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A short drive out of Cienfuegos leads us to a true hidden gem, which reveals Cuba's natural beauty and bird life, off the main tourist trail. Arriving shortly before 8am, you'll head out onto Laguna Guanaroca in boats holding three people and rowed by locals with intimate knowledge of the area.

You'll pass close to exotic mangroves which line the water's edge, keeping an eye out for an array of birds including herons, egrets and cormorants. You might catch the spectacular sight of a pelican nose-diving out of the sky, crashing into the water beak first. But the stars of the show are undoubtedly the pink flamingos which make their home here, particularly abundant between December and March. Getting close to these graceful creatures is an unexpected privilege in Cuba, even more so if you see a large group taking flight and soaring above you overhead.

Back on terra firma, you'll follow up the boat ride with a walk through the forest, led by a local nature guide. Probable sightings include hummingbirds, trogons, land crabs, turkey vultures and perhaps the reclusive 'hairy legged' tarantula spider. The forest is also home to bromelidas and termite nests.

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