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Photography Tour Economy package / Private travel

The capital of Cuba, the largest island of the Caribbean, is the legendary Havana. The incredible cultural and historical heritage makes this multicolor country one of the most popular destinations of the Caribbean. Cuba is rich in cultural and historical sights, full of architectural delights that will enchant visitors of any age. Those who visit Cuba take a time travel, as they will be able to witness the ancient sugar barons’ richness still present in the architecture. The 1950’s American mob and the 1970’s retro give a unique atmosphere. Cuba houses several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its mountains, rivers and beautiful beaches first encharmed Columbus who wrote in his diary about Cuba: “This is the most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen”. As we will explore by foot the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, we will be challenged to take amazing pictures of the beautiful buildings, the vibrant culture and the everyday life of the Cubans we meet along the way.

 

This special round trip explores the “Authentic Cuba” that many people are looking for. We slightly go off from the traditional tourist routes to see the non-touristic side of the country. From the westernmost tip in Pinar del Rio province of Cuba, we start to explore the beautiful landscapes, going through the central part of the country to the Escambray Mountains. The tour includes visits to UNESCO world heritage sites, like the Viñales Valley, Cienfuegos and Trinidad. We admire the unique microclimate Soroa. We visit Cuba’s largest Orchid farm, learn about Cuba's largest cave system, we go bird-watching at the Bay of Pigs, visit a crocodile breeding farm at the Zapata Peninsula, jungle trekking in the Escambray Mountains, where we swim in a waterfall. As the itinerary is packed full of programs, still there will be time for individual photo shooting at the locations we will visit.

Groups are limited to 10 pax / group!

 

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Duration

10 days / 9 nights

Meal plan

  • Breakfast (CP)

Transfer

All transfers included in price

Travel details

Accommodation in Casas Particular (Homestay in Cuba) through the program.

 

Program

 

1. day                                                                                Arrival/ Accommodation: Havana

 

 

Arrival to Cuba in the afternoon. Meet & Greet at the airport, meeting the local tour guide and transfer to the hotel. Check in. Evening free time.

Meals: none.

2. day                                                                                               Accommodation: Havana

 

Modern Havana - Habana Vieja – Canon Shoot Ceremony

 

After breakfast we start a full day sightseeing tour of Havana, one of the most beautiful cities of Latin America. Havana captivates all its visitors. This true Caribbean metropolis has a unique atmosphere that makes tourists travel back in time to the Colonial era while appreciating the mark of the ‘50s US mob which coexists with the retro architecture, and the ambiance of the current socialist society. We start to visit the Scale Model of Old Havana to have a general view of the city and see the development from the colonial times up until today. After it, we start to explore the old part of the city on foot with its rich cultural and historical attractions, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. During the tour all those who are interested can hunt local antiques at the authentic antique market while we visit the Plaza de Armas (the "Arms’ Square"), the Governor's palace, and walk through the Plaza San Francisco where we will look at the old Stock Exchange Palace and St. Francis of Assis Church and Cathedral Square. Our next stop at our photography tour, we will visit La Plaza Vieja, the "Old Square" where our optional lunch will be served in a typical local restaurant. After lunch, we visit the “Taller Experimental de Grafica”, where we will meet local artists and discuss their work in the workshop In the afternoon return to the hotel.

In the evening we visit the Fortress of San Carlos de La Cabaña, Havana’s mayor fort, a unique location offering spectacular view of the city. Here we participate one of the oldest ceremonies of Cuba, the Canon Shoot Ceremony at 9h00 when we remember the colonial times when at this time at night the city did close until dawn. After the ceremony return back to the hotel

Meal plan: breakfast. Lunch option or Full board option available!

 

3. day                                                                                               Accommodation: Havana

Havana

 

Today we continue our discovery in the Capital. We visit the Fototeca de Cuba to see a temporary exhibition of Cuban photographers and we will have the opportunity to exchange with them. The Center of the Cuban photography was founded in 1937 by the former City Historian, Emilio Ruig de Leuchsenring and holds about 14.000 photos inside. Next, we visit several photographic workshops of local artists where we can discuss the techniques, locations, and see the contemporary artists’ work.

We have our optional lunch in a private restaurant (Paladar) and after lunch we visit the “Callejon de Hamel” where we can make an interesting photo shooting session of the local religious art. The Hamel Alleyway is located in Centro Habana where we will have a walking discovery session, exploring interiors, patios and beautiful buildings. Prepare for a warm bumpy and noisy time among bikes, people, vintage cars and diesel fumes. In the afternoon return to the hotel. Evening free.

The visit to the famous Tropicana Show or the Concert of the Buena Vista Social Club is optional.

Meal plan: breakfast. Lunch option or Full board option available!

 

Day 4                                                                                                        Accommodation: Vinales

 

Havana – Soroa – Viñales Valley

 

After breakfast we start our trip to the western part of the country, directly to Pinar del Rio province, the “green” province of Cuba. This province offers the superb natural beauty of the country by offering untouched nature and relief. Its unique climate makes this land the most fertile on the island. It is one of the highlights of our tour; we spend two days by tour the countryside and see the highlights of the area. On the way we stop at Soroa also known as the “Rainbow of Cuba”, named after the “Salto de Arcoiris” waterfall that is located here. Here we visit the largest Orchid farm in Cuba that offers over 6000 plants and 700 different types of orchids - including some very rare types - in more than 25 hectares. Soroa offers a unique micro climate that makes “El Orchideario” florulent all year long. We continue to Pinar del Rio city, called the “City of columns” where we take a panoramic city tour. Later on, we leave for Viñales, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999, where the unique karst formations, the “Mogotes” can be found. Once there, we stop at the Mirador Los Jazmines, where we can enjoy the breathtaking panorama with the remote scenery of "Mogotes"(karst hills) and mountains make this place deservedly a World Heritage site. We will have optional lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch we start hiking the “Cueva del Indio”, and boating inside the cave on an underground river observing the various stalactites that formed different shapes and therefore each has some story to tell. Finishing the day’s program, we visit the famous wall painting, the "Mural de la Prehistoria" that fascinates us with its unique technology of gigantic size. We continue our trip to our accommodation. Check-in and dinner. Evening free time. It is worth going to the village in the evening to meet locals and experience the unique Cuban hospitality.

Meal plan: breakfast. Lunch option or Full board option available!

 

5. day                                                                                               Accommodation: Pinar del Rio

 

Viñales Valley – Santo Tomas Cave

 

After the previous day’s adventures we wake up relaxed and head for more escapades. Today we discover the Cuban country life and Viñales Valley. This area of the country is the beast soil for tobacco, the best tobacco in the world is produced here. On the way we stop at a tobacco plantation where we enter the house of the tobacco farmers. They will show us around in the “Casa de Tabaco” and we will learn about the producing and processing of the tobacco. We have optional lunch at a typical Cuban restaurant. After lunch we depart to the Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas cave, the largest cave system in Cuba, second largest on the American continent: it is 46 km long and has 8 levels. We discover the part of the cave that is open to the public with a specialized guide on a 1 km way that is accessible by non-professionals. The specialty of the program is that local authorities give admission to visit the cave only to very few groups. This allows the conservation of the cave system in its original state. In the afternoon we return to our hotel in Viñales. Evening free. It is worth going to the village in the evening to meet locals and experience the unique Cuban hospitality.

Meal plan: breakfast. Lunch option or Full board option available!

 

6. day                                                                  Accommodation: Playa Giron/ Bay of Pigs

 

Pinar del Rio – Montemar National Park – Guama – Bay of Pigs – Playa Larga

 

Breakfast at the hotel and departure to one of ​​Cuba's most important nature reserves, the world famous Zapata Peninsula, a bird and animal sanctuary which is located in the Montemar National Park. The largest swamp of Cuba is located here. It houses many endemic and migrant birds, among others the most emblematic Cuban birds, like Tocororo (Cuban trogon), the national bird of Cuba; the Bee Hummingbird, the world’s smallest bird; the Cuban Tody, who is small, but all the more colorful. In Cuba, crocodiles are indigenous; the Zapata swamp grants habitat for them. The first stop is Guama, the main attraction of the National Park. There we take a speedboat tour of the natural lagoon, the Laguna de Tresoro, where the untouched nature can be observed, and migrating and endemic birds can be seen. Then we will visit the Aldea Taino, the reconstructed Taino Aboriginal village where we learn about the customs of the ancient indigenous inhabitants. We get back to port by motor boat and visit the country’s largest crocodile breeding farm, where we can observe hundreds of these reptiles in their natural habitat. We visit the crocodile nursery; where those who feel brave enough may hold the yet harmless infants in their hands. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant. In the afternoon we will arrive to the Bay of Pigs, where visitors can have some swimming time in the Caribbean Sea. Check-in to the hotel. Evening free time. Meal plan: breakfast. Lunch option or Full board option available!

 

7. day                                                                                             Accommodation: Trinidad

Playa Larga – Zapata Península – Cienfuegos – Trinidad/Ancón Península

 

After breakfast we depart to the city of Cienfuegos, also known as the “Pearl of the South”. First we make a stop on the way for bird watching: the Montemar National Park has more than 900 plants and 160 bird species and 12 other animals in their natural habitat. A specialist ornithologist will lead the bird watching. With his help we will have a better chance to find these hiding birds. Then continue our travel to Cienfuegos. Once we arrive, optional lunch will be served at a local restaurant. Later on we begin our panoramic sightseeing tour: the city was founded by French settlers in 1819. They started to call the city “The Pearl of the Caribbean”. Cienfuegos is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2005. Cienfuegos is the first, and an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble representing the new ideas of modernity, hygiene and order in urban planning as developed in Latin America from the 19th century. We walk by the famous Malecon, see the beautiful seaside villas. We will stop to take pictures at the Palacio del Valle, a unique palace with architectural richness. It is Gothic influences, Romanesque, Baroque and Italianate combined with the Mudejar style was in vogue in Spain in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Visit a local Art Galery, “La Maroya”, where we will have the opportunity to meet local artists and discuss about their work, plans and their visions. Then we head towards downtown Cienfuegos, where we continue a walking tour of the city of former aristocrats. Cienfuegos, founded by French settlers, has European-style architecture. We will walk down the Boulevard of the city via the Prado; visit the Jose Marti Square, the Governor's palace, the Thomas Terry Theater famous for its excellent acoustics, and the Cathedral. In the afternoon transfer to Trinidad. Our hotel is located on the Ancon Peninsula, 10 kilometers from the city. We will spend two nights here and we will discover the area from our all-inclusive resort to ensure that we can relax after the day’s trips. Check-in. Evening free time. We suggest going to the city in the evening to find sizzling nightlife with authentic salsa parties.

Meal plan: breakfast. Lunch option or Full board option available!

 

8. day                                                                                             Accommodation: Trinidad

Trinidad/Ancon Peninsula – Escambray Mountains

 

After breakfast we depart to the nearby Escambray Mountains on the platform of Russian army trucks  and drive up to the 800 meters high peak: to Topes de Collantes. This high and abundant mountain area was the hiding place of the counter-revolutionists in 1959 after the victory of the Cuban Revolution. Cuba’s second highest mountain is more famous because of its flora and fauna and its continental divide feature. Its Northern side is lush, rainy, with coffee plantations on its sides; the Southern side has a drier climate, with Agave plants and arid zones. The Topes de Collantes Nature Reserve was named after the mountain’s second highest peak. Fulgencio Batista constructed here the Kurhotel that still operates as a sanatorium. Once there, we start a 3 km jungle tour in the Guanayara National Park. Today’s clothing should be comfortable, and shoes are required, but you also might need towel and swimsuit, too. Our trip is led by a specialist local guide who is an expert of the Cuban Flora and Fauna. During the trip we will get to know the local animals and plants: more than 40 types of orchids are endemics and more than 100 types of ferns are registered, 7 of them grow as high as 6 meters high. We also visit a coffee plantation where we learn about coffee production, the main types of coffee produced here: there are more than 40 types of coffee grown in the shades of pine and eucalyptus trees. We will reach the “El Rocio” waterfall, where we can swim in the transparent mountain river. Keep your swimwear on you, as our next stop is the El Venado natural lagoon, where we can swim in the clear water of the lagoon. We have our lunch at “Casa de Gallega” ranch. After lunch we have our Caribbean siesta and afterwards we return to the hotel. Evening free time.

Meal plan: breakfast. Lunch option or Full board option available!

 

9. day                                                                                            Accommodation: Havana

Trinidad Old Town – Sugar Mills Valley – Havana

 

After breakfast we visit Trinidad. Our journey is made not only on ground but in time, also. The city was founded more than 500 years ago; Trinidad preserves the singular atmosphere of the colonial era. First, we have our optional lunch in the center of the city, and then we walk through the old part of the city. While walking along the small winding streets we have the feeling that we are going back in time. Later, sightseeing in the UNESCO World Heritage city, with visits to the Plaza Mayor, The Tower of Contrabandido, the Cathedral, La Santissima Trinidad Square and the exhibition of the Romantic Museum. The museum is located in the palace of what used to be the town's richest family with balustrade yard, marble floors, and neoclassical decoration. Walking among the frescoes of the city's wealthiest merchant family we can enjoy the exhibition. Later we walk in Old Town and stop at the famous Canchanchara bar where you can sample the authentic drink of Trinidad, the special cocktail still made from the original recipe of Aguardiente and honey, called Canchanchara. After lunch we visit the famous Valley of Sugar Mills that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, once the center of sugar production and processing in Cuba. The 270km2 valley did employ more than 30,000 slaves. The large part of the 18th century sugar consumption was produced from here. The Valley together with Trinidad was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.  Visit the Manaca Iznaga estate. It is possible to climb the seven-story tower that offers a beautiful panorama. The tower was used to keep an eye on the plantation and the slaves. Once the highest building in the country in its era, the tower offers beautiful view to the surrounding area. Then we will continue our trip to Trinidad, the ancient colonial town, once renowned for the abundance of its sugar cane plantations. In the afternoon continue to Havana. Arrival in the evening, check in, evening free.

Meal plan: breakfast. Lunch option or Full board option available!

 

10. day                                                                                                                         Farewell

 

Free time in the morning. Check-out until noon. You can use the hotel facilities until the transfer leaves to the airport. For extra cost, you can buy “Late check-out” services on site. Transfer to the airport, leaving to home country.

 

 

Price includes

  • Shared transfers (in/out/interhotel)
  • Breakfast in Havana (CP)
  • Accommodation in the chosen hotels in DBL/SGL standard rooms
  • Hotels according to local standards
  • 24 hours assistance in Cuba
  • Private guide
  • 24 hours assistance in Cuba
  • Accommodation in tourist class hotels during the round trip
  • Transfers
  • Guide service

Price excludes

  • Cuban tourist card
  • Excursions not included in the description
  • Tips and other credentials
  • Costs of other services not included in the description
  • International flight ticket, tax
  • Meals and drinks not included in the description
  • Travel insurance

Booking conditions

Booking: Minimum 21 days before the arrival date. For booking, please send: name of travelers, passport number and flight details.

Payment: Minimum 14 days before the arrival date via wire transfer. Cancelation/Modification: Over 14 days: no penalty. 14-8 days, the first two days’ costs (accommodation, meals, transfer, programs, etc.) and $35 administration cost will be charged. Within 7 days or No Show: 100% penalty. With all confirmed bookings a $35 administration fee will be charged in case of modification. For groups over 14 pax special Terms & Conditions apply.

Reservations: Marysol Travel Services S.A. E-mail: sales [at] marysoltravel.com Web: www.marysoltravel.com Tel: +(53) 7 214 4999 or (+53) 5 263 1786 / Cuba