Photo by: Joel Schulman
Location: Havana Cuba
Cuba The Heart and Soul
- Tour is a U.S. licensed “Support for the Cuban People” program.
- Photo Education with both Karen & Joel Schulman.
- Program cost includes TEN NIGHTS in Cuba, maximum 12 participants.
- Photographic subjects include musical sessions, environmental portraits of friendly Cubans, city and country landscapes, gardens, and of course the great American cars of the 1940s and 1950s, surrounded by modern & historic architecture.
- Photograph stunning landscapes of the tropical plains dotted with immense limestone mounds, or mogotes, as well as tobacco farms near the town of Viñales in the Pinar del Río Province.
- Spend two evenings in the charming colonial town of Trinidad on Cuba’s southern coast and another two evenings in the quaint Cuban beach town of Playa Larga.
- Meet and interact with the Cuban people on the streets of Havana’s distinct neighborhoods and in their homes in Trinidad.
- Explore the architecture of Old Havana, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Enjoy panoramic views of the Morro Cabaña harbor, and the skyline of Havana.
per person, double occupancy*
*U.S. dollars based upon minimum of 9 participants. There is a small group surcharge of $300 if 5-8 participants. 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 (subject to availability), or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, there is a single room surcharge of $595.
Some thoughts from Karen and Joel Schulman on why they keep returning to Cuba with Strabo Tours: Recent changes in U.S. Department of State regulations about travel to Cuba make it sound as if Americans are limited in traveling to our nearby Caribbean neighbor. This is not the case as long you travel with a licensed program, which is the way it has been since President Obama opened the doors. This tour is a specially designed program which is an approved “Support for the Cuban People” tour,...
Some thoughts from Karen and Joel Schulman on why they keep returning to Cuba with Strabo Tours: Recent changes in U.S. Department of State regulations about travel to Cuba make it sound as if Americans are limited in traveling to our nearby Caribbean neighbor. This is not the case as long you travel with a licensed program, which is the way it has been since President Obama opened the doors. This tour is a specially designed program which is an approved “Support for the Cuban People” tour, and offers a means to support the Cuban people by staying in privately owned hotels and casa particulars, visit privately owned Cuban businesses, such as paladars, (privately owned restaurants), and have a full schedule of activities that put travelers in contact with locals. During our tour we have opportunities to meet with and photograph shopkeepers, farmers, artists, musicians, restaurant workers, entrepreneurs, drivers, families, teachers and students of all ages. This will be our fourth time leading the Heart & Soul of Cuba Tour and we are looking forward to sharing our interest in and love for the Cuban people with you!
Long a mystery to many Americans, and off limits for many decades, Cuba is a country that shares its charisma on many levels – the beat of the music, the welcoming Cuban people, eclectic architecture, cobbled streets, rugged mountains, the beautiful and lush countryside, the taste of rum and lots more! This is a licensed “Support for the Cuban People” program, immersing you in the Heart and Soul of Cuba and is designed as a cultural and historical tour that will provide dramatic photographic opportunities each day. Enjoy the hustle and bustle of Old Havana as well as the slower paced countryside of the Pinar del Río Province, and also spend two evenings along the Southern coast and beaches in the less traveled area of Playa Larga.
You will be introduced to 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. The people of Cuba are friendly and open. You will find many wonderful faces to photograph in the cities and the countryside – some who earn a living in this way and others who are just as pleased to be photographed looking for nothing in return.
Explore Havana’s colonial architecture and historic areas while watching the antique vehicles pass you by. Our warm and incredibly knowledgeable local guide, formerly both a college professor and member of the Cuban Parliament, will lead daily educational discussions about the arts, traditional music, history and culture of the country. You will visit with local families of diverse neighborhoods, and the sugar and tobacco farmers of the countryside.
I’d like to add my thanks: to my photo leaders, for teaching me new skills and boosting my confidence, to Leonel for sharing your abundant knowledge of and love for your country, to Jacque for flawless (yes, flawless!) organization of the trip, and to all of my new friends, for welcoming me into your lives to share this adventure. This trip was fabulous. The photo opportunities were everywhere.I learned a great deal about photography and the country. The travel arrangements were flawless.
— B. Baron
Hello Friends, I arrived home at midnight on Saturday with all of my countless photos, aged rum, colorful souvenirs, and fabulous memories safe and sound! It was a spectacular trip back to Cuba to see much more than I had seen six years ago. My countless thanks to the photo leaders, local guide, and Strabo Tours for all of the photo expertise, technical assistance, cultural information, and great planning.
— M. Welland
The Cuba trip was absolutely amazing!!! Joel and Karen did a great job of balancing our interests with those of the more serious, photographers in our group. The entire trip was very relaxed, with just the right balance of structure, sightseeing, and socializing. The entire group got along very well, and our guide, Leonel was a tremendous resource! Our driver, Jose, could not have been better.
— T. Schwall
Cuba was a wonderful experience that was much enriched by Strabo Tours. I was stunned by the amount of photographs to be made: people, architecture, close ups, horticulture, and, of course, the cars from the 40’s and 50’s that were everywhere. It was definitely a wonderful experience.
An outstanding trip that takes you back in time to a place filled with great music, colorful architecture, cars and a revolutionary spirit.
Many thanks to you both for helping us discover Cuba; it was such a rich and exotic experience! We will enjoy the memories and the photos for many years to come.
— Lana and Joe
Strabo’s trip to Cuba will be one you will never forget. There are photo ops galore. While Cuba may be economically deprived, it is culturally rich.
March 6-7: Home – Havana - Viñales
Depart today on your flight to Cuba. A flight schedule will be announced as the tour approaches, likely to have everyone connect in Florida to be on the same round trip flights to Havana. Once the group arrives in the Havana Airport, you will collect your bags, go through customs and meet your local guide. After exchanging some funds, you will depart for Viñales, with a possible lunch and photo stop at Las Terrazas Eco Village along the way.
*Depending on your home departure airport and flight schedules, it may be required to travel to Florida on March 5.
The Pinar Del Río Province is known as the home of many sugar and tobacco fields. It has an economy based on agriculture, mainly tobacco farming, and its soil is considered to be some of the richest in the world. Photograph rural family life amidst the tobacco fields and traditional buildings of this region. In the Viñales 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. An overlook offers commanding views of the landscape, which we will capture at sunset one evening. Karen & Joel will lead an early morning photography walk the next day in town before breakfast. 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, farms and families. Lunch will be at an organic farm overlooking the valley. Overnight Casa Particular: participants will stay in various local homes to experience the family hospitality and central location in town. Rooms have private baths and are the Cuban version B&B’s. (L,D; B,L)
March 8-9: Playa Larga
Continue on to Playa Larga, at the head of Bahía de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs). It was one of two beaches invaded by US-backed exiles on April 17, 1961. These days it’s the best base for exploring the Zapata Peninsula, Cuba’s largest wilderness area. The next day, explore Zapata Peninsula with your leaders and local guide to photograph amidst the wildlife and diverse eco-systems of the Zapata National Park. It has some of the country’s most important and diverse birdlife. Enjoy two evenings here with sunset and sunrise photography on the beautiful beaches, weather cooperating of course. Be sure to bring your bathing suit for a swim in this most beautiful bay. Overnight Casas Playa Larga. (B, D; B, L, D
March 10-11: Trinidad
After sunrise photography and breakfast, we drive east to Cienfuegos, referred to as the Pearl of the South. The City of Cienfuegos is a very modern city by Cuba’s standards, offering architectural photography of the historic square, as well as a beautiful harbor, two of the reasons this city is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy photographing in the city’s main square, Parque José Martí, the Tomas Terry Theater, and the neo-classical cathedral. Walk along the lovely Malecon, bustling Paseo del Prado and one of Cuba’s longest waterfront walkways.
Leaving the city you will continue on to Trinidad, founded in the early 16th century on the southern coast of the country. It was designated a UNESCO site in 1988, and it’s the perfect example of a traditional colonial town, with red tiled roofs and an array of pastel colored houses lining cobblestone streets. Walk with your leader or wander on your own capturing the simplicity of this quaint town and its villagers. For sunset one evening you will drive to Playa Ancon, which provides an opportunity to capture the beautiful, sandy beaches of Cuba lined with palm trees. Both evenings there will be opportunities to listen to some wonderful traditional music and a chance to dance away the night.
After breakfast, your guide will join you for a walking tour of the city streets, where you may have an opportunity to photograph artisans as they work or school children as they interact with one another and their teachers. Travel to the Valley of the Sugar Mills, photographing the beautiful landscape and a ruined 19th century sugar estate. The landscape speaks of the transitions this country has seen. Explore with your local guide as he educates you on the sugar plantations of yesterday. Overnight Trinidad hotel. (B, L; B)
March 12-15: Havana
After some early morning photography and breakfast in Trinidad, we’ll depart for Havana, with photo stops along the way and the possibility to visit a rural school as we drive through the mountains.
In 1982, Old Havana was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is brimming with a variety of historical landmarks and interesting things to do. In November, 2019, Havana celebrated it’s 500thanniversary, with many cultural events and galas, as well as restoration of El Capitolio, Gran Teatro Alicia Alonso and the Plaza del Templete, the monument that celebrates the city’s foundation. Walking the streets of Old Havana is a favorite pastime and will surely result in an unforgettable experience with many varied photo opportunities. 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 sights 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 of our hotel. 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.
One morning, after photographing with your leaders, return to the hotel for breakfast, then meet your guide for a driving tour of some of the area’s highlights (time and weather permitting): La Torre (the tower) with a bird’s eye view of the harbor and city; Morro Cabaña (fortress) just across the harbor, which provides another perspective of the waves crashing on the lighthouse and fortress, along with the skyline of Havana; Fusterlandia, where a Cuban artist reclaimed his impoverished neighborhood as a dreamy folk art kingdom; Ernest Hemingway’s former home, Finca La Vigía, where we can view the remembrances of his 20 years in Cuba; and Cojimar, Hemingway’s beloved fishing village.
There will be free time in the late afternoons to walk the promenade down to the harbor, with incredible panoramic views and the historic Malecón. The rooftop terrace of our hotel offers outstanding sunrise and sunset views of the city. Overnight Havana hotel (B; B, L; B, L; B, D)
March 16: Home
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 after the Havana flight. This will all be worked out when we are closer to our trip date. (B)
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.