Cuba Photo Tour: Explorations of Cuba with Tom Bol

Tour Intro

Estimated Fall 2018 Rates Listed

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 Tom Bol 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 Tom 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 4: Havana
Yellow Taxi

Photo By: Tom Bol

Photo Location: Cuba

Depart the States today on your flight to Havana (time to be announced). You will need to purchase a Travel Visa prior to departure, which is currently $75. Upon arrival in Havana, we will be met and take time to exchange funds at the airport. Your local guide will assist in getting you settled in to your hotel for the evening and have a tour of the city. Overnight Inglaterra (D) 

November 5-6: Havana - Finales
Mogotes Vinales

Photo By: Tom Bol

Photo Location: 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 evenings in Hotel Jazmines or Casa particular, individuals will stay in various local homes to experience the family hospitality and location in the center of town. (D; B, L)

November 7: Cienfuegos
Boat Reflections

Photo By: Tom Bol

Photo Location: Cuba

After sunrise photography from the hotel and breakfast, we drive to the Pearl of the South. Given time this afternoon we will have a chance to photograph and discuss music education with the students and teachers at the Korimacao Community Project. Cienfuegos is a charming city, steeped in history, from it’s casino and theatre to the beautiful port. Overnight Hotel Union or Playa Larga (B, D)

November 8-9: Trinidad
Car Trinidad

Photo By: Tom Bol

Photo Location: Cuba

After an early breakfast travel 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 Tom 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. Overnight Casa’s (B, D both days)
 

November 10-12: Old Havana
Man

Photo By: Tom Bol

Photo Location: Cuba

You will make your way back 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 Tom, as you explore the city on foot, photographing the antique cars, architectural details, street scenes, and the local culture. After breakfast (served 7-10am daily) 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, Rum Museum where you will have a guided program (sample included), 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 Hotel Inglaterra (B,
 

November 13: Havana - Home
Car Reflections

Photo By: Tom Bol

Photo Location: Cuba

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

Photo Leader

Tom Bol
read more
Tom Bol

See how Tom Bol got his start at https://vimeo.com/120904640

The September 2011 Photo District News education issue, listed Tom as one of the best photo workshop instructors in the country!

Tom Bol is a freelance photographer specializing in adventure sports, nature, and travel photography. He has been photographing full time for twenty years, and teaching workshops for ten. Assignments have ranged from national ad campaigns for clothing companies to producing images for worldwide tourism clients. With a background in guiding adventure sports, Tom’s editorial assignments often result in interesting situations, including shooting from the bottom of a crevasse on Mt. McKinley, to running into a snow leopard at twenty thousand feet in the Himalayas.

Tom is a regular contributor to Digital Photo and Outdoor Photographer magazine, a contributing photographer at Canoe and Kayak magazine, and a regular speaker at tradeshows representing Nikon and Manfrotto. He was also on the list of National Geographic Adventure’s “50 of America’s Top Visionaries” for his photography.

Note from instructor:

I think workshops are a fantastic way to develop as a photographer, both technically and artistically, and have a lot of fun during the process. On these workshops I’m available at anytime to offer advice and critique of images. I will offer formal classes as well as field demonstrations on technique and creative choices in image making. For those that are interested, we will explore flash technique and light painting. I will also provide participants with “workshop notes”, excerpts from magazine articles I have written on a variety of topics.

I really enjoy working with participants one on one, being able to focus on specific areas with individual’s results in faster, more effective learning. What I enjoy most on workshops is seeing how participants can improve their skills in such a short time.

Having been to numerous workshops over the past 5 years, Tom has to be my favorite instructor. With Tom you are guaranteed 3 things - an in-depth knowledge of photography and lighting with an ability and desire to share this with participants, energy and lots of it, and FUN! Tom loves spending time with his students and getting to know each one, as to maximize the workshop for each person. A workshop with Tom is time well spent.

B. Peterson

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

Having been to numerous workshops over the past 5 years, Tom has to be my favorite instructor. With Tom you are guaranteed 3 things - an in-depth knowledge of photography and lighting with an ability and desire to share this with participants, energy and lots of it, and FUN! Tom loves spending time with his students and getting to know each one, as to maximize the workshop for each person. A workshop with Tom is time well spent.

B. Peterson

Tom Bol is really inspiring and has great positive energy. As a teacher, he really wants you to learn and succeed. I really appreciate his selfless desire to help you improve. His enthusiasm is contagious.

L. Barcheck

Additional Notes

The September 2011 Photo District News education issue, listed Tom as one of the best photo workshop instructors in the country!
Tom Bol is a freelance photographer specializing in adventure sports, nature, and travel photography. He has been photographing full time for twenty years, and teaching workshops for ten. Assignments have ranged from national ad campaigns for clothing companies to producing images for worldwide tourism clients. With a background in guiding adventure sports, Tom’s editorial assignments often result in interesting situations, including shooting from the bottom of a crevasse on Mt. McKinley, to running into a snow leopard at twenty thousand feet in the Himalayas. Tom is a regular contributor to Digital Photo and Outdoor Photographer magazine, a contributing photographer at Canoe and Kayak magazine, and a regular speaker at tradeshows representing Nikon and Manfrotto. He was also on the list of National Geographic Adventure’s “50 of America’s Top Visionaries” for his photography.

Note from instructor:
I think tours are a fantastic way to develop as a photographer, both technically and artistically, and have a lot of fun during the process. I’m available at anytime to offer advice and critique of images. I will offer formal classes as well as field demonstrations on technique and creative choices in image making. For those that are interested, we will explore flash technique and light painting. I will also provide participants with “workshop notes”, excerpts from magazine articles I have written on a variety of topics.
I really enjoy working with participants one on one, being able to focus on specific areas with individual’s results in faster, more effective learning. What I enjoy most on workshops is seeing how participants can improve their skills in such a short time.

Please join tour leader Tom Bol for this incredible cultural and photographic opportunity. The emphasis of the trip is on photography, yet this is much more, one that non-photographic travelers can enjoy just as well. Days will be filled with unique photographic opportunities, in that there are so many wonderful hidden places to explore. Your leader will seek out obscure settings to visit and photograph, places you would not find on your own.

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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