Cuba's natural wealth, present everywhere in the Caribbean Island's excellent beaches, exuberant vegetation and pristine regions, is a unique incentive for environmentalist and nature lovers.
Due to its geographical location and its tropical climate, the Cuban archipelago is a safe haven for many animal and plant species, which live in its 100,000 square kilometers.
Anywhere they go, tourists can find places with particular characteristics. One of those regions is the Zapata Peninsula, in the western province of Matanzas, which holds the largest swamp in the insular Caribbean.
According to experts, more than 900 species of autochthonous plants – including 115 species that are endemic to Cuba – and 160 varieties of birds, 12 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles, including crocodiles, live in some 5,000 square kilometers of forests, swamps, lagoons and freshwater canals.
The crocodiles, which are fierce predators and are often compared to lions, have a limited habitat in Cuba, where vacationers can watch them safely.
The so-called Rhombifer crocodile, which is native to Cuba, has a solid body and thick skin that make it look ugly.
Cuban laws, aimed at preserving endangered species, ban the hunt and sale of crocodile's meat and skin, which is highly demanded in the shoe industry. The commercialization of the Rhombifer crocodile has been allowed under strict control by Cuban authorities.
In addition to its peculiar flora and fauna, the Zapata Peninsula also stands out for its excellent beaches, exotic forests, rivers, lakes, flooded caverns, natural pools, pristine areas and swamp savannas.
The Zapata Swamp holds the Laguna del Tesoro (Treasury Lagoon), a natural reservoir that covers an area of 900 hectares and is four meters deep. The lagoon is inhabited by the golden trout, which is highly demanded by fishing enthusiasts.
The region is an excellent destination for nature and adventure tourism, as well as for ecotourism.
Another major spot in the Zapata Peninsula is Salinas de Bidos (the Saltmines of Bidos), where up to 165 species of birds can be watched in winter, and where tourists can visit the Cave of Fish, the largest flooded cavern in the Cuban archipelago and a great place for cave diving.
Nature lovers can visit the trails of La Salina and Santo Tomás, where they can watch both endemic and migratory birds.
Therefore, the Zapata Peninsula is like paradise for nature lovers, who can find excellent options, including the one-of-a-kind fauna of the region.