| 5 min read
Los Acuáticos is a community on the mountain slopes of the Cordillera de los Órganos in Viñales. The name refers to its inhabitants’ faith in the healing power of water, but it is also famous for its panoramic hilltop setting. Our host enjoys the view at Los Acuáticus so much that he’s made it a monthly habit to hike up the hill and camp there with his friends. When he heard we wanted to go there as well, he suggested we should go together, to which we immediately agreed.
The hike up
Although it is possible to start hiking from the center of Viñales, the first part of the hike is rather boring as it simply follows the asphalted road. Our Cuban friends skipped this part by hauling a taxi. A few minutes later we were at the starting point of the hike a bit further up the road.
As we had started our hike around 5PM, we were treated to some nice sunset colors along the way up, which was relatively easy. The trail went gradually up, with a steep climb at the end. One guy in our company even walked up in his flipflops, which I personally wouldn’t recommend though…
Camping in the mountains
After a one-hour hike, we reached the viewpoint. The sun hadn’t completely disappeared behind the horizon yet, so we quickly set up the tent and unpacked our bags. Unsurprisingly, the first items popping out of the backpacks were various bottles of rum. We wouldn’t get thirsty tonight.
I was feeling really hungry by now. So much even that when they offered me crackers with a mayonnaise spread, I gratefully accepted. Meanwhile, the guys started preparing dinner. On the menu today was spaghetti, which turned out to be one of the best I’ve had in Cuba. Finally a sauce where you actually tasted tomatoes. For dessert we shared a fresh pineapple they had harvested in the small garden in front of the cabin.
We spent the rest of the evening telling stories, drinking rum and trying to understand Spanish jokes. I tucked in around 1 AM realizing I’d have to get out of bed five hours later.
When our alarms rang at 6 AM, it was still completely dark. Without leaving the coziness of my sleeping bag, I gazed out at the darkness and marveled at the bright stars above us. I could’ve slept a bit longer, but I was happy to enjoy this moment of silence.
After a while, I saw small lights moving in the distance. Other tourists wearing headlamps were coming our way. Our Cuban friends quickly packed all our stuff and cleared the tent. They had been operating so quickly that no sign of us camping here remained by the time the tourists had reached the top.
The first group was soon followed by a second and a third one, each led by a local guide. The complete silence had been replaced by indistinct chatter in different languages.
The night turned into day, but we were still waiting for our sunrise. A low mist was covering the mountain like a thin blanket, as such hiding the picture-perfect view we had seen on Joaquin’s photos.
Around 7 AM, the sun finally rose above the mountains while painting the landscape with golden streaks.
Once the sun was completely up, we started our descent and walked all the way back to the village of Viñales. The time had come to take pack our stuff and take a taxi colectivo to Las Terrazas.
- It gets quite chilly up in the mountains, so make sure you bring long trousers and a warm jacket.
- Several organizations in Viñales offer sunrise hikes to Los Acuáticos. You won’t sleep in the mountains, but you’ll start hiking early enough to see the sunrise from the viewpoint.
- If you’d like to camp out in the mountains like we did, you can always inform with the owners of our casa.
- The hike is about 4 kilometers and takes roughly 1 hour to complete.
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