Caribbean Cuba Destinations

Tobacco Farm and Town Carnival in Viñales

Tobacco Farm and Town Carnival in Viñales

Tobacco Farm and Town Carnival in Viñales

My time in Cuba was sadly coming to an end with just two days remaining. I was going to spend them in the Viñales region, famous for its tobacco plantations. I can also honestly say that Viñales has some of the most amazing landscapes that I have seen anywhere in the world.

 

Beautiful rock formation near the tobacco farm

Beautiful rock formation near the tobacco farm

 

Precious Cigars

You can’t come to Cuba and not sample the cigars. It would be just rude right? I didn’t have time to visit a cigar factory when I was in Havana but I was able to visit a tobacco farmer in Viñales. The farmer, Heraldo, was able to talk through the process of growing the tobacco leaves, harvesting them, drying them and the final stage of rolling the cigars (by hand).

 

Tobacco leaves being collected

Tobacco leaves being harvested

Like most farming in Cuba, almost everything is done manually. It is hard work and a lot of the people that harvest the tobacco leaves are elderly. Also the Cuban government take about 90% of the tobacco leaves, so the farmer only gets to ‘keep’ 10% of the tobacco leaves that he grows.

Once the leaves have been harvested, they are taken to a wooden warehouse where they are left to air dry for 1-3 months. There was a lot of tobacco leaves drying in this place and the smell wasn’t as strong as you would imagine. It was a smokey smell, almost like that of chipotle chillies or of a peat/turf fire. Certainly not unpleasant.

 

Tobacco leaves drying in the air

Tobacco leaves drying in the air

After seeing the dried tobacco leaves, I was taken to Heraldos house where his wife had prepared fresh coffee Cuban style (STRONG!) and was able to see Heraldo rolling a cigar by hand.

I wish I had filmed the process as it is crazy how a handful of leaves can be rolled into something which eventually takes the shape of a cigar. Heraldo has obviously had a lot of practice at this, but the speed he is able to do it as well I find really interesting.

 

Heraldo rolling a cigar

Heraldo rolling a cigar

It is a long way from Ireland to Cuba, so I had to sample one of the cigars that Heraldo had rolled and I ended up buying 20 of them from him. The perfect souvenir right?

 

Me with Heraldo

Me with Heraldo

 

Enjoying the merchandise (and some rum)

Enjoying the merchandise (and some rum)

 

 

Viñales Carnival

In the evening I discovered that tonight was the first night of the towns carnival so I had to go out to investigate. Dark streets filled with alcohol, food, music, dancing and children’s entertainment.

I found a man selling beer from the back of a tank and was able to pay in some local money. I filled up my empty 2 litre water bottle for about $1! There was even a club area for the party goers, though everyone in Cuba seems to like to party!

 

Carnival in Viñales

Carnival in Viñales

 

Street food Cuban style

Street food Cuban style

 

I was able to record some footage of the party, enjoy!

 

Viñales Landscape

As I said at the start of this post, the scenery in Viñales is just stunning. To see the main photo in full size, click on the image below.

In a way I feel that Viñales deserves a more detailed post but when you have cigars and scenery like this, what else is there to say but thank you Cuba for an awesome two weeks!

 

Panorama of the Vinales landscape

Panorama of the Vinales landscape

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Anna
    October 6, 2015 at 22:50

    I’d never think of visiting tobacco farm but this is nice!

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      October 7, 2015 at 18:23

      Thanks Anna

  • Reply
    Sarah Twain
    October 6, 2015 at 11:16

    Great pictures- definitely one for the list now!

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      October 6, 2015 at 12:35

      Thanks Sarah! Glad you liked

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      October 7, 2015 at 18:23

      Thanks Sarah!

  • Reply
    Julius from Traveltipy
    October 5, 2015 at 19:52

    I don’t like cigars very much, but tried few already 🙂 Heard a lot about how they are being created but never saw any pictures from these farms. Lucky you to be there, and lucky me to see your pictures, I learnt something today 🙂

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      October 6, 2015 at 12:36

      Thanks Julius. Im not really a cigar fan myself – maybe just a couple a year if even that or on special occasions. I would certainly recommend a trip to Vinales region if you are ever in Cuba

  • Reply
    Nic from Roaming Renegades
    October 2, 2015 at 22:06

    Wow, what a beautiful, unique and cultured place to visit. Never knew cigars took so much love and attention to make! It’s great when you come across these lovely little places.

  • Reply
    Michelle
    October 1, 2015 at 22:32

    I found this article very interesting, especially the cigar making. Sad, the government takes so much from these hard working people. And you are right, the landscapes are beautiful.

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      October 2, 2015 at 08:05

      Hi Michelle, glad you enjoyed the article. Yes it is a shame that the government takes so much, especially when they sell the cigars at a much higher price which I suspect the farmers see very little of

  • Reply
    Mary
    October 1, 2015 at 19:20

    This post is one of the most unique article I read for a while. Showing other things that a traveler can do in a country or city other than popular attractions. Now Cube goes on my list! 🙂

    • Damien
      Reply
      Damien
      October 2, 2015 at 08:04

      HI Mary, thank you very much for the nice comment and I am glad that you enjoyed this post 🙂 I definitely recommend Cuba!

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