural de la Prehistoria, a tobacco farm and the viewpoint next to the Horizontes Hotel. Lunch is included. Expect to be back in Havana between 02.00-05.00 pm. Price: 59 CUC p.p. [2016-Jul].
==Fees/Permits==
Perhaps the worst tourist attraction in Cuba is the Mural de la Prehistoria. In 1961 Fidel Castro visited a beautiful valley a few kilometers west of Viñales. He commissioned that the cliff should be painted with snails, dinosaurs, and a family of cavepersons, in garish colors!
There's a restaurant, bar, and gift shop. To be fair, the guidebook says that the food in the restaurant is excellent and the live music is good. Also there's bull and horseback riding. So consider visiting the mural and doing something other than looking at the mural.
==Do==
===Rock Climbing===
See [http://www.cubaclimbing.com].
Escalada En Cuba [http://www.escaladaencuba.com]
Prices are 20CUC per day including all gear and guide. [2016-01]
===Motorbike or Bicycle Rental===
You can rent a motorbike (a scooter) for about 20 CUC per day and ride it either to Cayo Jutias or to Cayo Levisa. The road is magnificent and you may even enjoy it more than the beaches. You will need your passport and driving license in order to rent a scooter. There's no need for a motorbike license.
 
Bicycles are 1CUC per hour or 8-10CUC per day. People rent off the street but the best bikes are at Casa de don Tomas
===Tobacco Farm Tours===
[[Image:CavernaSantoTomas.JPG|thumb|200px|Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás]]
* '''Cuevas del Indio''' The Cuevas del Indio ("Indian Caves") is five kilometers north of Viñales. The cave is well-developed for tourists, with lights and a boat tour. The price is 5 CUCand consists of 5 minute walk with a boat ride through the cave lake to exit. Really cool, but with how busy this place gets I waited 40 minutes in line for the boat-ride. High season in Cuba is mental. Nearby is a restaurant, gift shop, etc.
* '''Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás''' For real caving, drive 15 kilometers west to the Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás, near El Moncada. This is the biggest cave in Cuba. Basic tours are two hours and you must hire a guide. Helmets and headlamps are provided, although you might want to bring a more powerful flashlight, if you have one. Also you're required to wear shoes, which is a problem for female Cubans, who seem to own nothing but sandals. The cave is spectacular, especially where the roof has collapsed and you walk into a green jungle paradise sunk into a mountaintop. The cave has 45 kilometers of galleries on eight levels. Also, the town of El Moncada was another of Fidel's ideas, and the streets are laid out to form a C, U, B, and A.
 
A great place to use as a home base for caving and exploring the area is the National School of Speleology in El Moncada. The School is located at one of the main entrances to the Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas. For a low price, you can rent a room or bed, have meals, and guide service. The School is rustic, but for real explorers the location can't be beat. For more information contact Eduardo, the School manager, by phone at 681274.
===Hiking and Horseback Riding===
[[Image:IMG_4470x.jpg|thumb|200px|Viñales National Park excursions information #2]]
The national park building (near the Hotel Los Jazmines) has maps and exhibits showing fourteen excursions (see the photos below). The main hike everyone does circles behind the mogotes closest to the town. You can hire horses for this(offers were as low as 3CUC/hr). You may be able to hire a hiking guides at the Museo Municipal Adela Azcuy (Calle Salvador Cisneros #115).
[[Image:Cocosolo-Palmarito.jpg|thumb|200px|Cocosolo-Palmarito hike]]
The restaurant at the Patio Centro Cultural Polo Montañez (on the central plaza) is good. There's a restaurant where the locals eat on the street heading north, towards the Cuevas del Indio. It's a typical Cuban restaurant, serving pizza and spaghetti, with remarkably slow service. There's a little store selling snacks and ice cream on the main street, across from the plaza.
 
Finding affordable food is a struggle. Visit one street south of main, parallel, to find peso pizza from someone's door, the best coffee shop (red building) across from a well-stocked 24h canteen.
==Drink==
If you're hoping to socialize with Cubans, not elderly Canadians, stay in town at a <i>casa particulares</i> (licensed bed &amp; breakfast). Every other house in Viñales is a <i>casa particulares</i> and homeowners are adding rooms as fast as they can scrounge up concrete blocks. Expect to pay 25 CUC per night (based on double occupancy), plus meals, which will be better than the hotel food.
 
* <sleep name="Casa Lolita" alt="" address="Calle Adela Azcuy, No. 29" directions="" phone="+53 548 62 779" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="10-15 CUC" lat="" long="" email="[email protected]" fax=""> One of the highlights of my trip was finding this humble Casa just off the main drag. It has one shared room with 2 double beds. Nothing fancy but perfectly comfortable, clean, and complete with fan, AC and en-suite. There is a nice front patio and a very filling breakfast is served daily in their living area. The host, Odalys, is the most genuine and kind host I came across during my month in Cuba and that's why I rate this place so much. She is very open and talkative and always has time to chat with her guests about this or that. I made a great bond with her and her husband Macho during my stay there and it was quite sad to leave at the end of it all. This place does not offer any other optional extras such as paid for lunches and dinners, tours etc, and thus none of the "encouragement" to take part in such activities, which I often found to be the case in other Casa Particulars I stayed in - Anything extra (such as the inivitation to dinner on my last night), was always out of kindness. Ideal for budget independent travellers or a small group/couple looking for something that's no-frills but with a real homestay feel and brimming with personal character and warmth.</sleep>
 
* <sleep name="Villa El Ranchon" alt="Casa Ignacio y Raiza" address="KM 1 Carret. Pto Esperanza" directions=".50m from the Police Station" phone="+53 52 56 8002" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="" email="[email protected]" fax="">Two very nice rooms in a quite area, close to the town centre. Each room has a private entrance with two comfortable beds, full private bathrooms with 24 hour hot water, super cold air conditioning, towels. There is a very nice private patio with beautiful views. The rooms are very comfortable and clean. The hosts are Ignacio and Raiza. Raiza is a marvelous cook, her food is very delicious. She can provide you with breakfast, lunch, and dinner if you so desire. You have no need to organize and schedule tours prior to arriving in Vinales. Ignacio can help you make all arrangements once you arrive. He is very familiar with the tourist attractions and services in the area. Ideal for couples, or for families and friends.
"Highly recommend this casa. Great breakfasts and the lobster dinner is to die for. The hosts were very helpful and kind" Sheri , Boulder Colorado, USA</sleep>
* <sleep name="Villa El Rinconsito" alt="" address="Calle Séptima, No. 22" directions="" phone="+53 48 69 5478" url="http://villaelrinconsito.zxq.net" checkin="" checkout="" price="10-15 CUC" lat="" long="" email="[email protected]" fax="">The house is very nice and welcoming, with all amenities. It has 2 double and triple rooms, spacious, bright, good ventilation, air conditioning and private bathroom in each. The house has a large porch, lounge, kitchen, a terrace exquisitely decorated shack that serves delicious meals and a garage to park your car. Cuban friends are welcome and are offered all kinds of services for tourists forget everything and relax. Ideal for tourists looking for quiet and rest.</sleep>
* <sleep name="Casa Ernesto y Marlen" alt="" address="Calle Salvador Cisnero, No. 20" directions="" phone="+534 8 79 32 61" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">Wonderful hosts (best mojitos anywhere), great homecooking, and a convenient location a five minute walk from the town square and bus station. http://casa-ernesto-y-marlen.posterous.com/</sleep>
* <sleep name="Casa Grether Carlos" alt="" address="Calle Orlando Nodarse, No. 26" directions="" phone="+53 48 695460" url="http://casagrethercarlos.wordpress.com/" checkin="" checkout="" price="15/20 CUC" lat="22.611986 " long="-83.710697 " email="[email protected]" fax="">
It offers one comfortable and clean room with all modern facilities. The room is equipped with a air conditioner, private bathroom and private entrance. It’s possible have breakfast, dinner and salsa lesson with professional teacher.</sleep>
 
* <sleep name="Casa Miguelito y Pedro Miguel" alt="Casa Maria y Pedro" address="Calle Rafael Trejo, No. 11-A" directions="[email protected]" phone="+53-48-793329" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="20-25 CUC" lat="" long="" email="[email protected]" fax="">Very good rooms in a quite area, close to the town centre. Hosts are Maria and Pedro. The rooms are very comfortable and clean. Private bathrooms inside. Maria can cook delicious breakfast (~4CUC), lunch and dinner (~8-10CUC). Maria works for the Viñales national park, and Pedro works for Cubataxi - so they are well familiar with the tourist attractions and services around. Ideal for couples, or for couples + child. Pedro is also fluent in Russian.
"excellent, value for money accommodation. Good Food and wonderful hosts" Ntsoaki , South Afica</sleep>
It is possible to stay in a private house with his Cuban friend. The only requirement is that the Cuban passenger take your documentation to be recorded with his friend tourists.
'''Viazul''' [http://www.viazul.com/] runs daily buses to [[Havana]] and [[Pinar del Rio]] [[Trinidad]].
*'''Camiones''' Run from 8am to 5pm to [[Pinar del Rio]] for 2 pesos (nacionales!) from main plaza. Then catch share-taxi to [[Havana]] for 6CUC. If you're going onwards to destination on main Autopista, get the share taxi to drop you on the autopista outside Havana. You can easily hitch-hike (just hold out money) and avoid the rip-offs of Viazul and often the spoilt share-taxi drivers. '''Cayo Levisa''' The boat dock is about 1 hours drive away from Vinales, from there its a half hour boat ride to the island. The island features stunning white sand beaches and there are some watersports available. There does not appear to be any coral reefs close to the island, so snorkling is not recommended.
[[Pinar_del_Rio_%28province%29#Cayo Jutías|Cayo Jutías]] is the closest beach to Viñales, 60 km on mountain roads. There are two roads&#151;before you leave Viñales ask which road is better. In 2008 the road via Minas de Matahambre was good, and the road via the Baños de San Vicente was bad.
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