Zapata Swamp, Cuba
The Zapata Peninsula, one of the most important ecosystems in Cuba and the largest swamp reserve in the Caribbean, is situated in southern Matanzas. It features exceptional species of flora and fauna, many of which are endemic.
The Montemar Great Natural Park is located in the peninsula. Here, you will find beaches, woods, mangrove swamps, rivers, lakes, flooded caves that open on the sea, natural pools and a seabed of particular beauty. In short, it is an ideal place for day and night scuba diving by both beginners and experienced divers, including the exploration of marine caves., One of the park's main attractions is its cave system, which extends along the coast for 70 km (over 43 miles). The roof of some of these caverns has caved in, turning them into semicircular lakes called "cenotes". The park is also an excellent place to go hiking, horseback riding and boating. In addition, many animals live here, and the international flyways of several kinds of birds go over the park, so you can see both native and migratory species. While in you are in the area, Guamá -a restored Taino Indian village on Laguna del Tesoro (Treasure Lake)-, the crocodile-breeding center and the Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs) Museum are musts.
Mapa de Zapata Swamp
Matanzas is the second largest province in Cuba after that of Havana and one of the most important due to it contribution towards the economic development of the island. It is located in western Cuba, and apart from the highlands in the northwest and center of the province, the entire surface of Matanzas is flat. Due to its tropical weather throughout most of the year, it attracts lots of tourists looking for some sun and the beach, so it’s a good thing Matanzas boasts one of the most precious jewels of Cuba, the beach town Varadero. Nevertheless, Matanzas is full of hidden treasures, so it’s not only the beach that are worth finding. It is an area of great contrast, so experienced travellers will love its beauty and diversity. Under the wonderful light of the Caribbean sun you can contemplate its variety of greens, the range of colors of its more than 920 types of flowers and the many fish in its hot waters. If spring existed in the Tropic, this would be the perfect example.
For some time, Matanzas stood out in most sectors, benefitting Cuba by developing in developing in many areas: energy, industry, livestock, farming, etc. Matanzas was especially important in the port sector and sugarcane cultivation. When the establishment of the latter began, they brought the largest amount of slaves ever recorded to the area.
This mix of black and white people produced as a result the current heritage of Matanzas; not only physically, but also the heat of Africa. Thus, from the sound of drums, the rumba was born in Matanzas, the first national dance of Cuba. Nowadays it is still a very popular dance there. The Rumbero Festival takes place annually in the Sauto Theater, in the capital city of the province, and is one of the most important shows in Matanzas.
The jewel of Matanzas is the sparkling city of Varadero, with its endless beaches, grandiose resorts and luxurious lifestyle. Apart from these, Matanzas also has a lot of other nice places worth visiting.
If you prefer something more authentic, that better reflects the society, and experience something with more of an original Cuban flavour, Matanzas is a great choice. It has decadent but charming Neoclassical-style Colonial buildings. Catholic churches, a theater and several museums are some examples of these types of constructions.
The Ciénaga de Zapata Swamp is the perfect place for adventurers, as it is an almost unexplored wetland covered by lush vegetation, and an array of birds and other interesting animals.
From a cultural point of view, Matanzas is one of the richest areas of Cuba. It houses many museums that will teach you all about various topics, so you shouldn’t miss out on your chance to visit them. An example of this is the Pharmaceutical Museum Pharmaceutical Museum, unique on its type in all America, the Provincial Historic Museum, and the heart-rending Slave Route Museum.
Historically, Matanzas was a main point in the defense of the island during the Cuban Revolution, as in Playa Girón Beach, in the south coast of the province, took place the first of many defeats suffered by North American army at the hands of the Cuban people. The region had been attacked several times before, so it was well equipped to face what was coming, and very quickly organized its counter-attack. If you visit the province of Matanzas, take advantage of your chance to visit one of the museums related to war and the Revolution.
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