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Eastern Cuba: Santiago, Bayamo & Baracoa

Overview

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 be exceptional. Physically stunning and heavily infused with Afro-Cuban and even Taíno traditions, it’s one of the most fascinating parts of Cuba… and a chance to photograph and explore away from the tourist hoards.

Itinerary

Day 1:
We’ll arrive on our flight from Miami to Holguín. We’ll have lunch in Bayamo, then drive to Santiago de Cuba. We will enjoy a light rooftop dinner together and spend the night in a premier hotel overlooking the main square.

Day 2: 
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 Escuela de Música de Santiago de Cuba (Conservatorio Esteban Salas) to photograph a kids’ performance at this state music school. Plus we’ll experience a private performance & photo session with Tumba Francesa, with, Haitian music/dance performed in traditional costume.Finally, we’ll enjoy a dinner and spend the night in Santiago de Cuba.

Day 3: 
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 for a brief tour of the main historic sites, including San Juan Hill, where composer/historian Aquilis Jorge Ribaud plays guitar as he regales stories of the Spanish-American War, 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. Overnight in Santiago.

Day 4: 
Today begins with a nice morning walk along Avenida Manduley, in Vista Alegre. This will include Museo de la Imagem and time with artists at Galeria Rene Valdes Cedeno. For lunch, everyone can partake at their leisure. In the early afternoon, we’ll visit El Morro headland castle for some great photos and a cannon-firing ceremony.  We’ll then head to our farewell dinner before a sensational Cuban cabaret at the Tropicana open-air nightclub (perhaps with behind the scenes pre-show visit). Overnight in Santiago de Cuba.

Day 5: 
In the morning, our group will travel to Baracoa via Guantánamo. We’ll head into the mountains to meet with Angelito Iñigo at Zoologico Piedra, a 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. We’ll overnight in a selection of Baracoa’s finest private B&Bs, all close to one another.

Day 6: 
This morning we’ll visit Boca de Miel river mouth to photograph the fishermen casting fishnets. Lunch will be at everyone’s leisure followed by a photo shoot of a quinceanera (fifteenth birthday) with local photographer Olider Aguilera. The 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.

Day 7: 
This morning will be at one’s 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. Lunch 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. Our group will have dinner together and overnight in Baracoa.

Day 8: 
First off today, we will learn about art tuition and expression with local artist Mildo Mata Carcassé. Then, our group will head to Guantánamo, time permitting via a new coast road with stunning vistas. The late afternoon or evening we can look forward to meeting and photographing some English-speaking Cubans of Jamaican and Barbadian descent at the West Indies Welfare Center. Overnight in Guantanamo.

Day 9: 
This morning we’ll drive to Bayamo via El Cobre, and enjoy lunch and dinner together in a local farmstead.  The highlights for this final day and night will be attending a horse-drawn carriage workshop to photograph artisans at work and a horse carriage ride.  The horses will bring us to Paladar San Salvador de Bayamo or Meson La Chuchipapa. Overnight in Bayamo.

Day 10: 
This morning, we’ll photograph at the train station and enjoy a final breakfast together, then transfer to Holguin for our flight to Miami.

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