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VANISHING CUBA

Havana, Viñales, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Regla, Soroa and more

VANISHING CUBA

HAVANA

EASTERN CUBA

CUBA PRIVATE

Experience Cuba through the lens of a renowned photographer of Cuba.

Vanishing Cuba is a special 9-Day Photo Tour and Cultural Adventure led by Michael Chinnici, author of Vanishing Cuba, a photo storytelling book showcasing an outstanding collection of images from his more than 26 trips to this island nation. Michael will take you off the tourist grid as you explore Havana, Trinidad, Vinales, Cienfuegos, Regla, Puerta de Golpe, Soroa and more. Michael integrates Cuban friends and families into his adventures, visiting their homes and businesses so you can experience and photograph the real Cuba. Outside of Havana, you will be treated to a rural lifestyle that has gone unchanged for more than 60 years. Michael will host only three Vanishing Cuba small-group trips annually, making them intimate and highly personal.

In addition to Cuba, Michael also leads photo adventures in Europe, Africa, India, Asia, the United States, and Central America. But his photographic love affair with Cuba are some of his most interesting ones. These trips have yielded an impressive collection of images known as Vanishing Cuba™, which can be seen on his instagram.

Cuba is a tropical paradise with a storied past, offering us a unique view of a world few have been able to see. Photographing Cuba offers us the rare opportunity to capture its warm people alongside its natural beauty and stunning architecture. Laidback Caribbean Island culture mixed with the big-city life of Havana, where vintage American cars from the ’40s and ’50s roll past you on Havana’s Malecon.

Like all of our adventures, we take you behind the scenes of Cuba’s tourist veil and expose you to the inner city culture that is the real Cuba. By working with locals, we can achieve this on an unprecedented level. Besides photography, we’ll be speaking with Cubans about daily life on the island, learning about the country’s unique political and economic system, and working side-by-side with Cuban photographers. Old Havana, Trinidad, and Viñales Valley are UNESCO World Heritage sites. 

OUR RECIPE FOR SUCCESS:  It’s been said that we really know how to do Cuba right. We stay in the finest and most authentic Casa Particulars (privately owned Cuban hotels and bed & breakfasts). We travel by air-conditioned vehicles and beautifully restored vintage American automobiles. We dine in world-renowned Cuban restaurants and authentic hidden gem paladars. And lastly, we expose you to not only a truly amazing and authentic Cuba but the most photogenic Cuba. We always travel to Cuba under the General License 31 CFR § 515.574 – Support for the Cuban People.

This adventure is designed to guide you to the most photogenic locations carefully planned for the best light and aid you in mentally visualizing a scene before capturing the decisive moment. Our aim is to raise your awareness and spark your creativity so that you not only go home with images to be proud of but use your newfound skills to improve and expand your photographic technique in general. You will learn how to turn an ordinary image into an extraordinary image by using your own creativity.

In addition, you will become knowledgeable about how to survey the landscape, utilize and approach your environment, photograph people indigenous to the region, and the cultural considerations and challenges of photographing in a foreign country. Our time together will include individual and group discussions, inspiring ideas, and great fun. Cuba offers more photographic opportunities than any other adventure we offer. Cuba is not to be missed!

 

Cuba is a tropical paradise with a storied past, offering us a unique view of a world few have been able to see. Photographing Cuba offers us the rare opportunity to capture its warm people alongside its natural beauty and stunning architecture. Laidback Caribbean Island culture mixed with the big-city life of Havana, where vintage American cars from the ’40s and ’50s roll past you on Havana’s Malecon.

Like all of our adventures, we take you behind the scenes of Cuba’s tourist veil and expose you to the inner city culture that is the real Cuba. By working with locals, we are able to achieve this on an unprecedented level. Besides photography, we’ll be speaking with Cubans about daily life on the island, learning about the country’s unique political and economic system, and working side-by-side with Cuban photographers. Old Havana, Trinidad, and Viñales Valley are UNESCO World Heritage sites. 

OUR RECIPE FOR SUCCESS:  It’s been said that we really know how to do Cuba right. We stay in the finest and most authentic Casa Particulars (privately owned Cuban hotels and bed & breakfasts). We travel by air-conditioned vehicles and beautifully restored vintage American automobiles. We dine in world-renowned Cuban restaurants and authentic hidden gem paladars. And lastly, we expose you to not only a truly amazing and authentic Cuba but the most photogenic Cuba. We always travel to Cuba under the General License 31 CFR § 515.574 – Support for the Cuban People.

This adventure is designed to guide you to the most photogenic locations carefully planned for the best light and aid you in mentally visualizing a scene before capturing the decisive moment. Our aim is to raise your awareness and spark your creativity so that you not only go home with images to be proud of but use your newfound skills to improve and expand your photographic technique in general. You will learn how to turn an ordinary image into an extraordinary image by using your own creativity.

In addition, you will become knowledgeable about how to survey the landscape, utilize and approach your environment, photograph people indigenous to the region, and the cultural considerations and challenges of photographing in a foreign country. Our time together will include individual and group discussions, inspiring ideas, and great fun. Cuba offers more photographic opportunities than any other adventure we offer. Cuba is not to be missed!

 

100% Compliant and Legal Travel to Cuba for U.S. Citizens

Photo Workshop Adventures LLC travels to Cuba under the General License 31 CFR § 515.574 - Support for the Cuban People.

Group Size

4-8 Guests

Experience | Difficulty

  • Beginner, amateur, enthusiast, and semi-pro photographers
  • Travel by AC van, vintage American cars, taxis, and bicycle taxis
  • Minimal elevation changes and lots of walking
  • (non-photographers are also welcome)

Weather | Sun

October to November –  Temps 85/71 F  29/21 C  Approx. Sunrise 7:26 | Sunset 7:04 (19:04)
December to March –  Temps 80/63 F  26/17 C  Approx. Sunrise 7:10 | Sunset 6:17 (18:17)
April to May –  Temps 88/69 F  30/20 C  Approx. Sunrise 6:56 | Sunset 8:00 (20:00)

Includes

  • 5 Days or 9 Days
  • Travel, street, people, landscape, and architecture photography
  • Meet with Cuban photographers, students, musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs
  • Professional photographer | guide
  • Cuban guide and driver (English speaking)
  • Photo walks & discussions
  • Small group (4 – 8 guests)
  • Upscale Cuban Casas
  • Breakfasts and 2 meals
  • Local transportation in vintage American cars and air-conditioned vehicles
  • Travel under the General License 31 CFR § 515.574 – Support for the Cuban People

What To Expect

Cuba is not just unique but one of the most rewarding photographic and cultural experiences you will ever encounter. Because Cuba is so different, it requires an open-minded and rewarding sense of adventure. As is often said in Cuba, “It’s not what you want; it’s what we have.” Prepare yourself to be completely wowed.

Accommodations

The finest Cuban Bed & Breakfasts

Travel Information

Book your commercial flights to the corresponding airports noted below.
Arrival and Departure Airport: Havana José Martí International Airport (HAV) – Transfer time 45min.
Our adventure begins on the first day at 2 PM at our hotel and ends at checkout on the last day.

Support for the Cuban People

Throughout each day, we are committed to “Support for the Cuban People” under the General License 31 CFR § 515.574. Our goal is to promote independent activity intended to strengthen and support civil society in Cuba and constitute a full-time schedule that enhances contact with the Cuban people and results in meaningful interaction between ourselves and individuals in Cuba. We never pay for lodging at any property on the CPA List to the extent prohibited by § 515.210. In addition, we will support Cuban entrepreneurs launching their privately-owned businesses. Our only accommodations are private Cuban residences (casa particulars). We only eat at privately-owned Cuban restaurants (paladares), and we only shop at privately owned stores run by self-employed Cubans.

Visas

U.S.-based airlines will distribute Cuban Visas at the airport. A Cuban Visa costs $50 – $100 depending on the airline. International travelers who require a Cuban visa can get their visas through the Cuban Embassy or Consulate in their respective countries.

Helpful Links

> Venturing to Cuba for the First Time – by Darrell Miller
> Legal US Travel to Cuba – by Michael Chinnici
> Comparing Photo Adventures – by Michael Chinnici
> Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski Habana – by Michael Chinnici (no longer available to U.S. Citizens)
> How to Keep Cuban Cigars Fresh – by Michael Chinnici

Photographer Leader

Photographer Leader

Michael Chinnici

January 7-11/15, 2023
April 15-19/23, 2023
October 21-25/29, 2023
January 5-9/13, 2024

*All prices are per person and based on double occupancy. Please select single occupancy for a private room. For your convenience, we offer optional early arrival and late departure accommodations so you can extend your stay before or after the trip. We typically stay in upscale boutique hotels in the 4 and 5-star category. Not all destinations offer these types of properties. We look for unique hotels that offer cultural, historic, and/or authentic features. Depending on the size of the group, smaller boutique hotels may have limited room inventory. In some countries or in remote locations, we may be limited to lodges or branded chain hotels. In Cuba, we stay in upscale family-owned Casas (bread & breakfasts). On all of our tours, breakfast is almost always included, but not guaranteed. Meal categories listed include (B) for breakfast, (L) for lunch, and (D) for dinner.

ITINERARY

VANISHING CUBADAYS

Day 1 | Arrive in Havana

Note: Our support for the Cuban people program is woven throughout the photography opportunities listed below. Each day brings another opportunity to provide this support. 

We begin our “Vanishing Cuba Photo Adventure” with a walk through Old Havana’s historic district. We’ll have the opportunity to meet with many locals and capture some great street photography.

In the evening, we celebrate with our Welcome Dinner at the award-winning Paladar San Cristobal, located in the heart of Central Havana. A taste of colonial Cuba, San Cristobal offers wonderful entries served on 19th-century china, surrounded by stacks of books, old antiques, and nostalgic black and white photographs. You can ask owner Carlos Cristóbal Márquez Valdés all about it. A favorite among many, including the Obamas, when they visited Cuba. (D)

Day 2 | Havana – Regla – La Fabrica de Arte

After breakfast, we take an early morning ferry across Havana Bay to the community of Regla, a working-class, Afro-Cuban community with a thriving local culture. Regla is especially known for its strong ties to Santería and other Afro-Cuban religions. You will experience a more relaxed and hidden slice of Havana. Regla is a photographic masterpiece. In the afternoon, we’ll visit a fishing village known for its catches of marlin and swordfish, a favorite of Hemingway’s.

Later in the evening, we will visit La Fabrica de Arte Cubana for live music, art, and photography following dinner. La Fabrica de Arte Cubana was founded by Afro-Cuban rock star X Alfonso, who has turned this into a meeting place for young and eclectic Cubans and foreigners. (B)

Day 3 | Havana – Boxers – Ballerina’s – Vedado Mansion – Classic Cars

We begin our day at a famous Havana boxing gym and community center run by local Cubans. Here we’ll enjoy a private photo session with Cuban boxers. Our private session will allow us to capture both environmental portraits and live-action sparring bouts after we’ll drive to Vedado. After, we’ll visit a “lost in time” centuries-old Cuban Mansion for a photography session with ballerinas in this nearby suburb. Built at the turn of the century, this home is truly a masterpiece and has remained untouched since the revolution in 1959.

After lunch, we will visit an American Classic Car restoration garage that has put together a fleet of over 20 pristine “Clasicos” (as Cubans refer to them), to provide professional car service to their clientele. Learn firsthand how they restore these classic American beauties from the 1950s. This setting makes for some amazing photography. Interacting with Cuban businesses and helping them learn how to improve is always our goal under “support for the Cuban people”.

Afterward, we’ll spend the afternoon in these beautifully restored cars, driving along the Malecón (Havana’s seawall), visiting the mansions in the Miramar neighborhood, and experiencing the bustle of Neptuno and San Lazaro streets in the city center. (B)

Day 4 | Vinales – Havana

After breakfast, we depart Havana for a day trip to Viñales Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. People don’t come to Viñales for the music or the mojitos; they come to dip indulgently into the natural world, hiking, horse-riding, or photographing some of the most beautiful landscapes in Cuba. In the valley, you’ll experience craggy limestone monoliths, and cigar-chewing guajiro’s driving their oxen and plowing through the rust-colored tobacco fields.

Despite its longstanding love affair with tourism, this slow, relaxed, wonderfully traditional settlement is a place that refuses to put on a show. What you see here is what you get – an agricultural town where front doors are left wide open, and everyone knows everyone else. We’ll be talking with local farmers and learning about their lives. We’ll enjoy lunch at an organic farm with a stunning view of the valley. We’ll visit the family farm of a private tobacco grower known for their world-famous Cohiba cigars. We’ll enjoy a relaxing dinner in Old Havana upon our return to Havana. (B)

Day 5 | Old Havana – Art Deco – Malecón – La Guarida Paladar

After breakfast, we’ll explore Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander through the Plaza de Armas, a scenic tree-lined plaza formerly at the center of influence in Cuba. It is surrounded by many of the most historic structures in Havana and important monuments. Photograph the Plaza de San Francisco, a cobbled plaza surrounded by buildings dating from the 18th century, dominated by the baroque Iglesia and Convento de San Francisco dating from 1719. Visit the Plaza Vieja, surrounded by sumptuous houses of the Havana aristocracy from the 18th and 19th centuries. Visit Plaza de la Catedral de San Cristóbal de La Habana.

We will walk Prado Boulevard to the Malecón (seawall) in the late afternoon. On the weekends, the Malecón comes alive with thousands of Cubans chilling and enjoying the evening. We’ll walk the seawall and capture portraits and street images. We’ll meet with the owner of Malecón 663 and discuss her successful business model. Then set up for a sunset shoot, depending on the weather conditions.

We’ll end our last day in Havana with a dinner at La Guarida Paladar, famous for its delectable dining and as the location for the film “Strawberry and Chocolate.” It is housed on the third floor of a large, old townhouse carrying the charming ambiance of the early 1900s. (B)

Day 6 | Havana – Trinidad

After breakfast, we depart Havana for Trinidad, where we’ll check in to a lovely bed & breakfast located in the heart of the old city of Trinidad. The wonderful village of Trinidad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its cobblestoned streets, pastel-colored homes, and small-town feel. Built on the back of the 19th-century sugar and slave trade, Trinidad flourished. At its zenith, in 1827, one of the 56 sugar mills in the region harvested the biggest cane haul in the world — just under a million kilos of white pressed crystals. This enormous, conspicuous wealth shaped the town, and no expense was spared in fashioning the finest Spanish colonial mansions, plazas, and churches, which still stand testament to the vainglory of this profiteering era.

In the late afternoon, we will explore the city’s rural areas. Many areas are off the tourist grid and make for some beautiful photographic opportunities. If the sunset is looking right, we’ll shoot it from the top of the famous bell tower. We’ll enjoy a wonderful dinner at one of the many local paladars in the evening. (B)

Day 7 | Trinidad

We are up early for a sunrise photo walk through Trinidad. Here we will witness the city come to life (well before the tourists arrive). Not only is the light at its best, but the photographic opportunities are seemingly endless—afterward breakfast at our casa.

In the afternoon, we drive to the Valley de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can get a sense of the sugar mill lifestyle of the 19th century. Located just outside of Trinidad are three interconnected rural valleys – San Luis, Santa Rosa, and Meyer – that make up the Valley de los Ingenios.

The former plantations, mill buildings, and other facilities and archaeological sites in the Valley de los Ingenios represent the richest and best-preserved testimony of the Caribbean sugar agro-industrial process of the 18th and 19th centuries and the slavery phenomenon associated with it. More than fifty sugar mills were in operation here at the industry’s peak in the 19th century, and in 1827 more than 11,000 slaves were working in the mills. A long, gradual decline in Cuba’s sugar industry accelerated significantly in the 1990s. We’ll set out for a twilight photo walk throughout downtown Trinidad in the late afternoon. After, we’ll enjoy dinner at one of the many local paladars. (B)

Day 8 | Trinidad – Cienfuegos – Havana

After an early morning walk in Trinidad, we depart for Cienfuegos. We’ll meet with a local photographer friend who will show us his unique technique for creating prints. He blends prints made in the darkroom with acids and other chemicals he can find throughout the home.

We’ll enjoy lunch on the Punta Gorda, and a photo walk before continuing on the Havana. We are back in Havana by late afternoon, where we will spend our last night together.

In the evening, we will enjoy our “Farewell Dinner” at one of our favorite private restaurants in Havana. (B) (D)

Day 9 | Havana

Sunday morning, we meet for breakfast and our final discussion and photo review. After checkout, we will bid you farewell. The Cuban government and the airlines request that you check in at least 2.5 hours before your flight. (B)

Photo Workshop Adventures provides 100% legal and compliant travel for U.S. Citizens under the U.S. Treasury Department’s OFAC “Support for the Cuban People” category.

SUPPORT FOR THE CUBAN PEOPE

Throughout each day, we are committed to “Support for the Cuban People” under the General License 31 CFR § 515.574. Our goal is to promote independent activity intended to strengthen and support civil society in Cuba and constitute a full-time schedule that enhances contact with the Cuban people and results in meaningful interaction between ourselves and individuals in Cuba. We never pay for lodging at any property on the CPA List to the extent prohibited by § 515.210. In addition, we will support Cuban entrepreneurs launching their privately-owned businesses. Our only accommodations are private Cuban residences (casa particular). We only eat at privately-owned Cuban restaurants (paladares), and we only shop at privately owned stores run by self-employed Cubans.

(B) Breakfast, (L) Lunch, (D) Dinner, (E) Excursion

May all who come as guests... leave as friends®

OPTIONS AND BENEFITS

Pricing

All prices are per person and based on double occupancy. Please select single occupancy for a private room. For your convenience, we offer optional early arrival and late departure accommodations so you can extend your stay before or after the trip. We typically stay in boutique hotels in the 4-star category. Not all destinations offer these types of properties. We look for unique hotels which offer cultural, historic and/or authentic features. Depending on the size of the group, smaller boutique hotels may have limited room inventory. In some countries or in remote locations, we may be limited to lodges or branded chain hotels. Breakfast is included only if included in our room rates.

Private Guided Adventures

We offer amazing private guided photo adventures, cultural tours and vacations for individuals, couples, families and groups. We can customize any of our published adventures, as well as others, to meet your individual needs, schedule, budget and interests. This may include the finest 5-star accommodations, business-class travel, and private guides and fixers who are able to make the impossible possible. If you are not interested in a photo-centric vacation, but you love our approach to private travel, we will be happy to design and deliver an amazing adventure focused on travel, culture and cuisine. Click here to request a quote. Feel free to call us at 1-888-834-0288 or contact us for more information.

Travel Insurance

We offer travel insurance through the internationally recognized Travelex Travel Insurance Company, as well as evacuation and medical transportation insurance through MedJet, one of the best in the industry.

The cost for travel insurance can be as low as 4% of the total trip cost, depending upon age and other factors. Knowing you have trip cancellation coverage can make a big difference should you have to cancel for some unforeseen reason. Travelex Insurance Services is a BBB Accredited business with an A+ rating. Click here to learn more about why you should consider travel insurance.

Rewards Program

Start earning points today and SAVE $200 - $900 off future trips!
Simply register for one of our amazing photo adventures and begin earning points today!

How The Program Works
For every adventure reservation you make with Photo Workshop Adventures, you earn valuable points which you can redeem on your next trip. This is a great way to save up to 8% off future trips. Our Rewards Program is designed with three tiers: Orange, Gold and VIP Members. Points may be applied towards balance payments on your next trip, or you may choose to accumulate points for a free trip in the future.

ORANGE REWARDS
All guests begin with our Orange Rewards Program (Level 1), which earns 4 points for every dollar you spend. You begin earning points immediately after your first trip. A $5,900 spend earns 23,600 points with a value of $236 USD.

GOLD REWARDS
With our Gold Rewards Program (Level 2), you earn 6 points for every dollar you spend. Orange Members who reach 120,000 accumulated lifetime* points (approx. 4-6 trips), automatically move up to Gold Rewards. A $5,900 spend earns 35,400 points with a value of $354 USD.

Additional Gold Benefits:

  • Earn up to double points during promotional events
  • Advance notifications for upcoming adventures and special offers

VIP REWARDS
With our VIP Rewards Program (Level 3), you earn 8 points for every dollar you spend. Gold Members who reach 350,000 accumulated lifetime* points (approx. 8-12 trips) move up to VIP Rewards. A $5,900 spend earns 47,200 points with a value of $472 USD, (8+/-% discount).

Additional VIP Benefits:

  • Earn up to double points during promotional events
  • Advance notifications for upcoming adventures and special offers
  • Ability to Gift or Transfer points to others
  • Receive complimentary airport transfers at the destination location*

Redeeming Your Points
Redeeming your points couldn’t be easier. You can always log in to your account to check your points balance. When you are ready to book your next trip, register and pay your deposit. When you go to pay your balance you will be given the option to apply your points and receive a discount.

THINK ORANGE Magazine

Subscribe to our Think Orange Magazine and eNews. THINK ORANGE is a wonderful mix of stories and tips related to travel, photography, adventure, culture, art, technology, cuisine, lifestyle, people and more. Our objective is to immerse you in a world you may only fantasize about. Raise your awareness and inspire your creativity. Perhaps even help make you a better photographer. We deliver similar experiential experiences that our guests enjoy on our photo adventures. Like all of our adventures, our blog is “photo-centric”, while also allowing you to experience all the nuances and cultural aspects of travel and adventure. Welcome to our world. We hope you enjoy. Our eNews is a great way to receive information about upcoming photo adventures, exciting new destinations, photography tips, special offers and more. Subscribe today!

Gift Cards

Give someone you know a Gift Card, good toward any of our Photo  Adventures, Photo Tours, Private Guided Tours, Online Courses, Prints or Merchandize. Our beautifully personalized eGift Cards and Certificates are delivered to you electronically. They are fully transferable and have a 2 year expiration date. They are available in any amount from $100 to $5000. It makes a great gift for anyone who loves photography, travel or adventure. Order now, or email for more information.

Combine-N-Save

You can SAVE up to $1200 by combining two or more back-to-back 6-Day or longer Photo Adventures. Call us at 1-888-834-0288 or contact us for more information.

Private Online Lightroom & Photoshop Tutorials

We offer private online Lightroom and Photoshop photo editing tutorials for individuals who would like to improve their post-processing skills. Each is customized to meet your individual needs, schedule, budget and interests. We provide you with one-on-one discussions using online connectivity. Many of our Photo Adventure guests select our online post-processing as an extension to their trip. Click here for more information.

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