Western Cuba, a favorite destination for visitors interested in nature tourism, has the Viñales Valley, whose origin dates back to more than 300 million years ago, as an attraction par excellence to enjoy that tourist modality.
According to experts, the Viñales Valley is an exceptional scenery, in which its unique nature and the preservation of the environment blend with the agricultural work of men and women, especially in tobacco fields.
Covering an area of 132 square kilometers, the Viñales Valley is also the most outstanding exponent of a chalky valley in the Antilles, and is surrounded by hills with round tops and vertical slopes, known as "mogotes".
It is precisely in one of these peculiar hills, known as "Dos Hermanas" (Two Sisters), where visitors can enjoy one of the world's biggest outdoors natural paintings, the so-called Mural of Prehistory.
The Mural of Prehistory, which is 120 meters high and 180 meter wide, was painted on the slope of the aforementioned hill. It is a singular representation of the biological evolution of the Sierra de los Organos, also in the western province of Pinar del Río.
Experts recall that in order to paint the mural, the vegetal layer on the slope of Dos Hermanas had to be removed, while a score of local residents participated in the dangerous artistic work under the guidance of Cuban Professor Leovigildo González (deceased).
The passage of time has failed to erase this breathtaking work of art, which attracts thousands of visitors every year, who come to enjoy the images of the plesiosaurus and the megalonus rodens, painted on the hill's slope with singular ability.
The region's flora is closely linked, according to experts, to its ancient past, since it boasts 17 endemic varieties that cannot be found anywhere on Earth, including the cork palm (Microcycas calocoma), which is considered a living fossil from the Jurassic period.
Moreover, the Viñales Valley has numerous caverns, among which the Cueva del Indio - crossed by the San Vicente River -, the Cueva de San Miguel and the Cueva de Santo Tomás stand out. The latter has been classified among the largest caverns in Latin America, with more than 45 kilometers of galleries.
The town of Viñales, in the heart of the valley, is a typical agricultural settlement, whose main street is flanked by galleries of columns and red-tiled houses.
The socio-historical development of the region contains elements and sites that characterize the Cuban people - with antecedents from the aborigines, the African slaves and peasants. The unique features of the area's natural landscape surround all this.
The Viñales Valley, which was declared World Heritage by UNESCO, is also Cuba's true Natural Monument, and receives thousands of vacationers who want to be in direct contact with nature while they tour the Cuban archipelago.