CUBA: WITH EYES WIDE OPEN
Cuba is an amazing destination for photographers and people interested in experiencing a culture that has been off-limits to US residents officially for many many years. The people are wonderful - a rich ethnic blend, a resilient, proud culture. Entering Cuba is like going back in time - and you really are when you hit the streets with colorful old cars from the 40's and 50's puttering by you, past decaying façades of French colonial influence. Around every corner, there are fascinating things to see and experience. Our legal, people-to-people cultural trip is designed to put you in touch with the local people in all the areas we visit, which in turn provides for wonderful photographic opportunities. We'll visit Havana, Viñales, Trinidad,Playa Larga, and other locations, going from the city to tobacco and sugar cane farms, to natural preserves, and to colorfully painted villages. Group limit of 12. BOTH TRIPS SOLD OUT as of 9/2/13.
Traveling with Brenda opens my eyes, as she shares her love for the places we visit and points out unique perspectives on photographing the landscape and the people.
~ Anne G., GA
EXPERIENCE THE CULTURE
• Travel with a professional photographer as your leader • Meet and photograph the local people in all many places • Photograph classic scenes of colonial buildings, classic old cars, and more
CAPTURE THE CUBAN SCENE
• Early morning and late afternoon photography on the streets, capturing the architecture, old cars, and the people. Visits to various locations and groups during middle of the day for cultural exchange and photo opportunities.
• Ride in a classic American vintage car to the sleepy fishing village of Cojimar, and the home of Hemingway.
Trinidad: • Photograph the colorful houses and the people of lovely, musical Trinidad.
First tour: We will meet in Miami the night before our departure to get acquainted and go over details. SECOND tour: You will be met by my Partner Jed Manwaring and he will guide you through the process of getting to the airport, and getting checked in.
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 and are not guaranteed. Services of driver, cultural guide (bilingual if applicable) 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.
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 listed as optional, or those 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, film or processing, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.
Day 1: Home - Miami
Due to the time of the group charter flight tomorrow morning it will be necessary for everyone to fly to Miami today, overnight at hotel (at your cost). We cannot be responsible for missed connections. We recommend everyone staying at the same hotel as your photo leader in order to coordinate departure time in the morning back to the airport. There are various hotels around the Miami airport so if you should decide to stay elsewhere please notify us of hotel and phone number. Suggested overnight at Hilton Miami Airport
Day 2: Miami - Havana.
Depart Miami today on the charter flight from Miami to Havana (time to be announced). Currently we can pre-pay the Cuba Visa fee for you, which is currently $75. This is included in your tour cost. Upon arrival in Havana, we will be met and take time to exchange funds at the airport. As we make our way to the hotel our guide will orient us to the highlights of Havana. Have your camera gear ready as there maybe time to stop at the Necropolis Colon, Havana’s city cemetery or at the Marti Memorial, two of Havana’s national monuments. This afternoon you will have some free time to explore the neighborhood around the hotel before we walk to a lovely restaurant on the Plaza Vieja in La Habana Vieja for our welcome dinner. Overnight Hotel Inglaterra or similar. (D)
Days 3 - 5: Old Havana - Cojimar
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 early morning photo excursions with Brenda, 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. The first afternoon enjoy a visit to the Rum Museum where we’ll have a local guide provide us with detailed commentary about the process of making rum. Rum is an icon of Cuban culture and seeing how it’s produced is a treat. Afterwards we’ll get to taste some rum. We will spend the afternoon exploring more of the city, photographing the street scenes and the people.
The next day there will be an excursion in classic American cars to the town of Cojimar, ‘Cohema’ a quaint fisherman's village. Ernest Hemingway’s former home Finca La Vigia, is located close by, where we can view the remembrances of his 20 years in Cuba.
Your last full day in Havana starts with a walk-about with Brenda to photograph the city waking up, return to the hotel for breakfast, and then we tour a local cigar factory. Witness the art of cigar making at its finest and see a way of Cuban life that has been around for centuries (no photography allowed). We hope to have time to visit Jose Fuster’s art gallery/workshop. Fuster, as he’s affectionately known, specializes in unique ceramics, paintings and graphic design, and his work has expanded beyond, to the neighborhood all around his residence.
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. Brenda will also take you to the roof top terraces of Park Central or Hotel Saratoga for additional photography. (B, L; B; B, L)
Days 6 - 8: Trinidad
After an early breakfast travel to Trinidad. Founded in the early 16th century on the southern coast of the country, Trinidad de Cuba 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 early morning photo shoots with Brenda before returning to your home for breakfast. Your guide then joins you each day for walking tours of the city streets, where you will visit and photograph at artist studios, a local school, and travel to the Valley of the Sugar Mills. Overnight three evenings in Casa particular (individuals will stay in various local homes to experience the family hospitality and location in the center of town; lunches and dinners will be at various local restaurants.)(B, D; B, L; B, L)
Day 9: Playa Larga
After breakfast we drive to the beach town of Playa Larga in the Province of Zapata. This region is known for it’s beaches, wetlands, and wildlife. There will be crocodiles, colorful birds, fishing boats, and tropical beaches to photograph along the southern coast of Cuba. Given time this afternoon or tomorrow morning we will have a chance to photograph and discuss music education with the students and teachers a the Korimacao Community Project. Overnight Playa Larga (B, D)
Days 10 - 11: Vinales
Leaving the southern coast we drive northwest, passing by Havana, on our way to 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. The hotel offers 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 Vinales Los Jazmines or similar. (B, D; B, L)
Day 12: Havana
After sunrise photography from the balcony, and breakfast, we depart for Havana. Enjoy time on your own this afternoon, doing a bit of shopping, return to your favorite places, or photography from the Malecon. We will then reconvene for our last outing, sunset photography and enjoy our farewell dinner. Overnight Inglaterra or similar (B, D)
Day 13: Havana - Miami
There will be a morning transfer to Havana airport to begin your program home (Exact time to be announced, planning on Miami arrival at 12PM-1PM). Be sure to leave three hours between your connection times in Miami. (B)
Brenda Tharp 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.
Tour land cost: $4,995 US Dollars based upon minimum of 9 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $300 if 6-8 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.
Single room supplement: $395; single rooms are subject to availability and are not guaranteed. 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.
Note: The land costs on international tours is based upon current exchange rates. Although the rate has been relatively stable, should it change, there may need to be an adjustment in the land cost.
Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds
A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic programs) 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 programs), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your program, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic programs) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your program, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of program 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.
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 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 should 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.
There will be several hours of walking each day, sometimes on rough cobblestone streets and uneven curbs. It is important for you to be able to get around easily.
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
This itinerary has been carefully constructed to assure participants the best this destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. Above is a summary of 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.
I also thank the equipment and software sponsors who make my workshops and tours a success with their raffle prizes and general support. Please visit the Discounts page on my website for a list of sponsors and save money on equipment and software!