You can hike in Vinales Valley with a guide or trek on horseback but we’ll show you how to to it for free, on your own 2 feet!
Hike Vinales Valley
Valle de Vinales offers some /of the finest & most accessible hiking trails in Cuba.
According to Lonely Planet, we took the official Coco Solo & Palmarito Mogotes trail, which covers Valle del Silencio & Mural de la Prehistoria.
We didn’t see anybody else hiking independently, without a guide, but no-one stopped us either. As far as we know, it’s completely ok to head out on your own.
Although Cuba is a very safe country for travel, we recommend purchasing travel insurance before any trip. We’ve been using World Nomads through 80+ countries over the past 12 years and have been really happy with their coverage and services.
You can plan your hikes with Maps.ME, which shows several trails around Vinales Valley at the town itself.
We recommend navigating with the app but here is the rough route that we followed – it should actually be pretty detailed, I tried to remember as much as I could but I could’ve missed a few turns, especially in the heat of the sun.
If you want to hike like us, this trail took 6 hours. It’s a flat & easy walk. There are definitely a few shortcuts you could take, again plan with Maps.Me or with locals in town beforehand.
As soon as the sun rises, Parque Nacional Vinales gets hot. Take sunscreen & water as you take in the wonderful limestone countryside and feel the sweat & burn – good luck!
Things to do in Vinales
Travel from Havana to Vinales, Cuba one of Fidel Castro’s favourite places – from the number of tourists here, it seems everyone agrees. From accommodation to things to do in Vinales, find out our top tips to enjoy it all on a budgetRead more
Coco Solo & Palmarito Mogotes Trail
From the main road in Vinales (Salvador Cisneros), head south on Adela Azcuy towards Hotel La Ermita and Parque Nacional Vinales.
When you see the sign on your right, take the small path heading down, just next to the sign along the fence:
Continue straight until you reach barbed wire fencing & a wooden gate – go through this gate:
Walk straight ahead until you reach the next gate:
Keep going straight ahead until you reach an intersection & turn right. Keep walking straight ahead, with the karst mountains on your left.
This is a scenic stretch with a few scattered oxen & houses amidst a lovely backdrop.
You can see the whole town of Vinales, overlooked by the towering mountains.
Keep walking straight ahead, through a small village of very colourful & neat houses.
At the intersection, turn right on the paved road & continue straight until you see a sign for an olive finca (farmhouse) on the right – on the left, you’ll see a sign pointing towards Valle del Silencio:
If you want to continue to hike along this trail, take a left here & continue down into Vinales valley.
This is where you’ll start seeing some tourists on foot or horses with guides – suckers. We prefer to hike Valle de Vinales independently!
The karst mountains should then appear straight ahead.
At the intersection, there’s a sign pointing to a mirador on your right – head this way.
You could check out the mirador & come back, because you then need to enter this gate:
Go through the gate, continue straight ahead on the path, veering slightly to the right, until you come to a barbed wire fence, with this group of pine trees (?!) on the other side.
Follow the path straight until you come to your next barbed wire fence, this time with a lake on the other side:
Walk straight ahead & cross your next barbed wire fence – you should’ve had plenty of practice by now, but this is how you do it:
You may see some oxen – don’t make linger too long or make eye contact, this front ox charged at me but fortunately he was on a short leash:
Continue straight until you reach a red dirt road, then take a right:
Walk ahead & then along a little muddy river. You’ll see a tiny bridge – cross it or go around it.
Continue along the path, with mountains & palm trees on your left.
You’ll reach a fork in the road – don’t turn right but go through the trees with the barbed wire fencing:
Walk along the path, which will gradually lead uphill to a lookout point.
Here, you’ll have amazing views on both sides – a just reward for all those who choose to hike Parque Nacional Vinales, but especially those who do it independently!
Turn left & go down into the next section of the valley:
There are a number of casas around here, so this is a good point to fill up your water bottle if you’re running low.
We asked at the last house on the right & were invited inside by the woman living there.
She filled up our bottle twice with beautiful COLD water & we had a little chat with our limited Spanish – this was before we took Spanish classes in Guatemala. Anyway, the woman told us about her 10 puppies, 5 cats & 3 chickens – that we understood!
Here she is, blessed woman with the cold water…
Continue on the way path, which will take you to a small lake.
Take a quick left to see some interesting rock formations up close:
Return to the main trail & continue walking until you reach an intersection with the mountains directly ahead.
Here, turn right & walk straight for a stretch – you’ll come across some more cool rock formations on your left & red dirt plots on your right.
Also on your right at the end of the road is a big thatched roof:
Turn right here at the intersection.
There’ll be a small shop on your left under a big tree, where you can buy pineapples, probably with tourists waiting under the shade.
Keep going straight until you see a blue house on the left.
Take a left here:
Continue walking ahead on the red dirt path, you might pass some tourists on.
This leads to wide open land, with working farmers and/or oxen.
The landscape reminded us of our trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake in Myanmar.
You continue more or less straight ahead, through tobacco plantations, I think.
I’m not a smoker, am I right?
When you spot this big thatched house, take a break & sneak a peek inside:
Take in the aroma – it’s a secadero or tobacco-drying house where tobacco leaves are cured.
Apparently the season is from February-May:
At the house, you should continue straight ahead and/or to your left.
You’ll reach a thatched-roof restaurant on your left & this tin shed on your right, marked with an oxen’s skull:
Turn left & go around the restaurant with the solar panels.
Then turn right with the mountains on your left. You’ll reach a fork in the road – take the right.
Continue straight ahead. When you see a pink house, turn right, at the right of the house:
Follow the path, go through the barbed wire fencing – here’s a reminder again of how to do it:
At the end of this trail, you’ll finally see the Mural de la Prehistoria straight ahead.
You can go right & around to look at it up close, but we turned left on the main road.
This thing is ugly, I wouldn’t want to get too close but I took a few zoomed-in shots anyway:
Keep going straight, there’ll be a campground on your left.
Go straight ahead until you reach an intersection – this road is Salvador Cisneros.
We were offered a ride back into town, so hitching should be pretty easy.
Or to finish how you started, turn left on the main road & after 2 or 3kms walking straight ahead, you’ll be back in the centre of Vinales.
Did you enjoy reading our hiking guide to Parque Nacional Vinales?
Pin it and help others find it too!
*** The Final Word – Hike Vinales independently! These are some of the best trails in Cuba, all yours for free ***
Have you seen limestone karst mountains like these anywhere else in the world?
Super easy DIY travel around city centres
* This post contains affiliate links, which means that we receive a small commission if you click on a link & purchase something that we have recommended, at no extra cost to you.
Visited in May 2016