Reservations: All arrangements will be made through Road Scholar


Phone: 1-800-454-576

Daily Itinerary

Portrait of Cuba: A Photographic Journey

In association with Road Scholar

  • Join a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Essdras M Suarez and Cuban Photography Teacher Joel Hernández Marín for an inspiring photographic journey into the heart of Cuba.
  • In Havana, get an insider’s look at this quickly changing city as you meet local dancers, artists, photographers and some of Cuba’s fascinating new entrepreneurs.
  • Journey to Trinidad, the colonial gem, and enjoy access to artisans and free enterprise.
  • Throughout, we keep our eyes open for photographic opportunities as we get to know Cubans through the lens — and one-on-one

In a Nut Shell – 8 days, 7 nights

  • In Transit, Arrive Havana, Registration, Orientation
  • Old Havana and Modern Dance
  • El Morro, Santeria & A Community Arts Project
  • Artistic Expression
  • Depart to Cienfuegos and Trinidad
  • The Valley of the Sugar Mills
  • Photographing Trinidad
  • Transfers to Cienfuegos Airport, Program Concludes

Please Note: The day-by-day schedule should be used only as a representative guide. Some program elements are subject to change on short notice as availability is controlled by the Cuban government.

Activity notes:

  • Most staircases in Cuba do not have railings, so if you use a walking aid, please bring it on the program.
  • All accommodations in Cuba feature clean, comfortable rooms with private baths and standard amenities.
  • Please note that Cuban hotel standards may not equal their American or European counterparts. Improvements are ongoing, and we hope that the potential glitch in service or amenities is a minor tradeoff for the authentic connections and enrichment you’ll experience.
  • You will be walking and standing on cobblestones with high curbs for up to 2 miles, 2.5 hours.
  • Please note that this program is designed for photographers, with very early morning and late afternoon activities, in order to make the best use of daylight and to actively participate in photographing daily life in Cuba.

See more of Essdras’ Portrait in Cuba Images.

Portrait of Cuba: Daily Itinerary

Day 1: In Transit, Arrive Havana, Registration, Orientation

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.


  • Transfer from Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, to your hotel.
  • Meet your Road Scholar Group Leader in the hotel lobby for Program Registration and hotel check in. from 4:00 p.m.


  • 6:00 p.m. Program Welcome and Orientation.
  • The Road Scholar Group Leader will be in the hotel lobby at 6 p.m. to accompany the group to the Orientation room.
  • This very important meeting will prepare you for your travel in Cuba.
  • We will discuss OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) regulations that govern our program, responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, our program schedule, and answer any questions you may have.
  • The Group Leader will also lead introductions.
  • Enjoy an introductory lecture on the history of photography in Cuba by instructor Joel Hernández. Throughout your program, Joel will assist the Road Scholar Photography Study Leader and provide photographic insights from the Cuban perspective.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Meals: Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Day 2: Old Havana and Modern Dance

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel.


  • Head out early in the morning to on foot and capture the architecture, daily life in the streets around Cathedral Square and Plaza Vieja, two of Old Havana’s four historic squares.
  • Then, enjoy a performance by an emerging dance troupe of renowned dancers from the Danza Combinatoria, and enjoy one-on-one interactions.

Lunch: In a paladar. (Privately owned restaurant.)


  • Late afternoon, head into back to the streets of Old Havana to capture the city’s historic beauty and focus on the oldest part of the city at the Plaza de Armas (Arms Square).
  • People to People Connection: Meet booksellers for one on one conversation to discuss the importance of literature.
  • The square is also popular with locals who dress up in stereotypical costumes and ham it up for photographers.
  • Explore the room at the Ambos Mundos hotel , where, in 1932 a room on the upper (5th) floor became the “first home” in Cuba of writer Ernest Hemingway.
  • Take in the views from the rooftop terrace of the hotel.

Dinner: On your own to explore Old Havana. A list of suggestions is included in your final information packet.

Evening: Take some time to enjoy the ambiance of Old Havana at night before returning to the hotel.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Day 3: El Morro, Santeria & A Community Arts Project

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel.


  • Set out in the early morning to take in the expansive views of the Havana skyline and visit the fortress of El Morro, built in 1589 to defend Havana harbor.
  • People-to-People Connection: At the San Jose Market, interact with Cubans engaging in private enterprise.


  • People to People Connection: Interact with locals at the neighborhood community arts center and learn the story of the center’s unique construction.
  • Enjoy homemade cooking prepared by the members.


  • Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most.
  • Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.


  • People-to-People Connection: Visit a photography studio that teaches local youth various camera skills and techniques and learn about their projects.
  • Enjoy dinner in the studio’s restaurant that supports the project.

Meals: Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Day 4: Artistic Expression

Activity note: Walking and standing up to 2 blocks at Fusterlandia.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel.


  • The morning is free to photograph the residential areas of Havana in the early morning light with your Study Leaders.
  • Take the opportunity to engage one-on one with locals in authentic people to people interactions.
  • Late morning, reconvene then visit 2 young photographers to learn about their unique conceptual photography perspectives.

Lunch: In a paladar.

Afternoon: People to People Connection: Discover the astounding creations of José Rodriguez Fuster, who has redecorated his neighborhood in his own artistic vision.

Dinner: In a paladar.

Evening: Return to the hotel.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Day 5: Depart to Cienfuegos and Trinidad

Activity note:

  • Full day travel by motorcoach, with stops en route.
  • The distance from Havana to Cienfuegos is 150 miles, approximately 3 hours.
  • The distance from Cienfuegos to Trinidad is 50 miles, approximately 1.5 hours.
  • Walking and standing for approximately 1 hour/1 mile outdoors along the main boulevard and around the main square; limited shade.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel.


  • Depart by motorcoach from Havana to Cienfuegos.
  • Upon arrival, we’ll have a walking field trip to photograph the main square in this UNESCO World Heritage listed city which was founded by the French, who came to Cuba after the Haitian revolution.
  • The city offers outstanding architecture and is home to a large artistic community.
  • Step inside the historic Tomas Terry theater, built in 1889 and one of the largest in the Caribbean, seating 1200. The theater is still in use today.

Lunch: At a paladar in Cienfuegos.


  • Continue the drive to Trinidad, arriving in the late afternoon.
  • Founded in 1514, Trinidad is a gem of colonial Cuban cities, a time capsule of a city with both historical landmarks, set in a region of majestic natural beauty.
  • Check in at your Casas Particulares (Privately owned accommodations).

Dinner: Enjoy typical Cuban fare in your casa particular. Dinner includes first course, main course, dessert, water and coffee. Additional beverages available for purchase.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: A Casa Particular (Privately Owned Accommodation)

Day 6: The Valley of the Sugar Mills

Activity note: Depart Trinidad very early to take advantage of the best morning light conditions.

Breakfast: In your Casa Particular.


  • Depart Trinidad before sunrise to head out to the Valley of the Sugar Mills, to discover and photograph in the early morning light, the ruins of a typical 18th century sugar mill and plantation. For generations, sugar was a major factor in the local economy.
  • Learn the plantation’s history and the archeological findings from the site’s expert.
  • Return to Trinidad.
  • People to People Connection: Visit a pottery workshop run by the same family since the 19th century. Learn their interesting history and photograph artisans at work.

Lunch: In a Paladar in Trinidad.


  • People to People Connections: Meet the owner of a crochet cooperative to learn how her project supports women in the region.
  • Then visit the gallery and studio of a talented woodcarver whose unique works are created from cast-off building materials.

Dinner: On your own to explore the paladares in Trinidad.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: A Casa Particular (Privately Owned Accommodation)

Day 7: Photographing Trinidad

Breakfast: In your Casa Particular.

Morning: People to People Connection: Walk through the historical center of Trinidad with Cuban photographer Julio Munoz, who shows you hidden corners and the best perspectives of his town.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: At leisure to photograph and engage in individual exchange with Cubans.

Dinner: Farewell dinner in a paladar.

Evening: Prepare for departure tomorrow.

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: A Casa Particular (Privately Owned Accommodation)

Day 8: Transfers to Cienfuegos Airport, Program Concludes

Meals: Breakfast

Activity note: Check out of your Casa Particular.

Breakfast: A full breakfast or boxed breakfast will be included based on your flight time.


  • After checking out of your Casa Particular, group transfers will be provided to the Cienfuegos airport based on your confirmed flight time.
  • This concludes our program.

We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future.

Portrait of Cuba: Details

Trip Includes

  • 7 nights of accommodations
  • 1 expert-led lecture
  • 12 expert-led field trips
  • 1 hands-on experience
  • 1 performance
  • An experienced Group Leader
  • Customary gratuities throughout the program
  • The Road Scholar Travel Protection Plan, 24-hour-a-day emergency assistance coverage
  • Taxes
  • Meals Included: 17 meals: 7 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches and 5 Dinners
  • Transportation – Only ground transport
  • Accomodations
  • Hotel Nacional de Cuba: 4 nights, Havana – Located in the center of Havana, The Nacional Hotel is situated on a vantage point overlooking the Malecon – Havana’s seafront promenade. The Hotel Nacional de Cuba has hosted numerous illustrious guests: actors, artists and many other famous people. The hotel is a National Monument and is inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.
  • A Casa Particular (Privately Owned Accommodation): 3 nights – Experience the new spirit of free enterprise in colonial Trinidad during three nights in a casa particular – a privately owned establishments in Trinidad de Cuba

Not Included:

Flight to Havana Cuba and return flight from Cientfuego. Road Scholar personnel will gladly help you make the arrangments. Contact them at 1-800-454-5768

Joel Hernández Marín

Joel Hernández Marín became a biology teacher after graduating from the Enrique José Varona Teacher Training College in Havana. He has worked on environmental issues since 2003, and began studying photography in 2004.

His first photography exhibition in 2009 focused on an arid region of Guantanamo province. Since then, Joel has had more than 15 photography exhibitions, which have garnered awards for nature photography.


  • Leader – Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Essdras M Suarez
  • Assistant – Cuban Photography Instructor Joel Hernández Marín
  • Access to artisans and free enterprise
  • Meet with photographers and artists in Havana to discuss their work and the important role art plays in the lives of Cubans
  • Learn to improve the artistic and technical aspects of your photography
  • Experience the new spirit of free enterprise in colonial Trinidad during three nights in a casa particular – a privately owned establishment

Participants: Max. 24

Tour Locations: Havana and Trinidad de Cuba

2018 Departure Dates: Nov. 09 & Dec. 07
2019 Departure Dates: Feb. 22 & Apr. 12

2019 Price: Starts at $3,399 (see Road Scholar)