Cuba's natural treasures, including pristine regions and excellent beaches, exuberant vegetation and endemic fauna, are one of the most attractive options for thousands of foreign vacationers who visit the Caribbean Island every year.
In western Cuba, where the Viñales Valley stands out for its natural beauty, the Zapata Peninsula, in Matanzas province, is an essential element in the region's tourist development.
Experts say that the Zapata Peninsula is one of the largest swamps in the insular Caribbean, covering an area of 5,000 square kilometers of forests, swamps, lagoons and canals.
The region's exuberant flora, with more than 900 autochthonous species, including 115 native to Cuba, is complemented by 160 species of birds and 12 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles, especially crocodiles.
White-sand beaches of crystal-clear water, exotic forests, rivers, lakes, flooded caverns, natural pools, pristine regions and swamp savannahs are a safe haven for 30 percent of Cuba's autochthonous fauna.
However, the Zapata Peninsula is also a stronghold for tourism in Cuba, offering programs that combine such tourist modalities as nature, ecotourism and adventure.
The region's tourist infrastructure includes the Playa Girón Hotel, which offers all-inclusive tourist packages with national food and drinks.
Other attractions are Salinas de Bidos (Bidos' Saltmine), where naturalists can watch up to 165 species of birds in winter, and Cueva de los Peces (Cave of Fish), the largest flooded cavern in the Cuban archipelago, an ideal place to practice cave diving.
The Zapata Swamp holds one of the largest crocodile breeding farms in Cuba and the Caribbean region, with nearly 15,000 specimens.
Also in the Zapata Swamp is Laguna del Tesoro (Treasury Lagoon), a natural reservoir that covers 900 hectares and is four meters deep, inhabited by the golden trout, highly coveted by anglers.
Ecotourism enthusiasts can walk along La Salina and Santo Tomás trails, which are highly demanded by bird-watchers.
Cuban cuisine is the main course in Caleta Buena, where corsairs and pirates arrived centuries ago and where visitors can enjoy its crystal-clear water and large variety of fish.
Last but not least is the Fiesta Campesina farm, famous among tourists for its Cuban coffee, served in a clay "jícara" (a typical container used in Cuba's countryside) with a piece of sugarcane.