Come join us for the best view of DC, from the 35th-floor Observation Deck of the CEB Tower in Arlington, at twilight.
Street Photography in Cuba
Instead of taking you by cruise ship from Cuban port to port, this safari takes you from Cuban street to street in safety-tested 1950’s vintage cars, and you 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 Cuba photo tour takes place during a time of great change in the country. If you like street photography, this safari is for you!
On this exciting safari, we provide instruction on architectural photography, abstract photography, dance photography, food photography, museum photography, travel photography, general tips on composition, candid portrait photography, nighttime photography, street photography, lens and filter use, and flash photography.
We only have room for 6 clients on this travel photo safari, first-come, first-served, so we urge you to make your decision as soon as possible!
Day 1 /Sunday 3: Night-Havana
Arrive in Havana
This will be a morning when customers will arrive on different flights. As they arrive, we will pick them up at the airport and take them directly to their 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 Antojos
Once all together 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 food. You will love the place!
City architectural tour
Nothing better to prepare for the future photos that we will take than an architectural tour from 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 has a lot of movement.)
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 make a night walk back home through the neighborhood. Let’s take 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 4: Night-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 Havana. After the tour we will walk through the inner streets of the neighborhood. This is an excellent time to do all kinds of photographs thanks to the graphic richness of the place. This day we will photograph an auto mechanic at work creating new parts for old 1950’s cars.
(What to photograph? Portraits, religious elements, street art, architecture, markets, textures, daily life, cars.)
Lunch at a Arcángel
Remaining of the afternoon free until dinner.
Dinner at San Cristobal
This is one of the iconic restaurants in Cuba. Dining in San Cristóbal is a trip to the decade of the 50’s. It was this restaurant where President Obama and his family dined one of the nights during his visit to Cuba.
Day 3 / Tuesday 5: Night-Havana
Fine Art Museum
After walking through the neighborhood in Old Havana, it is the turn to have a close encounter with Cuban art. From the hand of an expert in art we will make a tour of the Cuban collection that brings together artists from the beginning of the 20th century up to the 80’s. Excellent opportunity to understand our culture and influences in art.
(What to photograph? Photos are not allowed in Cuban museums, but then visit is very inspiring.)
Lunch at Art Pub
A nice tavern with excellent sandwiches and cocktails. The owner is an enthusiast of photography and the place is decorated with old cameras and photos.
Photography School PhotoSafari
This will be an unforgettable afternoon. We will visit a private photography school. We will share with the students an afternoon of team photography and some cocktails at the end of the safari. An excellent opportunity to make friends who share our same passion. 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 wall of 8 km 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 boats, 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 6: Night-Trinidad
Travel to Trinidad
We will travel back to the 18th century. Trinidad is 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.
(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 La Esquina 373 in Trinidad
Day 5 /Thursday 7: Night-Trinidad
Trinidad city tour
This is the perfect opportunity to have 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 El Barracón
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 8: Night-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 viewpoint 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.)
Roast Pig lunch
This will be a typical Cuban meal. The house of Emelina is not a restaurant, it is a family house where we will have the experience of sharing with its people. (What to photograph? People, portraits, food.)
Dinner at El Balcón
Day 7 /Saturday 9: Night-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 at buffet restaurant Para Ti, in Matanzas
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 10: Departure
Depart for the airport.
- All transportation in Cuba including airport transfers. Daily transportation in old-fashioned cars.
- All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinners). Lunch and dinners include two drinks. Tips included.
- Bottled water each day
- All accommodations
- Daily English-speaking Cuban photographer/guide. Other English-speaking Cuban guides as required for various tours.
- Entrance fees for locations included in the tour (other locations to be paid on your own)
- Air transportation from the United States
- Cuban entry visa (to be purchased from airlines)
- Travel insurance (recommended)
- Additional drinks not included in the tour, souvenirs, incidentals, etc.
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.
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 does 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.