With the Viazul bus (12 CUC from Havana) I arrived in Vinales around 12.30 PM. Getting out of the bus I was surrounded by loads of Cuban women who try to rent out a room at their casa. I already arranged my stay at Villa Los Reyes who is a top pick in the Lonely Planet.
Villa Los Reyes
After 10 minutes walking I arrived at Casa Los Reyes which is situated just outside the center of town, but with a beautiful garden, clean fresh rooms and even their own wifi hotspot. At this casa particulares I booked several tours and a taxi collectivo.
On the first full day I booked a horse riding tour in the morning (duration 5 hours, price 25 CUC) and a sunset hike in the afternoon (duration 3 hours, price 15 CUC). I have never ridden a horse before but that was absolutely no problem; “Semi-automatic” the cowboy said. Just the two of us rode our horses through the Palmarito valley with truly breathtaking views. We stopped at a tobacco farm where they explained the process of cigar making. The farmers have to give 90% of their crops to the government and keep 20% (playing with the numbers they say) to sell themselves. The cigars from the farm are 100% organic; no pesticides, no chemicals, no machines and handmade. I bought a pack of ten cigars for 40 CUC.
At 3 PM I got picked up for the sunset tour. My personal guide and I now walked through the valley of silence. More beautiful landscapes and a stop at a coffee plantation, here the government ‘only’ takes 25%. We walked to a lake and watched the sun come down in the valley.
My original plan was to rent a motorbike at Casa Don Tomas (25 CUC a day) and explore the surroundings. The only place in Vinales that rents motorbikes only has four and they were all rented out. So I took a taxi collectivo (20 CUC) to Cayo Jutias. Instead of driving myself I had to enjoy the view from the car. After almost two hours we arrived at Cayo Jutias. This beach has a small strip of only sand, but definitely has that tropical look and feel. I walked along the beach through the vegetation and encountered shells, crabs and even a hermets nest. Had lunch at the only restaurant, luckily besides the only-fish menu, they also had one option of chicken. The taxi gave us 5 hours to spend at Cayo Jutias. Plenty of time to walk, lunch and relax a little before going back to Vinales.
Where I stayed
Villa los Reyes, Salvador Cisnero 206C, www.villalosreyes.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 48-79-33-17. Price: 30 CUC (single), 40 CUC (double) including breakfast.