The Viñales Valley
One of Cuba’s greatest natural attractions, was declared a National Natural Monument for its remarkable landscapes. The valley has a surface area of 132 km2 and is a part of Sierra de los Organos, in Pinar del Río province. It is the finest example of a karst valley in Cuba, where mogotes, knolls with rounded tops and steep slopes, contrast harmoniously with the flat surface of the valley where they stand.
Deep in the valley bottom you find cultivated lands-mainly tobacco, taro and bananas-and scattered peasant houses, all forming a rural landscape of great beauty.
The surrounding sierras abound in caves, making it an area of speleological interest. Outstanding among them are Cueva del Indio, a cave which San Vicente River runs through, and Cueva de José Miguel. Further west, the Santo Tomás cave system, criss-crossed by 45 km of galleries, is one of the largest in Hispanic America.
The flora is an important element in Viñales. Cuban endemic plants found there include: the ceibón tree (Bombax emarginatum), palmita de sierra (Thrinax microcarpa), cayman oak (Ekmanianthes actinophylla) and a kind of palm tree (Mycrocycas calocoma)-a living Jurassic fossil that can only be found in a small area of Pinar del Río.
There are also many endemic animal species, especially birds like hummingbirds, the Cuban trogon (Priotelus temnurus), tody (Todus multicolor), mockingbird (Cuban solitaire) and a small paserine bird that inhabits pinewoods.
To do in Vinales | Vinales excursions and tours
The Viñales Valley has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since November 1999 as a cultural landscape enriched by traditional farm and village architecture. Old-fashioned farming methods are still used in Viñales, notably to grow tobacco. The local population is an ethnic mix that illustrates the cultural development of the Caribbean and Cuba in particular.
Source: Report of the 23rd session of the World Heritage Committee, in Marrakesh, Morocco, 4 December 1999.
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