On our third day I had scheduled a day tour to the Vinales area to visit a tobacco farm and to see the area called Vinales, which I heard and read should be something one needs to see when in Cuba. This tour was again hosted by Cubaoutings Tour Company.
The tour guide picked us up at 8:00 AM and started the over 2 hour long drive to Vinales. Those old American cars look picturesque to go around in, but they are indeed less comfortable on longer journeys. All along the road people where trying to hitchhike, which we learned was a common way to get from one city to another since the commute traffic is non-existing in Cuba.
Our first stop was at a orchid farm, which had some spectacular flowers, but I was not really interested in seeing flowers. I wished we could have skipped this stop. One of the main issues was that they had no guides that spoke english very well for the tour through the park, so we got a sweet old lady who went around and told the names of all the plants. When leaving we were kind of forced to pay her tip, which we really didn’t feel like, but we did it any way since our guide told us to. It felt a little like getting scammed.
The next stop was a view point looking over the valley of Vinales. They views where truly stunning. After that we were supposed to go to a cave, but due to heavy rain the night before the road was flooded and there was no way to get to the cave. They tried to find another cave to show us but we ended up having our lunch early in the little town in Vinales. We had their signature chicken dish and it was actually pretty decent.
After lunch we headed off to the Tobacco farm. This was one thing I was really excited about since they also offered a horseback riding tour through the tobacco fields. I even convinced Jäger to go on it with me. However, we quickly changed our minds when we got there. The farm was very worn down and felt kind of off. The horses did not look to healthy. We started the tour in the barn where the dry the tobacco leaves and a guy showed us how they dried them and how the seeds looks, while talking about how good cigars are for your sex-life, somewhat unsettling.
When walking from the barn to the next stop at the farm our tour guide showed us that the farm housed roosters for fighting, which made me even less happy about supporting this farm by buying a tour to it. The tour guide explained that all farms was hosting rooster fighting, but I still didn’t like that they took us to such a farm. They also had an alligator in a small pond and by this time I was ready to leave.
After that we were showed how they rolled cigars and Jäger got to try one, and afterwards they also tried to sell us some (farms get to keep 10% of their harvest to sell to tourist, the rest is sold by the government). We did not buy anything mainly because of the farm and the people which was nothing we wanted to support.
After the farm we felt ready to head back, even though the tour guide ask is we wanted to see something else since the tour was cut much shorter than planned due to missing the cave.
In the evening we wanted to try the best restaurant Cuba had to offer since we love fine dining and it was our last night. The hotel recommended a restaurant called Ivan Chef Justo (click on link to read review).
Summary of the day:
Start time. 8:00 AM at the hotel
Price for the whole day: 350 CUC for two persons (not including drinks / lunch / tips)
Duration: About 8 hours in total (including sitting down for lunch and shorter due to flooding).
The best thing with the tour: The sights over the Vinales Valley
Negatives: The tobacco farm was a let down and also that it was cut short, I think they should have offered us a discount since we didn’t get to do all the things included.
Tips: The tour was OK, but far too expensive for what you get. Vinales is beautiful. However, group tours are way cheaper and proabably just as good.