East of Mayarí the road becomes increasingly potholed and the dusty rural surroundings are progressively more remote. The culmination of this rustic drive is lovely Cayo Saetía, a small, flat, wooded island in the Bahía de Nipe that's connected to the mainland by a small bridge. During the 1970s and '80s this was a favored hunting ground for communist apparatchiks who enjoyed spraying lead into the local wildlife. Now Cayo Saetía is a protected wildlife park with 19 species of exotic animals, including camels, zebras, antelopes, ostriches and deer.
Bisected by grassy meadows and adorned by hidden coves and beaches, it's the closet Cuba gets to an African wildlife reserve. However, it's also still run by the military and not overly friendly to visitors – particularly those just out to explore. The gorgeous beach is often commandeered by organized catamaran groups from Guardalavaca.