Cigars & Birdwatching in Vinales

Vinales –

This post is part of the summary-article 2-Week Itinerary Cuba on a Budget . You can either use the links in the summary to get detailed information about each place in the itinerary, or the floating bar at the botton of the page to navigate through each day.

cuba vinales sunrise mirador backpacker backpacking travelThe day starts pretty early for me: At 05:15, I get ready to watch the sunrise at the Mirador. I cannot bring Frank to tag along . I have to do a few detours to the hill though – there are way too many (loud) stray dogs on the streets, which seem to defend their territory. About half an hour later, however, I reach the top. I can not observe a clear sunrise, yet watching the colorful cloud formations was worth getting up this early. Taking a reality-like photo of this doesnt seem possible with my tiny compact-cam though – perhaps I should look for a new camera after this trip – no DSLR though… way too big. Maybe a DSLM? At any rate something with a larger sensor. Back in the Casa we have breakfast before we go to Cueva del Indio. We have still enough time before we have to return the scooter.

Cueva del Indio –

cuba vinales cuban trogon national bird backpacker backpacking travelMarco, our guide for the birdwatching tour we booked yesterday, is already waiting for us. We start immediately following a path through tobacco fields and some groves. We take occasional breaks during our two hour hike to get told about about the plants and animals we encounter. It is quite a good time to see many birds this early in the morning: We get to see some woodpeckers, cuban trogons (Cubas national bird), cuban todies, a vulture and even a very rare cuban solitaire (cuban nightingale). Time is passing by quickly.

We do not have much time after the tour – we get on the scooter and have a brief stop at a gas station before returning it at the Tourist Information. We also buy the bus tickets for tomorrow’s journey to Cienfuegos (32 CUC (32.00 USD)) here.

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Vinales –

cuba vinales oldtimer backpacker backpacking travelAs it is just midday, we decide to stroll a little further through the village and to visit one of the tobacco huts to get some cigars in the evening. But before that: A pit stop at the restaurant “Los Amigos”. Our stomaches are growling. In the meantime, we have also found out that you can also buy water bottles to the usual supermarket prices in restaurants – we almost had the impression you could get your hands easier on beer than on water in kiosks (if you find any at all).

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cuba vinales che guevara backpacker backpacking travelStuffed and satisfied we slowly head towards the Mirador. Just right after the village limit there is a tobacco hut… with a huge amount of tourists who have just left a bus. Hmm. All right. Seems we’re in luck, since we can watch a demonstration of a cigar being done in the drying hut. We also get lots of information about how to check the quality of cigars. Not bad. I wonder if we had gotten this presentation if we had shown up just by ourselves… Though, as fast as the group arrived, it quickly disappears again – just a few actually buy cigars from a young girl packageing the cigars very conscientiously.

We get also outside, next to the hut are some larger cabins with a bar inside. “Oh, you did not arrive with the bus?” – We sit down at the bar and the girl and the man doing the presentation join us shortly after. We have a cold (of course alcoholic) drink while we get a more detailed introduction to the world of the cigars, and decide afterwards to buy some sealed packages and a few single cigars – we have to unfortunately think of the German customs regulations… But before we get going, we smoke our first cigars of this this here . And yes, the taste definitely different than the Independence-cigar you can get at a gas station – no, you cannot compare those at all ! Maybe this is the first time I actually enjoyed a cigar. By the way: The tobacco which is produced here, is mainly used by the company Cohiba for its cigar, therefore also the most offered cigars are of this brand.

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cuba vinales sunset backpacker backpacking travelTime is passing very quickly when in the pleasant shade having a conversation with a cigar – it’s late afternoon already. Time that we get going. We decide to follow the “picturesque route” instead of the paved road and walk along the dirt road to the village to the Casa where there will be dinner soon .

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Cigars & Birdwatching in Vinales

by Mario time to read: 3 min