Eco Tour in Cuba
Join us in a unique Adventure / Eco holiday to one of the most unspoilt ecosystems on our Planet!
La Cienaga de Zapata is the name given to the vast wetlands and scrub areas that are located two hours by road south east of Havana city in the province of Matanzas. It is one of the most important and unspoilt areas in Cuba due to its quantity and diversity of ecosystems and has one of the best preserved mangrove swamps in the Caribbean. Birdwatchers regard it with admiration due to it having 212 species, of which 86 are permanent residents, 101 migrants and 20 plus endemics representing 78% of Cuba’s endemic birds, including the famous Zapata rail (now presumed extinct) and the Zapata wren. These wetlands also host the Cuban and American crocodile, the Jutia, the largest mammal in Cuba except for the imported white-tailed deer, the Manjuari, a rare primitive fish, 16 amphibians and 36 reptiles (13 and 20 respectively are endemics of Cuba). Zapata first stood out as an area of importance in 1961 when the USA attacked the Bay of Pigs. Unesco declared the areas a Biosphere reserve in year 2000 and it is listed among the 10 most important wetlands according to the Ramsar Convention. Cuba has declared the region a National Park. Cubawelcome in conjunction with Cuba’s ecological and adventure agency has designed a special vacation for 15 days/14 nights to visit Havana city, Zapata wetlands and scrublands, the beautiful city of Cienfuegos and the colonial gem town of Trinidad. Accommodation will be in comfortable 3 star hotels and transport in air-conditioned mini-vans or buses depending upon the size of the group. English speaking guides (or your language) are experienced in ecological and bird watching activities. Adventure activities are hosted by fully accredited guides.
Day 1 (D)
Meet and greet at Havana airport (Virgin, AirFrance, KLM or other flights) and transfer in private bus to the hotel Nacional 4 star in Havana. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 2 (B,L,D)
After breakfast, guided walking tour of old Havana to see all the important sights including the four colonial squares, the Cathedral, Hemingway’s bar, the Natural History department, the book fair as well as visiting a cigar roller who will show us how the best cigars in the world are made. Then we cross Havana bay under the tunnel to emerge at the Morro, Havana’s spectacular castle defence system built by the Spanish where we will have lunch in a restaurant serving Cuban and international food with a stunning view of the city. Return mid afternoon to the hotel. Dinner at the hotel or nearby. After dinner, you visit a Cuban Jazz haunt in mid-town Vedado and after that its up to you!
Day 3 (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we depart Havana for the 2 hour plus journey to Zapata stopping en route at the highest bridge in Cuba which transverses a deep gorge. Check in to the Hotel Playa Larga - then we have lunch. The afternoon can be spent on the lovely Caleton beach nearby where you can also do some snorkelling. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 4 (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we take the road to the Hatiguanico river which looks and feels like a mini-Amazon. Here we take Kayaks up the river, with supervision for novices. There are abundant bird species including Spoonbills, all varieties of Herons, Egrets etc. You may spot the Jutia, Cuba’s largest mammal which resembles a giant rat! Packed lunch. Late afternoon return to hotel for dinner.
Day 5 (B,L,D)
We take an eco tour with experienced guides to visit Sopillar scrublands where we will spot the world’s smallest Hummingbird, the Bee Hummingbird as well as seeing other species. We will also look for Charcoal burners that look like a glimpse from mediaeval times. After a packed lunch, we go to the famous Las Salinas national park to spot all sorts of aquatic birds, waders, plovers, flamingos etc. Return to hotel for dinner.
Day 6 (B,L,D)
Visit the lovely Cenote (sink hole) known as the Cueva de los Peces (Cave of fish). The whole area is riddled with Karst formations which like the Yucatan in Mexico, produced the deep sinkholes where sweet water meets salt water resulting in some spectacular tropical fish residents. Lunch in the restaurant overlooking the cenote. One can also swim here. After lunch we will have an initiation dive for beginners while experienced divers can have a dive offshore. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 7 (B,L,D)
Diving day. 2 dives to match level of participant. Experienced scuba diving teachers will be on hand. For people who do not wish to dive, the snorkelling is excellent. There are 10 diving points along this part of the coastline with spectacular caves and black coral formations. One of our passengers who is an experienced diver rated this area as one of the best dives he ever had! Packed lunch and dinner at hotel included.
Day 8 (B,L,D)
Today we visit the Crocodile breeding farm at the Boca Guama complex which will explain about the breeding process and reproduction in captivity. You may be lucky (or unlucky) enough to see a Crocodile in the wild. Lunch at nearby restaurant. Afterwards, we visit the Fauna station to see wild species especially the Cuban Parrot. Afterwards, we visit the Ictio-fauna station where we encounter the primitive manjuari fish and Cuban small turtle.
Day 9 (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we depart on a 120 km journey to the beautiful city of Cienfuegos (100 flames) known as the Pearl of Cuba. It has a French feel to it. We book into the Jagua Hotel near the bay. After check in we have lunch at the fabulous Moorish style building known as Palacio de Valle. In the afternoon, there is a guided city tour of the city. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 10 (B,D)
We transfer after breakfast to the colonial town of Trinidad. This beautifully preserved gem was built using sugar money from the sugar cane plantations. It was frequently attacked in the 17th century by British and French pirates. Afternoon guided tour of the town. Check into the Hotel Las Cuevas where we have dinner.
Day 11 (B,D)
Whole day visit to the Escambray mountains including trekking with an experienced guide and returning by old military Russian trucks. Dinner at the hotel. Afterwards, one can visit one of the bars of Trinidad with live music.
Day 12 (B,D)
After breakfast, we visit a Cuban photographer who helped National Geographic magazine when they did their Cuban story. He will show us some notable sites to photograph and we can see original African dances on his terrace. In the afternoon, we embark on a horse riding trip. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 13 (B,D)
After breakfast we leave for Havana (about 5 hours journey) stopping en route for lunch. Check into hotel followed by free afternoon in Havana. Farewell dinner.
Day 14 (B)
Transfer to Havana airport for flight home.