Las Salinas - Fish Zapata

Las Salinas - Fish Zapata

The Zapata peninsula of Cuba’s south coast offers an as yet unspoiled dream for the discerning saltwater fly-fisherman.  Its vast expanse of beautiful, shallow flats can be reached only by non-motorised skiffs, thus ensuring protection of the enviable quality of bonefish and permit fishing to be had in the area.  Separately, the Hatiguanico River provides a spectacular contrast – of both scenery and sport – and is where large numbers of baby tarpon (up to 40lbs!) and snook are to be found.

As from the  beginning of 2016 this operation has been expanded, and is under new management.  In addition to the Hatiguanico River and the Las Salinas flats are the flats of San Lázaro also.  And the operation now has a serious fleet of new, motorised skiffs, ideal for reaching the more distant flats. 

This is an excellent destination for those looking for good fishing – maybe not so good for those looking for luxury.

The Fishing:

For little more than 10 years Cuba has been recognised as offering some of the best saltwater flyfishing in the world.  The Las Salinas location, which is just 2 hours drive from Havana, is still relatively undeveloped.  What it lacks in sophistication and infrastructure – compared to the other Cuban destinations that we offer – it makes up for in the quality of the fishing.

The extended fishing, that now includes the flats at Las Salinas and at San Lázaro, offers an excellent variety of good sized bonefish, and a good possibility of finding the occasional permit.  Similarly, the fishing for tarpon and snook in the River Hatiguanico can produce some very productive days.  The choice of how many days are spent at each of the three locations is up to the fisherman, provided that it is arranged in advance.

The beauty of these flats is their utter solitude with just the gentle murmur of flamingos or herons on the wing.  Or as Matt Hayes records:  “ …  an extensive system of saltwater flats that are so perfect that were you to attempt to design the perfect bonefish flat in your mind it would fall short of the reality”.  Here you are as likely to find bonefish in schools of hundreds, as those bigger lone cruisers that present the real challenge to the experienced flyfisher.

Accommodation & Transport:

Accommodation is provided at the new Fishing Lodge at Hotel Playa Larga, which  has been recently refurbished, and which offers comfortable air-conditioned accommodation, with en suite bathrooms, and hot and cold water.  It has its own wonderfully white sandy Caribbean beach, and a beach bar.  It also has a swimming pool, and several other facilities.

Within the package, all local transfers are included.  The drive from Havana to Hotel Playa Larga will take about 2½ hours.  To the Las Salinas fishing from the Hotel Playa Larga, the journey is about 35 to 50 minutes (depending on the season and state of the road) through the Zapata National Park bird sanctuary.  This sanctuary offers sensational views of flamingos and over 80 other rare bird species in the winter period.  To the Rio Hatiguanico fishing the journey is about an hour. 

The Programme:

The programme can be organised for any number of days.  However, the most popular programme is for 7 nights and 6 full days fishing. The suggested distribution of fishing is 2 days each - on the Las Salinas flats, on the river and the San Lázaro flats.  This of course can be complemented to allow for nights in Havana at either end.

Other Activities:

The whole of the Las Salinas peninsula is a National Park preserved exclusively as a wildlife reserve and bird sanctuary.  There are over 80 species of birds – some unique to Cuba, some migratory.  Tours to watch the huge variety of birds can be arranged (for the fishermen this is a daily occurrence on the way to, and back from, the fishing).  Visits can also be made to a nearby Crocodile Farm, the Bay of Pigs Museum and to the inland salt-water pools where one can swim with shoals of tropical fish.  Diving and horseback riding are also available.  And of course the hotel beach, pool and bar provide for many hours of relaxation and recreation.

Seasons:

The fishing at Las Salinas and Rio Hatiguanico is productive all year round, with the Rio Hatiguanico being more productive between March and August.  However, high season (in terms of occupancy) is generally considered to be the period January to May inclusive.

Rates – 2015/16:

The rate for 2 anglers, for the 7 night/6 day programme above is: USD3,745/person. 

Included:    Reception at Havana airport; Return road transfers between the airport and Playa Larga; 6 days guided fishing; 7 nights single room accommodation at Hotel Playa Larga; Full board

Not Included:    International air travel; Airport taxes; VIP Airport Reception; Cuban Visas; fishing tackle and equipment; Gratuities

Conditions:

A 50% trip deposit is required to hold your reservation. Full payment is due 60 days prior to travel.