The eastern half of Cuba, known as The Oriente, is often considered Cuba’s most interesting region because of its physical beauty, its cultural diversity, and its historical significance. Surprisingly, it is also the region of the country least traveled to by visitors. With its Afro-Cuban origins and its history as the cradle of Cuba’s numerous revolutionary movements, The Oriente offers photographers endless opportunities to discover and experience an unexplored Cuba and engage with its wonderful people.
After years visiting Havana and the western half of Cuba, Santa Fe Photographic Workshops now offers programs to the quieter part of the island. This seven-day, people-to-people cultural exchange—led by frequent Cuba traveler and photographer Kip Brundage—provides a rich cultural and photographic experience. In addition to Kip, local Cuban photographers join the trip to offer their insights and knowledge of the region as well as their local contacts.
Our adventure begins as we travel from Santiago de Cuba by motor coach along the breathtaking La Farola. We are transported back in time when we arrive in Baracoa —the isolated, beautiful, and laconic area of Cuba where Christopher Columbus landed on his first voyage.
The gentle, old-world atmosphere of this lushly Caribbean seaside town offers us a warm and inviting welcome. Meeting and photographing the local people and their frontier culture, visiting coconut farms, and river walks up Rio Miel and Rio Yumri are the highlights of our four-night stay at Hotel El Castillo. From Baracoa, we travel back to the vibrant, big-city energy of Santiago de Cuba for three nights at the Hotel Casa Granda.
Santiago de Cuba is the island’s most exotic and ethnically diverse city with it’s unique blend of Caribbean, Cuban and Spanish heritage. We explore the vibrant streets, stopping in for meaningful encounters with local families. A ferry ride to the fishing village on the nearby island of Cayo Granma is a photographic treat, as is a visit to a local priest, who also happens to be an accomplished photographer, at a magnificent church.
We celebrate our Oriente adventure together with a final group dinner and image presentation, reflecting on the genuine Caribbean warmth, traditional music, and vibrant history that fueled the soul of our adventure and were the focus of our photographic excursions.
True to the requirements of a people-to-people General License with U.S. Treasury Department, Picturing Cuba: Baracoa and Santiago focuses on educational exchanges with the Cuban people and recording their amazing lives with our cameras.