Rock climbing in Cuba is not really a sport that people talk about. There is a writer called Armando Menocal who wrote an interesting article in this months Cuba Absolutely magazine comparing the Viñales coast as a “little Yosemite”. Let’s not forget the Cuban Revolution was won with tenacious guerillas walking down a mountain… so the idea of trekking mountain tops is deep within the country’s psyche, whether its listed in the tourist books or not.
Enter the lush town called Viñales. To add a little background to this special city, Viñales is a small town located in the Pinar del Rio Province of Cuba. It’s raw. Has picturesque wooden homes. Colorful porches. It’s history dates back to being the original home of the Taíno population and runaway slaves before the Europeans settled into the area.
The land hosts Botanical Gardens (Casa de Caridad), the Museo Paleontológico, and a National Park (Valle de Viñales) with some caves (called Cueva del Indio, Cueva de José Miguel, Cueva de Santo Tomás). The caves were once refuges for the runaway slaves. Of course one of the caves now doubles as a nightclub — go figure!
Excerpt for the article written by Armando Menocal
In returning to Cuba to find my family roots, my guidebook described the western area of Cuba known as Viñales Valley as a ‘miniature Yosemite’. Since Yosemite Valley in California is so popular with international rock climbers, and a place where I had climbed for 25 years, I couldn’t resist a detour to one of the island’s most beautiful destinations.
Viñales is undoubtedly spectacular, but very different from Yosemite’s austere, deep canyons and 3,000 ft polished granite walls. In Viñales, I discovered 1,000 ft freestanding buttes— which the Cubans call “mogotes” covered by a tangle of palms, pines and vines. In those places where the underlying rock overhangs so much that the jungle growth cannot find a purchase, there are stupendous limestone caverns and vaults bulging with tufas and hung with stalactites? If these sculpted walls and ceilings could be climbed, it would be three-dimensional rock climbing—and a climber’s fantasy. — Armando
(Cafe located in downtown Viñales)
Due to its unique landscape, agriculture, architecture, crafts, and music, the Valley of Viñales is listed as a “World Heritage Site”… a title bestowed upon the valley in November of 1999 by UNESCO.
(Hotel in Viñales)
Place to stay:
There’s a few cool “casa particulares” (private home that operate as bed and breakfasts). There’s also 3 hotels: La Ermita, Los Jazmines, and Rancho Horizontes San Vicente. The campismo Dos Hermanas has 54 cabins, a swimming pool, and restaurant.
If you want to download the rest of the story to read the rockclimbing story, go to Cuba Absolutely and select this cover to download the entire issue.