If you've come to Cuba in search of world-class climbing set to some breathtaking rural scenery, you've no doubt come for Viñales Valley. Hundreds of routes of every level navigate their way through caves, overhangs and along 100+ m tall crags composed of some of the chunkiest, "bullet-proof" limestone you could hope to get your chalk-covered hands on. Sound tempting? Then let's leave superlatives aside and look at some quick logistics that will help you get out onto these incredible walls asap.
First off, if you're looking for the park's highest concentration of climbing routes, head to the the Mogote del Valle (marked on the map) just northwest of the town of Viñales. In all, this valley contains over 50% of the routes available here, with the closest ones only requiring about a 1 km walk from town. It's also where you'll find the climbing gym-esque Cueva Cabeza de la Vaca, with its nearly 50 runs utilizing all the cave's fantastic natural features. Other notable names to try conquering in the park include Cuba Libre (5.11d/12a), the La Costanera "cathedral" (5.11) and the much-lauded Mucho Pumpito, which has been dubbed "the best 5.10 in the world" by climbers who aren't known to exaggerate.
Before you start getting too excited, we should warn you that while navigating the routes at Viñales is a blast, navigating the obfuscated Cuban legal system with regards to climbing can sometimes be a bit of a headache. Because the the sport is not explicitly permitted nationally, the Cuban authorities have a confusing relationship with climbers, and understanding the ins and outs can mean the difference between an annoying day spent trying to climb and an excellent day spent actually climbing. Not to worry, though. Check our links for some incredibly helpful info, articles and contacts before you go and you're experience here will be one to remember for all the right reasons. Enjoy.
Location:Pinar del Rio, Cuba
Note:If you're feeling magnanimous, keep with the excellent tradition of leaving some high-quality climbing gear behind in Cuba when you take off. This helps the local climbing community immensely, as well as future traveling climbers (like you are now) in need of equipment.