A recent addition to the UNESCO World Heritage list, the town and valley of Vinales are found in the green province of Pinar del Rio. It's characterised by impressive round-topped hills called mogotes, dating back to the Jurassic period and covered with rich and varied vegetation. They are thought to be remnants of the plateau that was eroded by a network of underground rivers millions of years ago.
The Vinales Valley is located about 112 miles (180km) west of Havana, making it a good day-trip destination or weekend getaway. The valley is beautiful, a patchwork of nature's bounty mixed with green fields of tobacco, coffee and other crops that grow out of the rich red earth. Scattered palm trees and pine forests shelter a variety of melodious birds, while the region is also a magnet for speleologists and cave enthusiasts with its abundance of limestone caves and caverns.
The hilly landscape, quaint villages, oxen-ploughed fields, rustic barns and underground cave systems and rivers, provide a striking contrast to the faded colonial grandeur and white sandy beaches found on the rest of the island. The main valley village is Vinales, a charming and laid-back place that makes a good base for exploring the lovely countryside.