It was the longest and the hardest to arrange drive during our vacations in Cuba: 416 km from Cienfuegos to Viñales. Normally it would take us 15-30 minutes to find a taxi, but that time it was very hard to get one. No one on the streets of Cienfuegos was willing to take us that far. Only with the help of our casa owner could we find a driver who finally agreed to take us to Viñales. For a much higher price than we expected, but at that point we did not care anymore =) It took us 8 long hours in an old car to get to Viñales, but we made it!
The next day after the breakfast at our casa we went to the main street to find us a tour guide for the tobacco plantations. We went to the official tourist office and arranged us a guide there. We could have taken someone from the street for a lower price probably, but we liked how we were welcomed at the tourist office and decided to go with the official guide even if it was not cheap. We paid 16 CUC per person for a group of 4. It was a 3 hour walking tour and it was absolutely worth it!
The first part with the tobacco plantation was not that interesting to me. There were many other tourists from different other groups, we were told about the history of the plantations, were shown how the cigars we made and could even try one. I don´t smoke and I did not want to try anything. All in one the experience at the tobacco farm was an average tourist attraction and I did not find it particularly exciting.
What I really loved was our long walk afterwards around the valley of Viñales. Beautiful nature around, no other tourists close to us and very entertaining stories from our guide. We asked a lot of questions and had a really nice conversation with him. Our guide was an English teacher at school in his “normal” day job and his English was very good! Everyone of us loved the tour!
We were brought to a tower in the middle of the valley where we could enjoy a panoramic view and share some delicious cocktails.
The views were stunning!
It was such a divine experience to walk into the sunset around this beautiful peaceful nature completely immersed into the rural life.
On the next day we decided to go to the beach Cayo Jutías. It is only 54 km away from Viñales, why not to escape and enjoy some beach time… Oh well! DO NOT DO IT! It was very hard to find a taxi with an affordable price to go there. Either the drivers were not willing to go at all or they were asking for a very high price. We should have listened to the ones, who were not willing to do it. But after a lot of conversations with taxi drivers we finally found one for 70 CUC for the car. It was a very strange guy, and it looked shady from the very beginning, but we decided to go anyway. The guy in the end turned out to be fine, it is just that he most certainly was driving us illegally on a rental car that he somehow managed to get for a day. He even suggested that we drive ourselves (I think he was afraid to be seen in the car with us as a driver), but we obviously refused to sit at the wheel.
The problem was the rough road. It was horrible. The worst road I saw in Cuba and in years! The 54 kms were a total nightmare, I thought I would vomit in the car with every bump we had. When we arrived to the beach I had such a horrible headache that I could not even swim. I was just lying on the beach for several hours horrified that we would need to repeat that road back again. No one of us could enjoy the beach time and we regretted having done this trip. Maybe in a different car or with a different driver the ride could have been better, but I would still not recommend visiting Cayo Jutías from Viñales. Yes, the beach was very beautiful but after the painful journey I was not able to enjoy it at all.
Our two days in Viñales came to an end – it was definitely worth the visit! Gorgeous landscapes and tranquil rural atmosphere – exactly what we needed before heading to the chaotic and loud Havana as our last stop in the Cuban adventure 😉