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Cueva del Indio and Santo Tomás: Two wonders to visit in Cuba

Mon 23 Jan 2017

Among the natural wonders to visit in Viñales, there are two that stand out: Cueva del Indio and Santo Tomás. In BandCuba, Bed and Breakfast in Cuba, we're delight to talk to you about this imposing formations that impress travelers and investigators every year. To know them is to love them, plan your travel and come to discover this caves.

The magic of Valle de Viñales in Cuba

Valle de Viñales is the most imposing natural environment in all Cuba. It is considered as a World Heritage Site by Unesco and one of the most desired tourist destinations in the world, according to the New York Times. The magic of this small place framed in Sierra de los Órganos, the green heart of the country, enchants all who visit it.

The town of Viñales is at the province of Pinar del Río, renowned for its premium tobacco growing areas and natural landscapes. People who enjoy photography, exploration, hiking and meditation will love spending a few days in this place. Time will not reach to visit all the wonderful places that this community has to offer.

If you want to travel to Viñales you can do it from Havana taking the intercity bus line Viazul. The estimated travel price is 12 US$. Other options are taking a private taxi -more expensive-, going on the national buses of the Astro company or renting a private vehicle to make the route by highway along the East-West Highway. In the last scenario you must take a map and ask the people you find on the way there.

Once in Viñales it is time to know the wonders that it offers. Two of the most recognized are Cueva del Indio and Santo Tomás. Dare to meet them!


Wonders to know in Viñales: Cueva del Indio and Santo Tomás

Leaving Viñales without knowing Cueva del Indio (Indian Cave) and Santo Tomás is a big mistake. These caves systems and ancient home of indigenous civilizations are the jewels of this area. They are kept in perfect condition and both are illuminated to appreciate its beauty and the cave paintings embodied in its walls.

Among them there is a substantial difference in size. Cueva del Indio is smaller and easier to navigate. That is why, in addition to its other qualities, is the one that attracts more visitors. Instead, Santo Tomas is the largest cave system in Cuba and the longest in southern and central America.

We will let you know the particularities of each one and the reasons why you should include them in your travel itinerary.

Cueva del Indio: History and rock art

There are many things to see and do in Viñales, one of the most popular is to visit Cueva del Indio. Between the route that connects Viñales with San Cayetano, only 4 miles away from the town is located this famous cave. It is believed that this landscape is about five million years old. It has 2,5 miles of extension to explore, fully lit since it opened to the public in the 70's.

An incredible show of stalactites and stalagmites opens the way through the cave. Through the underground system passes the river San Vicente with an extension of several miles where you can appreciate rock formations, cave paintings and remains of artifacts used by indigenous people.

The tour is easy to do in a few hours and its opening hours are from 9 in the morning to 5:30 in the afternoon. In high season it opens a little earlier and routes leave every moment. You can go by private transport, bus or on a tour. The cost of the entrance is 5 CUC (about 4.82 US$).

Activities to be carried out on site

  • The tour consists of two parts, the first is a walk to know the cave. This is the most extensive and a perfect moment for taking photographs of the whole outlook. Do not forget to bring water and a good pair walking shoes. If you feel tired take a moment to rest.
  • The second way of about 400 meters is done by boat. There you can see another part of the cave next to a tour guide. In this area you will learn more about the history of the place discovered in 1920.
  • At the end they will arrive at a rest area where they sell souvenirs you can take to family and friends.
  • In this place there are restaurant and souvenir shops. It's a nice place to relax and listen to Caribbean music.

cueva del indio y santo tomas 2

Big Cave of Santo Tomás

The exploration of the cave system of Santo Tomás is a mission to adventurers. It has about 10 different entry points with interconnected galleries, seven levels and 29 miles in length. It is 12,5 miles from Viñales in the Sierra de Quemado, and at one of its entrances you have to climb about 80 meters to get there. It is worthy of scientific admiration and seat of the National School of Speleology Antonio Núñez Jiménez.

Imposing rock formations, water fountains, rock paintings, stalactites, stalagmites and helicites create an amazing landscape. Unlike Cueva del Indio, in Santo Tomás the routes are more complex and the roads are treacherous, you must be really careful. The tour is worth it, you can appreciate the National School seat and the wonders of the cave.

There is an exit zone similar to an auditorium where audiovisual production is projected on the site. The cost of admission to explore part of this cave is 10 CUC, equivalent to 9.82 US$.

Activities and precautions to take

  • The tour is in group, it is important not to get away from people to avoid getting lost. The estimated time to return is about 2 hours, otherwise they will send to a rescue group.
  • There are different spaces and entrances to explore, the most named are the Hall of Chaos, the Hall of the daggers, Tapiada, Antorcha, Incógnita, Avispa and Paso Estrecho.
  • Wear comfortable clothes to be in this place. The roads are narrow in parts like the Paso Estrecho you must drag to pass.
  • There are different exits, some lead to green areas, an auditorium style lounge and a plantation.
  • For photographs use a small device and a waterproof protection.
  • Is not a destination recommended for children.

Where to stay and how to get around in Viñales?

When traveling to Viñales it is advisable to stay for a few days. The recommended accommodation for this destination is a private house. In this town a high percentage of people put in their place to welcome tourists. This is a good way to save money and take more time to know the locality.

If you arrive by VíaAzul line you will see people with signs offering accommodation. It is recommended that you book in advance, check around 300 different stays that BandCuba meets to facilitate your search. You will not have to worry about the location as the village is small.

You can take a bus or ask for a taxi to get around the city. If you rent a particular vehicle you will not have this inconvenience to get to the caves. You can go on a daily excursion or buy a complete package to explore other areas of Viñales.

Tip: If you travel "low cost" look for Viñales Tour Bus at the Principal Avenue. The total cost is only 5 CUC or 5$. This transport travels all the destinations of interest in the town.

Other Things to do in Viñales

  • Visit Prehistory Mural. It is only 2 miles away from the village. It is an immense rock wall decorated with paintings representing creatures and experiences of prehistoric times. It was created by Leovigildo González and has an extension of 120 meters. The cost of entry is 2 CUC.
  • San Miguel Cave. It is a half mile before the cave of the Indian, also called "El Palenque de los Cimarrones". It has a very interesting museum with recreations of the activity of the maroons during their flight. There is a bar at the entrance where you can buy refreshing drinks. The cost of entrance to the cave is 2 CUC.
  • Cayo Jutias. If you have already covered Cueva del Indio and Santo Tomás visit this great place in the archipelago of the Colorado. This area is located 1 hour and a half away from Viñales, can be reached by private taxi or rental vehicle.
  • Horse Riding. An interesting tour around the tobacco plantations in Viñales. The cost per hour can range from 4 to 6 CUC.
  • Viñales by bicycle. Reserve a bicycle to cross the valley on your own. This area is quiet and rural to make a peaceful route and take pictures. The cost of rent per hour is 1 CUC and per day 10 CUC.

Prepare your camera, wear comfortable clothes and visit the Cave of the Indian and Santo Tomás, two wonders to see in Cuba. If you still do not have accommodation and you’re looking for good prices and a comfortable place do not hesitate to visit aour website and contact us to clarify your doubts. Share with us in the comments what other zones would you like to know in Cuba.


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