Cuba Photo Tour: Reflections of Cuba: East to West

Tour Intro

This is a licensed 'People-to-People' program, which includes daily activities, immersing you in the heart and soul of Cuba. From the hustle and bustle of Santiago de Cuba, and Old Havana, to the more remote and colorful Spanish Village of Baracoa, along the Atlantic Coast.

Visualize the appeal of this country that has been closed off to Americans for decades. Allow Brenda & Jed to bring you to the photo ops and assist you in capturing the allure of this amazing place and its people through your lens.

Wander and explore with your photo instructors, for FIVE days in Eastern Cuba, where you will photograph environmental portraits, as well as the architecture, and seascapes. Eastern Cuba has predominantly far less tourism than the now very popular west side. Start in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba’s second largest bustling city. It has different cultural influences than Havana including African, French, and Chinese. We’ll photograph the architecture of Parque Cespedes, and picturesque local neighborhoods surrounding it. Photograph the lively musicians and dancers by the glow of the street lamps. Take a side trip to visit the near by village of El Cobre with its beautiful cathedral. Those interested in the history of the revolution can take time to visit one of the many museums in Santiago or the Castillo del Morro (fortress). From Santiago we move on to the magic of nature, in Baracoa, which is surrounded by forest and sea…. keeping its people more removed from modern influences, yet preserving the ecosystem and maintaining their traditions.

An internal flight has been included, taking the group to Havana to complete your tour in Old Havana. Havana is amazing in its own right with the antique vehicles passing you by and the amazing opportunities of photographing environmental portraits each day. Your local guide will have daily educational discussions about the East and West of Cuba, regarding the culture, history and nature. The people of Cuba are friendly and open, you will find so many wonderful faces to photograph. 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. 
 

Tour Highlights

• Program cost includes internal Cuba flight, Guantanamo-Havana, and EIGHT NIGHTS in Cuba.
Photographic subjects include musical sessions, portraits of friendly local faces, architecture, fishing villages, and of course antique cars.
Special photo session with ballerina’s in a typical older mansion.
• Photograph the sights and sounds of Santiago de Cuba, from the main square of Parque Cespedes to the local neighborhood flare.
• Spend two evenings in the colonial town of Baracoa on Cuba’s Northeastern Atlantic coast. Meet and interact with people’s lives on the streets of this remote and distinct village.
• Explore the colorful architecture, textures and details of Old Havana, designated an UNESCO World Heritage site.
• Panorama sunset views of Morro Cabana harbor & skyline of Havana.

     *Please note these dates may change slightly due to flight schedules
 

Tour Itinerary

December 1-3: Santiago de Cuba
Santiago

Photo By: Brenda Tharp

Photo Location: Cuba


Depart home December 1*, on a flight to the ‘second’ city of Cuba, Santiago de Cuba (time to be announced). Eastern Cuba is known as the Oriente, built on the sagas of historical rebellion and revolution. It is the birthplace of Fidel Castro and his revolution and has been influenced by the French, African, and Caribbean creole, as well as, the Spaniards. Upon arrival in Santiago, the group will travel by private bus to your hotel, followed by an introductory tour in the historic district around the Parque de Cespedes. Santiago’s most notable buildings line the square providing wonderful architecture photography of its varied international influences. One of the most notable was built in the early 1500’s, Casa de Diego Velazquez, a Spanish conquistador’s former residence, now a historical museum of Cuba. There will be a welcome dinner this evening followed by rooftop photography from the terrace of the hotel, where you can listen to the city come alive with the music from Casa de la Trova. Just east of the square, photograph the less touristy Parque Dolores, the square is surrounded by wrought-iron adorned buildings, and also just south are the Steps of Padre Pico, with its mighty steps leading to a very picturesque quarter.

Enjoy early morning photography sessions in the city the next two days, returning to the hotel for breakfast. We'll also have sunset photo sessions and evening photography on the streets of the city, with music drifting out of clubs and homes alike. The option to visit a club for music in the evening is also possible.                         

A trip to Eastern Cuba would not be complete with out a visit to the near by village of El Cobre, about 12 miles out side the city. It is most famous for its cream colored basilica, a national monument built in 1926, Nuestra Caridad del Cobre. Not far from here is the mausoleum of Jose Marti, where there will be a changing of the guard ceremony. Jose was one of Latin America’s most famous poet and writers, and he is haled to be the father of Cuban independence. He lived in exile for many years in NY as a foreign correspondent in the 1880’s-90’s, returning to Cuba in 1895 leading an insurrection against the Spanish government. He died on the battlefield three years before Spain lost its last colony.

The following morning depart for colorful fishing villages along the coast and take the ferry to Cayo Granma, a small island in the bay, where you can photograph the local fishermen, red roof buildings, and quiet streets. Photograph  the San Pedro de la Roco Castle, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fort hosts a firing of the canon ceremony each evening at dusk. There may be time for optional excursion to the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, which is home to many of Cuba’s famous military figures, including the Mausoleum of Jose Marti. Cuban revolutionary buffs may want to take a couple hours one afternoon to visit Cuartel Moncada, it describes the history of Cuba from 1500’s onward. The building was the site of July 26, 1953 carnival celebrations, where Fidel, Raul, and Che attacked the concrete barracks in an attempt seize weapons. Overnight Casa Granda Hotel. (D; B, L; B)    
 

December 4-5: Baracoa
Baracoa - Boats

Photo By: Brenda Tharp

Photo Location: Cuba

Leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind as you take a drive to the north east coast and the much more remote Baracoa. Baracoa means ‘nature’ as the Cubans say, and it is surrounded by tropical forest, and the sea. This has historically isolated the people to rely on fishing, cocoa, coconuts, bananas, and gathering wood, providing visitors with unique opportunities to photograph people and their daily lives.
Wander down the Malecon, which connects the two 19th-century forts, Fuerte Matachin and Fuerte de la Punta. You'll have two full days in Baracoa to explore this quaint colonial village with its colorful homes, shops, and children playing, along with a visit to the natural areas outside of town to photograph the flat top of El Yunque, the local beaches and seascapes. Overnight Hostel 1511. (B, L; B)

December 6-8: Old Havana

There will be a flight this morning from Guantanamo Airport to Havana (included in the land cost). Upon arrival your guide will orient you to the highlights of Old Havana on a walking tour. As you stroll the streets, you will be overwhelmed with all the things to photograph, from the antique American cars, children playing in the streets or in abandoned lots; from the beautifully restored hotels to the paint peeling off dilapidated buildings. Havana’s architecture is the most beautiful in the various plazas, where locals and tourists congregate to share stories. 

Plaza de Armas, Plaza de la Cathedral, Plaza Vieja, and Plaza de San Francisco, are a few that are within walking distance. You will be able to return late at night while music fills the air, or early in the morning to photograph as the streets come to life again.

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

After early morning shoots on foot to the local markets and shops, return to your hotel for breakfast, then meet your guide to visit La Torre (the tower) with a bird’s eye view of the harbor and city. Morro Cabana (fortress) just across the harbor provides another perspective of the waves crashing on the lighthouse and fortress, along with the skyline of Havana. 

There will be free time in the late afternoons, to walk the Prada, or Malecon along the harbor. There are also a few hotels in Old Havana in which you can capture incredible panoramic city views at sunrise or sunset from their rooftop bars, such as Inglaterra, Parque Central, or Saratoga, etc.  Overnight Hotel Inglaterra or similar (B, L; B; B, D)

December 9: Havana - Home

Photo By: Jed Manwaring

Photo Location: Cuba

There will be a transfer to Havana airport for your trip home (exact time to be announced). Confirm with Strabo Tours, prior to booking flights. Be sure to leave three hours between flights if you are making a connection. This will all be worked out when we are closer to our workshop date. (B)

The Cuban Casa: On some tours, students have had the opportunity to stay overnight in a typical Cuban casa. These are like our B&B’s in that you will have a private room & bath and wonderful hosts who will prepare breakfast for you. Should accommodations change you will find this homey atmosphere will give you a unique opportunity to get to know a family and perhaps photograph them, their home interiors and their pets. We have found these people to be quite gracious and helpful as we are treated with tender care and respect. It is a wonderful real Cuban experience away from the usual large hotel environment.
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 may 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 these circumstances are beyond our control. Be assured that all efforts will be made to provide a comparable alternative should an item on our itinerary need to be changed.

Photo Leader

Brenda Tharp and Jed Manwaring
read more
Brenda Tharp and Jed Manwaring

You have the advantage of having two photo intructors on this trip with the expertise of Jed Manwaring and Brenda Tharp, and the tour size still remains at 12 participants. Brenda is a professional photographer, speaker and educator with a life-long wanderlust for exploring the world and photographing it. The travel bug bit when she was young, reading the pages of National Geographic and Life magazines. Today, she loves to escort people to a variety of wonder-filled places to share in the adventure of the place and to help in the making of memorable images. Brenda believes that in the process of exploring and photographing the world around you, wherever you are, you gain so much more than just photographs - you bring back the experiences from those places that remain with you forever. She advocates photographing with a sense of purpose, keeping your eyes and your soul open to what's going on around you. Brenda's sensitive approach to photographing people has her often trying to blend in with the 'background' to capture special moments of daily life. Even her portraits are approached with sensitivity and respect for the person and the culture. Brenda has an untiring desire to help participants with their photography. She challenges you to see in new ways. Topics of discussion on each trip are tailored to the groups' needs, yet typically include: how to photograph people/strangers, paying attention to the light, using elements of design in a scene to help create more impact, creating visual depth, and storytelling with your images. Additional discussions often include processing and workflow, which Brenda often covers while on the bus on longer drives, or in the hotel lobby. There or in the field, she is always available for technical or visual help, offering tips and suggestions to help you to refine their own vision of the place.

Jed Manwaring specializes in travel and outdoor photography. His photographs have appeared in a variety of magazines including Alaska Airlines, International Wildlife Conservation, Navigator, Outdoor Photographer, Outside, PC Photo, Sierra, Sunset, Via, and Wilderness Society magazines. His images have also been used in books, calendars and cards, most recently in Golden Gate National Parks: A Photographic Journey and Guardians of the Gate. He has worked in a variety of challenging situations, including running the Colorado River in a dory, sea kayaking in Costa Rica, llama trekking, and exploring in Italy, Mexico, Hawaii, and throughout the west. Jed’s passion for photography and teaching make him an amazing instructor and leader. You can view Jed's photo tours at www.brendatharp.com.

Welcome back to you! Chris and I just returned from our own extension to Venice you planned for us.  Wonderful!!!
Attached is my evaluation of the tour with Brenda and Jed!
Loved every minute…! Many thanks to everyone who took part in the planning…and to Brenda and Jed for the expert  execution of the plan!

The tour was perfect, I would highly recommend it. Both Brenda and Jed were knowledgeable about each location, and knew the very best places for photo shoots. They were not rigid, in fact, they were flexible and were able to 'read' the interests of the participants very well and make any changes to our schedule to fit the desires of the individual wishes. So well done.... so difficult to do. I would travel anywhere with Brenda & Jed.
 

Gretchen Taylor

Photo Leader

Brenda Tharp
read more
Brenda Tharp

Brenda is a professional photographer, speaker and educator with a life-long wanderlust for exploring the world and photographing it. The travel bug bit when she was young, reading the pages of National Geographic and Life magazines. Today, she loves to escort people to a variety of wonder-filled places to share in the adventure of the place and to help in the making of memorable images. Brenda believes that in the process of exploring and photographing the world around you, wherever you are, you gain so much more than just photographs - you bring back the experiences from those places that remain with you forever. She advocates photographing with a sense of purpose, keeping your eyes and your soul open to what's going on around you. Brenda's sensitive approach to photographing people has her often trying to blend in with the 'background' to capture special moments of daily life. Even her portraits are approached with sensitivity and respect for the person and the culture. Brenda has an untiring desire to help participants with their photography. She challenges you to see in new ways. Topics of discussion on each trip are tailored to the groups' needs, yet typically include: how to photograph people/strangers, paying attention to the light, using elements of design in a scene to help create more impact, creating visual depth, and storytelling with your images. Additional discussions often include processing and workflow, which Brenda often covers while on the bus on longer drives, or in the hotel lobby. There or in the field, she is always available for technical or visual help, offering tips and suggestions to help you to refine their own vision of the place.

I really enjoyed Brenda's style of talking as we were on the bus. Very informative without being too formal. Lots of chances to learn as we took photos as well - in early morning or in evening. Got some great tips from Jed as I was photographing on various occasions. Very responsive to our questions with NO judgement about our skill levels. I have told many people that this was the best or one of the two best trips I have ever been on. The leaders great, group jelled fabulously and for me, traveling with all photographers was amazing.

 

Nancy Hauserman

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 8 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $300 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

All in all a wonderful trip - I Enjoyed my fellow travelers, friendly Cubans, and I don't think I ever felt safer as I did in Cuba. I thought the mix of group photography and time to wnader around on our own was about right!!

Lois James

I really enjoyed Brenda's style of talking as we were on the bus. Very informative without being too formal. Lots of chances to learn as we took photos as well - in early morning or in evening. Got some great tips from Jed as I was photographing on various occasions. Very responsive to our questions with NO judgement about our skill levels. I have told many people that this was the best or one of the two best trips I have ever been on. The leaders great, group jelled fabulously and for me, traveling with all photographers was amazing.

 

Nancy Hauserman

Hi Brenda, I want to let you know how much I enjoyed photographing Cuba with you. The Cuba experience was phenomenal. Cubans are such wonderful, open and caring people that I couldn't help falling in love with them. And it seemed that there was another photo op around every corner. Shooting side by side with you really enhanced the experience. You helped me see the shot and afterwards I could look over your shoulder at your composition. That process really helped me see alternative compositions in other scenes. Again, thanks for all the help and attention you gave me during our time in Cuba. I'm looking forward to another photo tour with you sometime in the future.

Ron Alvig

Additional Notes

Brenda Tharp and Jed Manwaring, both accomplished professional photographers, will share ideas and tips for creating dynamic travel photographs while on this photo program. Prior to your tour departure Brenda & Jed will email you a visual presentation, providing tips on capturing a sense of place, photographing people, capturing candid moments, working with available light, and how to simplify your pictures to give them more impact. Both bring untiring energy and a passion for photography to their trips, and love to share in the adventure of travel and photography. They believe that in the process of exploring and photographing the world around you, you gain so much more than just photographs – you bring back the experiences that remain with you forever.

“We focus on making expressive photographs on our tours. We welcome all skill levels, yet having a good foundation of the basics of photography will help you be more prepared for making successful nature images. We enjoy helping participants expand their skills and are there to help you make the best pictures you can on the trip, whatever that takes.
 

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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