Cuba Photo Tour: Explorations of Cuba with Joel Collins

Tour Intro

Americans are able to travel under a 'people-to-people' program, which includes daily activities, immersing you into the heart and soul of Cuba. Designed as a cultural and historical program, it will also provide dramatic photographic opportunities each day. From the hustle and bustle of Old Havana, to the slower paced countryside of the Pinar del Rio and Zapata Provinces, includes an overnight stay on the southern coast at Cienfuegos. Visualize the appeal of this country that has been closed off to Americans for decades. Allow Joel Collins to assist you in capturing the allure of this amazing country through your lens.

You will be immersed in the rich culture, and strong willed people of Havana as well as the spectacular UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage site of the Valley of the Sugar Mills, and the colonial town of Trinidad on Cuba’s southern coast. This is a perfect introduction in to the people of Cuba, who are friendly and open. You will find so many wonderful faces to photograph in the cities and the countryside. There are those in Havana, that earn a living this way, and those that are just as pleased to be photographed looking for nothing in return other than perhaps a pencil/pen or small gift. You will be amazed at what a kind gesture can do, bringing you wonderful smiles in return!!

Wander and explore with Joel through Havana’s colonial architecture, while watching the antique vehicles pass you by. There will be daily educational programs given by your local guide, where you will learn about the arts, traditional music, dance, artistry, rum factory exploration, and visiting with local families of Havana’s diverse neighborhoods, and the sugar and tobacco farmers of the countryside.

Participants should know that Cuba is a special destination, please understand that all elements of the itinerary are subject to change and that activities listed are examples of opportunities that will present themselves. Since the program is authorized by the U.S. Treasury Department, we have to abide by any changes to regulations that may take place. Please remain flexible as there are often circumstances beyond control and changes may be necessary. Be assured that all efforts will be made to provide a comparable alternative should an item on the itinerary need to be changed.

Tour Highlights

• Photograph the immense Mogotes and tobacco farms near Vinales in the Pinar del Rio region.
• The Pearl of the South ~ The charming city of Cienfuegos.
• Spend two evenings in the colonial town of Trinidad on Cuba’s southern coast.
• Meet and interact with people’s lives on the streets of Cuba’s  distinct neighborhoods.
• Explore the architecture of Old Havana, designated an UNESCO World Heritage site.
• Panoramic views of the harbor, Morro Cabana, and the skyline of Havana.

Tour Itinerary

November 9-10: Home - Santa Clara - Trinidad
Yellow Taxi

Photo By: Tom Bol

Photo Location: Cuba

Once the group arrives in the Santa Clara Airport, you will collect your bags, go through customs and meet your local guide. After exchanging some funds you will depart to Trinidad. Trinidad was founded in the early 16th century on the southern coast of the country. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988, and it’s the perfect example of a traditional colonial town. This jewel on the Caribbean has distinct architecture and a historic center with cobble stoned streets that lead to many landmark buildings, and it’s a joy in which to get lost. This evening you’ll have a guided walking program of this most picturesque town. Each evening there’s a huge gathering where both locals and visitors get together for drinks, some wonderful traditional music and a chance to dance away the night.

Enjoy an early morning photo shoot with Joel before returning to your home for breakfast. Your guide will then join you for a walking tour of the city streets, where you may visit and photograph at an artist studio, a local school, travel to the Valley of the Sugar Mills, or photograph the beautiful landscape of the south coast beaches. In the evening you will drive to Playa Ancon, which provides an opportunity to capture the beautiful white sandy beaches of Cuba lined with palm trees at sunset. Overnight in Casa particular, individuals will stay in various local homes to experience the family hospitality and location in the center of town. (Nov. 10 B, L, D)

November 11: Cienfuegos

Photo By: Ralph Velasco

Photo Location: Cuba

Enjoy a leisurely morning in Trinidad with additional photograph of the colorful homes and cobblestone streets. Then depart to the Pearl of the South. Cienfuegos is a charming city, steeped in history, from the architecture of the casino and theatre, historic park, and the beautiful harbor. Enjoy sunset photography on the bay. Overnight Cienfuegos (B, L, D)

November 12-13: Vinales

Photo By: Brenda Tharp

Photo Location: Vinales, Cuba

The group will depart for the Pinar del Rio Province. Viñales was founded in 1607 and has an economy based on agriculture, mainly tobacco farming, and its soil is considered to be some of the richest in the world. In the Vinales Valley, another UNESCO World Heritage site, we’ll see mountainous “mogotes”, made of hard limestone left over after millennia of erosion, as well as rural farmland vistas. There are commanding views of the landscape, which we will capture at sunset this evening, and early morning sunrise photography the next day. We will then head down into the valley and walk the paths through fields of tobacco and sugar cane, meeting the farmers and photographing their homes and farms. Lunch will be at an organic finca (farm) overlooking the valley, and continue our exploration of this beautiful valley. Overnight in Casa particular, individuals will stay in various local homes to experience the family hospitality and location in the center of town. (B, D; B, L)

November 14-17: Old Havana
Man

Photo By: Tom Bol

Photo Location: Cuba

You will make your way to Havana today, where your local guide will orient you to the highlights of Old Havana on a walking tour. There maybe free time before dinner to explore the neighborhood around the hotel before walking to a lovely restaurant.

In 1982 Old Havana was designated an UNESCO World Heritage site and it is brimming with a variety of historical landmarks and interesting things to do. Just walking the streets in this area is a favorite pastime and will surely result in an unforgettable experience with plenty of chances to meet the locals and to take advantage of a myriad of photo ops.

There will be sunrise photo excursions with Joel, as you explore the city on foot, photographing the antique cars, architectural details, street scenes, and the local culture. After breakfast your local guide will join you as you explore Old Havana. Visit the La Torre (the tower) with views of the harbor and city, Morro Cabana (fortress) just across the harbor, Ernest Hemingway’s former home Finca La Vigia, is located close by, where we can view the remembrances of his 20 years in Cuba, perhaps continue on to Cojimar, ‘Cohema’ a quaint fisherman's village.

There will be free time in the late afternoons to walk the Prado down to the Malecon, with incredible panoramic views of the harbor and the skyline of Havana. You can also photograph from the roof top terraces of Park Central or Hotel Saratoga for additional skyline views. Overnight Old Havana (B, L; B, L; B; B, D)

November 18: Havana - Home
Car Reflections

Photo By: Tom Bol

Photo Location: Cuba

There will be a transfer (time to be announced) to Havana airport to begin your program home. If you have a connection in the U.S. be sure to leave three hours between your connection times. (B)

Photo Leader

Joel Collins
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Joel Collins

Joel is a professional photographer with a life long passion for international travel. His love of travel started at age three when his family moved to Europe. He spent the next several years traveling across Europe and North Africa, learning to love living out of a suitcase. The enthusiasm of that young world traveler is still alive in him today. Now he explores the globe with camera in hand, looking forward to each new adventure as an opportunity to capture another glimpse of the world.

Joel approaches travel photography with an emphasis on cultural sensitivity and respect. He has a patient approach, often trying to blend in with the local population and getting to know someone before taking their photo. Joel approaches instruction in the same way. He takes the time to learn about each student, working with them to conquer technical issues so they can better cultivate their own style and refine their unique vision of the world.

We could not have had better local guides. All very informative, friendly, candid and incredibly knowledgeable. Loved all three of them. Joel prepared extensively for this trip and it showed, from his background knowledge of where we were going to his recommendations on how to best capture a certain scene. His graciousness with the local people we encountered set good examples, both for setting up optimum portrait opportunities and for being an excellent diplomat for the US. He did a good job leading the critiques as well.

K.Hornsby

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 8 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $200 if 5-7 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.

Testimonials

We could not have had better local guides. All very informative, friendly, candid and incredibly knowledgeable. Loved all three of them. Joel prepared extensively for this trip and it showed, from his background knowledge of where we were going to his recommendations on how to best capture a certain scene. His graciousness with the local people we encountered set good examples, both for setting up optimum portrait opportunities and for being an excellent diplomat for the US. He did a good job leading the critiques as well.

K.Hornsby

Joel was a fabulous leader!! He was patient, friendly, and spent huge amounts of his time answering questions and educating. I would definitely go on another trip with him.

L Rose

You could ask Joel anything about photography such as use of your camera, software, or workflows, he would thoughtfully and respectfully give you his opinion and advice. On top of that people just naturally gravitate to him, you couldn’t walk down a street without children following him like the pied piper. I learned a lot of lessons from him that trip, not just about photography, but how to approach life in general. I would be honored to travel with him again.

E. Phillips

Additional Notes

What We Do
Each day we will focus on a different aspect of photography, constantly challenging ourselves to explore new ways of seeing and expressing our vision. Topics that will be covered are customized for each day depending on the itinerary and the desires of the group. Typical topics of instruction include:

• Being a better traveler
• Finding subjects
• Following the light
• Interacting with subjects
• Creating depth in an image
• Telling a story
• Editing your photos
• Digital enhancement

Please contact Strabo Tours if you have any questions on the program or the photo leader for specific questions about photography.

Your Photo Leader

Joel Collins is pleased to customize instruction for tour participants, evaluating their level of photography and needs, prior to and during the trip. Providing hands-on lessons in the field or receding into the background allowing members to photograph in their own style. There will be three presentations during the trip, the first being instructional and motivational, and the next two will be gentle critiques of your best photos taken during the trip.

He believes that travel can change the world. It works slowly, one person at a time, changing the traveler in subtle ways. The strange gradually becomes familiar. Fear is replaced with understanding. Travel is transformation. The ultimate goal of his photography and instruction is to inspire the journey to begin.

Joel has traveled the world since a young child and captured it with his camera. The enthusiasm of that young world traveler is still alive in him today. He looks forward to each new destination because it offers a new view of this beautiful planet. Travel to Southeast Asia with Joel, photographing the historic temples, colorful markets, and warm people. Please visit www.joelcollins.com for more examples of his travel photography.

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.

Airfare

Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.

Exceptions:

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.

Insurance

Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.

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