Be among the 9 people who can join Washington Photo Safari’s director E. David Luria for an exciting new adventure for street photographers: a 7 day trek through some of the most photogenic sites in Cuba, guided by professional Cuban street photographer: Alain Gutierrez, who lives in Cuba and who knows where all the best pictures are, and when to take them!
Instead of taking you by cruise ship from Cuban port to port, this safari will take you from Cuban street to street in safety-tested 1950-vintage cars ,and you will get to photograph not only the unique architecture of Havana and Trinidad but also get up close to Afro-Cuban dancers, to Santeria ceremonies, to off-the-beaten track Cuban restaurants, to auto mechanics fashioning new parts for old vehicles, to wonderful street scenes and wall art, and, most importantly, to the people of Cuba who LOVE to be photographed!
Our safari takes place during a time of great change in Cuba. If you like street photography, this safari is for you!
On this exciting safari we will provide instruction on the following technique of photography:
We only have room for 9 clients on this safari, first come, first served, so we urge you to make your decision as soon as possible!
Here is the day by day itinerary as described by Alain (who got that French name at birth because his mother loved French actor Alain Delon!):
Day 1 /Sunday, 10 March 2018: Havana
Arrive in Havana
As you arrive, you will be picked up at the airport and taken directly to your lodging. The recommendation is to arrive in Cuba in the morning. Clients will stay in private homes in the Old Havana area, a fascinating downtown area for street photography. (What to photograph? Daily life. People, architecture, Cubans are very open to being photographed.)
Lunch at El Chanchullero
Once everyone has arrived, we will go to lunch in the classic cars that will transport us throughout the week, to one of the popular neighborhoods of Havana. Alamar is a neighborhood east of the city center and designed in the Soviet style. El Chanchullero is the second of two restaurants founded by a humble family and offering simple but delicious photogenic food. You will love the place and the opportunity to take pictures in here!
City architecture tour
Nothing is better to prepare for the future photos that we will take than an architecture tour in the hands of a professor at the University of Havana. We will learn about the architectural styles, a bit of history and some gossip while we walk along the Paseo del Prado. Be ready! Life in Havana does not stop, the photos will be right next to you. (What to photograph? Daily life. People, architecture, cars. Children playing, couples in love. This area of the city is constantly moving.)
Welcoming dinner at Al Carbón
This is one of the best restaurants in the city. After their owners, chefs Iván and Justo, triumphed with their first restaurant Iván Chef Justo, they decided to open this new exquisite place where the grill is the protagonist. The ingredients are always fresh and organic. The decoration is fabulous.
After dinner we will take a night walk back home through the neighborhood. Let's use the opportunity to take some photos. (What to photograph? Daily life. People, architecture, cars, shadows. The neighborhood´s illumination is amazing and allows you to take very creative photographs. You can take pictures of the interiors of buildings and houses through the windows.)
Day 2 / Monday, 11 March 2018: Havana
Afrocuban religion tour
Guided by an expert of Afro-Cuban culture and religion, we will visit houses of worship from two different branches of this religion. The experience will be in the neighborhood of Centro Habana. After the tour we will walk through the inner streets of the neighborhood. This is an excellent time to do all kinds of photography thanks to the graphic richness of the place. (What to photograph? Portraits, religious elements, street art, architecture, markets, textures, daily life.)
Dinner at San Cristobal
This is one of the iconic restaurants in Cuba. Dining in San Cristóbal is a trip back to the decade of the 50's. This restaurant is where President Obama and his family dined one of the nights during his visit to Cuba.
Day 3 / Tuesday 12 March, 2018: Havana
Fine Art Museum
After walking through the neighborhood in Old Havana, we will have a close encounter with Cuban art. At the hands of an expert in art, we will take a tour of the Cuban collection that brings together artists from the beginning of the 20th century up to the 80's. This is an excellent opportunity to understand our culture and influences in art. (Photography is not allowed in Cuban museums, but this visit is very inspiring.)
Lunch at Art Pub
A nice tavern with excellent sandwiches and cocktails. The owner is a photography enthusiast and the place is decorated with old cameras and photos.
Afrocuban dance presentation with the company Raíces Profundas
Learn about the dances brought from Africa that are part of the Cuban heritage, of the day to day religion in Cuba. The dancers will give us an unforgettable presentation with authentic Afro-Cuban music. We will also photograph an auto mechanic at work creating new parts for old 1950's cars (What to photograph? Images showing movement, abstract, colors, musicians, musical instruments, architecture, cars.)
Walk back to accommodation through Malecón
On our way back to the hotel we will walk through “the largest sofa in Latin America.” The Malecón is a huge 8 km wall along the entire coastline of the city. The Malecón is one of the most popular sites in the city. People go there to share with friends, to enjoy love, to talk to themselves ... anything can be found on the Malecón, one of the most photographed places in Cuba. (What to photograph? Portraits, landscape, cars, people in their daily environment, musicians practicing, fishermen, boats and architecture.)
Dinner at Ajiaco Café in Cojímar
This will not be just a dinner, this will be an experience with authentic Cuban food.
Day 4 / Wednesday 13 March 2018: Trinidad
Travel to Trinidad
We will travel back in time to the 18th century, to Trinidad, a town south of the Sancti Spiritus province in the Central zone of the country. The town and El Valle de los Ingenios, where Trinidad is located, have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The trip to Trinidad will take us about 6 or 7 hours because we will make the journey from the south, through the Zapata Peninsula where the Bay of Pigs is located, the historic site where the Cuban army faced the troops trained by the CIA. We will visit the small museum that preserves images and artifacts of this historical event. (What to photograph? Landscapes, weapons, peasants, food, boats, architecture.)
Lunch at the small village of Jagua
The route to Trinidad goes through Cienfuegos, a beautiful city in the south of Cuba. We will have lunch at the entrance of the bay and then we will sail to the city where our cars will wait for us and we will continue on our way to Trinidad.
Dinner at accommodation in Trinidad
Day 5 /Thursday 14 March 2018: Trinidad
Trinidad city tour
This is the perfect opportunity for an overview of the history and architecture of the city while taking pictures. (What to photograph? Architecture, people, details, textures, colors, peasants, animals, daily life).
Lunch at accommodation in Trinidad
Afternoon on your own. (a chance to explore and take some great photos and to browse for gifts to take back home)
Dinner at accommodation in Trinidad
At night enjoy, on your own: Cuban music in the city´s bars like Casa de La Música or let´s do some night photography.
Day 6 / Friday 15 March 2018: Trinidad
Horse-car tour around Trinidad Valley
Adventure in carts pulled by horses through the Valley of the Sugar Mills. On the way we will stop at a overlook with excellent views of the landscape and where the most daring can make a zipline tour. (What to photograph? Farmers, people working, landscapes, animals, portraits.)
Lunch at Casa Emelina
This will be our second roast pig, the typical dish of Cuba. The house of Emelina is not a restaurant, but a family house where we will have the experience of sharing with its people. (What to photograph? People, portraits, food.)
Dinner at accommodation in Trinidad
Day 7 /Saturday 16 March, 2018: Havana
Travel back to Havana
Pass through Santa Clara – Che Guevara Mausoleum
Returning to Havana, we will take the road to Santa Clara, one of the most important cities of Cuba, famous for the battle that was fought there and where the commander Ernesto Guevara, Che, led the rebel troops in the war against Batista that ended in the triumph of the Cuban Revolution of 1959. We will visit the mausoleum where several personal objects, photographs, documents and the remains of Che and the members of his guerrilla in Bolivia are located. (What to photograph? Landscapes.)
Lunch in Santa Clara at buffet restaurant El Quijote
Farewell dinner at Atelier
For our final dinner nothing better than one of the most famous restaurants in Havana where almost all the international VIPs who have visited Cuba have dined or held receptions.
Day 8 / Sunday 17 March 2018: Departure
Depart for the US
Here are photos taken by our guide Alain Gutierrez that are samples of the images you will get on this safari
Alain Gutierrez is a professional photographer in Cuba, with a degree in journalism from the University of Havana who has been working as a photographer and writer for more than 18 years in Havana. Of his work, Alain says: “I spend most of my time photographing the daily life I see around me. I am living now in a time of great change in my country and I believe it is important for me to document what I see and share it with the rest of the world.”
Washington Photo Safari director E. David Luria is a professional architectural photographer whose company has trained over 36,500 amateur photographers from 50 US states and 45 countries on 5,500 photo safaris in camera use and composition since 1999. He has travelled widely in Latin America and is fluent in Spanish.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO TO CUBA!
Yes, it is legal. During President Obama’s administration, he issued an executive order that allows Americans to visit Cuba as long as they meet one of 12 categories. Your visit falls within the category of"Supporting the Cuban People". The travel program will ensure that each day includes sufficient cultural activities and interactions with Cubans that meet the requirements of this category.
Getting to Cuba. It is actually very easy to get to Cuba these days. In late 2016, several commercial airliners began daily service into Cuba through a number of cities. American, Southwest, Delta, JetBlue, and United all fly into Havana. When you purchase a flight to Cuba, the airlines will require that you certify that you are going for one of the 12 approved categories. The category you check for your trip is "Supporting the Cuban People".
Yes, you need a visa. Depending on the airline you decide to fly, there will be instructions for obtaining a visa on-line. You simply receive a receipt for the visa. Print the receipt and bring it with your ticket. When you get to your departure gate for your flight to Cuba, there will be representatives who will provide you with your visa to fill out. The cost of the visa is $50.00.
Tipping. We have gotten a few questions about this. We recommend tipping the wait staff at restaurants 10%. The trip cost include tips in the restaurants but if you want to tip over that is always welcome.
Flashlights and headlamps. The streets in Havana are not well-lit, but the illumination is beautiful for night photography. Walking to and from places at night may be a bit easier if you have your own illumination. We encourage you to bring a small flashlight or headlamp. You do not need to wear it on your head, but we don´t want you to have any unwelcome surprises. Also it makes a really good gift to the people in Cuba.
Do I need documents to show that I´m on a “suporting the cuban people” tour? Technically, pursuant to the regulations that allow us to travel to Cuba on a Supporting the Cuban People trip, the US government has the authority to ask for documentation concerning your trip for up to 5 years. We recommend that you keep your plane ticket reservations and the documents we have been sending you about cultural activities.
Do I need adapters or converters? At all the places we´ll stay, the outlets are American standard and 110V. Nowadays most of the electronic devices chargers are both 110-220V. Our recommendation is to bring a multiple-outlet rack to be sure you have what you need.
Travel insurance. We encourage everyone to consider buying travel insurance to cover their costs of the trip in case something happens and you cannot attend.
Medical insurance. You may have read that you are required to have medical insurance in Cuba. Don’t worry – it is included in the cost of your plane ticket. When you board your flight, they will give you a boarding pass with a stamp on it. Hold onto that boarding pass for your entire trip. It proves you have the medical insurance if you need it.
Currency. Bring cash. Credit cards issued by US banks or US credit card companies are not accepted anywhere in Cuba. Not even in the hotels. Also, you cannot access your money at an ATM. While you should not need that much cash over the few days you are there because all your accomodation, food and transportation costs are covered by your fee, we recommend you bring however much you think you might use and then bring a little more, especially if you want to do any shopping. The worst that happens is you brought too much. Some of the places where we´ll stay have a safe box, but all the accommodations are safe. The exchange rate in Cuba for USD is .86 cuc, (Cuban divisa), Dollars are also welcome in most of the private restaurants but the exchange rate will vary.
Most alcoholic drinks range from $1-3 cuc for beers and from to 5-10 for mixed drinks.
What to bring with you to Cuba. When you travel to Cuba you´re going to a totally different reality where abundance is not a common thing. Cuba doen not have places like the American standard drugstore or convenience store to pick up that toothpaste brand you forgot at home. You can buy some things, but you can´t be picky. It is recommended that people ask their doctors if they need special protection for their immune system. Typhoid shot is sometimes recommended by doctors. Of course people should bring Pepto bismol or Immodium, since CVS doesn't exist in Cuba.
Make sure to bring enough batteries with you because you can´t buy any of them in Cuba. Be sure your equipment is working properly, since there is no chance to buy a new camera in Cuba.
You can also bring gifts for the Cubans. Please NEVER TELL THE CUSTOMS you are bringing DONATIONS. Pencils, crayons, medicines, those old clothes from your granddaughter or grandson will be welcome. Cubans love American Major Leagues, so caps are welcome, too.
What about the water in Cuba? It is recommended to drink bottled water all the time. During the day, water will be provided, but it is recommended to buy more to keep in the room. Tap water is ok for brushing teeth and showering, but you should not drink the tap water. Ice is safe in the restaurants we'll eat in.
Crime? Cuba is a safe country. You will never feel unsafe. There might be the occasional catcalls or those peddlers you find anywhere who see “foreigner” and call after you if you want a pedi-cab (bicitaxi), for example, but the city is generally safe. Obviously, as in any crowded city, beware of pick-pockets and keep your belongings close in large crowds. Also, we don’t recommend flashing large amounts of cash or wearing expensive jewelry or any of the things they tell you not to do in any foreign city. There are a few “scams” – generally people offering to show you/take you to a good restaurant or asking you to buy milk for their children if you are at a local market getting water. Just keep walking. Generally, you will find a friendly people who are as curious about you as you are about them.
What To expect in Cuba. Expect the unexpected. Be prepared that this is probably not like most countries you have visited. Be ready to go with the flow. We´ll follow our program but we can´t predict the future. Don´t worry if something happens, we´ll find a solution.
Wifi? Be ready to be disconnected for a week. In Cuba, it is getting is easier to access to internet. There are many public wifi spots in the cities we´ll visit. You´ll need to buy a card. Officially the cost is 1cuc per hour. In the areas. some people sell the cards for more. You can use your own phone or tablet to connect. Please check with your phone carrier about the possibility of roaming. Some American phone companies have roaming in Cuba, but it is very expensive.
English? There are a lot of people in Cuba who speak English, or can at least communicate. We´ll have English speakers as guides on our trip.
Cost per client: $3,100 for all costs in Cuba, plus $1,400 photography instruction fee ($200/day), for a total of $4,500, payable to Washington Photo Safari .
Terms: Deposit of $500.00 due by October 31,2018; second payment of $1,900.00 to be paid by November 30, 2018; balance of $2,100 to be paid by January 31, 2019.
Cancellation fee: $100.
Refund Policy: A refund of the deposit (less cancellation fee) will be made for any cancellation received by November 30, 2018.