5 Reasons Why Cuba is a Nature Photographer’s Paradise
When people first think of Cuba, pictures of bright classic cars and colorful colonial buildings come to mind. Yet there’s so much more to Cuba if you are willing to venture outside of Havana. Look past the obvious and venture into new territory, you’ll be able to capture something truly unique. Something truly ‘Cuba’.
It has some of the purest untouched landscapes, stunning wildlife and the most beautiful beaches in the world. The best part is, there are no venomous critters, few biting insects, next-to-no personal security issues and fantastic Cuban people to make your stay amazing.
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and is also the ornithologically richest. The island has an exciting avifauna, with no fewer than 28 endemics and one near-endemic (about half of which are considered endangered). And just like the classic cars and the stunning buildings, the birdlife is just as vibrant.
You will find beauties like the Cuban Trogon, Cuba’s national bird whose colors resemble the Cuban flag and its fighting spirit like the people. Then there is the spectacular Cuban Tody, Fernandina’s Flicker and the Oriente Warbler, just to name a few. Cuba’s endemics are incredibly unique; many species are in their genera and even in their own families.
The countryside of Cuba is mesmerising, yet the opportunity to capture it is often missed. Rolling hills, flat plains, a lush tropical landscape, and high mountain peaks offer so much for nature photographers. Vinales Valley is the most iconic, offering up unique limestone formations and the most perfect sunrise and sunset shots. The possibilities here are endless, including gloomy caves, flowing hillsides and lush tobacco fields.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserves
About 12% of Cuba is protected and is recognised by UNESCO. These places are a must-visit. The most notable is the Zapata Swamp or Cienaga de Zapata. The ecological fragility of the ecosystems has led to an intense effort toward conserving biodiversity and natural resources. The region was established as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2001, and it remains one of the Caribbean's most untamed, least inhabited regions.
It’s one of the main habitats we visit as part of our photography and birding tours because it houses the country’s most important bird species, like the endemics Zapata Wren, Zapata Sparrow, and the critically endangered and virtually flightless, Zapata Rail.
The Smallest Bird in the World
Cuba is the home to the Bee Hummingbird (or as locally known – Zunzuncito), the world’s smallest bird. Like bees, this bird defies the odds every day, with it being as big as a 10c piece. They come in amazing colours, that makes them look like a flying jewel. Although they are tiny, they demand the most attention, being such unique creatures. They are one of the main reason’s birdwatchers visit Cuba.
The Pretty Pink Flamingos
Cuba has around 70,000 nesting Flamingos and countless chicks, the largest colony in the Western Hemisphere. You can find them on the Cienaga de Zapat or the Caguanes National Park. You can find them leisurely fishing, with their long legs giving them the advantage to see the fish and just dip their black beak in the water to pull one out. Although they do prefer to eat shrimp, which is how they get their greatly admired pink coloring.
Cuban waterfalls are just as stunning as the other better-known formations around the world. Usually hidden in isolated parts of the country, these waterfalls offer you the chance to see another side of the island nation. These beautiful formations are refreshing to dive into on a hot Cuban day, tranquil when listening to the rhythm of flowing water and a visual feast for the eye.
There are of course plenty more reasons, the cultural experience, the amazing food, the magical rhythms and the perfect weather are just to name a few. Yet capturing the magical moments through your lens will create a lasting memory!