Western Cuba Sights

Parque Nacional Ciénaga de Zapata

  • Playa Larga Map It
  • Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 08/26/2015

Fodor's Review

Bird-watchers from all over the world flock to this national park in hopes of feasting their eyes on some 190 bird species, including 21 endemic species. Even if you're not a passionate birder, you can still enjoy watching a mass of wading birds—flamingos, wood storks, sandhill cranes—feeding here. The park forms about half of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that also includes the Las Salinas Wildlife Sanctuary. The combined reserve covers 4,520 sq km (1,641 sq miles) encompassing mangroves, cactus, dry woods, savannahs, salt pans and forest, providing habitat for reptiles, mammals, and all those birds. It's a mecca for fly-fishermen and hikers, as well. Bird-watching platforms on the way out to Las Salinas offer a chance to see some of the endemic species, such as the eponymous Zapata Rail and Zapata Wren, along with the red, white, and blue tocororo—Cuba's national bird and the zunzuncito (Bee Hummingbird), the smallest bird in the world. The main access to the park is via Playa Larga at the head of the Bahía de los Cochinos. Check in at the park office in Playa Largo a day before you plan to visit the vast park, to plan which area you want to explore, pay your entrance fee (CUC$10), and make arrangements for hiring a guide (CUC$10).

Sight Information

Address:

Playa Larga, , Matanzas Province, 43000, Cuba

Map It

Phone:

/4598–7249-park office

Sight Details:

  • CUC$10 entry fee, CUC$10 guide fee
  • Park, daily sunrise–sunset; park office, daily 9–5

Published 08/26/2015

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