The Mural de la Prehistoria is a 120 m high and 180 m width painting on one side of a mogote in the Dos Hermanas valley. The painting depicts the evolution from amonites to homo sapiens.
There is a small parking lot, opportunity to horsebackride, a restaurant and gift shop near the wall.
If you don't want to pay the entrance fee of 1 CUC per person, just stay on the road. You can see the painting from far away.
The road towards the painting is stunning. You will drive amidst tobacco fields, alongside towering mogotes and tiny farmsteads.
Visit a tobacco farm. They will tell you all about the process of making the best cigars in the world. They will show you the tobacco plants and take you to the shed where the tobacco leaves are being dried. You can observe how the leaves are put together and hung on sticks for drying. Of course, after the visit you can buy some local cigars.
For as far as I know tobacco farms can only be visited with a local, because there are no 'official' tours to these places. It is difficult to find it on your own, as there are no signs to these farms. Make inquiries at your casa particular or just ask some locals. We were invited by some hitchhikers that we took along.
About buying cigars at those farms: the cigars have a good quality and as long as you don't buy more than 23 cigars you can leave Cuba without having an official purchase receipt. If you carry more than 23 cigars you need to show the purchase receipt and official certificate. However, this is something the farms cannot provide.
The tour is not for free of course. We paid 2 CUC each.
Vinales is a lovely small town in the Vinales valley. It is characterised by one story wooden houses with porches. At the center is a pleasant square with a small, old church.
Vinales is a great base for your stay in Western Cuba. There are a lot of accomodations (casa particulares) and 3 hotels (Los Jazmines, La Ermita and Rancho San Vicente).
Pinar del Rio is the capital of the province with the same name. As it lies amidst tobacco fields it is the center of the cigar industry. It was one of the last major cities founded by the Spanish. I did not particularly like the city. Many of the colonial and neoclassical buildings were in a state of decay. Except for a quick walk around and maybe a visit to the cigar factory don't waste your time here.
Soroa lies half way between Havana and Pinar del Rio in western Cuba. Here you can hike to a waterfall and a mountain top mirador (lookout) with a wide view over the Sierra de Rosario.
The waterfall has a parking area (1 CUC) and restaurant. Entrance to the waterfall is 3 CUC, which includes a drink in the restaurant afterwards. The trail to the waterfall (salton) is only 250 m and very easy to walk. The path is concreted and winds up and down through the woods. The waterfall itself is not very spectacular, as there isn't much water during the dry season. The water falls down for about 10 meters into a small pool, which is used by the locals for swimming.
The trail to the mirador is about 4km. It took us 3 hours to go to the top and back the same trail.
There is also an orchid garden (orquideario) across the street of the parking area. It has the largest orchid collection in the world. Entrance is 1 CUC (+ 1CUC for photos + 5 CUC for video). We found this ridiculous so didn't go in.
This was a major highlight of today's long journey to Pinar del Rio and back to Havana. After initially stopping a few hours earlier to buy a dozen bananas for CUC$1.00, we all wanted to stop again for more fruit, and it did not dissapoint.
We had delicious pineapples, bananas, coconuts, manderins, etc, and the gentlemen at the stall even made a rum-punch inside a coconut fruit! So, if you see a road-side stall, stop and enjoy the many delights of Cuban's fruit (and if you're lucky, a bit of rum to go with it!). ;)
At the María La Gorda International Dive Center U´ll enjoy seabottoms full of marine species and coral reefs of breathtaking beauty. It is the ideal place to practice diving and ecotourism. It has some small cabins, where U can enjoy some commodities. It´s far from any town or shop so be sure to take everything you need with U. The place remains almost untouched by human hands so U´ll enjoy a truly civilization-free enviroment.
According to experts, the Viñales Valley is an exceptional scenery, in which its unique nature and the preservation of the environment blend with the agricultural work of men and women, especially in tobacco fields...And I agree with the expert opinion. It´s a wonderfull and peacifull place where U can see the local people working and living their daily lifes. I has an unique feature the "mogotes". Very old hills totally covered with vegetation, most of them endemic. Viñales Valley has numerous caverns, among which Cueva del Indio (crossed by the San Vicente River), Cueva de San Miguel and Cueva de Santo Tomás stand out, classified as on of the largest caverns in Latin America, with more than 45 kilometers of galleries. The Viñales Valley was declared World Heritage by the UNESCO.
The famous Vegas Robaina (82) shows his small tobacco plants which start to grow in this seedbeds, before they are set out.
He is the only cuban who has got his name on a cigarr brand and has made many promotion journeys to Europe. A friendly man with high dignity.
(Amendment 2004: He is now 85 and is still going strong, as reported in a Swedish paper this summer)
Painted on a rock face by Leovigildo Gonzalex from 1959 - 1962, it has to be seen to be belived. I didn't really want to go to this place, I thought it would have nothing to offer. I was stunned. The painting is enormous.
Covering work has just begun.
The plants will be covered with textile by the sides and above(with a 'textile roof') to protect them from insects, sun, hard winds and rain.
Cayo Levisa, , Cuba, Caribbean
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Business
Autopista Nacional Km 51, Pinar del Rio, , Cuba, Caribbean
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Business
Carretera a Puerto Esperanza Km 33, Vinales, Cuba, Caribbean
Good for: Solo