Vinales was the climax of our trip, and we stayed there for 5 nights. The village is just a
couple of parallel streets, with simple houses. But the setting was stunning, with limestone outcrops
rising more or less vertically all around, to a height, I guess, of 300 to 500 metres. The tops
and much of the sides were thickly wooded. On the undulating valley floor were farms with mixed
produce, but predominantly tobaco.
Farming near Vinales
There was lots of bird life, much in bright colours, including
woodpeckers with red coxcombs. Overhead, magnificent vultures soared, waiting for our demise! We
spent 2 days cycling in the valley and foothills, stopping to do the tourist trip through an indian
cave with boat trip on its subterranean river. We took a guided walk around the nearest mogate, and
the guide pointed out the birdlife we'd otherwise missed, and took us to a small tobaco farm where
we were presented with freshly-rolled cigars. Late each afternoon we repaired to a hotel on the
hillside overlooking the village, swam in its pool and sipped beers while taking in the whole
valley as a vista.
Tobacco drying shed
Swimming pool at Vinales
And one day we had a "day off", when we left our bikes in the casa and took an
excursion bus to Cayo Levisa on the North coast. A short boat trip brought us to a pristine white
coral beach. The pristineness was the result of hurrican Katrina sweeping away most of the hotel,
leaving only a bar/restaurant slightly inland from the beach. The snorkelling over the reef, around
500m off the beach, was great, with 100s of different multicoloured fishes.