There are many ways to get from havana to Vinales. If you haven’t tried Taxi collectivo yet – this might be an interesting option. You’ll drive in a shiny vintage car, which is very cool experience.
TAXI collectivo – alaways arrange in advance. Ask for a driver phone number. He’ll pick you up from your address and it shouldn’t cost you more than 20$/per person (20 CUC).
VIAZUL – the most popular buses in Cuba. Quite cheap and comfortable. Ticket will cost you around 15$. Havana Viazul bus terminal is Terminal de Omnibus.
I took taxi collectivo, it my first time and it was fun, although after 2-3 hours I was a bit uncomfortable. The driver collected 4 other people after picking me up and of course he wasn’t the same person I arranged this ride a day before. The whole trip took us 3.5h and at the end he asked us if we wanted to visit a organic tabacco farm. As you know this is one of tha main reasons you go to Vinales! We all agreed to the idea and shortly after landed in a nice farm with a local guide, who obviously was a very good friend of the driver. We all knew it was arranged but as far as it was nice and pleasant we didn’t mind. They showed us how tabacco leaves grow from little plants and explained the drying process. Can you imagine every farm has to give to the government 90% of all the leaves. Only government is entitled to put a label on the cigars, the rest 10% can be sold without a label, although it is exactly the same quality.
Pablo del Rio is the most famous region in Cuba for cigars. Best tabacco leaves in the world come exactly from this region. Most of the cigars that are sold from locar farms (without a label) are natural/organic without any kind of chemicals. That’s why they can only last 3-4 years if stored in a dry place. Package of 10 cigars cost 40 CUC but package of 30 cigars was 90 CUC, so we all shared it. You can of course taste the cigars in the farm and they are very nice I must say. You can inhale the smoke like smoking a cigarette. It’s mild and pleasant. You can turn up it’s flovour by dumping the mouthpiece side in honey (or rum if somebody drinks).
Cocoloco – is a very popular drink in Cuba. It’s a coconut with honey and/or without rum.
Vinales – cosy town in western part of Cuba. You will find lots of small restaurants on the main street which are actually very nice to spend time in. Most of them offer free wifi, which is unusuall for the country. Fruit shakes, nice cuisine and a free drink /mohito or similar/ can be reached just for 6-8 CUC. Moros y Cristianos is a very popular Cuban dish, it is the Cuban version of rice and beans, a dish found throughout the Caribbean. Very tasty for vegetarians like me.
Tourist information – is located on the main street. You’ll be able to get maps, book tickets to other cities (do it in advance) and also get tickets for local bus (GREEN) which does a big loop for only 5 CUC through most famous spots in the area. In each place the bus takes 5 minutes photo brakes. Apart from what internet says I wouldn’t expect too much from Viniales, it’s a nice, quiet town with very few attractions. And this is what you can see there:
- The famous Mural – a painted rock. I left the bus to track back as it’s only 5 km to Viniales town. On the way back few man tried to offer me trekking across surrounding mountains, saying I wouldn’t be able to go alone – which is not true!! You will hear this in all Cuba that you are not allowed to hike alone. This is NOT true, there are no restrictions against travelling alone.
- Valle de Silencio – easy accesible from the town. Find the only petrol station and ask for Valle de Silencio, everyone will show you the way. Road leading to the valley is very simle and straight. There are plenty of farmers who you can ask for directions. No chance to get lost. Horse riding is very popular in the valley. I didn;t try as I’m not convinced how the horses are treated. It was a very hot day and I could see nobody taking care of the horses. It wasn;t a high season and I really don’t want to know how hard they are treated when it’s busy. Just remember that these animals work after tourist hours too, being used for food an other excursions to serve the family.
- Indian Cave – popular tourist atraction located 5 km north of Viniales.
How to get out of Viniales? Well, unfortunately you need to go back same road you came to Viniales. Bus tickets are easily accessible but rememeber to buy in advance.
Viniales – Havana 15 CUC
Viniales – Confuegos 25 CUC
Viniales – Trinidad 30 CUC, big comfortable bus 36 CUC (highly reccommended! – it’s a 7.30h drive).