Of Nature's Gift with Free Admission - Review of Peninsula de Zapata National Park, Cuba, Caribbean - TripAdvisor

This is a review of birding and accommodations in Zapata National Park / Playa Larga, Cuba. Early February 2014.

We stayed one week at an all-inclusive resort in Varadero. A taxi arranged by El Chino de Zapata (Orestes Martinez Garcia) picked up our group of five early one morning and returned to Varadero the next day. We stayed in El Chino's tourist house. Our bird guide Day 1 was Angel, El Chino's brother. Day 2 Chino was our guide.

Reservations
Chino's time must be reserved many months in advance. Email communications are very, very slow; usually an answer is a month or two arriving. Communications are in broken English; there is an element of guesswork.

Accommodations
The tourist house is modest, small, clean, thoroughly Cuban and right on the beach. To get to the bathroom it was necessary to go through our friend's bedroom. Access for those with disabilities is poor, but Chino's sister lives nearby, her 1-story house would be reasonably accessible. She rents rooms, as do many other people in the small town of Playa Larga. If you are looking for family-friendly, American-style accommodation, do not go to Playa Larga. The people are of modest means and all the happier for it. We could learn a lot from the Cuban people.

Excellent food was prepared and served by some of El Chino's relatives. It's an interesting arrangement, the Chinese and Angels' birding expertise supports an extended-family business. We ended up paying extra for a few things we did not realize were extra - bottled water, prepared drinks, etc. This was not intentional, just due to language problems. The Chinese and Angel speak reasonable English, everyone else is Spanish only.

Of Nature's Gift with Free Admission - Review of Peninsula de Zapata National Park, Cuba, Caribbean - TripAdvisor

Would we do it again? Absolutely.

So, our ratings:

Excellent
Guiding, birding
Opportunity to experience Cuban culture, see the

Good food and hospitality

Pigeon Egret, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, White Heron, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Heron, Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Swallow tailed Kite, Turkey Vulture, Broad-winged Hawk, Sora, Purple Gallinule, Common Moorhen, Limpkin, Killdeer, Northern Jacana, Sanderling, Laughing Gull, Ring- Sandwich Tern, Rock Pigeon, White-crowned Pigeon, White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Key West Quail-Dove, Blue-headed Quail-Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Great Lizard-Cuckoo, Sm otto-billed Ani, Cuban Pygmy-Owl, Cuban Screech-Owl, Greater Antillean Nightjar, Antillean Palm-Swift, Bee Hummingbird, Cuban Emerald, Cuban Trogon, Cuban Tody, Belted Kingfisher, West Indian Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Fernandina's Flicker, Crested Caracara, American Kestrel, Cuban Parrot, Cuban Pewee, La Sagra's Flycatcher, Loggerhead Kingbird, Cuban Vireo, Cuban Crow, Tree Swallow, Wren Shoe, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Red-legged Thrush, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Ovenbird, Black-and-white Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Cape May Warbler, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Palm Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Black-throated G. Warbler Yellow-headed Warbler, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Zapata Sparrow, Red-shouldered Blackbird, Greater Antillean Grackle, House Sparrow.

D & V
Echo Bay, Ontario, Canada

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  • Adam Floyd