If Havana doesn’t offer the wide open streets, tropical vibe and vast country side that you so crave, Vinales might be the place for you. The 10 seconds after you get off the bus (the first 9 involve saying no to 4 of the same people selling you taxi’s & accomodation) make it clear that you are in a town like no other. Surrounded by deep valleys with slate on one side and limestone on the other. This means 50 metres from a pine forest (slate side) you get tropical palm trees (limestone side). This naturally means that some insects and birds have no need to traverse across to the other side of the valley. On one particular solo mountain there is a type of snail that exists in that sole 200m diameter and no where else one earth.
This information was of course passed to us by Pedro our UNESCO guide who showed us through the region on one of the walks that are on offer around the area. Horse tours are available too but as Pedro explained this tends to ruin the region as 100’s of horses are rode through mud paths.
Don’t panic about accomodation here either, almost all the houses (all beautiful) offers rooms for rent. We got ours for $8 CUC per person. The beach is an hour away but from all reports it’s a less busy version of Havana’s playa del mar (We haven’t been to either yet). The bus here is safe, crime seems non existent and if you don’t speak Spanish then good luck (you will get by, but as we have found you will also miss out on the extremely social side of this country).
If you love your wifi Vinales is the place for you. Almost every cafe offers it and unlike Havana one card works everywhere. Waiting for Cuba to make you fall in love is tiring business but Vinales takes the effort away. Enjoy the coffee, go on a hike, drink lots of cerveza and try to find somewhere to dance the night away (Harder to do than you think).
Honourable mention goes out to the mosquitos that don’t exist here. Some sand flies will make you itch but mosquito spray can stay on your travel bag for now.