NOTE: This trip is authorized by the US Government under the category of Support for the Cuban People.

Experience Cuba with the locals in three of the island’s most iconic sites… Havana, Viñales and Trinidad. Cuba’s frozen-in-time stage-set backdrop lends a twilight zone ambiance that Hollywood couldn’t dream up if it tried. It guarantees superb photography. But Cuba’s real magic isn’t its crumbling architecture, one-of-a-kind revolutionary icons, or spruced-up vintage cars. It’s the seemingly mundane, quintessential experience a lo cubano that provide for the most authentic grass-roots photography and which you’ll forever cherish as favorite take-aways.

No-one knows Cuba as well as renowned travel journalist, National Geographic photographer, and Cuba expert Christopher P. Baker. Chris has authored and illustrated six travel books on Cuba, and has written about and photographed Cuba on behalf of entities from the BBC and CNN to National Geographic, New York Magazine, and Playboy during three decades of travel to Cuba.

Join Christopher on this memorable one-of-a-kind photo tour, inspired by research for his magazine assignments and guidebooks. Of course, we’ll get to see many of the finest iconic sights that Cuba has to offer. But Chris shuns the usual tourist locations to explore off-the-beaten-path Cuba and interact with Cubans from all walks of life, while taking advantage of the best light, and with a flexibility that allows us to make the most of opportunities as they arise.

On this trip, we will experience the very best photo destinations that Cuba offers. 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.


Day 1 (Feb 16):
We’ll meet this afternoon in vibrant, bustling Santiago de Cuba (you can arrive any time in advance, today or a prior day, on American Airlines’ daily flight from Miami). We will enjoy a light rooftop dinner together overlooking the main square, and overnight with Cuban families in pleasant, neighboring casas particulares (private B&Bs) in the city’s colonial heart. Overnight in Santiago de Cuba.

Day 2 (Feb 17): 
This morning we’ll explore the various historic downtown neighborhoods, including the colorful produce market. Later, we’ll walk the historic Reparto Los Hoyos quarter to Estudio-Taller Arte Naif Bayate to photograph artists at work at this private cooperative; and Calle de la Santería–full of objects relating to Cuba’s fascinating santería religion. Plus, we’ll experience a private performance & photo session with Tumba Francesa, where Haitian music/dance perform in traditional costume. In late afternoon we’ll head to El Morro headland castle for some great photos and a cannon-firing ceremony. Overnight in Santiago de Cuba.

Day 3 (Feb 18): 
An early morning transfer by boat to Cayo Granma. We’ll shoot all morning in this island fishers’ community, with no end of fantastic photo ops. We’ll enjoy an early lunch on Cayo Granma then return to Santiago to relax. Later in the afternoon, we’ maker a tour of the main historic sites, including San Juan Hill, where a composer/historian plays guitar as he regales stories of the Spanish-American War and the ‘Rough Riders’ who famously fought here. Then on to Cuartel Moncada, where Fidel launched the Revolution with a suicidal attack on the military barracks, July 26, 1953. We end at Cementerio Santa Ifigenia, where National Hero Jose Marti and Fidel Castro are buried side to side. While here we’ll photograph the military honor guard parade before walking walk back to hotel, photographing the historic core at dusk. We’ll spend the night in Santiago de Cuba.

Day 4 (Feb 19): 
In the morning, our group will travel via Guantánamo to Baracoa. We’ll head into the mountains to meet with Angelito Iñigo at Zoologico Piedra, a private “stone zoo” offering superb photography of the life-size animals carved into limestone in the mountainside. We’ll then ascend via a spectacularly scenic mountain switchback to arrive in Baracoa–Cuba’s oldest city, founded in 1511 on the Atlantic shore in a bay surrounded by rainforest-clad mountains. Baracoa is unique, with a distinct and fascinating frontier culture, transporting us back in time. We’ll overnight in a selection of Baracoa’s finest private B&Bs, all close to one another. Overnight in Baracoa.

Day 5 (Feb 20):  
This morning we’ll visit Boca de Miel river mouth to photograph the fishermen casting fishnets. We’ll also delight in shooting the town’s time-worn architecture and meeting the local people. Lunch will be at leisure, followed by a photo shoot of a quinceanera (fifteenth birthday) with a local photographer. This will include prepping the girl indoors under tungsten light; then we’ll walk the streets in late afternoon sunlight to photograph her against the most spectacular backdrops. Overnight in Baracoa.

Day 6 (Feb 21): 
This morning will be at leisure, then we’ll drive to the rural hamlet of El Güirito for a cultural display by Proyecto Kiriba y Nengón who will dance in traditional costume; this is a rare opportunity to photograph a community with a strong Taíno indigenous bloodline and traditions. A delicious lunch of Taíno delicacies unique to the region will be followed by a visit to Finca Demonstrativa Las Mujeres for a demo of chocolate making and local cooking at this private hillside cacao farm. An afternoon row-boat ride in the Yumurí gorge precedes dinner together and overnight in Baracoa.

Day 7 (Feb 22): 
We’ll return to Santiago de Cuba via Punta Maisí (Cuba’s easternmost tip), the mountainous coffee country, and Reserva Ecológica Maisí-Caleta, offering spectacular coastal landscapes. On the way, we’ll stop in Guantánamo, where we can look forward to meeting and photographing English-speaking Cubans of Jamaican and Barbadian descent at the West Indies Welfare Center; and, across the street, a traditional music and dance troupe at Casa Changüí. After dinner, we hope to have an optional chance to thrill to a sensational Cuban cabaret at the Tropicana open-air nightclub. Overnight in Santiago de Cuba.

Day 8 (Feb 23): 
This morning we’ll explore the Reparto Vista Alegre district, once the chicest address in town. Walking along tree-lined Avenida Manduley (lined with the once-sumptuous villas of Santiago’s long-departed upper class), our stops will include the Casa de la Cerámica to photograph potters at work; and Galería Ríne Váldez Cedeño, a stunning contemporary art venue. We’ll lunch here, after which the afternoon is free for you to explore at leisure. This evening, we’ll enjoy a slide of everyone’s favorite images before our farewell dinner. Overnight in Santiago de Cuba.

Day 9 (Feb 24): 
Depart for the USA.

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