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This charming little village is nestled in the Sierra de los Organos, and was but a settlement during the Spanish colonial era. Although the village was founded in the 17th century, the mogotes, covered with vegetation and coral-reef like stones (very dangerous to slip on) were formed through erosion during the Jurassic era. Cuban climbers have been joined by colleagues from around the world to tackle these weird mounts, even though local authorities do not allow it as the climbers have to tramp on privately-owned farm land and, because of the high risks of accident.
The mogotes are present here in four major groups, named La Esmeralda, Dos Hermanas, Coco Solo and Del Valle.
The San Vicente region is spersed with caves : among others, Cueva del Indio, Cueva de San Miguel, El Palenque de los Cimarrones and world-renowned Caverna de Santo Tomás with 50 km of tunnels, it is the largest in the country and second largest on the Continent.
Recently discovered, the stupendous caves of nearby Sierra Guasasa where non-profit Pinar del Rio group Geda is pursuing its explorations.
The quiet commercial activity and large cultural activity borders the main street, Cisneros, has a few colonial and columned edificios but the majority of dwellings are bungalows. There's a sense of environment protection here like nowhere else in the country. And, most important, little motor traffic. One of this webmaster's must-see places on the island.
The hundreds of casas particulares here are most alike : we suggest some of the best below.
POPULATION 27,579 (2007)
Finca agroecologica El Paraiso, 1,5 km from town, on Carretera El Cementerio « It's a lovely organic farm on a hill with incredible views of the 'silencio' valley. Their bio food is top-notch, and Rachel uses some Indian spices in a few dishes, too. We all (family of 3) loved it here. Friendly, warm people, interesting farm to visit, and those views! » Laurie McL59, tripad, Sept. 2014; others are also casas particulares, such as Casa Nenita, calle Salvador Cisneros 61; Maria y Rodolfo, km1, Carretera El Cementerio and many others like La Cabana, Balcon del Valle, Casa Verde, Ridel y Claribel, Fernan, Wilfredo; Villa Wendy, La Colonial, Tatio.
Bar Las Brisas (Cisneros 96), La Casa de Don Tomás (Cisneros 140), El Palenque de los Cimarrones, La Casa del Veguero, Las Magnolias, La Terrazza of Hotel La Ermita (nice place, tempting pool), Carreta San Vicente (cabins for rent), Vera (Hotel Los Jazmines) and more, like : Patio del Decimista, Mar Magico, La Pimienta, La Cueva, Carreta de Juanry, La VI Ermita.
• Centro Polo Montañez and
• Casa de la Cultura (both on main square)
• El Palenque de los Cimarrones (cave outside of town) and three neighboring bars on main street including
• El Patio del Decimista : 3 live bands playing at the same time. Did U say cacofonico ?
Las Terrazas, departs 7h30, Rancho Curujey, arr. Soroa 11h, returns 15h
• Cayo Levisa, departs 8h, returns 19h; including 30 mins. in a very slow boat (at normal speed, should take 8 mins.) By 9-psgr minibus, 25cuc including lunch, 34cuc including fins & mask, 25 more for scuba. Or drive to Palma Rubia, 60km north on the coast and take the 10am boat, 10cuc pp, return at 17h00; local private taxis will get you to the dock and come back for pick-up at 17h (the only return boat time) for 50-60cuc for the car, return. (48) 75-65-01
• Maria la Gorda, 25cuc. Book through Havanatur or Cubanacan, beside the libreria (some books in English), facing Parque Marti
• Cayo Jutias beach on north coast, 60 km northwest via Minas de Matahambre and scenic mountain road. Access by pedraplen, entry fee 5cuc : just a regular beach (and some more, deserted, walking west), scuba rental and bar-rest'rant; local private taxis will do it for 50-60cuc for the car, return. (48) 77-8131 or take a bus day tour for 22 cuc: departs 9 am, includes lunch and comes back at 16h00 with 5 hours beach time.
• Cabo San Antonio : its wooden villas (75$ per night, double), marina, lighthouse, all in a Biosphere Reserve at the extreme very, very end of Cuba, some 200 km from here. Our page
• Trains from La Habana "El Lechero" (the Milk Run #225) leaves La Habana at 22h05 every 2nd day arriving Pinar del Rio at 03h50 then hitch (if u can find) a taxi ride to here or overnight; returns (#224) leaves Pinar del Rio at 09h45 arriving Havana at 15h30.
• Local private taxis (now legal with new permits) can take you to Cayo Jutias or Cayo Levisa (Palma Rubia), wait for you and return here for 50-60cuc for the car : up to you to find other pax. Also Pinar del Río 10CUC, Palma Rubia 25CUC (for daytrip to Cayo Levisa), Caverna Santo Tomás, 16CUC
Scooters for rent right by the Don Tomas restaurant (see map) on main street; Transtur also rents near church.
Cayo Jutias (60 km), Cayo Levisa (50 km), Cabo San Antonio (197 km), Maria la Gorda (178 km)
RIVER SWIM In rio Resvaloso near Cueva de la Vaca (ask around, everyone knows, Cubans abound in summer).
CONECTANDO CUBA ON TRANSTUR BUS
From Havana's major hotels (Zona 3 Vieja, Zona 2 Vedado, Zona 1 Miramar) a daily Transtur bus leaves between 8h and 8h40 and gets here through Pinar del Rio to local hotels and the church plaza (Hotel Jazmines 12h30, church plaza 12h40 and hotels Ermita and Rancho San Vicente at 12h50 et 13h10.
Return trip leaves at 14h stops at the plaza at 14h15 Pinar 15h40, and Miramar Hotels at 18h10, Vedado Hotels 18h30 and Hotel Inglaterra at 19h. Sked & rates here.
67 seconds on main street Salvador Cisneros a continuous traveling on main street - video © sogestour
Twice per day, a Viazul bus goes from Havana and back - via Pinar del Rio. Call it Ruta 10 (Roota Diez) Click for sked on Viazul site, Fred.
Cuban scientist Humberto Rios Labrada was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize ("the Ecology Nobel Prize") for his research on seeds, went to Bolivia in 2014 to teach and moved to Spain in 2015 to bring his expertise there too ! © Will Parrinello
The palm and the cross © sogestour •|• Same park in centre, otra vista © sogestour
Valle de Viñales © Giora Szabo •|• Campesinos walking a field © sogestour
Josue Millo is getting a buzz on a rock face (ruta) named « Wasp Factory » © cubaclimbing.com Click ••• See this enlargement of Reiniel Sosa here •|• Halfway between here and Cayo Levisa, the village of La Palma © Robin Thom Photography
Three chicas with an irresistible smile : are country youngsters more luminous than city kids ? © clapat, Flickr
The mogotes as only angels and drones can see them © Unseen Cuba / Marius Jovasa •|• Mural de la Prehistoria © viaggiliberi
The Che's Cueva de la Comandancia © sogestour •|• View of the valley from legendary spot Los Acuaticos © sogestour
Minas de Matahambre (32 km northwest) welcomed immigrants from Haiti, China, Spain, the USA, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Brazil and especially Japan. There are still 1,000 Cubans of Japanese descendency on the island.Research by Nelia Maria Paez Vives and Lic Omar Miranda Barbosa.
Video to convince local authorities they should give full support to mogote-climbing. A convincing 2-min. argument by renan ozturk on Vimeo here. A fabulous 17-min. HD work of art & physical feat by Ms Paige Claassen here.
"An amazing family-run organic farm & restaurant on top of a hill with amazing sunset views" : Finca agroecologica is recommended by all including Beth B from Chester Springs, PA on tripad 160814
Internet Daily from 8h30 to 19h30 Centro Multiservicios (Calle G. Fernández No. 3 e/ S. Cisneros y R. Trejo) • A professional massage ? Yesss ! Ask Onasis Romero Vargas, university teacher and neurological massage specialist. Resides at calle Rafael Trejo #145. Low rates, 15 to 60 mins. Tel. (48) 77-8370 Will go to your casa. • If he's busy, call a colleague masajista : Jesus Ernesto Alfonso (cell) 015 270-6478 • Banco de Credito y Comercio (Cisneros 58) • Cadeca (money exchange, Cisneros 92 Tel 79-6334) • Havanatur (48) 79-6161 or 79-6262 • Cubanacan (48) 79-639
::: Make sure that in your first email or phone call you specify that you want to book a room in that particular casa and that you will reconfirm your booking on arrival in Cuba. Unless you only want a room in any house which may be of the same quality, not the specific casa you booked through photos on these websites ::: So as to not abandon expecting owners with empty rooms, reconfirm (or call ahead to cancel) your booking by phone as soon as you can after arriving in Cuba ::: Please write or phone a casa owner to cancel a booking. As late as it may seem, it allows them a chance to rebook. ::: Children under the age of 16 may share a bedroom with adults for free. Specify the child's age when booking. ::: Since October 2010, maximum bedroom capacity is not limited to two adults ::: Also, large casas are not limited to renting only two bedrooms per night. ::: At the end of the casa name, the V signals the casa was suggested by travelers or owners but not verified by the website staff. If you try it and like it, write us about it. ::: Unless otherwise mentioned, the average room rates and service prices are : 20-25cuc per bedroom per night [up to 40+ for 4 in a room]; breakfasts 3-5cuc, dinners 7-10cuc. ::: Any casa particular anywhere in Cuba must have a hot water shower, otherwise it cannot have a permit to rent ::: Please share your Complaints, comments & suggestions webmaster [@]cubacasas.net
||BOOK BY PHONE
• from Canada and the USA : 011 53 (add phone # preceded by 48 for Viñales) • from Europe, Great Britain, Scandinavia and Mexico : 00 53 (add phone # preceded by 48 for Viñales) ••• HOW TO DIAL A CUBAN PHONE NUMBER HERE ••• CELL PHONE NUMBERS on our town lists and casa pages are preceded by 05 for calls originating Havana; from anywhere else in Cuba, dial 015 + the 7 digits of the cell.
BOOK BY EMAIL :
Click on logo to open a message addressed to that casa in your email application; or right-click to copy address. Spanish vocabulary here. Google translate here.
Click photos to get to the casa's page & description. Locate most casas on this map.
Two aircon bedrooms, ensuites, pool
Camilo Cienfuegos 56, up town, roof terrace entre Sergio Dopico y C. Maragoto Tel. (48) 69-69-38. Cell 52 48 70 19
|TOMAS y YOLANDA
One aircon bedroom, ensuite bathroom
Camilo Cienfuegos 52, up town, lovely patio entre Sergio Dopico y C. Maragoto. Tel. (48) 69-69-31
Three aircon bedrooms, ensuites, views
Calle Adela Azcuy Norte 11, past the estadio de beisbol, down the street out in the fields. Cellular 53 36 54 02
Two ac bedrooms, ensuites, shaded patio
Calle Rafael Trejo Este 10B al final de la calle (at the end of this dead-end street) up town, in-house patio Tél. (48) 69 69 05
|NENITA + PALADAR
Five aircon bedrooms, ensuites, pool
Salvador Cisneros Int. 61, like a mini-hotel, valley view behind the Policlinico. Tel. (48) 79-60-04
One ac bedroom, 2 double beds, ensuite bath
Calle Orlando Nodarse 39, entre Sergio Dopico y Adela Azcuy, uptown. Tel (48) 69-6891 Cell 05 331-1862
|PAPO y NIULVYS V
One ac bedroom, 2 double beds, ensuite bath
Calle Rafael Trejo 18 e/Mariana Grajales y Joaquin Perez, two blocks from the Viazul bus stop. Tel. (48) 69-6714
|MARILYN y ADEL V
One ac bedroom, 2 double beds, ensuite bath
Calle Primera # 4b between a and b, in reparto La Carbonera. Cell. 58 82 93 17
Two aircon bedrooms, ensuites, valley view
Calle Segunda pasaje 7 número 8, reparto El Bostezo, overlooking the valley. Tel (48) 69-5571 or (48) 64-6145
|EL CORAL V
Three aircon bedrooms, ensuite baths
Calle Joaquin Perez No. 25, three blocks from centro. Tel (48) 79-3217 cell (5) 292-6413
|TATICA y EL CHINO V
One aircon br, ensuite bath, mountain view
Calle Adela Azcuy Norte Final #61a, passed the beisbol stadium, steps from the entrance to the valley of mogotes..Cell. (5) 245-3116 or (5) 303-0649
RECOMMENDED BY OTHERS
The 2016 editions of these guidebooks : Footprint (FH), Lonely Planet (LP), Michelin (MC) and Moon (MH)
FH : Deborah Susana, El Cafetal, Oscar Jaime, Ridel y Claribel, Renga y Julia, Villa Tery ::: LP : Villa Los Reyes, Pitin y Juana, Hostal Dona Hilda, Nenita, El Cafetal, Jean-Pierre, Daniela, El Balcon ::: MC : Villa Nelson, Pepito y Santi, Haydee y Chiroles, Boris y Cusita, Milagros y Yamile, Villa Campana, Villa Silvia ::: MH : La Autentica, Villa Corales, Villa Teresa, Mirtha Azcuy, Puesta del Sol
Content & photos © sogestour