Varadero Nature Reserves
The natural charms of Matanzas catch the traveller with images of the Valley of Yumurí, the park of La Libertad, the rada itself, the hill named Pan de Matanzas, as a sleeping Indian; the bridges and rivers, the caves and the beaches.
There are varied offers of nature excursions that can be booked in Varadero from the Travel Agencies bureaus.
Ramsar Site Ciénaga de Zapata
To the south, there is the largest corridor of migratory birds in the Caribbean. History and nature go hand in hand in a tourist paradise: the Natural Park, Biosphere Reserve and Ramsar Site Ciénaga de Zapata, the most extensive wetland in the Caribbean island.
One of the most important ecosystems in Cuba, with a virgin and privileged landscape of unique flora and fauna. There are 900 species of native plants, 115 of which are Cuban endemic and five strictly local. Almost half of the winged species known in Cuba live in this Natural Park on a temporary or permanent basis.
Ciénaga de Zapata (Zapata Swamp), considered the refuge of the Cuban crocodile, also welcomes manjuarí (a prehistoric fish) in its fresh waters and in its seas is the manatee, the only aquatic herbivorous mammal on the planet. It also holds the Treasure Lagoon, the largest natural lake in Cuba, the Salinas de Brito, the Natural Pool of Caleta Buena, the Cenotes between Larga Beach and Girón Beach and international wildlife refuges such as Santo Tomás.
Varahicacos Ecological Reserve
The Varahicacos Ecological Reserve is another protected area in Cuba. The diversity of tropical ecosystems, the presence of a varied national and local flora, as well as migratory birds at certain times of the year, make this a wonderful option for visitors. The oldest salt marshes of Cuba and the Caribbean are also found here as are the archaeological zones and aboriginal pictographs protected by a majestic endemic cactus known as El Patriarca.
Río Canímar Natural Park
The Río Canímar Natural Park (monument to nature) is included among the sites of the western province of Matanzas declared National Monuments, a well-deserved category for this place of exuberant nature and incomparable beauty. The Canímar River has more than 12 navigable kilometres of the 19 that it owns, located in the periphery of the city of the bridges. It offers the attraction of a valley of fluvial origin, with abrupt slopes of vertical slopes that reach up to 90 meters in height. It is oriented towards the North and ends at the eastern part of the bay of Matanzas, where it reaches a width of more than 100 meters and a depth of about six. Another of the charms of this place is its proximity to the El Morrillo coast, area of historical and architectural value. This torrent keeps a sample of the aboriginal life of the Island from the paleo, meso and Neolithic periods.
El Jorajuría Cay, in Cárdenas, is an archaeological site located at west of Playa Menéndez, declared a protected zone in 1979 and where an aboriginal canoe was found, the only one found in Cuba and in the Caribbean area, and that is exhibited in the municipal museum.
Matanzas also has the Josone Park, a real park and natural retreat in Varadero, the Caves of Bellamar (Cuba’s oldest active tourist resort), considered one of the most spectacular caves in the island with amazing crystallization, as a result of work of the water over rocks for thousands of years; the Caves of the Muslims and the Ambrosio ones, where is the largest set of pictographs in the Caribbean area, the open Canímar River and the Yumurí Valley, Cuba’s second most famous after the Viñales Valley, are some other great natural attractions of the province.