Is my Gear Good Enough?
Yes, it is. Even if you pack along a smartphone like an iPhone, the Nokia 1020, or a point and shoot camera, we’ll be able to help show you how to shoot some incredible images, and take you to the location where it’s impossible to take a bad photo. That being said, if you want to get the best out of your trip, I’d recommend taking gear you’re comfortable with. Also, think about the limitations your gear might have.
What Camera Should I Bring?
Obviously, that’s up to you. We know well enough it’s possible to take great photos even on a point and shoot. However, to get the most out of the trip we recommend bringing along a DSLR or a mirrorless camera with interchanging lenses.
What Lenses Should I Bring?
Again, that’s up to you. Cuba is a diverse place meaning you’ll probably run through a lot of different focal lengths. Our guess is that you’d want at least a wide angle zoom and a prime lens like a 50mm. For example, if you were to pack a 16-35mm and a 50mm you’d be set in most situations. A set like a 16-35mm, 50mm, and 70-200mm would also be great. There are opportunities to photograph birds, so if you have a 300mm and you’re considering bringing it, you can. It’s likely that you wont use it that much though.
What Photo Accessories Should I Bring?
As with basically all the questions so far, that’s up to you. What you definitely should bring, though – no matter whether you’re shooting a smartphone or a DSLR – is a sturdy tripod. We’ll be shooting a lot of long exposures and low light situations, where the extra stabilization is simply necessary. Additionally, you will likely want a couple filters to make the most out of the landscapes and a gradient ND filter, and a polarizer will definitely come in handy. If you love taking portraits, I’d recommend a flash and a reflector.
Can I Rent Photography Gear?
From us, no. However, we can recommend that you rent lenses or camera bodies from Borrowlenses.com. If you’re worried about renting a piece of equipment and not being familiar with it, don’t worry. We’re professionals and are here to guide you through the process of not only taking cool photos but also making sure you know how to work your gear.
Should I Bring a Laptop?
That all depends on how much editing you want to do on the road. Remember that we’re offering photo editing sessions and critiques along the way. Thus, if you want some help during those sessions, it really helps if you have your own laptop as well as a photo editing software like Lightroom or Photoshop installed on it. Moreover, having a laptop is a good thing to have when it comes to backing up your images.
How Fit Should I be?
This is a fairly minimum activity level tour. This tour has been done with passengers of all fitness levels, they all get by. That said, to really enjoy the tour you should at least be prepared for a bit of hiking and some long walks around the towns.
Do I Need Travel Insurance?
Yes. If you do not have travel insurance you will not be able to join the tour. Your travel insurance details will be verified at the start of the tour.
Will there be any 1-on-1 Sessions?
Yes. On 3 occasions we’ll be offering 1-on-1 photo editing and critique sessions with participants. Moreover, out in the field we won’t be giving full instruction to the entire group, although a pre-shoot discussion will take place. Instead, once we get out in the field, we’ll be available to help photographers in a 1-on-1 or small group capacity with any questions they might be having. We want to be there to support you, and make sure you’re getting the most out of your equipment, not micro-manage, or tell you what to shoot. Essentially, we want you to be free to create, and we’ll be there to assist you in making your vision come alive.
What’s the Type of Accommodation?
Our accommodation in Cuba is in Casa Particulares, and one 4-star all-inclusive resort. Casa Particulares are guesthouses, in the most traditional sense. They are operated by the families. Basically any home with extra rooms can apply to the government to open its doors as a guesthouse. The reason that we’re staying in Casa Particulares is because we want you to have the chance to connect locally. Meet locals, and have unique experiences. You will not get that in the hotels.
What are the Casa Particulares Like?
They are actually pretty amazing. Most of them have very large rooms. The include a fridge in the rooms full of beer, water, juice, and soda, and all have private bathrooms. The families also can cook for you. Breakfast in the casas, for example, is amazing. The standards of the Casas we’ll be staying at are all high.
What Type of Transportation?
For the tour we have our own private transport along with an Spanish-speaking driver. This will give us the freedom of being able to stop and shoot photography where and when we like. It also means that we won’t have to worry too much about our gear when we’re out and about taking pictures.
What is the Food like?
Cuban food is so-so. It get’s a bit of a bad reputation because most people that visit Cuba go to the all-inclusive resorts and eat western foods. In the casas, and local restaurants, the food is really good. Especially if you’re into seafood, you’re in for a treat. Lobster, for example, at most restaurants and guesthouses will cost about 10$.
What Meals are Included?
No, meals are not included in the price of the tour. You’ll have to budget for food. That said, in Cuba food isn’t extremely expensive. You should budget about $20 a day for food and drinks.
How Big are the Group Sizes?
Our maximum group size is 12 people. Since there are two instructors along the tour, we will often break into 2 groups of 6, if necessary, to keep out of each others way.
The minimum group size is 6 people.
What Languages are Instructions Available in?
Together, we speak 3 different languages fluently. Thus, we can give instructions in English, French, and Spanish. However, the primary language of instruction is going to be English.
Will There be a Language Barrier?
Cubans speak English quite well. In fact, I’d be willing to say that of all the Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, they speak the best English. That said, it is still fairly minimal for most, and there will be a slight language barrier. Luckily, both Jeff and Brendan are fluent in Spanish and will assist you in conversations with non-English speakers where necessary. We will also have an English-speaking local guide with us most of the time.
What Medication do I Need?
We are not doctors, so we can’t advise you on this matter. Our recommendation is that you visit your travel doctor before going on this trip.
Can you Arrange our Flights?
Yes, this can be done. Please refer to the sales page. To make this happen, we’d require full payment for the tour upfront. Then, we’ll be in contact with you via email to work out optional services such as flight booking and pre-tour bookings. If you want us to book a flight for you we’d find the cheapest available fare for you from your destination and quote you that price plus a $50 booking charge.
Can I Pay for an Upgrade?
Upfront, no. We simply can’t have our group scattered all over the place. We’ve decided on staying at Casa Particulares because it offers extremely comfortable accommodation while also allowing you to have local experiences. Believe us, this is the only way to travel Cuba.
Tell us About the All-Inclusive!
We decided that we’d stay our second last day of the tour at an all-inclusive in Veradero. The reason for this is after travelling around the country, you’ll likely want a day on the beach to chill. Here on the resort, we’ll spend two nights which should give us ample time to hang out, edit photos, talk photography and travel, or simply grab our fair share of mojitos in the pool. Of course, if you’d like there are also ample photography opportunities here in Veradero.
Are Beach Extensions Available?
Yes, if you’d like to extend your trip with a couple more days in Veradero, that is possible. Rather than returning with the group, you would instead stay in Veradero for the desired length of time, and then a transfer will be arranged for you to go to the airport in Havana.
What is the Single Supplement?
Our prices are based on the idea that everyone will be sharing a double room. Thus, as a single traveller, you’ll be paired with another participant, if possible, for the accommodation during the trip. However, if you are a single traveller and want to ensure private accommodation for the trip, you’ll need to pay the single supplement cost, which for this tour is $325. The option for the single supplement will be given in our information given once the tour is booked.
Who will I be Paired with as a Single Traveller?
If you’re a single traveller, we will only pair you with a member of your same sex. We’ll never ask for a solo male and solo female traveller to pair up.
Cuba Tipping Policy
In Cuba, tipping is expected in restaurants. Generally a fair tip is between 10% depending on the service. There is no need to tip taxi drivers as most prices are negotiated anyways. Tour guides do receive tips. However, the tour leader will cover their tips.
Can I Book Pre/Post-Tour Accommodation?
Absolutely, if you’d like us to take care of this we can do this for you. Just give us fair warning about your dates and we’ll arrange it for you.
The Tour is Full, is There a Wait List?
Yes, the wait list is available. To place yourself on it, please email brendanvanson at gmail dot com with your desire to be listed on the wait list.
What is the Refund Policy
We require a $300 non-refundable deposit to hold your space on the tour. Then, full payment is required by 60 days before the start of the tour. If the full payment has been made, and you cancel more than 60 days in advance, you’ll get a full refund minus the deposit. If you cancel 30-60 days before the start of the tour, you’ll receive a 50% refund. If you cancel within 30 days prior to the start of the tour, you will forfeit your full payment. The tour is transferable if you are no longer able to join.