For those who visit Viñales for the first time, the impact of its amazing landscapes encircled by flat-topped hillocks and caves, endures memorably.
Declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it is distinguished by the geologic complexity of its Jurassic period rocks, while the caverns form Cuba’s largest cave system.
Along with expert guides and with total safety, the eagerness of Cubans and foreigners for tours continues to increase, since the trails were, in some cases, routes of European immigrants and slaves that took root in the province centuries ago.
The trails, reorganized in order to avoid damage in the vegetation and the animals, have among their main attractions bird-watching, as well as geological, historic and cultural aspects.
It is attracting to see the rock formations and the enigmatic flat-topped hillocks scattered all around the valley, and also the Great Santo Tomas Cavern, the longest in the country, which extends to 46 kilometers explored and seven different levels.
Alongside the road from Viñales to El Moncada community, one can see the colonies of Microcycas calocoma, also known as cork palm tree, a living fossil considered a botanic treasure, while other spots in the region allow visitors the privilege to hear the singing of the nightingale.
Some documents note that the typical vegetation of the hillocks includes the ceibón, the caiman oak and the palmita de la sierra, three species that give a special charm to the place.
The founding of the town dates back to 1870, and reached its economic development thanks to the coastal trade carried out through Puerto Esperanza, former San Cayetano docks, and today it preserves the colonial touch, pride of the villagers.
The town has places of special charm, such as the Jardín de Caridad (Caridad’s Garden), an orchard of great scientific interest where “spring nests throughout the year”, as late Cuban writer Dora Alonso said.
There is also the Polo Montañez Plaza, to honor the singer of the rustic voice, who won gold and platinum albums with the Guajiro Natural CD.
The predominant architecture is eclectic, with a wide area to preserve, which motivates the execution of integral long and short term programs.
In this national park, stand out the protection of the environment, the preservation of the traditional culture, speleological research projects, the optimal use of the soil, the development of the forests, nature tourism and environmental education in schools.
Viñales blends agro-productive systems which have been typical of the Cuban society for centuries, such as the cultivation of tobacco.
This peculiarity contributes to make the place valuable worldwide, since the human work is added with different cultural elements in an exceptional framework without altering the balance with nature.
All of this is a solid guarantee to aspire to become the first Cuban geopark.
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