I was set on taking at least one day trip while in Cuba. While I was hoping for two, one worked itself into our itinerary just perfectly. On day two we would awake at 6am to prepare for our journey to Viñales to hang with the Horseback Riding Viñales team. IT. WAS. EPIC. If you’re headed to Cuba soon then don’t wait until the end of this. Head here and email Yubier asap.
I was floored when I found out how affordable this tour was. 5 CUC’s per person, per hour, for 5 hours? Count me in. Yubier even went the extra mile to accommodate our group and arrange transportation for us. Not having to find someone to pick us up in Vedado and drive 2.5 hours to Viñales took a weight off our our shoulders. I won’t lie, I was just afraid of being hustled by taxi drivers all over the world. Plus when I inquired about arranging a taxi I was quoted a far higher than what Yubier quoted.
After our long ride where everyone slept on and off, we arrived in the quaint town of Viñales. Gorgeous isn’t the word. The small, colorful homes and street markets made me feel as though I should have booked a stay there for at least a couple nights. Pulling up to the small house that served as a starting point, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Shortly after, our guide, Edel, showed up and we set off to the path behind the house to meet our horses. As I had a crazy amount of mojitos during this trip, it was only right that my horse was in fact named Mojito.
The last time I was actually on a horse was a few years ago when I visited Costa Rica. It was memorable to say the least. That was a large group and when one horse took off, all the others tried to as well. I’m convinced mine tried to buck me off and that was my main fear on this day, falling off of Mojito. So I pretty much let him do his own thing an only shooed him to go faster when we were falling behind. He listened to direction and was actually the perfect horse for this journey. I’m sure my friends would say the same about Cuba Libre, Coco Loco, and Piña Colada.
We rode through the Valley for hours and only stopped to get a tour of a tobacco field (and to buy some naturally processed cigars) and visit a cave. I don’t know why I completely forgot about the cave experience but it was a cool side note to the journey. We were armed with flashlights after paying the 2 CUC’s to enter the cave and follow a guide throughout. There was even a chance to swim in a “pool” inside but two other women opted for that experience. Not I, said the cat. I need to see what’s in the water. Hell, I need to see what’s around me.
Our last stop was lunch with the most perfect view of the mountains and valley we had been riding through all day. At one point I took a picture of my friend and looked down at the photo in shock. I’m not exaggerating when I say I can’t believe we were in a place so beautiful…also easting some of the best food we’d had so far during the trip. Shoutout to Edel for recommending I try the honey mojito when I complained of all the sugar bartenders had been giving me.
The long ride back to our starting point was bittersweet. We had the 2.5 ride to take back but I definitely wanted to explore Viñales more. I just didn’t want to pay more money to do so. I say all of this to say, you can’t visit Cuba without taking linking up with the good folks over at Riding Viñales. You also need to make sure you set aside extra time to check out the town. Tell them I sent ya.