See and Photograph The Very Best of Cuba
Join Juan Pons and our local guides as we photograph the culture, people, landscape, architecture, and history of this island nation and its beautiful people. Traveling to Cuba is a mesmerizing experience. Just 90 miles from the coast of Florida, the tense bilateral relationship and the U.S. embargo have kept many from visiting the island over the last 5 decades. The Cuban people, however, await U.S. visitors with open arms, ready to share their culture and history with their guests. Cuba's many advances in education, health and the social sciences, as well as our cultural affinities, mean that we have a lot to learn from each other. Traveling to Cuba provides us with the opportunity to learn side-by-side with Cubans about issues of mutual interest, and share insight into issues that confront our two nations. Cuba is well known for its lively music, beautiful art, incredible architecture, success in sports, and pure culture. However, more than anything, it's known for the kindness, creativity, and resolve of its people. Traveling to Cuba allows us to build bridges between our two nations and come closer to dealing with issues that politicians have created and failed to resolve over many years.
As one of the safest countries in the Western Hemisphere, it's hard to find a place where you can get farther off the beaten track to photograph, and learn more about yourself, your friends and family, and our neighbors to the south. Isolated (for the most part) from U.S. cellphones and internet service, and absent the billboards and advertising campaigns of the capitalist world, a few days with the people in the streets of Old Havana and the valleys of the countryside can have a transformative effect.
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 travelers and individuals in Cuba. We have partnered with Cuba Educational Travel, and their people-to-people license (No. CT-2012-294261-1) allows them to coordinate legal travel for Americans to meet the Cuban people and learn about Cuban society. We also work closely with Havana Culinary and Culture, another people-to-people license holder (No. CT-2013-300203-1), so that all of our trips are fully licensed by the U.S. Government. Yes, things are changing—but as of now this is the way that you can legally travel to Cuba from the US.
February 19–28, 2018
Limited to 8 Guests
Itinerary and General Information
February 18, 2018: You'll arrive in Miami anytime this day. We have a hotel near the airport pre-arranged for you. We will kick things off with a group welcome dinner at 7:00pm.
February 19, 2018: Morning flight from Miami for Santiago, Cuba (flight information will be provided). Midday Lunch at La Canasta restaurant, a simple but charming eatery in the center of town. We’ll check in to our hotel, get settled in, and then we’ll have an interactive discussion with Arch. Norka Cabrales, Santiago’s leading expert in Preservation and Conservation of Historical Patrimony. This is a photo walking tour. We’ll have dinner at El Palenquito restaurant, followed by a private performance by La Tumba Francesa. Tumba Francesa is a traditional cultural dance and musical style that emerged in the 18th century in Oriente, Cuba. It combines music from West Africa and traditional French music. "Tumba" derives from "tambours", which is French for drums. It is one of several Haitian drumming styles that produce a very infectious beat, often accompanied by trumpets, the instrument responsible for the distinctive Cuban sound.
February 20, 2018: We photograph Santiago, the capital of Cuba's southeastern Santiago de Cuba Province, facing a bay off the Caribbean Sea. It's known for colonial architecture and revolutionary history. We have a sunrise photo shoot through downtown Santiago de Cuba. After breakfast we'll visit the Bacardi Museum. Completed in 1927, It currently has three exhibition rooms dedicated to archaeology, Cuban history, and art from Santiago, Cuba, as well as Europe. We visit the Moncada Barracks, where the first armed assault of the Revolution took place, led by Fidel Castro. Despite the defeat, once in power Fidel converted the Barracks into a school and established part of the building as the 26 of July Historical Museum. In the afternoon we will visit and photograph Santiago’s most famous landmark, Santa Ifigenia Cemetery. We will receive a tour from Cemetery staff followed by an interactive discussion. We end the afternoon by photographing Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, also known as El Morro Fortress at the Bay of Santiago. Built in 1638 to defend against foreign attacks and piracy, the fortress has since then served as a prison and auxiliary bastion bearing proof of its long history with authentic war memorabilia and the original wooden crucifix from the 16th century. We'll shoot sunset and then have dinner at El Morro restaurant.
February 21, 2018: We’ll have a sunrise shoot, breakfast and then depart for Camaguey, a beautiful colonial city in the center of the island. Visit to the Basilica del Cobre, located northwest of Santiago. Built in 1926, this is the only Basilica on the island and is considered the most sacred place in Cuba for both Catholics and those that practice Santeria. This shrine houses the important statue of the Virgin of Charity, Caridad del Cobre, the named patron saint of the island. It is this Basilica that the Pope visited this spring on the 300th anniversary of the Saint. We will learn about the history of the Basilica within the context of Cuban religious history.
On the way, we visit Bayamo, the capital city of the Granma Province of Cuba, and one of the most important historic cities of Cuba. We will have a photo walk here followed by lunch at a local restaurant.
We continue on to Camaguey, arriving late in the afternoon. We’ll check in to our B&Bs, known as “casas particulares,” or “private homes.” Since the 1990s 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. After settling in, we’ll have dinner served by our host families. This is an amazing experience that you will never forget!
February 22, 2018: Sunrise shooting in Camaguey. After breakfast well have a photo walking tour of the historic center of Camaguey, followed by lunch at Meson del Príncipe restaurant. We’ll then be heading to Trinidad, a UNESCO world heritage site, known for its cobblestone streets, pastel colored homes and small town feel. Here we stay at Casa Lola, where we will have the entire place to ourselves. We will dine tonight in the central courtyard and we’ll be served amazing local specialties.
February 23, 2018: Trinida sunrise photo shoot. Walk to the highest point of the city to shoot the sun rising over the bell towers and colonial homes of historic Trinidad. We’ll have breakfast back at Casa Lola in our private courtyard, and have a discussion with Nancy Benítez, a local architect, historian and restoration specialist. After breakfast, we have a walking Tour of the Historic Center of the city with Nancy Benítez. Visit to historic houses in the Trinidad area. Families will allow us throughout the homes, where we can snap photos of a number of antiques from the 1950s and well beyond. We’ll have lunch at Paladar San Jose. Late afternoon and evening free. Photo walk to catch the sunset.
February 24, 2018: We head to the nearby Playa Ancon for a sunrise photo shoot. Breakfast back at our private courtyard in Casa Lola. Then we visit the archeological site San Isidro de los Destiladeros, near the city of Trinidad, which was a typical sugar plantation, operated with slave labor in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Remnants of this thriving and historically under-appreciated industrial heritage survive: an impressive owner's house, three-story tower, cistern, main sugar factory, ancillary buildings, and dikes. Almost all are in ruins or in imminent danger of collapse. Lunch at Los Conspiradores paladar, located at the foot of the main plaza and the lively Casa de la Musica. Afternoon and evening free to enjoy the beautiful city.
February 25, 2018: We’ll get up early again and photography Trinidad as it comes alive for the day. After breakfast, we have 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 the flora and fauna and take photos at a gorgeous waterfall and inside a cave. We will also stop at a natural fresh-water pool for swimming, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and visit a coffee plantation and museum. Tonight we have dinner at Casa Lola, in our private courtyard.
February 26, 2018: One final morning shoot in Trinidad, then breakfast, and we will check out and depart for Havana, a bustling city and the capital of Cuba. We visit to Cienfuegos on the way, one of the country’s oldest and most beautiful cities, which is located approximately three and a half hours from Havana. Photo Walk of Cienfuegos with Omar Valenti who will show us the ins and outs of this beautiful port city. Lunch at El Lagarto. With views and breezes from the bay of Cienfuegos, the location of El Lagarto is unbeatable. Later in the day we arrive in Havana and check in to the Hotel Parque Central, Trip Advisor’s selection as the best hotel in Havana. Located on the corner of Central Park and along Prado Boulevard, the hotel is just steps from the Capitol building, the Great Theatre and the famous Obispo Street. We’ll dine at café Laurent, a paladar located in the beautiful Vedado District. Blocks from the Hotel Nacional, this penthouse apartment was converted into a lovely rooftop restaurant. Fun street shooting after dinner!
February 27, 2018: Up early again and sunrise photo shoot at Morro Castle, where we can get a view of the sun rising above the Alamar Housing projects and Eastern Beaches. 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. After breakfast, we have a walking tour of the Old City. Wander 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 as well as 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. We’ll photograph up and coming Cuban boxers a local boxing gym. Photo shoot of players in action. Lunch at Doña Eutimia paladar, famous for its ropa vieja and frozen mojitos.
Following lunch we’ll meet with journalist Marc Frank, author of “Cuba Revelations” and the longest serving foreign correspondent in Cuba. Frank writes for Reuters, the Financial Times and the Economist, and is an authority on the Cuban economy. His will offer insight into important economic, political and social issues on the island and share colorful stories about being a reporter in Cuba.
We’ll cap off our last night in Cuba with photo walking, drinks and sunset photo shoot at 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 town house carrying the charming ambience of the early 1900s.
February 28, 2018: Final sunrise shoot in Havana, followed by breakfast, check out and flights back to Miami.
- Double occupancy lodging (single available, just ask)
- All meals during the workshop (except dinner on 24th)
- All transportation during the workshop
- Photographic guiding and instruction from Juan Pons
- English speaking local guide
- Cuban visa and in-country medical insurance
What’s Not Included?
Airfare from your home to Cuba and back (we will advise you on flights to book). Trip cancelation insurance. Hotel room in Miami before or after the workshop (we will have a block of rooms available). Airline fees, passport and visa fees, if any. Alcoholic beverages. Items of a personal nature. Tips at meals (generally $1-$2 per person) and for housekeeping. Tips for local guides and bus driver (MW leaders do not expect or accept tips). Anything not specifically mentioned as included.
Your non-refundable deposit of $3,000 USD will hold your space on this workshop. The non-refundable balance of $5,495 USD will be due not later than November 1, 2017. All of the rest of our standard terms and conditions apply.
See and photograph Cuba before it changes! If you've been thinking about it, now is the time to register by clicking on the Sign Me Up! button. ¡Nos vemos en Cuba!