Want to explore further? Try one of our guided overnight trips to Ciénaga de Zapata National Park to discover Cuba beyond the cars, cigars and cocktails. Here, discover abundant wildlife; tranquil, unspoiled beaches; authentic local hospitality and a total change of pace from busy Havana. In under three hours’ drive from the capital, it’s a different world.
Accommodation for our overnight guided tour is in Playa Larga – a small coastal village in the heart of the Ciénaga de Zapata National Park. A protected UNESCO site, this coastal region is home to dozens of species of birds, animals and sea life. The area is also well-known from the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and is full of sites of historical significance. You will find some of the best diving sites in all Cuba in this area. With the expert help of local guide Yeye, who has been guiding groups in Cuba for over 15 years, we have put together a range of choices for a custom-made Cuban adventure.
The first day of your trip involves private transfer (in a licensed, air-conditioned vehicle with seatbelts) to Playa Larga. On the way, we’ve selected some of the most interesting activities to help you get feel for this fascinating region. Choose from the list below or let us know if you had something else in mind!
En-route from Havana, we stop at the historical site of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. Visit the museum in the village of Girón to understand the political importance of this event. Watch a short documentary film to understand the local perspective of this conflict, before taking a short walk along the coast to see some of the left-over bunkers. We arrive in Playa Larga in time for a home-cooked lunch and an afternoon at the beach, or exploring the town.
En-route from Havana, we make a stop at Fidel Castro’s command centre in the village of Australia. Next, we see a crocodile sanctuary, visit the breeding program and talk to local scientists about these fascinating creatures. There is also the option to take a boat trip to visit a reconstructed indigenous village, and get a sense of how the people of Cuba lived for centuries before the colonialists turned up! We arrive in Playa Larga in time for a home-cooked lunch and an afternoon at the beach, or exploring the town.
After dinner, we head into the jungle for some authentic crab hunting. We equip you with hunting gloves and flashlights (and recommend that you bring your own sturdy, closed shoes). The local instructor will teach you how to catch the crabs in the traditional way, hunting only what we can eat the next day. Whilst on the hunt, learn about the ecosystem of the coastal forests. Note: this is one half of a two day experience – see day two to see what comes next!
After waking up in the heart of the coastal countryside, and enjoying a traditional home-cooked Cuban breakfast, the adventure continues. Choose from our options for your day two excursions.
Learn how to prepare your freshly caught crabs, before packing a fresh lunch and heading to a secluded beach to relax for the morning. We build a fire on the beach and cook the crab you caught the night before! Whilst on the beach, learn about the way this local community has worked together to protect the environment from human damage. There’s time to relax on the beach and snorkel* before heading back to the casa to freshen up and then heading back to Havana (or your next destination in Cuba).
*bring your own gear!
Your qualified instructor will collect you from the family house and take you for a private, guided scuba excursion in the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea. After your diving trip, there will be free time to enjoy some snorkeling, or just to relax in the sun. We get back to the house in time to shower and prepare for your return trip to Havana (or your next destination in Cuba). Lunch takes place at a Cuban paladar en-route to Havana.
A guided cycling tour through the incredible natural habitats of the Ciénaga de Zapata National Park. We will make several stops during the morning to catch some of the diverse species of birds endemic to the region. Along the way, we visit the memorial site of Fidel Castro’s dramatic Christmas Eve dinner, immediately after the Triumph of the Revolution. Continuing our journey, we visit two rural settlements and make a stop to catch a glimpse of the smallest bird in the world: the Bee Hummingbird! Please note that this four-hour activity involves approximately 20kms (in total) of gentle cycling over reasonably flat terrain. Enjoy a home-cooked lunch before heading back to Havana, or onto your next destination.
Bird spotting, natural habitats and a refreshing swim in a natural cenote on this unforgettable hike! Your English-speaking guide will take you from your casa for a 25km drive into the heart of the forest. From here, it’s a gentle 1.5km hike through fascinating natural rock formations and unspoiled natural habitats. Your guide will be able to point out exotic plants, animals, bird and insects native to this region. The hike takes us to a natural ‘cenote’ pool where you can take a refreshing swim before heading back down the trail. Head back to the casa to freshen up before heading back to Havana (or onto your next destination).
A local, English-speaking ornithologist will collect you from the casa and take you 30km into the UNESCO reserve area ‘Las Salinas de Brito’. Here, you can spot – and catch on camera – large groups of migrating flamingos, as well as the breath-taking natural beauty of the nature reserve. Head back to the casa to freshen up before heading back to Havana (or onto your next destination).