On this trip we will experience some of the very best photo destinations that Cuba has to offer. John has a great deal of experience leading photo groups to Cuba – this will be the sixth group he has led. We will start in Havana, with its world-class street shooting and so much more. We will organize photo shoots, such as the most important boxing gym in Cuba, Afro Cubano dancers in an old colonial building, and ballet dancers from the Cuban National Ballet posing in an old mansion. We will be assisted local Cuban photographers, and everywhere we go we will meet and photograph the friendly people of Havana.
Next we will explore the tobacco-growing region of Vinales – with its stunning limestone cliffs, or Mogotes. Vinales would be an important photo destination just for the scenery alone, but it is the traditional farmers that make it so great. We are friends with many of the farmers in the area, and they will invite us into their homes, affording photo opportunities that the typical group will never have. Also we’ll be working with a local photographer who was born and raised there.
Finally we will journey to the colonial city of Trinidad. Many consider this Unesco World Heritage site the most beautiful city in Cuba. With the backdrop of the perfectly preserved colonial buildings, we’ll photograph cowboys riding horses and pulling horse-carts through the cobblestone streets, along with the classic American cars. We’ll meet a local photographer there and visit a cowboy ranch outside of town, where we’ll be served an authentic country-style lunch. Trinidad also hosts a thriving local live music scene, and we will have the opportunity to photograph local musicians there.
This trip will comply with the U.S. People-to-People travel sanctions.
Day 1: March 11
We’ll take our flight from Miami to Havana, and after passing through Customs go for lunch. We’ll check into our hotel, then go for a photo walk in Centro Habana and to the malecon, the miles long sea-walk, for sunset and the last light through twilight time. We’ll witness the classic American cars as they rumble past the old buildings, and the sunset and fishermen on the seawall. We’ll spend the night in Havana.
Walking in Old Havana with our guide in morning, learning the history of the city, and meeting every-day Cubans along the way. We will witness firsthand some of the privately owned small businesses springing up since the easing of the laws against such ownership in 2011. In the afternoon we’ll continue to explore more areas in Havana, photographing the old buildings, classic cars and colorful people. We’ll spend the night in Havana.
In Havana we’ll have an optional early morning photo walk. Later in the morning we’ll visit a boxing gym where some of the top boxers in Cuba train. After lunch, we visit more of Old Havana, and perhaps photograph a dance performance. We’ll spend the night in Havana.
In the morning we’ll go with a Cuban photographer for a model shoot in a gorgeous old mansion. We’ll have free time in the afternoon for optional activities. In the late afternoon, we’ll meet at the malecon for sunset time, and then walk through the streets of Centro Havana as the light changes to dark, to a restaurant for dinner. We’ll spend the night in Havana.
In the morning we’ll drive from Havana to Vinales, arrive for lunch at a private restaurant with an amazing view over the Vinales Valley with its dramatic limestone cliffs, or mogotes. We’ll make stop at a tobacco farm, and get a cigar rolling demonstration, check in to our hotel and have the late afternoon to meet the locals in the town, through sunset time. We’ll spend the night in Vinales.
We’ll get up early and visit tobacco farmers and photograph them in the morning light. We’ll have lunch at a beautiful restaurant where all of their organic vegetables are grown in their adjacent farm. In the afternoon we’ll visit more farmers and photograph them in and around their homes and barns. They will invite us into their homes, where we will learn about their daily lives. We’ll have dinner at a tobacco farmer family “restaurant”. We’ll spend the night in Vinales.
We’ll drive from Vinales to Trinidad, with a lunch stop on the way, arriving in time for the last light in the colonial town. We’ll check into our rooms in private homes in the historic city center. We’ll have dinner in a private restaurant, or paladar. We’ll spend the night in Trinidad.
We’ll have a morning walk with a local photographer from Trinidad. We’ll spend the day in and around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trinidad, meeting the local people and learning about their lives. We may visit local ranchers and farmers, watching the colorful cowboys, and having lunch at a farmhouse. We will get a look inside the homes of some rural Cubans. We’ll have some free time to wander the streets and photograph in the afternoon. After everyone has dinner, we’ll head to the colonial home of a Trinidad photographer for image sharing. We’ll spend the night in Trinidad.
We’ll have the entire day to photograph in the colonial gem of Trinidad, some time with the group, and some of the time on your own. We’ll have our farewell dinner at a private restaurant, or Paladar. That evening you may visit one or more of the thriving live music venues in the center, including the famous outdoor Casa de Musica. We’ll spend the night in Trinidad.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport in Cienfuegos or Santa Clara for your flights home.
For a “newbee” to photo touring, the Cuba trip with you and John, and our group, was an extraordinarily positive introduction. John was an informed, energetic and encouraging group leader, and the logistics for the trip were executed to a “T”. The photo opportunities were extraordinary. Guidance on where to be at what times of the day for the best subjects and best light were particularly useful and appreciated. I learned a great deal in the course of this trip, especially about street photography. John’s advice and encouraging counsel on setting up subjects and angles of shots was particularly valuable and appreciated. My favorite part of the trip was Interacting with the Cuban people and experiencing Cuban culture. It is a historic time to visit Cuba, trip logistics were very well organized, the photo opportunities were superior, and the trip was good value for the money.
This tour was a perfectly paced and varied opportunity to visit and photograph a diverse group of locations in Cuba and included venues and activities for extraordinary and unusual photographic opportunities. The planning and execution of the trip was flawless, the friendly atmosphere led to collaboration among participants, and the facilities, hotels, and restaurants were top-notch. The leaders and guides are knowledgeable, tons of fun, excellent teachers, and share their love of the country and its people. They also took responsibility for the safety, happiness, and photographic productivity of each and every participant. Highly recommended. If you have the urge to go to Cuba and experience the country, meet the people and get great photos, this is the trip to sign up for.
Jim Cline and John Barclay are a perfect match for the best photo tour of Cuba. Together, they can’t be beat. They take care of the details and provide the group with photographic expertise and cultural enrichment. [The trip] was well put together and balanced. You did an awesome job. Would take another trip with you in a heartbeat!
What a trip! Masterfully planned and executed by John and Jim, lovely travel mates, really good food, unusual photographic venues, a superb local guide, and the Big John Barclay to lead us to the mountain top! What a blast! Practically all the Cuban people were remarkably warm, friendly, and welcoming. Given the long-standing animus between our two countries’ governments you would think the Cubans would be less than happy to see us, but they were just the opposite. The trip was a cultural exchange, and we were committed to interact personally with the many people we met in the streets and various venues. We often said goodbye to people by sharing the phrase, “Amigos.” It was truly heart-warming. We found Cuba and the Cubans to be very photogenic. We were properly forewarned that a lot of things don’t meet US standards, and there can be some occasional surprises. Examples: hotel keys that don’t work, missing light bulbs, very slow or no Internet, no toilet seats or paper at restaurants. Once the lay of the land was understood, these were small issues. And to my surprise, Verizon wireless worked in Havana, Vinales, and Trinidad, with normal direct dialing. I would enthusiastically encourage any fellow photographer with a sense of adventure to visit Cuba, and to do so under the leadership of Jim Cline Photo Tours and tour leader John Barclay.
~ Roy S.