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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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Nature and Tourism in Western Cuba

Cuba's tourist industry, characterized by its diversity, benefits from the Caribbean island's well-preserved natural wealth.

Dozens of kilometers of excellent beaches in pristine zones offer vacationers the chance to enjoy one-of-a-kind options in direct contact with nature.

In western Matanzas province, 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.

The Zapata Peninsula is a major tourist destination in Cuba, where vacationers can enjoy a wide range of programs that include nature, ecological and adventure tourism.

The region's tourist infrastructure includes the Playa Girón Hotel, which offers all-inclusive tourist packages with national food and drinks.

Monte Mar Ciénaga de Zapata, Matanzas
Diving site at Caleta Buena

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.

In addition to its peculiar flora and fauna, 30 percent of which is native to Cuba, the Zapata Peninsula also stands out for its excellent beaches, exotic forests, rivers, lakes, flooded caverns, natural pools, pristine areas and swamp savannas.

The swamp shelters 171 species of birds, 18 of which are native to the region, which is one of Cuba's richest zones for ecological tourism.

The zone is the natural habitat of a variety of crocodile that is native to Cuba, in addition to manatees, which are considered the crown jewels of the national fauna.

The geographic center of the region is Playa Larga, a 400-meter fine sand strip bathed by warm water and surrounded by corals and natural trails where tourists can enjoy nature at the International Bird Watching Center.

Other attractions in Matanzas 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.

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