Step back from the 21st century into the unspoiled natural beauty, rich soil and fresh air that abound in the Valle Vinales. You won’t be alone! The Valle de Vinales is a naturalist’s paradise. What Cuba lacks in great beasts, is more than compensated by the 350 species of birds, most of which take up residence in the Valle de Vinales.
Rich in fauna and flora, the Valle de Vinales has evolved into one of Cuba’s most interesting tour destinations. From the colonial beauty of Pinar del Rio to the beautiful outdoors, there is something for everyone in the Valle de Vinales.
As new hiking trails have opened, tourists cannot get enough of the natural habitat and spectacular, unspoiled landscape. Hiking, bird watching, rock climbing, exploring and sightseeing make Valle de Vinales one of the Caribbean’s most intriguing trips. Bring your walking shoes, a ready camera and plenty of water!
The natural magnificence of Valle de Vinales sets the traveler in numerous unforgettable picture book settings. The 51 square mile valley is the perfect depression in the Sierra de los Organos mountains, part of the Guaniguanico range in Cuba’s northern province of Pinar del Rio.
The environment benefits from the country’s light manufacturing base and nature comes out the winner. With clean air, foliage thriving in rich soil and amazing wildlife of the valley, the traveler will envision what life was like when land and nature ruled. All these elements and many more come together in the magic that is Valle de Vinales, where the eager tourist can see, hear and feel the effects of a country and environment that is relatively unspoiled by air pollution and contamination. With so little pollution, Cuba remains one of the cleanest destinations in the Caribbean with noticeably elevated air quality.
Throughout the valley, cliffs or “mogotes,” majestically “rise like islands” to the clouds. Hikers and climbers love this region. With little road traffic, open roads and paths, biking in the Valle Vinales offers a truly bucolic experience. The richness of the tobacco fields, the colorful foliage, the sounds of the plentiful bird population and the rustic huts with thatched roofs set in the backdrop of the mountains make for a mesmerizing journey.
The mountains are dotted with hundreds of inviting caves that explorers find irresistible. Cuevo del Indio and Cueva de Jose Miguel are two of many popular dramatic caves lining the valley’s hillside. Valle de Vinales is truly an adventurous explorer’s dream come true.
The universal appeal of Valle Vinales, where more trails seem to open every year, is unescapable. The valley is rich in tobacco fields and other crops vital to the economy and local community. Nature lovers may never want to leave this destination that features endemic plants and animals specific to the Valle Vinales. Some of the impressive flora includes the Bombax emarginatum, the Mountain Palm, the Ekmanianthe actihnophillia and the Microcycas calocomo, which are plentiful in the valley. Keep your camera handy during your time in the valley.
As stunning as the horticulture in the valley is, wait until you see and hear the rich bird population! The world’s smallest bird, the Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae zunzum), is indigenous to Cuba. This hard worker thrives in the dense forests and woodland edges of Cuba’s main island and on the Isla de la Juventud. The female of the species is green while the male features a fiery red throat. The Bee Hummingbird is about 2.0 -2.25 inches long and weighs about one half ounce. These miraculous birds add new meaning to “busy as a bee.” The bird’s distinctive bill encourages probing of the abundant flower supply in the valley.
Other dazzling birds in the Valle Vinales include the Cuban Trogon, the Cuban Solitaire, the Cuban Grassquit and the fascinating multi-colored Cuban Tody. The Cuban Tody resides in Cuba year round and also frequents the islands surrounding the main island. The Cuban Tody is distinctive for its coloration and red highlights. You will have to look to see this bird because they thrive in heavy underbrush. The Cuban Tody is noted for its captivating song and the chances are good bird lovers will hear the tody before they see it.
Much like Cuba itself, Valle Vinales is rich in history, culture and potential that can sometimes be blurred by the country’s economic hardships. Economic challenges are lost in the valley that will provide lasting memories created by the rich surroundings in Valle Vinales, Cuba.