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Viñales: A Unique Place in Western Cuba

The Viñales Valley, included in UNESCO`s World Heritage list, presents a unique attractiveness for nature tourism, a modality which is steadily increasing in the Cuban tourist industry.

With an extension of 132 square kilometers, it is also the most outstanding examples of karst valleys in Cuba, surrounded by particular hills of rounded tops and atypical forms called "mogotes" (round-top hills).

Precisely, on one of these peculiar formations which surround Viñales Valley, called “Dos Hermanas” (Two Sisters), visitors can enjoy one of the largest open prehistoric murals in the world.

At a height of 120 meters and a width of 180 meters on the hillside of the abovementioned hill, the “Mural de la Prehistoria” (The Mural of Prehistory) exhibits a special representation of the biological evolution of the Los Organos mountain range in the western province of Pinar del Río.

According to specialists, the flora of the area is very much related with its antiquity, since there are 17 endemic varieties which are impossible to find anywhere else in the world, including among them the cork palm (Microcycas calocoma), regarded as a fossil vegetable dating back to the Jurassic age.

Likewise, the valley also has an interesting cavern system with several caves such as the Indio cave –through which the San Vicente River flows-, the José Miguel cave and the Santo Tomás system, the latter regarded as one of the largest systems in Latin America, with more than 45 kilometers of galleries.

Viñales Valley. Mogote

Viñales town, located in the valley´s heart, represents a traditional settling site for farmers, with the main road lined with column galleries and red-tiled-roof houses.

Those vacationers who choose to enjoy the additional attraction of staying in town may find interesting lodging options in private houses.

According to estimates from specialized sources, nearly 80 percent of the houses have a lodging offer for visitors, an alternative which is widely accepted.

Apart from being more economical, tourists have the added opportunity of knowing the people and enjoying a diversity of food options of the domestic gastronomy.

The lodging options are complemented by excursion programs with private guides to visit places of natural attraction, tobacco plantations and beaches; even with transportation in classic cars.

The socio-historic development of the region has elements and sites which are particular to the culture of the Cuban people –with a history made by indigenous populations, slaves and farmers-, all combined and shaped into the unique natural characteristics of the landscape.

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