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Trip Dates: October 4 - 12, 2014
Trip Cost: $5,975 (includes a down payment of $2,224)
Single Supplement: $900
Join us for a cultural and photographic journey through old Cuba.
This trip will be led in conjunction with Mike Hagen of the Nikonians Academy and Alethea Paradis of Friendship Tours World Travel. Mike is the Nikonians Academy Director and is well known for his world-class workshops. Alethea has been running cultural tours to Cuba for many years through her own organization Friendship Tours World Travel and knows the country exceedingly well. Together, they make up a crack team ready to help you create amazing images of classic Cuba.
This trip is open to all international travelers, including those from the USA. Americans are able to travel to Cuba as a part of a new program called "People-to-People." The goal of this program is to immerse travelers into the heart of Cuban culture and history. We will be taking photographs at all of our cultural stops and doing everything possible to maximize each day's photographic potential.
Please understand that all elements of the itinerary are subject to change. Since the program is authorized by the U.S. Treasury Department, we are required to abide by subsequent changes to the regulations.
Day 1 – Saturday
Travel from Miami to Havana, Cuba, then tour of Havana with rhumba dance presentation.
Day 2 – Sunday
Walking tour of Havana Vieja through parks, fortresses and plazas.
Day 3 – Monday
Meet with Cuban professional photographer. Photograph Cuban artists and dancers.
Day 4 – Tuesday
Ferry to Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Regla. Afternoon open for people-to-people activities
Day 5 – Wednesday
Produce vendors of Mercado Quatro Caminos and Rafael Trejo boxing gym.
Day 6 – Thursday
Depart for Las Terrazas. Explore rural town of Rancho Curujey. Explore Vinales Valley National Monument and photograph stunning landscapes.
Day 7 – Friday
Walking tour throguh Vinca Confianza to photograph agriculture, fruits, vegetables and tobacco.
Day 8 – Saturday
Depart Vinales for Havana, then hop on a plane for Miami.
Participants will fly independently to Miami and congregate at the Fairfield Inn & Suites located near the airport at 4101 NW 11th Street, Miami 33126. 786-456-2100.
Participants should arrive at Miami airport three hours earlier than the scheduled departure time. Group will be met by a representative who will assist with check in procedures.
Day 1 Saturday
5:00 am Group congregates at the hotel lobby for our bus transfer to airport.
5:30 am Arrive Miami Airport. Our flight from Miami to Havana is on ABC Charters Flight AA9470, operated by American Airlines. Check-in is located in Concourse D. Enter through Door 1 and check-in at the AA counter. Baggage fees will apply, typically $20 per bag up to 44 pounds, $2 for each pound thereafter.
PLEASE NOTE: Charter flight schedules cannot be confirmed until 30 days prior to trip departure dates. Please consider this when booking your flights to and from Miami.
It is mandatory that all tourists entering Cuba purchase health insurance and emergency evacuation coverage. As part of your trip price, this has been purchased on your behalf. Trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended and is not included.
9:00 am Arrive in Havana. Clear immigration, customs and baggage, a process that takes about an hour and a half. Upon arriving in Havana, a Cuban representative will welcome the group and assist us with boarding our bus.
On the way into Havana we will stop by Plaza de la Revolucion, one of Havana’s most active public squares. Our bus tour of Havana continues from Miramar along the Malecon to El Morro where we will make a quick stop to see the Havana skyline and harbor.
Check into Hotel Parque Central. This five star hotel is considered the finest hotel in Havana and perfectly located in the central part of Havana. Your bags will be dropped off at the hotel and will be waiting for you upon check-in while we explore the historic area surrounding the hotel. All rooms include a safe deposit box free of charge.
Hotel Parque Central Neptuno, esquina Prado y Zulueta, Havana, Cuba, Havana 10100, Cuba Tel. 53 7 860 6627
12:00pm Lunch at Cafe Taberna. Also known as Café Beny Moré, Café Taberna provides a genuine habanero feeling at decent prices. The nine-piece granddad band are truly talented son and bolero specialists and fit in well with the stylish surroundings. This meal is complimentary. It is recommended that each diner leave 1-2CUC tip at each meal.
Afternoon Afro Rumba Dance Rehearsal in Vedado. In Cuban music, rumba is a genre involving dance, percussion, and song. There are three main forms: yambú, guaguancó, and columbia. Rumba is an amalgamation of several transplanted African dance and drumming traditions, combined with Spanish influences. People of African descent in Havana and Matanzas originally used the word rumba as a synonym for party. Olavo Alén states "Over time rumba ceased to be simply another word for party and took on the meaning both of a defined Cuban musical genre and also of a very specific form of dance". Individual pays admission fees.
7:00pm Group meets in the hotel lobby.
7:30pm Dinner at Café Del Oriente. The luxuriously decorated dining rooms offer the conscientious diner a taste of nineteen-fifties, pre-revolutionary Havana. Excellent service, an international menu that includes a number of Cuban dishes and the fine selection of wines makes this a memorable dining experience. This meal is complimentary.
Day 2 Sunday
Complimentary breakfast is served everyday at the restaurant in the lobby 7am-10am.
8:30am Meet in the lobby for our walking tour of Havana Vieja. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes! We will walk down Obispo Street, a pedestrian promenade, stopping at some of the most significant buildings like the Art Deco Style La Moderna Poesia, the Ambos Mundos Hotel, and the banks of the former Havana Wall Street.
Visit to Palacio Matrimonial on Paseo de Prado.
We will visit 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 as well as important monuments. Continue to the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, a massive fortress built between 1558 and 1577.
Visit the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales. The palace currently houses the Museo de la Cuidad and was the former residence of the Spanish Captains.
We also see 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.
Lunch on your own. Today you may want to try Los Nardos, suitable for large groups and located across from the Capitolio. Delicious food, big portions at very good prices. Individuals pay for this meal.
3:30pm Visit Callejon de Hamel located in the Cayo Hueso neighborhood. The buildings have been decorated with colorful murals that celebrate Cuba’s African cultural roots and religious roots. Our host and guide will be Cuban scholar Elias Aseff, who will explain the role of African religion and culture in Cuba and the importance of Santeria in everyday life. He will also explain how Afro Cuban religion has influenced the evolution of Cuban culture.
OPTIONAL: On Sunday the Garcia Lorca Theatre across the street from the hotel normally offers dance or music. Referred to as The Great Theatre of Havana the Garcia Lorca Theatre officially opened in 1838. The theatre is located in the former Palacio del Centro Gallego. Today it is the permanent headquarters of the Cuban National Ballet and the main stage for the international Ballet Festival of Havana. This is an optional activity and the individual pays for admission. Performance Schedule pending.
Dinner on your own. This evening you may want to dine at Paladar Le Chansonnier one of the most progressive and stylish restaurants in Havana. You may choose to travel to the restaurant in classic 1950’s era American convertible taxis that, despite being cut off from factory support for 50 years, remain the most prevalent automobiles seen on the streets and roadways of Cuba. Individual pays for this meal.
Day 3 Monday
9:30am Group meets in the hotel lobby and departs for our first visit to Centro Pro Danza. Founded by Laura Alonso in 1988, this school of dance serves 850 students. The center has held many highly professional Cuballets not only in Cuba itself but also abroad, in countries such as México, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden and the United States. You will have an opportunity to meet and talk with the dancers will offer their own stories, giving our guests a glimpse of life as a dancer. Donations are encouraged.
Lunch on your own. This afternoon you may want to dine at Paladar Mercaderes. This newly opened private restaurant in Havana Vieja is receiving rave reviews for the excellent food, service and ambience. Individual pays for this meal.
Afternoon Visit Fototeca, the leading photographic guild in Cuba and the most prestigious venue for showcasing work from leading Cuban photographers. We will be received by Nelson Ramírez, who is Director of Fototeca and a very successful photographer. Nelson will be joined by fellow photographers who help us understand the professional challenges of being an artist in Cuba, government censorship issues, and building professional relationships without the use of the internet.
Optional visit to independent Cuban artists such as Yamilis Brito and several other printmakers at the Taller de Grafica Experimental. This independent printmaking guild offers members a full scale printmaking workshop to practice their craft and market their wares to the public.
Return to the hotel.
530-730pm Meet in Conference Room located in the Hotel.
Dinner on your own. This evening you may want to dine at Paladar La Moraleja. A paladar located in the charming Vedado neighborhood with good food, a nice patio, and an outdoor bar. Individual pays for this meal.
Day 4 Tuesday
9:00am Meet in the hotel lobby and walk across the street to attend a private dance performance of the Compania Irene Rodriguez. We will receive a warm welcome by Irene Rodriguez and her company at the Centro Andaluz. Irene will introduce the dancers, many of whom speak English; describe the history of her own dance career and formation of her independent dance company; and discuss the cultivation of artistic talent in Cuba, opportunities and challenges of being a professional dancer, and the arts more generally in Cuba. The individual Cuban dancers will then tell their own stories, giving us a glimpse of life as a dancer in Cuba.
12:00pm Enjoy a traditional Cuban lunch overlooking the Straits of Florida, at La Barraca restaurant at the historic Hotel Nacional de Cuba. Sit under the palapas, feel the ocean air and dine on traditional Cuban fare. This meal is complimentary.
Ferry to Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Regla: Santeria Church. As important as it is diminutive, the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Regla, which lies just behind the boat dock in the municipality of Regla, has a long and colorful history. Inside on the main altar you’ll find La Santísima Virgen de Regla, a black Madonna venerated in the Catholic faith and associated in the Santería religion with Yemayá, the orisha (spirit) of the ocean and the patron of sailors (always represented in blue).
Remainder of day free for People to People activities. We may possibly attend baseball game, subject to schedule. Individual pays admission fees.
Dinner on your own. This evening you may choose to dine at San Cristobal. This cozy paladar has a reputation of excellence in both atmosphere and local cuisine. The food is refined and balanced (enjoy dishes like gazpacho, tender lobster, crème caramel) and the nostalgic atmosphere is unforgettable, adorned in a unique style of art nouveau. Individual pays for this meal.
Day 5 Wednesday
9:00am Trip to the private and independent produce vendors at the Mercado Quatro Caminos (Four Roads Market). While the Cuban government controls nearly every element of commerce in the country, these vendors are part of a new generation of private entrepreneurs. The market has many organic fruits, vegetables and meats that are grown and subsequently transported from the countryside into Havana. Cubans rely on these marketplaces to supplement the monthly food rations they receive from the State and as well as those items that are not readily available in State run ration stores.
Visit the Christopher Colon Cemetery. This elaborate massive necropolis covers nearly 8% of the City of Havana, and contains and endless sea of poignant memorials, architectural jewels and human interest stories.
Lunch on your own. Individual pays for this meal.
1:30pm Rafael Trejo Boxing Gym located across the street from the Iglesia de la Merced is this local amateur boxing gym. This boxing gym is the place for the young and not-so-young athlete to learn and train for their country’s second favorite sport. The determination and focus of these young boxers will inspire you as they train with the aspirations to compete on the national level.
Optional visit to the Arts and Crafts market, a great place to interact with local, everyday artisans. You’ll find just about anything here, and can find souvenirs or gifts for your friends and family back home.
Remainder of day free for People to People activities. Dinner on your own. This evening you may choose to eat at Paladar Atelier. Located in the middle of Vedado neighborhood is one of the best private restaurants that currently can be found in Cuba serving international cuisine. Individual pays for this meal.
Day 6 Thursday
8:00am Check out of hotel and depart for Las Terrazas in Sierra del Rosario where we explore the rural town at Rancho Curujey. Enjoy the view of the village that lies above the shores of San Juan Lake and beneath the mountains.
Visit the ruins of a French Coffee Plantation built in 1801. Continue to La Moka, an ecological hotel with trees growing up through the balconies and ceiling.
12:00pm Lunch at Casa del Campesino restaurant. Delicious, plentiful, family style meals in a natural outdoor setting. Local musicians serenade guests with traditional Cuban country music. This meal is complimentary.
If time permits we will take a refreshing swim at San Juan River cascades and pools.
3:30pm After lunch we visit a small country town where a remarkable man named Mario Pelegrin has created a charming community project dedicated to local children. In this tranquil setting, a collection of rustic cabins provide a home for amateur art programs. Local children are provided with the space and resources needed to allow their creative juices to flow in the areas of music, dance, theatre and art. This wonderful program gives local kids the opportunity to have fun while learning new skills. We will have an opportunity to interact with the group and discuss the program and our experiences.
Continue to the Viñales Valley. Considered by many to be the most beautiful place in Cuba, the Viñales Valley National Monument holds stunning landscapes. The area is also famous for being the premier tobacco growing area in the world.
6:00pm Check into Casa Particulares (private homes of Cuban families). There will be two students per home in double accommodations.
Evening Dinner in the respective homes of your Cuban families. If time permits we will attend a local cultural event. This meal is complimentary.
Day 7 Friday
Breakfast will be served in the homes of your Cuban hosts.
8:00am Meet our local guide in Vinales travel by foot to the Finca Confianza in the valley where we will participate in agricultural activities and learn about the production of a multitude of fruits, vegetables, grain and tobacco.
12:00pm Lunch will be a community event on the farm. This meal is complimentary.
In the late afternoon we will take a walking tour of the small town of Viñales including the Botanical Gardens and Viñales Art Market. We will meet with some of the artists and vendors to learn how the liberalization of the Cuban economy has allowed them to legally earn a living in a free market environment.
7:00pm Farewell dinner at Paladar La Cabana followed by performance at the Centro Cultural Polo Montanes of Cuban music and Salsa Dancing. This meal is complimentary.
Day 8 Saturday Departure Day
8:00 am Depart Vinales for Havana.
11:30am Lunch in Barrio Chino. Individual pays for this meal.
1:00pm Airport check in.
3:40 pm Depart for Miami on ABC Charters Flight # AA9471
4:40 pm Arrive in Miami. Clear customs and connect with flights home.
The total price for this trip is $5,975. The trip funds will be paid to two different organizations. A down payment will be paid to Nikonians Academy of $2,224 to hold your spot. The remaining payments will be sent to CCT (Cuba Cultural Travel) who is authorized by the Cuban federal government to coordinate your travel details, documents, arrivals and departures.
91 days or more before departure: $500 cancellation fee plus other fees charged by suppliers such as tours and airlines providing air transportation.
61-90 days before departure: $750 cancellation fee plus other fees charged by suppliers such as tours and airlines providing air transportation.
60 days or less before departure: No refund. Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.
Member prices are only applicable to Nikonians Silver, Gold and Platinum Members. Non-members can register as Nikonians members here. Nikonians Basic members can upgrade the membership level here. Membership payments help sustain the growth of the Nikonians community and its services such as the Nikonians Academy.