“Chris was the perfect trip leader. His knowledge of the country and its history is vast and he enthusiastically wanted to share it with us along with his years of experience as a photographer… He’s talented, interesting, accessible, and fun to travel with. Plus, he really did seem to care about each of us — if we were okay, getting good images, too tired, too hot, etc. I would certainly travel with him again. He certainly kept up the high standards of a Jim Cline Photo Tour.” – Judy B., Colombia 2018

VISIT SANTIAGO DE CUBA, GUANTÁNAMO, AND BARACOA WITH NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHER CHRISTOPHER P. BAKER

NOTE: On June 4, 2019, the Trump administration rescinded the “people to people” educational exchange license. However, every U.S. citizen can still legally travel to Cuba and group travel is still possible, pre-approved, under the “support for the Cuban people” license. Jim Cline Photo Tours’ Cuba programs are designed to maximize “support for the Cuban people” through stays at private B&Bs, meals at private restaurants, and interactions with independent artists, private tobacco farmers, etc.

There has never been a better time to visit Cuba. If you have already visited the holy trinity of Havana, Trinidad and Viñales and know what a fabulous photographic destination Cuba is, then this adventure to Eastern Cuba will prove enticingly and incredibly different. Physically stunning and heavily infused with Afro-Cuban and even Taíno traditions, ‘Oriente’ is one of the most fascinating parts of Cuba. Closer to Haiti and Jamaica than Havana, it looks east and is steeped in French, Haitian, and Jamaican influences, and boasts staggering landscapes.

Christopher has visited the region countless times and knows it intimately. He’s put together a fantastic itinerary packed full of intriguing photo ops… from a shoot with quinceañeras celebrating their 15th birthdays to private visits to tiny mountain farms and communities where the indigenous Taíno bloodline and culture are visibly still alive.

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TOUR DATES: January 4-12, 2021 (9 DAYS/8 NIGHTS)
PRICE: $4,675
ITINERARY (SUBJECT TO CHANGE):

Day 1: Monday 
We’ll meet this afternoon in vibrant, bustling Santiago de Cuba (you can arrive any time in advance, today or a prior day, on American Airlines’ daily flight from Miami). We will enjoy a light rooftop dinner together overlooking the main square, and overnight with Cuban families in pleasant, neighboring casas particulares (private B&Bs) in the city’s colonial heart.
Overnight: Santiago de Cuba

Day 2: Tuesday
This morning we’ll explore the various historic downtown neighborhoods, including the colorful produce market. Later, we’ll walk the historic Reparto Los Hoyos quarter to Estudio-Taller Arte Naif Bayate to photograph artists at work at this private cooperative; and Calle de la Santería–full of objects relating to Cuba’s fascinating santería religion. Plus, we’ll experience a private performance & photo session with Tumba Francesa, where Haitian music/dance perform in traditional costume. In late afternoon we’ll head to El Morro headland castle for some great photos and a cannon-firing ceremony.
Overnight: Santiago de Cuba

Day 3: Wednesday
An early morning transfer by boat to Cayo Granma. We’ll shoot all morning in this island fishers’ community, with no end of fantastic photo ops. We’ll enjoy an early lunch on Cayo Granma then return to Santiago to relax. Later in the afternoon, we’ maker a tour of the main historic sites, including San Juan Hill, where a composer/historian plays guitar as he regales stories of the Spanish-American War and the ‘Rough Riders’ who famously fought here. Then on to Cuartel Moncada, where Fidel launched the Revolution with a suicidal attack on the military barracks, July 26, 1953. We end at Cementerio Santa Ifigenia, where National Hero Jose Martí and Fidel Castro are buried side to side. While here we’ll photograph the military honor guard parade before walking walk back to hotel, photographing the historic core at dusk.
Overnight: Santiago de Cuba

Day 4: Thursday
In the morning, our group will travel via Guantánamo to Baracoa. We’ll head into the mountains to meet with Angelito Iñigo at Zoologico Piedra, a private “stone zoo” offering superb photography of the life-size animals carved into limestone in the mountainside. We’ll then ascend via a spectacularly scenic mountain switchback to arrive in Baracoa–Cuba’s oldest city, founded in 1511 on the Atlantic shore in a bay surrounded by rainforest-clad mountains. Baracoa is unique, with a distinct and fascinating frontier culture, transporting us back in time. We’ll overnight in a selection of Baracoa’s finest private B&Bs, all close to one another.
Overnight: Baracoa

Day 5: Friday
This morning we’ll visit Boca de Miel river mouth to photograph the fishermen casting fishnets. We’ll also delight in shooting the town’s time-worn architecture and meeting the local people. Lunch will be at leisure, followed by a photo shoot of a quinceanera (fifteenth birthday) with a local photographer. This will include prepping the girl indoors under tungsten light; then we’ll walk the streets in late afternoon sunlight to photograph her against the most spectacular backdrops.
Overnight: Baracoa

Day 6: Saturday
This morning will be at leisure, then we’ll drive to the rural hamlet of El Güirito for a cultural display by Proyecto Kiriba y Nengón who will dance in traditional costume; this is a rare opportunity to photograph a community with a strong Taíno indigenous bloodline and traditions. A delicious lunch of Taíno delicacies unique to the region will be followed by a visit to Finca Demonstrativa Las Mujeres for a demo of chocolate making and local cooking at this private hillside cacao farm. An afternoon row-boat ride in the Yumurí gorge precedes dinner together and overnight in Baracoa.
Overnight: Baracoa

Day 7: Sunday
We’ll return to Guantánamo via Punta Maisí (Cuba’s easternmost tip), the mountainous coffee country, and Reserva Ecológica Maisí-Caleta, offering spectacular coastal landscapes. Arriving Guantánamo, we can look forward to meeting and photographing English-speaking Cubans of Jamaican and Barbadian descent at the West Indies Welfare Center; and, across the street, a traditional music and dance troupe at Casa Changüí. After dinner, we’ll thrill to a sensational Cuban cabaret at the Tropicana open-air nightclub (perhaps with behind the scenes pre-show visit).
Overnight: Santiago de Cuba.

Day 8: Monday 
This morning we’ll explore the Reparto Vista Alegre district, once the chicest address in town. Walking along tree-lined Avenida Manduley (lined with the once-sumptuous villas of Santiago’s long-departed upper class), our stops will include the Casa de la Cerámica to photograph potters at work; and Galería Ríne Váldez Cedeño, a stunning contemporary art venue. We’ll lunch here, after which the afternoon is free for you to explore at leisure. This evening, we’ll enjoy a slide of everyone’s favorite images before our farewell dinner.
Overnight: Santiago de Cuba

Day 9: Tuesday 
The morning is at leisure before our afternoon departure for Miami.