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Classic Cuba Havana, Pinar del Rio, Vinales, Cienfuegos and Trinidad

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9 Days
Availability : 05-01-2019
Havana, Cuba

Classic Cuba Photo Adventure Vacations – Inspire, Create and Learn.

Our 9-day Classic Cuba Photo Adventure includes 6 days in Havana followed by 2 days in Trinidad and 1 day in Cienfuegos, both located on the southern coast of Cuba.

A tropical paradise with a storied past, Cuba offers us a unique view of a world few have been able to see. Photographing Cuba offers us the rare opportunity to capture it’s warm people alongside it’s natural beauty and stunning architecture. Laid back Caribbean Island culture mixed with the big-city life of Havana, where vintage American cars from the 40’s and 50’s roll by you on Havana’s Malecon. Cienfuegos is a port city on the southern coast with architecture that reflects it’s French colonial roots, and quaint and tranquil Trinidad is Cuba’s best preserved colonial city showcasing its Spanish Colonial roots.

Like all of our adventures, we take you behind the scenes of Cuba’s tourist veil and expose you to the inner city culture that is the real Cuba. By working with locals, we are able to achieve this on an unprecedented level. Besides photography, we’ll be speaking with Cubans about daily life on the island, learning about the country’s unique political and economic system and working side-by-side with Cuban photographers. Our travels outside Havana allow us a close view of the island’s beautiful countryside and offers us the unique opportunity to discover rural Cuba through photography. Old Havana, Vinales Valley, Cienfuegos and Trinidad are all UNESCO World Heritage sites.

OUR CUBAN RECIPE FOR SUCCESS:  It’s been said that we really know how to do Cuba right. First, we start with a small group of 6-10 guests. We stay in the best 5-star hotels and beautiful and authentic Casa Particulars (Cuban bed & breakfasts). We travel by air conditioned vehicles and beautifully restored vintage American automobiles. We dine in world renowned restaurants and authentic hidden gem paladars. And lastly, we expose you to not only a truly amazing and authentic Cuba, but the most photogenic Cuba.

This adventure is designed not only to guide you to the most photogenic locations carefully planned for the best light, but to aid you in mentally visualizing a scene before capturing the decisive moment. Our aim is to raise your awareness and spark your creativity so that you not only go home with images to be proud of, but use your new found skills to improve and expand your photographic technique in general. You will learn how to turn an ordinary image into an extraordinary image by using your own creativity.

In addition, you will become knowledgeable on how to survey the landscape, utilize and approach your environment, photograph people indigenous to the region and the cultural considerations and challenges of photographing in a foreign country. Our time together will include individual and group discussions, inspiring ideas and great fun. Cuba offers more photographic opportunities than any other adventure we offer. Cuba is not to be missed!

CLASSIC CUBA 9 DAYS

Day 1 | Havana

We meet at our hotel in Havana on Saturday afternoon where we will begin our amazing CLASSIC CUBA Photo Adventure. We will first visit the famous Hotel Nacional. The amazing setting will bring many back to the 1950s, when the mafia held its annual meetings at this historic hotel and walk the streets of Central Havana. After we enjoy our “Welcome Dinner” at the award winning Paladar San Cristobal, located in the heart of Central Havana. A taste of colonial Cuba, San Cristobal offers wonderful entrees on 19th century china, surrounded by stacks of books, old antiques and nostalgic black and white photographs. You can ask owner Carlos Cristóbal Márquez Valdés all about it. (D)

Day 2 | Central Havana – Old Havana

On day two we depart our hotel in the early morning to focus on low light photography throughout central Havana, home to many working class Cubans. After breakfast we will visit a home in Central Havana for a discussion with Magia López and Alexey Rodriguez of the hip-hop/jazz duo Obsesión about their experiences and views on race and gender equality in Cuba. Next we visit a “lost in time” centuries old Cuban mansion for a photography session. In the afternoon we will have a socio-economic discussion with urban planner Miguel Coyula, who’s presentation will touch on housing, infrastructure, investment and restoration programs. It’s bound to leave you with a better understanding of why Havana looks the way it does today and possibilities moving forward. In the late afternoon you have the option to experience a fun and exciting photo shoot with Cuban fashion models on the streets of Old Havana, complete with stylist, wardrobe and makeup artist.

In the evening we enjoy dinner at El Cocinero. This lovely restaurant is housed in a former Power Plant and Factory. Home to Havana’s hip, you might think you are in Soho or Madrid. Following dinner we walk next door for live music, art and photography at La Fabrica de Arte Cubana. Rock star X Alfonso has turned this into a meeting place for young and eclectic Cubans and foreigners. (B, D)

Day 3 | Miramar – Havana – Hemingway’s

We begin with an early morning visit to the American Classic Car restoration garage. Owners Nidialys Acosta and Julio Alvarez have taken advantage of the recent economic opening and put together a fleet of 20 plus pristine “Clasicos” (as Cuban’s refer to them), to provide professional service to their clientele. Learn first hand how they restore these classic American beauties from the 1950’s. This setting makes for some amazing photography. Afterwards we offer an optional excursion to ride in these beautifully restored 1950‘s American classic cars. This 6 hour excursion will take you along the Malecón (Havana’s seawall), visit the mansions in the Miramar neighborhood and experience the bustle of Neptuno and San Lazaro streets in the city center. Then we’re off to La Finca Vigía, formerly the home of Ernest Hemingway. Today La Finca Vigía still houses his expansive collection of Hemingway’s books. It was here where he wrote two of his most celebrated novels: For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea. The beautiful grounds and bizarre tales from Hemingway’s many years in Cuba are captivating. From here we drive to Playas del este, and the turquoise blue waters and soft sand beaches of Santa Maria Beach for lunch.

In the late afternoon we attend a session at the famous “Rafael Trejo” Boxing Gym in Old Havana. Here we will have the opportunity to photograph trainers and students in session. In the early evening we are treated to a musical performance with Frank Delgado, renowned singer and songwriter, for a discussion about the nueva trova movement in Cuba, followed by a musical performance. Frank is often referred to as the Billy Joel of Cuba.

In the evening you have the option to experience the world famous La Guarida Paladar, the set to the movie “Strawberry and Chocolate,” and known for it’s spectacular ambiance and delicious desserts. (B)

Day 4 | Pinar del Rio – Vinales

We leave early for the Pinar del Rio region, an optional day-trip excursion to the western-most province, famous for its rich soil, tobacco production and spectacular scenery Here we will visit the charming little village of Viñales nestled in the Sierra de los Organos mountains. Viñales Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and settlement dating back to the Spanish colonial era.

We start off by visiting one of Cuba’s most renowned tobacco farmers, who produces tobacco used in world famous Cohiba cigars. For lunch we visit a local organic farm to learn about Cuban agriculture and tobacco production, where we will have a tasty meal. Great photo opportunities while exploring local farms. After lunch we explore downtown Viñales, where we will take a short photo walk to meet with small business owners, average citizens and others out and about; taking photos throughout.

After we visit a small country town where Mario Pelegrin, a community activist, has created a charming neighborhood project dedicated to local children. In this tranquil setting, a collection of rustic cabins provide a home for amateur art programs. This wonderful program gives local kids the opportunity to have fun while learning new skills in the areas of music, dance, theatre and art. After we return to Havana. (B, L)

Day 5 | Old Havana

Today we enjoy an early morning Bicycle Taxi Photo Tour through Old and Central Havana, providing us with many photographic opportunities. We will explore Havana’s Old City a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander through the Plaza Vieja, the oldest plaza in Havana, dating from the 16th century. See the Plaza de San Francisco, a cobbled plaza surrounded by buildings dating from the 18th century, dominated by the baroque Iglesia and Convento de San Francisco dating from 1719. Visit Plaza de la Cathedral and the Cathedral de San Cristóbal de La Habana. Visit the Plaza de Armas, a scenic tree-lined plaza formerly at the center of influence in Cuba. It is surrounded by many of the most historic structures in Havana as well as important monuments. We will end our ride at one of the most photogenic produce markets in Havana.

You have a free afternoon and evening in Havana. You can explore Havana on your own, perhaps go back and photography something you saw earlier, visit one of several museums or castles, edit photos, or just relax and enjoy our hotel’s amenities. (B)

Day 6 | Havana – Trinidad  

On day six we depart for Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for it’s cobble stoned streets, pastel colored homes and small-town feel. Here we will visit the Plaza Mayor and the famous Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima church, as well as the many other restored architectural gems in this charming village. Upon our arrival we will enjoy a hearty lunch at a favorite paladar, a recently opened restaurant with a diverse menu featuring everything from lobster to pizza. Trinidad will be filled with tourists at this time, so we will spend the mid-day hours away from the crowds. After lunch we will have a discussion and walking tour with the city historian and preservationist, who will provide an overview of the history and architecture of the city. By mid-afternoon we check into our hotel located in the heart of the old city of Trinidad. After a relaxing break for set out to photograph people and architecture of Trinidad, ending with a sunset photo shoot from the famous bell tower. (B, L)

Day 7 | Trinidad

Sunrise photo walk through Trinidad is a must. Here we will witness the city come to life, well before the tourists arrive. Not only is the light at it’s best, but the photographic opportunities are seemingly endless. After a morning exploring rural Trinidad we take a break to stay out of the midday sun. In the evening we will do another sunset photo walk through Trinidad. After we have a conversation with artist Yami Martínez at her gallery, La Casa de los Conspiradores. Yami has achieved international recognition for her art depicting the strains of life on Cuban women. Followed by dinner at Yami’s Los Conspiradores Paladar (B, D)

Day 8 | Trinidad – Cienfuegos – Havana

On day eight we depart early for Cienfuegos, referred to as the “Pearl of the South”. Cienfuegos is one of Cuba’s only cities to display French and Spanish architecture. Housed on one of the country’s largest Bays, the city offers beautiful ocean front landscapes, and is deeply rich in culture. We will meet with internationally recognized photographer “Omar Garcia Valenti” from Cienfuegos, who will show us some of his work and then lead a photo shoot in the downtown area. After lunch we enjoy some Music and discussion with the local chapter of UNEAC, the National Union of Artists and Writers of Cuba, featuring an opportunity to meet local photographers, musicians and other locals. After a beautiful day in Cienfuegos we return to Havana where we will enjoy a wonderful “Farewell Dinner” at one of our favorite restaurants. (B, D)

Day 9 | Havana

Our final day includes an early morning photo walk of Havana followed by breakfast and a review of your favorite photos of the trip, hotel check-out and departure for the airport. (B)

May all who come as guests… leave as friends®

Experience | Difficulty

Beginner, amateur, enthusiast, semi-pro and pro photographers

DSLR, mirrorless, compact or iPhone cameras

Busy schedule

Travel by vintage American cars, bicycle taxis and air-conditioned mini-bus

Minimal elevation changes and lots of walking

(non-photographers also welcome)

Includes

Travel, landscape, seascape, architecture, urban and people photography

Meet with Cuban photographers, students, musicians, artists and entrepreneurs

Professional photographer | guide

Cuban guide and driver

Photo walks & discussions

Small group (6-10 guests)

5-star hotel and casas (b&b) in rural locations

Breakfasts

3 lunches and 3 dinners

Local transportation in vintage American cars and air conditioned minibus

People-to-People activities

Visa (U.S. Citizens)

OFAC travel documents

What To Expect

Cuba is not just unique, but one of the most rewarding photographic and cultural experiences you will ever encounter. Because Cuba is so different it requires a open-minded and rewarding sense of adventure. As is often said in Cuba, “It’s not what you want, it’s what we have”. Prepare yourself to be completely wowed.

Accommodations

Havana – Grand Hotel Manzana KempinskiSaratoga Hotel, Iberostar Parque Central or similar

Trinidad – The finest Cuban Bed & Breakfasts

Cienfuegos – The finest Cuban Bed & Breakfasts

Travel Information

Book your commercial flights to the corresponding airports noted below.

Arrival and Departure Airport: Havana José Martí International Airport (HAV) – Transfer time 45min.

Our adventure begins on the first day at 2 PM at our hotel and ends at checkout on the last day.

Visas

U.S. based airlines distribute Cuban Visas at the airport using the OFAC People-to-People documents provided by us. A Cuban Visa cost $50 – $100 depending on the airline. International travelers who require a Cuban visa can get their visa through the Cuban Embassy or Consulate in their respective countries.

Price

Single Supplement:  $1000

Options and Benefits

Private Guided Tours & Adventures

We offer amazing private guided photo adventures, cultural tours and vacations for individuals, couples, families and groups. We can customize any of our published adventures, as well as others, to meet your individual needs, schedule, budget and interests. This may include the finest 5-star accommodations, business-class travel, and private guides and fixers who are able to make the impossible possible. If you are not interested in a photo-centric vacation, but you love our approach to private travel, we will be happy to design and deliver an amazing adventure focused on travel, culture and cuisine.

Travel Insurance

We offer travel insurance through Travelex. The cost for travel insurance can be as low as 4% of the total trip cost, depending upon age and other factors. Knowing you have trip cancellation coverage can make a big difference should you have to cancel for some unforeseen reason. Travelex Insurance Services is a BBB Accredited business with an A+ rating.

About Photographer

MICHAEL COHEN

CUBA

PHOTOGRAPHER

Born and Lives in Boston, MA

Photo Adventures Attended:  Cuba

Michael and his wife Marci attended one of our Cuba Photo and Cultural Adventures, straight from a trip in Patagonia. We thoroughly enjoyed the Cohens, and they thoroughly enjoyed the people, music, culture and photographic opportunities of Cuba. One of the things we noticed about Michael’s technique was his patience and approach to capturing his images. Whether he was using a DSLR or a Mirrorless Rangefinder, he would carefully compose his images and click the shutter just when the shot was right. His ability to immediately engage people while creating a comfort zone was quite impressive. Michael often set out on his own, in his own world, intent on securing that prized shot. It was a pleasure having the Cohens and look forward to seeing them on future photo adventures.