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CLASSIC CUBA

ITINERARY HIGHLIGHTS


DAY 0 - HAVANA

Arrival & Check-In - Upon arrival at the airport in Havana, participants will be greeted by a Capturing Cuba staff member and transferred to our accommodations. We recommend that you plan to arrive no later than 5:30pm so as to allow enough time to clear Customs & Immigration, transfer to the accommodations, check in, and have some time to relax before the Welcome Dinner.

Welcome Dinner - In the evening, we kick-off our Classic Cuba adventure with a welcome dinner at one of Havana's top-rated paladares (privately owned restaurants). Feast on traditional Cuban cuisine and imbibe mojitos, the country's signature drink, as you become acquainted with your fellow travelers, trip leader, and local guide. We'll also review the itinerary and important dos and don'ts while in Cuba.

Included Meals: Dinner

 

DAY 1 - HAVANA

Old Havana Historical Walk - The city referred to as Habana Vieja was founded in 1519 by the Spanish and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. Our local guide will provide historical information as we explore the four main plazas on foot: Plaza Vieja, Plaza de San Francisco de Asis, Plaza de la Cathedral, and Plaza de Armas.

Printmaking Workshop - During our guided walk of Old Havana we make a stop to visit one of Havana's most cutting-edge art workshops, where relative freedom of expression somehow finds its way. Preserving the old printmaking techniques and churning out some of the most significant works of graphic art in Havana, this workshop is considered the city's most important graphic arts establishment.

Santeria Priestess - Learn about the centuries old and rapidly growing Santeria religion from a Santera. She is a friend of ours and graciously welcomes us into her modest, shrine-filled dwelling where she has lived her entire life. This is a very special activity.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

DAY 2 - HAVANA

Cuban Photographer - This friend and famous photographer was part of a small group given privileged access to Fidel Castro before, during, and after the Revolution. During that time, he used images to tell the stories of Cuba, the saga of its revolution, and the life of its enigmatic leader. We will meet in his home for an interactive discussion. Afterwards, you will have the opportunity to view and purchase prints from his personal collection.

Convertible Tour - Get orientated with Old Havana's surrounding neighborhoods and landmarks as we tour the Malecon, La Rampa, Vedado, New Vedado, Miramar, Cayo Hueso, and Casablanca in classic American cars from the 1950's that are the life and soul of Cuba. Each car will be accompanied by an English-speaking guide and follow a customized route with stops along the way to maximize photo opportunities.

Dinner - Enjoy a tapas style meal on the rooftop terrace of this multi-level restaurant with four distinct spaces located in a former cooking oil factory. The towering chimney still evokes the building’s industrial past, but the food and the atmosphere are all about modern sophistication. This chic and trendy venue caters to a mix of affluent young Cubans, international tourists, and the occasional celebrity.

Art & Performance Space - After dinner we head next door to the hippest place in Havana. With it's SoHo sensibility, this converted warehouse has been transformed into a huge industrial space meant to support and promote the work of Cuban artists of all branches. It has become an intellectual nexus for art exhibitions, live music, fashion shows, and invigorating debate over coffee and cocktails. This is the definitive place to experience the younger and edgier crowd that represents the emerging Cuba of today. We will have the rare opportunity to meet with the art curator and receive a private tour before the evening crowds arrive. Afterwards, we’ll be given privileged access to the exclusive, hidden V.I.P. area that is off-limits to the public.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

DAY 3 - HAVANA

Grand Theater of Havana - Cuba is a country rich in cultural arts and nothing is considered more important than the Cuban national Ballet. Enjoy an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Havana's most beautiful that is home to the National Ballet.

Afro-Cuban Music & Dance Troupe - The Spanish imported African slaves to Cuba up until the 1880's, so it's no surprise that Cuban music and dance have deep roots in African ritual and rhythm. We have the privilege to experience and photograph a private performance by a dance group regarded as one of the world's most authentic ensembles in the Yoruba traditions. The abandoned theater they call home is a decrepit yet stunning piece of architecture. Their costumes and choreography will take you on a journey of Cuban dance from the deepest Afro-Cuban roots through the beloved Latin dances of generations past, right up to the hottest salsa of today. This activity is truly unique and for the most part not available to tourists.

Central Havana Cultural Walk - We will wander far from the tourist path and go deep into the gritty and dilapidated but safe neighborhoods of Central Havana (Centro) where the majority of unemployed and working-class locals live, eat, and shop. This is where you will truly experience Havana's most impoverished first hand, but also develop an understanding and appreciation of their ingenuity and pride. Don't be surprised or hesitant when these strangers invite us into their modest dwellings to drink coffee, show us how they live, or introduce us to family members.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

DAY 4 - HAVANA

Boxing Gym - Boxing is a passion that runs deep in Cuba and is second only to baseball. This small country dominates the world of amateur boxing and has been a consistent force to be reckoned with at the Olympic Games. In the morning we visit the oldest boxing gym in Havana to watch a group of young adults train in this tattered, world-famous open-air facility. The current head coach was a member of the national Cuban boxing team for nine years. This will be a closed session for our group with plenty of opportunities to capture great action photos and portraits.

Old Havana Cultural Walk - We will explore Old Havana's narrow streets that are filled with overhanging balconies, 1950's classic cars, eclectic architecture, and eccentric characters. In the latter part of the day you can feel the energy in the streets build to a climax as school children play in the streets, workers head home, entrepreneurs pedal their merchandise, musicians fill the air with the rhythms of Cuba, and men engage in games of dominoes and chess on sidewalk card tables. This is the ideal time for street photography as you observe and interact with the locals. The opportunities to capture incredible images are endless and the reason why Old Havana is considered a paradise for photographers of all skill levels.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

DAY 5 - HAVANA & VIÑALES

Transfer - In the morning we depart for Viñales, a small rural town in the Pinar del Rio province of Western Cuba where brightly colored houses with front porches and rocking chairs line every street. The town sits on the edge of Viñales Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and settlement dating back to the Spanish colonial era. Life here revolves around agriculture and offers the perfect combination of natural beauty and the country's traditional culture.

Viñales - Upon arrival we'll check in to our casa and then explore the tranquil town on foot. We'll meet many of the locals as we visit the main square, outdoor market, and outdoor stadium where school kids hone their baseball and soccer skills.

Organic Farm & Dinner - At day's end we will learn about the necessity for sustainable agriculture in Cuba on a guided walk of an organic 'finca' in the Pinar del Rio province. After the walk we'll watch the sun as it sets in the Valley of Silence before we sit down to enjoy a fresh, unforgettable farm-to-table meal and imbibe the owner's legendary "anti-stress" cocktail.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

DAY 6 - VIÑALES VALLEY

Sunrise - We start our day before dawn by photographing the Valley as the sun rises to reveal a jaw-dropping vista of the stunning landscape below. If we're lucky, we might just catch the thin layer of fog that occasionally blankets the Valley floor.

Fields & Homes - In the early light of the morning we head down deep into the fields to photograph the campesinos (farmers) as they tend to the crops. We'll stop at many of their homes along the way to drink fresh roasted coffee and converse with family members as we learn about rural life in Cuba. Throughout the morning the campesinos and their families will gladly pose for portraits and allow us to photograph their modest dwellings.

Tobacco Farm - As the morning light begins to turn harsh, we visit a farm that produces tobacco used in Cuba's world-renown cigars. Inside a secadero (drying house) the process of cultivating, harvesting, and curing the tobacco will be explained. 

Cigar Rolling - At the tobacco farm we'll watch and photograph a private demonstration of the the cigar hand-rolling process from start to finish. Each member of the group will receive a complimentary cigar and have the opportunity to purchase additional ones.

Pig Roast - In Cuba, pig roasts are usually reserved for special occasions and holidays such as Christmas Eve. At lunch time we'll take a short drive to partake in this tradition on a farm with a family that we have very become close with since our first meeting. The warmth and hospitality with which they embrace us, along with the serenity of the surrounding landscape, always makes this a favorite activity.

Cuban Painter - After lunch we return to town and visit the home of a friend and renowned artist who makes hauntingly beautiful paintings about Cuban realities. His masterworks take a hard look at the changes tourism has wrought. The paintings are quite lovely until you look at the details…an irony that isn’t lost on an artist who has done well for himself by selling to international collectors. It’s contradictions like this that make Cuba, a place where most artists out-earn doctors, fascinating right now.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

DAY 7 - VIÑALES & TRINIDAD

Transfer - We depart Viñales before sunrise and travel to the Sancti Spiritus province located in the center of the island. Our destination is Trinidad, a town that quickly grew from the wealth of the sugar cane industry and is now considered Cuba's best preserved colonial town, with its brightly colored buildings and original cobblestoned streets. Upon a late afternoon arrival we'll check into our casa particular located near the center of the town's historic district which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988.

Plaza Mayor - After check-in we'll walk a few blocks to the beautiful Plaza Mayor in the center of the historic district and explore the grand structures that now serve as museums but once were individual family homes of sugar industry magnates.  

Sunset Cultural Walk - During the golden hour and sunset, we'll explore one of Trinidad's poorest neighborhoods (barrios) just beyond the historic district. Capturing Cuba has developed many friendships in this barrio full of special characters. This walk is an excellent opportunity to interact with the locals and capture some amazing portraits.

Dinner - Get ready for a fun night of dining at this rooftop paladar known for it's live music and beautiful sunset views.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

DAY 8 - TRINIDAD

Cultural Walk - We begin our day exploring another of Trinidad's barrios and then continue on to areas outside of the historic district including the town's other square, Cespedes Central Park.

Troubadours - We'll return to the historic district for a lunch and a special performance in the home of a husband and wife duo who are world-class musicians.

Cultural Walk - Afterwards we will stroll through two smaller plazas that are alive with musicians, art galleries, and the largest of the many tourist markets in town. During the golden hour, you will have the optional opportunity to climb one or both of Trinidad's main towers for gorgeous 360-degree views of the outskirts of town, the surrounding mountains, and the nearby ocean.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

DAY 9 - TRINIDAD

Playa Ancon (Optional) - Located a mere 7.5 miles from Trinidad, this precious ribbon of beach on the Caribbean shoreline is considered to be the finest arc of sand on the Southern coast of Cuba. Spending time here is the perfect way to wind down your 10-day adventure and relax before returning home to the daily grind.

Other Activities (Optional) - If you're not a beach-goer, you might want to consider exploring the abandoned plantations in the Valley of the Sugar Mills, hiking the Topes de Collantes nature reserve park in the Escambray Mountain Range, or swimming under the waterfalls at Parque Cubano or El Nicho.

Farewell Dinner - The "Farewell Dinner" will be at one of Trinidad's most talked about paladars, which offers excellent service and a diverse menu featuring generous portions of everything from lobster to pizza. We'll celebrate our unforgettable adventure together with great food, Cuban drinks, and a look back at our favorite memories.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

DAY 10 - TRINIDAD

Check-Out & Departure - The final day includes breakfast and check-out, which concludes your Capturing Cuba adventure. Participants will then transfer as a group to the airport in Santa Clara (SNU) and depart on a commercial flight to their next destination.

Included Meals: Breakfast


* Please note that the itinerary is subject to change anytime prior to or during your adventure due to circumstances that are deemed necessary or beyond our control. In Cuba it is common to experience last minute schedule changes and cancellations. We ask that you remain patient and flexible during all times.