The Viñales Valley, National Monument since 1979, was the first cultural landscape recognized by UNESCO throughout the Americas, declared a World Heritage Site in 1999 and National Park in 2001.
“Timeworn but magnificent, dilapidated but dignified, fun yet maddeningly frustrating – Cuba is a country of indefinable magic.” Lonely Planet Travel Guide.
Charlie and I took a 3 and a half hour horse ride through Viñales National Park for a fee of 25 CUC ($25) each which included being picked up at our casa particulare in a horse-drawn taxi. The tour was arranged by our hostess the day we arrived in Viñales.
Our tour started at William’s stables. He assigned a horse to each of us — we were 4 plus William who was our guide and wrangler.
Our first stop was a tobacco plantation where we saw men cutting the plant in preparation for drying. It was explained to us how the tobacco grows and is readied to become the famed Cuban cigars — Cohibas, Monte Cristos, or Romeo y Juliets.
It is dried in barns then rehydrated in an herbal bath to make it pliable enough to roll.
Each of us was given the opportunity to smoke.