Cienaga de Zapata

The Zapata Swamp in Cuba is a natural paradise with incredible biodiversity, ideal for ecotourism and bird watching enthusiasts

Exploring  the area

Cienaga de Zapata it is one of the most unique places in Cuba, where several types of swamp ecosystems are grouped together, moderately or little modified by human action.

There predominate landscapes of low plains, swamps and semi-pantanosas, on peaty deposits and limestone rocks, with hydromorphic soils and vegetation of natural savannas of high aesthetic and landscape value, such as the Laguna del Tesoro and the Hatiguanico River basin, the main fluvial artery of the area, as well as Playa Larga and Playa Girón.

As a whole, the vegetation of the Cienaga de Zapata in Cuba constitutes one of the most important green areas in Cuba and, due to the species of flora and fauna it contains, it represents a place of world interest. Visiting the place is undoubtedly an extraordinary adventure for lovers of nature and life. Taking care of it means a vital and incomparable responsibility.


The swamp was inhabited before Columbus‘ arrival by Indians of the Siboney tribes. During the almost unpopulated colonial period, it was a refuge for pirates and in the republican era the area was inhabited by charcoal burners and fishermen who lived in extreme poverty. After the Cuban Revolution several revival programs were carried out and today the area is an important tourist destination for the country.

In the Cienaga de Zapata in Cuba are Playa Girón and Playa Larga, where the events of the invasion of the Bay of Pigs occurred in April 1961, resulting in the first defeat of the U.S. in Latin America.

Main Sights in Cienaga de Zapata

  • Museo de Playa Girón
  • Cueva de los Peces
  • Laguna del Tesoro
  • Punta Perdiz
  • Caleta Buena
  • Criadero de Cocodrilos
  • Museo Comandancia de las FAR
  • Finca Fiesta Campesina

Criadero de Cocodrilos

This highly successful crocodile-breeding facility, run by the Ministerio de la Industria Pesquera, straddles the road as you come into Boca de Guamá from the Autopista. On the right-hand side of the road is the actual breeding facility (tours available) which is more interesting if you want to learn a little about the reptilian beasts. On the left, next to the Guamá boat launch is a kind of mini-zoo where you can watch a daily feeding show.

Finca Fiesta Campesina

Approximately 400m on your right after the Central Australia exit on the Autopista Nacional of Cienaga de Zapata Cuba, is a kind of mini-zoo-meets-country fair with labeled examples of Cuba’s typical flora and fauna. The highlight of this slightly seedy place is the coffee (served with a sweet wedge of sugarcane) rather than the animals. Musicians strum and there’s a rustic restaurant, but realistically it’s a bit of a tourist trap for coach groups hitting the Zapata Peninsula.

Caleta Buena

Caleta Buena, 8km southeast of Playa Girón, is a lovely protected cove that’s perfect for snorkeling and kitted out with a diving office. Admission includes an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet and open bar. There are beach chairs and thatched umbrellas dotting the rocky shoreline and enough space in this remote place to have a little privacy.