This trip is authorized by the U.S. Government under the category of Support for the Cuban People.
There has never been a better time to visit Cuba. If you have already visited the holy trinity of Havana, Trinidad and Viñales and know what a fabulous photographic destination Cuba is, then this adventure to Eastern Cuba will prove enticingly and incredibly different. Physically stunning and heavily infused with Afro-Cuban and even Taíno traditions, ‘Oriente’ is one of the most fascinating parts of Cuba. Closer to Haiti and Jamaica than Havana, it looks east and is steeped in French, Haitian, and Jamaican influences, and boasts staggering landscapes.
Note for US Citizens: On June 4, 2019, the Trump administration rescinded the “people to people” educational exchange license. However, every U.S. citizen can still legally travel to Cuba and group travel is still possible, pre-approved, under the “support for the Cuban people” license. Jim Cline Photo Tours’ Cuba programs are designed to maximize “support for the Cuban people” through stays at private B&Bs, meals at private restaurants, and interactions with independent artists, private tobacco farmers, and more.
Itinerary is subject to change.
Day 1 (Jan 4):
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 (Jan 5):
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 (Jan 6):
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 (Jan 7):
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 (Jan 8):
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 (Jan 9):
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 (Jan 10):
We’ll return to Guantánamo via Punta Maisí (Cuba’s easternmost tip), the mountainous coffee country, and Reserva Ecológica Maisí-Caleta, offering spectacular coastal landscapes. Arriving Guantánamo, 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’ll thrill to a sensational Cuban cabaret at the Tropicana open-air nightclub (perhaps with behind the scenes pre-show visit). Overnight in Santiago de Cuba.
Day 8 (Jan 11):
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 (Jan 12):
This morning head back to Havana in time for an early evening departure for Miami and home.