Countries: America


Vinales Valley

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Cuba
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Vinales Valley (Valle de Vinales)
This valley nestled among the mountains of Pinar del Rio (Cuba’s westernmost province) has the requisite prehistoric look. The unique landscape is characterized by huge rock formations, known locally as Los Mogotes Carsticos (Karstic Hummocks), caprices of nature formed millions of years ago in Jurassic period and now seemingly suspended in time.

This fantastic setting of lush green ferns and palms (part of Vinales Valley’s 10500 acres of natural forests) is complemented by crystalline springs, meadows, fruit trees and plants of Vueltabajo, the cradle of the world’s best tobacco. Monumento Nacional (National Monument), the area’s principal population center, was founded in 1879 and owed its commercial success to the coastal trade that passed through Puerto Esperanza, San Cayetano’s old shipping zone.

Whether dispersed among the valley’s depths or forming sierras, the Mogotes are an astonishing site, resembling enormous elephants sleeping alongside the tobacco plantations and Bohios, the rustic dwelling of the campesinos. Their morphology is a result of the erosion caused by time and by water, which has penetrated many Mogotes, forming caverns with subterranean rivers, such as Indio cave, Grand Caverns of Santo Tomas and Majagua-Canteras system: the purity and curative properties of these subterranean water can be enjoyed by the public at the Valle de San Vicente’s hot springs.

Common flora is the indigenous Palmita de la Sierra and the slender plants that have had to adapt to the rocky, hostile Mogote environment.

Palma Corcho” (cork palm), a botanical rarity exclusive to this zone, deserves special mention: It is species estimated to be more than 250 million year old and is still growing, a veritable living fossil.

This region offers opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, nature walks, spelunking and photography.

The Mural of Prehistory however, is a must; executed on the flank of a Mogote, it is a colossal work that depicts the entire evolution of the Valle de Vinales, from prehistoric cephalopods to the appearance of man. The colorful mural measures 384 ft length and is 576ft high; its author, the Cuban painter, Leovigildo Gonzales, was a disciple of the Mexican master Diego Rivera, whose influence is readily apparent.
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Cuba

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