| 6 min read
For the first time since Baracoa, we ventured out on another bike trip. Somehow, cycling in Cuba always ended up being a painful experience for us. This time, we got decent mountain bikes with working brakes, but after the horseback riding the day before, sitting on a saddle had become unbearingly uncomfortable. Nevertheless, we grit our teeth and set out to explore the various caves east of Viñales.
Cueva San Miguel
The first cave we encountered upon leaving Viñales was Cueva San Miguel, often referred to as El Palenque. Upon paying the 3 CUC entrance fee, you can walk through the cave all the way to the other side. Feeling reluctant to cough up the money, we cycled around the rock where we observed its backside. A rather large tourist affair occupies this side, and they were busy setting up lunch tables for a few hundred tourists. We managed to sneak in the back entrance of the cave for a few dozen meters, but it didn’t look that impressive actually.
There is also a bar next to the front entrance of the cave, access to which is free.
Cueva del Indio
Situated at about 7 kilometers from the center of Viñales, Cueva del Indio is said to be one of the largest and most impressive caves of the area. This description roused our curiosity, so we nicely paid the 5 CUC entrance fee and visited the cave in an exemplary manner. Our timing was perfect, the tour buses had not yet arrived, so we kinda had the Cueva del Indio entirely to ourselves.
We walked through the illuminated cave admiring its geologic splendor. Stalactite and stalagmite formations were adorning the tunnel walls. After about 10 minutes, we reached the San Vicente river that flows through the cave. A motorboat was waiting for us to take us further on the river while the guide pointed out several shapes in the rock. “So there you have a pig and a crocodile diving in the water. That’s a skeleton face. Look up, a bottle of wine that stands upside town. Three chips from Columbus, the profile of an Indian, dried tobacco leave, a fish…” It wasn’t the most elaborate background information, but I loved his descriptions because the similarities were actually really striking.
After a 15 minute boat ride, we left the cave and found ourselves outside again. The cave wasn’t as huge as expected, but it was interesting, so I’d recommend checking it out if you have enough time.
Hike to Cueva de la Vaca
It wasn’t even noon when we got back to the city center of Viñales, so we took the dirt road towards Cueva de la Vaca (which lies really close to the center and would possibly be easier to get to by foot than by bike). After completing a strenuous climb, we reached Finca Integral Raúl Reyes Posada, which functions as the entrance gate towards the cave. The manager of the ranch approached us to inform whether we wanted to eat or drink something. There is no set entrance fee for Cueva de la Vaca, but of course they still try to make some profits here.
We walked through the ranch and entered a farmland with nice views over the surroundings. In the distance, a long series of steps led up to Cueva de la Vaca. Once up, we walked for about 200 meters through the cave which is completely dark inside and inhabited by large amounts of bats. Using the flashlight on our phones, we reached the exit on the other side.
From there, a view opened up over the surroundings with a big ceiba tree in the distance. We’d been told the view from there was stunning, so we descended from the cave and walked for about 15 minutes towards the hilltop tree.
A mother goat and her two kids were grazing around the sacred tree. While the goats were busy being petted by Bart, I took some photos of the beautiful surroundings.
Threatened by dark clouds coming our way, we decided to return to the cave and head back home. After all, we still had some stuff to prepare for our nocturnal excursion to Los Acuáticos.
- You can arrange a bike via your casa. Generally, it costs 10 CUC per person to use the bike for an entire day. We were lucky and managed to negotiate the price down to 15 CUC for two people.
- Entrance to Cueva San Miguel is 3 CUC (or 5 CUP for Cubans)
- Entrance to Cueva del Indio is 5 CUC (or 5 CUP for Cubans). You’ll be charged 1 CUC by the guard to watch your bike.
- Entrance to Cueva de la Vaca is free
Do you have questions? Did you experience something similar? Did you notice a mistake? Please share!