Explore the Wonders and Culture of Cuba
January 24 – February 1, 2024
Cuba is well known for its lively music, beautiful art, incredible architecture, success in sports, and pure culture. We’ll spend nine days capturing the essence of Cuba with our cameras. The big city of Havana with its beautiful neighborhoods, bustling nightlife, old American cars, dance, music, and busy markets, along with the rural countryside, farms, cigar factories, and more. The streets of Trinidad are a visual treat that we will explore in depth. Expect long days full of great photo ops of all kinds and lots of laughs! We have a full-time English-speaking guide with us for the entire trip.
But is it legal? You bet. The U.S. government authorizes people-to-people visits to Cuba, in which travelers are required to have a schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interactions between U.S. travelers and individuals in Cuba. We have partnered with Cuba Educational Travel (CET), which has over a decade of experience organizing legal U.S. travel to Cuba. You will receive a travel authorization letter prior to departure and all of the U.S.-government required record keeping and compliance will be covered by CET, making your trip to Cuba not only incredibly interesting and enjoyable, but also fully legal!
This itinerary is subject to change due to weather, local conditions, and other factors.
January 24, 2024: Fly from your home to Havana, Cuba (We will tell you what flight to book from Miami). We will pick you up at the airport, board our private (and roomy) bus, and head to Viñales in the Pinar del Rio region. Considered by many to be the most beautiful place in Cuba, the Viñales Valley National Monument is full of stunning landscapes. The area is also famous for being the premier tobacco-growing area in the world. We’ll check in at our “casas particulares,” or “private homes.” Since the 1990’s Cuban families have been permitted to rent rooms out of their family homes to foreigners. Featuring comfortable accommodations and ample privacy, it’s a great way to interact with everyday Cubans. We have an evening photo walk in Viñales and a welcome dinner with our host families. We’ll have the best accommodations and food available!
January 25, 2024: We will meet at one of the casas for a sunrise photo walk with two community residents, who will take us to the top of the hill for a view of the sun rising over tobacco farms in a beautiful valley with the unique Mogotes that surround it. We will visit the home of a local tobacco farmer who will teach us about the cultivation and production process, followed by a cigar-rolling demo—he might even light up a cigar or two for the group. Afterward, we enjoy a farm-to-table dining experience on the grounds of a local farm, Finca Paraiso Agroecologica (the agro-ecological Paradise Farm), where we will learn about Cuban agriculture and tobacco production while indulging in an organic meal.
We spend the afternoon in Viñales, ultimately winding up at Los Jasmines hotel for a sunset photo shoot. Then we depart for Havana, stopping for sandwiches en route. We arrive in Havana and check in at our hotel.
January 26, 2024: Sunrise photo shoot at Morro Castle, where we can view the sun rising above the city and Eastern Beaches. After sunrise, we’ll have a photo walk along Prado Avenue and Havana’s seawall (Malecon). Catch Cubans on their way to work and school and all the hustle and bustle of the city, followed by breakfast. Afterward, we’ll meet a Cuba specialist for real insight into the island’s economy, currency reform, foreign investment, and economic changes, so you are better prepared for what you’ll see in the days ahead. Before lunch, one of our favorite photo shoots at the local boxing gym, where we will photograph adult boxers warming up, sparring, and actual bouts. Of course, there will be time for portraits.
In the afternoon, we take a walking tour of the Old City, wandering through 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 and important monuments. 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 the Plaza Vieja, surrounded by sumptuous houses of the Havana aristocracy from the 18th and 19th centuries. Visit Plaza de la Catedral and the Catedral de San Cristóbal de La Habana.
Dinner at El Del Frente, one of the coolest restaurants in town, is on a spacious rooftop terrace/bar surrounded by Old Havana’s historic architecture.
January 27, 2024: Sunrise photo shoot with models and old American cars. Our professional models will pose with this wonderful backdrop. We have a great location for this, found after many years of photographing in Cuba. Afterward, we’ll visit the 19 y B, Vedado agricultural market, where Cubans buy fruits and vegetables.
Lunch and discussion with journalist Marc Frank. Author of Cuba Revelations and one of the longest-serving foreign correspondents in Cuba, Frank writes for Reuters, the Financial Times, and the Economist and is an authority on the Cuban economy. He will offer insight into important economic, political, and social issues on the island and share colorful stories about being a reporter in Cuba.
We end the day with drinks and a sunset photo shoot from the rooftop of La Guarida, famous not only for its delectable dining but also as the location for the film “Strawberry and Chocolate.” It is housed on the third floor of a large, old townhouse carrying the charming ambiance of the early 1900s. Dinner follows at La Guardia.
January 28, 2024: Today we will begin with a photo walk along Prado Avenue and Havana’s seawall (Malecon). We will focus on photographing Cubans on their way to work and school and all the hustle and bustle of the city, followed by breakfast.
You will then enjoy a performance by Habana Compas Dance, which encompasses the rich rhythm and flow of the island, performing traditional and modern dances born from their Spanish, Cuban, and Afro-Cuban heritage.
Later, we will get down with Cuban Music. We’ll have cocktails with Rafa Escalona, director and editor of AM/PM magazine, followed by a living room jam session with top Cuban musicians. Tonight we will have a Havana farewell dinner at La Bodega, a private restaurant set on the patio of a restored colonial house with an exquisite style and design which nowadays hosts one of Havana’s most popular boutique hotels, “La Reserva.” This paladar offers delicious plates of Cuban cuisine with unique secret family recipes.
January 29, 2024: Check out and depart for Cienfuegos, one of the country’s oldest and most beautiful cities, which is located approximately three and a half hours from Havana. We will make stops along the way that allow for incredible photographic opportunities.
Lunch at El Lagarto. With views and breezes from the bay of Cienfuegos, the location of El Lagarto is unbeatable. Long-time friend and amazing local photographer Omar Valenti will join us. Following lunch, we will have a photo walk of Cienfuegos with Omar, who will show us the ins and outs of this beautiful port city.
We continue to Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its cobble-stoned streets, pastel-colored homes, and small-town feel. We will stop at the lookout point to capture the sunset along the island’s southern coast. When we arrive in Trinidad, we’ll check in at one of the most beautiful private hotels ever, Casa Lola. Dinner in the courtyard of Casa Lola.
January 30, 2024: City sunrise photo shoot. We walk to the city’s highest point to shoot the sun rising over the bell towers and colonial homes of historic Trinidad. And then down again, shooting along the way. Back at our Casa Lola, breakfast discussion with Nancy Benítez, a local architect, historian, and restoration specialist. Ms. Benitez will provide an overview of the city’s history from an architectural, economic, and infrastructural point of view.
We will visit and go inside some historic houses with Nancy Benitez. Families will allow us throughout their homes to snap photos of several antiques from the 1950s and beyond. Lunch at Sol Ananda, situated in one of the town’s oldest houses (dating from 1750), tackles an ambitious cross-section of global food from traditional Cuban (excellent lamb ropa vieja) to South Asian (fish kofta and samosas).
We also plan a visit to a cigar factory this afternoon. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore and shoot. Evening photo walks to catch the sunset. Dinner in the courtyard of Casa Lola.
January 31, 2024: We’ll wake early and head to Playa Ancon for a beach sunrise. Then, a day trip to Topes de Collantes. In the Sierra Escambray rainforest, also known as the National Park of Guanayara, we will have a guided hike through the mountain, learn about flora and fauna, and take photos at a gorgeous waterfall and inside a cave. We will also stop at a natural freshwater pool for swimming, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, and visit a coffee plantation and museum.
Afternoon free, and then a great dinner at Real Café Restaurant.
February 1, 2024: We’ll have a final morning photo walk in Trinidad before sunrise, then breakfast, and we’ll head to Santa Clara for flights back to the U.S. We will tell you the specific flight to book from SNU to MIA.
Moderate: Expect plenty of walking each day, carrying a camera and a small backpack or satchel with an extra lens and accessories.
Arrive José Martí International Airport (HAV), Havana, Cuba before 1:45 PM on January 24, 2024. Depart Abel Santamaría Airport (SNU), Santa Clara, Cuba after 11:00 AM on February 1, 2024. Air travel delays are common. Please arrive early, possibly even the day prior, so you don’t miss any of the workshop.
What to Bring
Please see our page How To Prepare For Your Workshop. We will send you a detailed information document 90 days before your workshop. This document will include specifics of where and when to meet, gear and clothing recommendations, and more.
- Double occupancy lodging. Single available for $1,500 supplement.
- All meals, soft drinks, and snacks during the workshop.
- All permits and park fees.
- All transportation during the workshop.
- Tips for crew, drivers, and local guides.
- English-speaking local guide throughout the workshop.
- Photographic guiding and instruction from 2 pros.
- Image reviews and post-processing instruction.
- Travel to Havana, Cuba and from Santa Clara, Cuba.
- Passport and visa fees (if applicable).
- Any meals or accommodations before or after the workshop dates.
- Items of a personal nature.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Medical Evacuation Insurance (required).
- Travel Medical (required).
- Trip Cancellation Insurance (optional, but recommended).
- Anything else specifically not listed as included.
- Single rooming available for $1,500 supplement.
“Muench Workshops far exceed what I would expect which is why this is my second and I will do more. The quality of accommodations, food, photo opps, chances for feedback, great interaction with Marc and Andy and participants, and the settings are worth every penny. Marc and Andy make things work smoothly, seamlessly, and with quality accommodations, transport, and food...all of which have great photo opps. It's worth paying a premium price for such a great photo and travel experience. In the end, it's not really a premium, but a real bargain for all that you get! ”
“The magic of workshops is to spend a week with no other worries than, "What is the best way to get this shot?" Watching other participants work at their craft taught me. In Cuba, it's about street photography. I am a wimp at approaching strangers and asking to take their photos. Following, copying, observing other's was very rewarding. ”
“Brilliant! Andy you are a great teacher, you broke it down into simple steps that I could understand. You clearly listened when I said my goal was to be independent and have fun. I began the trip intimidated by the camera and out of my depth, thanks to your clear, concise, "straight talk" you gave me the confidence to use the technology to capture what I saw. ”