Backpacking through Cuba. Day 16 and 17: Viñales

Day 15 and 16. From Trinidad to Viñales, then back to Havana.

Yes, from Trinidad to Viñales. Long trip, yes. About 600km and we did it in one (!) stressy day. Why? Well, as far as I’ve been told there is little to see between Havanna and Cienfuegos. Well, there is but it’s nothing incomparable like the things we’ve seen so fat. And one thing both of us, Maricel and me, wanted to do possibly is Viñales, laying exactly on the other side of the island (far west).

We took off around midday from Trinidad, after having given the charming but terribly touristy city another try. Try to walk offside the big streets and you can get some fair deals with the locals. On the big roads you just have to jump from one tourist trap to the other, while being heavily annoyed by people selling you every kind of shit. Note: We travelled there during the off-season, I don’t want to imagine Trinidad during the tourist season!

Around midday we went to the Busstation to confirm our waiting list places (28 y 29) and were lucky enough to get seats in the bus of our choice. Don’t remember how much we paid to get to La Habana but it should have been around 3-4 Euros. And a hard push that me and a couple of other copañeros had to give to the bus, in order to start the motor.

When we arrived in La Haban it was already dark. Witch 15 days of heavy backpacking and sleeping in a tent, many hours in a freezing bus and now the possibility to just fetch a taxi to go home the temptation was just too big. We stood for about an hour at the bus station and couldn’t decide what to do. I believe from the bottom of our heart both of us just wanted to stay home and lay in bed and shower but none wanted to admit it. In the end I decided to flip a coin and the result was head – continue to Viñales!

Luckily, what was awaiting us would become to be a great end to an even greater trip! So, from Havanna to Viñales we had to pass through Pinar del Rio, the province’s capital. We went there by Taxi (quite cheap considering the 3 hour ride) and in Viñales another taxi to go to Viñales. Latter one unfortunately resulted seriously expensive but as I said before: Travel by day and safe money, travel by night and you’ll have to bleeeed. But it’s convenient. After another 1,5 hours in an old chevrolet (’62) and we had arrived. We had ourselves dropped off at a panoramic point from where you can oversee the entire valley and put up our tent right there. That should be a great view to wake up to tomorrow.

And yes, it was. Check out the pictures! After coffee at the restaurant in the garden of which we woke up (turns out it was a private site) we good a tourist bus for a ride around the valley in order to decide whether we should stay in the camping site next to the prehistoric wall paintings in one of the valleys or in town. And where to rent bikes. And if we can rent horses there for a tour. In the end we decided to search proximity of nature, rather then stinking soviet trucks and horse carts and moved to the beautiful but relatively expensive Campismo where we rented 2 bikes for the afternoon and a Bungalow for one night. Note: Cubans pay around 17 Cuban Pesos for accommodation – foreigners 13 CUC!

Our short (3hr) bike trip around the valley was incredible, completely worth the effort! Pure Nature, beautiful hills, tobacco and bean fields everywhere. Also it was a nice way to get a feeling of the vibe and nature surrounding you. I will let the pictures speak for themselves as words can hardly explain such beauty. Also, people are just great, as in all the rural sites of Cuba. At sunset we rode our bikes back home and I did an unvoluntary front flip with my bike. The front braking disk had loosened and the brake shoe got into my crossing, Off I went. Luckily nothing happened, the camera still was alive. I got a little upset when I saw that the breaking disk had just been fixed with 2 out of 6 possible screws, though 🙂

Day 16, our last day had been reserved to do something I had never done in my life. Around 10 in the morning we went to see our guide at the reception and took off to see the valley on horseback. Something I had NEVER done in my life so far and it was great, much better even then I expected it to be! We took a guided tour through the valley, passing through tobacco fields and for coconut and orange juice cocktails with hand rolled cigars at a tobacco farm. altogether our tour took us around 4 hours and i wouldn’t have been able to do it a minute longer. When we came back to our camping my butt was so sore that I had trouble sitting the rest of the day and the day after.

When we returned home we quickly packed our backpacks to finally take off, direction home. A long journey was awaiting us, to get from our camping we would have to take a horse cart to Viñales, from where where we would then have to take a bus to Pinar del Rio from where we would have to take another bus yet, direction La Habana. But – as usual we were lucky and our horse cart driver pointed us to a bus which returned to La Habana directly. One hand washed to other, we saved ourselves 3 connection trips and the bus driver could return home with a couple of CUCs in his pocket.

We arrived at La Habana around 21.00, the bus let us out just around our street corners. We sat down at a street corner, had a final beer and then took off to our homes, Over 2500km, 16 days, you can imagine how tired we were. Tired but incredibly happy.

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