Fincas of Viñales, Cuba

Nikonia: The sun was lazy, but the heat wasted no time to arrive. If we were going to survive our Vinales adventure we needed more fuel and quick. I can’t survive the day without my pot of morning coffee. Luckily there was a farm one hill over from the Los Aquaticos summit and our guide invited us to meet the owners.

Blue house on top of Los Aquaticos, Vinales, Cuba
Coffee farm on top of Los Aquaticos, Vinales, Cuba

Nikonia: Uncle Nick was feeling shy so I did all the talking while he sneaked away for a siesta in the camera bag. I especially liked meeting this bossy mama hen, leading her flock in circles. It was hard to catch them in focus it made me wonder if they had some Cuban coffee in their diet.

Chickens at Cuban farm
Bossy mama hen at Cuban farm

Nikonia: Another friend at Finca Cubano was this adorable piglet with a healthy appetite. As soon as the owners of the house greeted us this little gordito began demanding his breakfast.

Friendly pig at Cuban farm
Friendly pig at Cuban farm

Nikonia: Piglet got his meal and we got a cup of authentic Cuban coffee. Just one sip of this black magic potion wired me for the upcoming 15 kilometers of walking. Perhaps the best thing about this welcome drink is knowing it was produced on-site from start (in the surrounding fields) to finish (being dried and ground around the corner).

Legendary Cuban coffee
Legendary Cuban coffee.

Nikonia: It doesn’t take much to get in rhythm with the Vinales rural lifestyle. Uncle Nick and I nearly surrendered to the allure of spending the whole day in these rocking chairs…

Life from a rocking chair, Vinales, Cuba
Life from a rocking chair, Vinales, Cuba

Nikonia: …with this view!

View from Vinales porch
View from Vinales porch

Uncle Nick: I’m glad we didn’t stay in those chairs because there was so much more to find on the unmapped farm roads. Some people say that the journey is more important than the destination, and I couldn’t agree more when it comes to hiking Vinales.

Hike through Vinales, Cuba
Hike through Vinales, Cuba

Nikonia: Yeah, the walk wasn’t easy with the sun was beating down on us, but I’m glad I “earned” my Vinales experience. You can get a bird’s view of the valley from a plane, you can see a tourist’s view from a horse, but you only get guajiro’s view by walking…

Guajiro portrait, Cuba
Guajiro portrait, Cuba

Nikonia: …And get to look rural Cuba straight in the eye

Cow in Vinales, Cuba
Cow in Vinales, Cuba

Uncle Nick: Yeah, I doubt that horse riders experience the thrill of traversing muddy rivers.

Treacherous road to La Cueva de Palmarito
Treacherous road to La Cueva de Palmarito

Uncle Nick: But in our excitement to swim in a natural pool within Palmarito Cave we forgot to pack proper headlamps, forcing us to follow the light and hope for the best. 

La Cueva de Palmarito
La Cueva de Palmarito

Uncle Nick: For better or worse, I wasn’t able to capture an image of the elusive natural pool inside La Cueva del Palmarito. I guess what happens in Palmarito stays in Palmarito, but here is a shot of the mysterious entrance to the cave. 

La Cueva de Palmarito
La Cueva de Palmarito

Nikonia: After the cave, I was happy to be outside in the sun again. Don’t get me wrong, I can make friends with bats if I have to, but horses are much more photogenic.

Vinales valley, Cuba
Vinales valley, Cuba

Nikonia: Of course no hike in Vinales is complete without a trip to tobacco farm. And by farm I mean a barn with chickens running around and little to no no equipment. It doesn’t get anymore organic than that!

Fincas of Vinales, Cuba
Fincas of Vinales, Cuba

Nikonia: And our afternoon cigars were as fresh as the morning coffee, wrapping up the day nicely.

Cuban cigar prepared at tobacco farm
Cuban cigar prepared at tobacco farm

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