Tours to Vinales Valley | Travel to Cuba | GeoEx
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A Few More Days in Cuba

By Story Kirshman | September 17, 2016

It happens to me every time I travel: I always underestimate how much time I want to spend in a destination. Cuba was no exception. Once I got there, it became clear that to truly understand the beauty and diversity of the country, hidden from Americans for so long, it was going to take more than a long weekend.

I was fortunate to spend eight days and seven nights on GeoEx’s Connecting with Cuba’s Living History, and I could have stayed longer. Most of the trip was centered around Havana, which I loved! The capital was vibrantly alive with emerging artists, soul-moving music, and of course, classic cars to keep me enchanted for weeks. But it wasn’t until I was standing on a tiny balcony looking out from my hotel room in the Viñales Valley that I realized this was a country full of spellbinding differences and that I was only just discovering them.

View of Vinales Valley Cuba from hotel with GeoEx

It’s rare to find a Cuba trip that overnights in the Viñales Valley. There are almost no hotel rooms and most tourists simply get bussed in from Havana for the day. What I loved about staying overnight was that once the buses—and the visitors—were gone, the valley became so quiet. The only sounds I heard were crickets and distant cow bells. Because we were able to slow down, I had the time to enjoy the sunset over the dramatic limestone outcroppings and watch as the stars slowly made their appearance. The air smelled clean and sweet, and my whole being seemed to sink into the slow ancient night rhythm of this surprisingly peaceful place.

View of Vinales Valley limestone hills with GeoEx

The next day our group got up early for a hike. Our guide took us past farmhouses, down beautiful paths, and up to scenic viewpoints. We were passed by oxen-led carts and saw historic drawings on rock formations. While I enjoyed the cigar factory visit the day before—it is a must if you come to Viñales (I left with 10 cigars and a priceless picture of me smoking one with the owner of the tobacco farm)—it was these quiet moments with nature that I treasured the most.

Vinales Valley guided hiking tour with GeoEx.

Thinking back, it was that extra time in the Viñales Valley that left me with a vision of Cuba that I can revisit time and time again in my memory when I need to be reminded how it feels to be content.

I guess I could have stayed in Viñales a few more days too!

Young bull on a farm in Vinales Valley Cuba with GeoEx.

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