Pinar del Rio Province Overview

Near the eastern border of Pinar del Rio, billboards announce "The Garden Province of Cuba." Farmers, many of whom still plow small fields with oxen, raise an abundance of fruit and vegetables. Pinar del Rio is famous for its fine tobacco, and the southeastern lowlands are a bright green sea of sugar cane.

  Much of Pinar del Rio is dominated by a chain of low mountains. Low, that is, until you are cycling through them. The mountains are largely forested, but productive farmland punctuated by Royal Palms is tucked into countless small valleys. To the north, the mountains descend almost to the sea. South of the mountains, and west of Guane as well, Pinar del Rio is nearly flat. Though cycling is easiest in these lowlands, the best rides are in or near the mountains, where the work of climbing is repaid with stunning views of blue-green peaks, misty valleys, and lowlands stretching to the sea.

It would have been impossible for us to test-ride every promising route in this beautiful part of Cuba, but we did cover about 1,600 kilometers.

In order to gather as much material as possible for the book, Wally carried a microcassette recorder and noted turns and landmarks as we rode along. Nearly every evening, he transcribed the day's notes from tape onto a laptop.

Most of the Pinar del Rio rides that will be included in Bicycling Cuba begin from either Soroa or from Viñales. Both areas are among the most beautiful in Cuba. This website also includes a few photos and comments from our ride to Playa Maria la Gorda, at the far western end of Cuba, and from our experiences in Havana.