Zapata

A preserved national park of swamps, mangroves, beaches and abundant wildlife make this a perfect place to visit for the nature lover. The region is home to hundreds of different species of birds, plants and reptiles and in the rivers, turtles and even manatees. As well as birdwatchers, the area also attracts substantial numbers of fishermen due to the abundant stocks in the lake of Las Salinas, which is particularly well known for its bonefish. 
 
Entrance to the national park is by permit only which costs 10 CUC per person, including a guide. This can be obtained from the National Parks Office in Playa Larga, or alternatively you can join one of Havanatour’s organised birdwatching tours.
 
Places to Visit
 
Guama 
Laguna del Tesoro (Treasure Lake) was once home to the last of the native Indians to live in Cuba, the Taino, who supposedly threw their treasures into the water to stop the Spanish getting their hands on them, hence the name. No treasure has ever been found, but today you can take a boat trip to the replica village and museum on one of the many islets in the middle of the lake. 
 
Crocodile Breeding Centre 
Originally set up as a conservation project after the Revolution, the breeding programme has been very successful, with huge numbers of crocodiles visible in the swamps from the wooden viewing platforms. You can even have a chance to sample crocodile meat at the local restaurant! 
 
Bay of Pigs 
Playa Giron is a small town of only a few hundred inhabitants but its beach was the scene of an invasion attempt by US-backed counterrevolutionaries in April 1961 which was successfully repelled by the Cubans. There is an excellent museum on site documenting the invasion with photographs, military equipment and a ten-minute documentary filmed during the battle.