Cuba Mission

CUBA MISSION

Directed by Bill Bachmann

TRIP 1….. May 23 - June 5, 2009   SOLD OUT

TRIP 2…. October 25 - November 6, 2009   SOLD OUT

TRIP 3…. March 28 - April 9, 2010   SOLD OUT

TRIP 4. . . . March 27 - April 10, 2011   SOLD OUT

TRIP 5. . . . March 30 - April 13, 2012   SOLD OUT

TRIP 6. . . . April 2nd - April 16th, 2013  SOLD OUT

TRIP 7. . . . April 23rd - May 7th, 2014  SOLD OUT

Spring 2015 - No trip this year -   

TRIP 8. . . . March 29th - April 12th, 2016  SOLD OUT

 TRIP 9. . . . April 18th - May 2nd, 2017  TRIP IS MORE THAN HALF FULL / SPACES AVAILABLE

 
 
    All photos © Bill Bachmann

 

This is a rare opportunity to visit Cuba to experience the color and joy of the Cuban people.  We will explore with our cameras life in Cuba today with all the old world charm.  There are old 1950’s automobiles everywhere, buildings from the heydays of the 1950's and so many unique people to photograph.


We will have a VISA from the USA government that will allow us free access out of Tampa straight on a Charter plane to Havana, about a 75-minute trip into another unique world! Our Visa will be a people-to-people Visa to distribute vitamins and medical supplies to clinics and people around Cuba. We are really doing good work bringing much needed medicine to the small towns around Cuba.

This will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. It usually fills up quite quickly so please act fast!

I am very excited to announce that I have a very strong Co-Leader helping me direct the April 2017 Mission. His name is Daivd Noyes and he is a top notch travel photographer and writer. He has won Travel Photographer of the Year in several organizations. His newest book, "The Photographing Tourist" has been well received by the critics also. His website is www.noyestravels.com . With my recent health issues, David is the perfect match to Co-Lead many times on the trip when my energy wanes. Take a look at David's website and you'll be impressed!

You need to visit NOW before the Obama changes make Cuba totally different. There are still no McDonald's, WalMart's, KFC's, etc. anywhere in Cuba! But there will be soon, along with old cars gone and old buildings torn down. Once the changes in Cuba begin, it will lose all of it's distictive charms. 

Each day breakfast will be included with the hotel.  We will also pay for some lunches and some dinners but, for the ones you do pay for, the meals are reasonable and wonderful.  Cuban food, drinks and music will become a big part of your soul as you enjoy sights and sounds witnessed by few Americans in over 55 years.  You will LOVE the photos you take in the streets, in the schools, of people, old colorful automobiles everywhere, parades, and even more colorful people!

I searched far and wide with agencies, and I have been able to price our 2017 trip much lower than any trip you will find. Prices in Cuba have increased by 20% over the 2016 cost, and they will continue to rise at probably around 20% each year going forward. The reason for the increase is the overwhelming demand on the limited number of hotels, guides, buses, etc as the whole world wants to witness Cuba before the massive changes ahead as it becomes another "Miami". Most of the tours you will find will be on for 7-8 days, they will charge more than we charge for 15 days, and they will not go anywhere near as many places -- with as much free time on your own to explore -- as this trip will be. I am pleased that I was able to keep the price where it is while giving you a much more extensive and exciting trip. This price includes the flight to and from Havana, the Visa, and all the wonderful opportunities we have on the itinerary below. 

I will need a deposit, a copy of the reservation form for each traveler, a photo copy of your passport, and also 2 new single color passport photos for the Visa -- to the address at the bottom of this webpage as soon as we know you are serious in traveling with us. These trips will fill up quickly so don't delay! We will have various flight & Visa forms to fill out as soon as they are prepared. 

 Look at the very bottom of this page to get prices, the address to send materials to, and requirements for your passport. 

ITINERARY:

We will all fly into Tampa and stay overnight at a hotel right near the Tampa Airport. We will have a meeting at 7 pm on April 17th in the hotel conference room where all paperwork will be given out and procedures discussed. 

Day 1 - Fly to Havana 

Up very early and fly direct from Tampa to Havana, Cuba on a charter flight. We will have a Air-Conditioned bus waiting for us to check in to a hotel you will come to love & never forget, Hotel Nacional de Cuba.

It was the most famous hotel in the Caribbean.  This will be our home for 4 nights.  It is THE famous historic hotel built in the 1930s.  This Art Deco Hotel has hosted such dignitaries as Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Liz Taylor, Francis Ford Coppola, Ernest Hemingway, and all of our BTO Groups! Bill has stayed at this hotel eight times before, and it truly is the unique Cuban feel and experience you would expect.  Wooden paddle fans on the decks take you to a lazy day in the 1950's luxury.  You will swear you stepped back in time. Every trip that Bill has brought people to Cuba, this hotel is one of their lasting memories! Within one day this will become "home". 

Before we arrive at the hotel to check in, we will have a short city tour and taking pictures of the Capitol area of Havana. We will then be dropped off in the Old Havana area to explore before going back to our hotel to check in and relax for the rest of the night.

DAY 2-4 - Havana, Cuba

In these days we will do many, many things.  You will also have some free time to explore on the inexpensive Coco Taxis to go off in small groups to see the city on several occasions.

As you walk around the old cars and 3-wheeler yellow Coco Taxis of Havana, you will feel you are in another world from what you know. I promise you will never forget this Cuba trip!

In Havana in these 4 days, some of the places we will go together in Air Conditioned comfort and some on your own (all of these are subject to slight change, but they will happen almost surely): 

*** City Tour of Havana in several days and several directions, including from across the river at the Christ statue (El Cristo de la Habana)

*** Old Havana nightlife, music, cafes, and sights 

*** Ernest Hemingway’s House where he lived for many years

*** Tour the town of Cojimar, the small fishing village that Hemingway used for the setting of Old Man and the Sea

*** A day trip into the Sierra del Rosario mountains to visit Las Terrazas in Pinar del Rio, one of the new towns built after the Revolution.  You can see artists and tobacco plantations on the way and stop to shoot at those unique views of the terrain of Cuba.  We will stop to photograph at least one tobacco plantation. We will also by coffee at a great little coffee plantation. If we see a school along the way, we will stop and take photographs. 

*** We will visit the town of Viñales near the Las Terrazas. We will also visit Cueva del Indio and the Mural de la Prehistoria. These are beautiful caves and artwork that our Cuba groups have never visited.

*** Perhaps a visit to a Havana Cigar company and maybe later to a Cuban Rum company. You should be able to carry one whole box of Cigars back on the plane (barring changes in policy).

*** Several lunches with dancers and music.

*** The grand Cathedral de la Habana, a fine example of Cuban baroque and also the flamboyant Cemeterio de Colon

*** Drink and sit next to Ernest’s statue positioned at El Floridita, Hemingway’s favorite bar.

*** Time to photograph many people smoking cigars.  These people are so colorful and fun!

*** Much, much more.

A local Coco taxi take you anywhere.

Love the old cars and license plates. 

School children performing.

A local mother holds her children. 

Coco taxis everywhere. 

A friendly woman talks from her window.

Ernest Hemingway house library 

I rented this 50's Buick for the day for only ten dollars 
and rode around Revolution Square.

Old Chevy in front of the Capital. 

DAY 5 - Drive from Havana to Cienfuegos

We will drive thru the country for a day trip.  We will stop at the Playa Giron, the famous museum that records the events of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs Invasion on Cuba by the USA.   You can photograph some of the tanks, planes, and military items captured and fallen in this short invasion. We will see a film from the Cuban perspective of the entire Bay of Pigs Invasion.

We continue on to stop at two of our favorite little villages along the way, Australia and Isabel. We have stopped at these villages and given supplies several times so they are used to us bringing them medicines and children's toys. We will also stop and shoot pictures at two schools to meet the school children.

Then on to the quaint city of Cienfuegos, by the water.  The relaxing Hotel Jagua will be our base for two nights. 

DAY 6 - Cienfuegos

We will explore around the city and see many of the sights, churches, and people.  I have an image in the square of four older men relaxing on a bench that has sold many times in magazines worldwide.  It is relaxing and we will have free time also to explore by foot on our own.  You can see shops and even grab a horse-drawn carriage taxi that many of the people use around the city.  The center square is just wonderful to relax.  We will visit the Teatro Tomas Terry, the architectural gem in the city and several of the striking churches and cemeteries.

Some may choose to enjoy the best lobster & pork dinner you will ever have in this town. In a private home of my friend, Jorge, he offers music, drinks and wonderful food that really shows the joy of the Cuban people.

Characters are everywhere!

This beautiful Cathedral is in the square in  Cienfuegos.

I hired this dancer.

School children are willing to pose.

A night time photo of Jose Marti in Cienfuegos

An old Model-T in front of the hotel.

DAY 7-9 - Trinidad

We continue our short drive east arriving at everyone's favorite town in Cuba, beautiful Trinidad. Trinidad is an old Spanish Colonial town from the 17th Century recalling the height of Spanish influence opulence.  With narrow cobble-stoned streets after a recent restoration, the entire city is protected as a national monument.


We will stay for three nights at a local hotel near Trinidad.  There will be lots of time to explore the city in small groups, climb the church steeple for photos of the entire city and stop and shop.  I hope to have a photographer who showed me his home studio last visit meet with us and show us his life there.  He sells stock photography from the little town of Trinidad to the big agencies.


Three days there will be relaxing and wonderful.  I have stayed at this hotel before and the large pool was terrific. 


The city is just so beautiful with its old streets still full of old American cars and horse carriages.  This will lead to great photographs and meeting many of the colorful local characters carrying their chickens, selling straw, and going about their business in a small Cuban village.


We will visit several beautiful churches and talk to locals there.  This little town will feel similar to Antigua, Guatemala for those of you that went on the BTO Guatemala/Honduras trip.  Relaxing and wonderful.  You can take the horse-drawn carriages thru the narrow streets or hire a 1950's taxi and explore on your own.

Bay of Pigs museum.

Trinidad car & cobblestone street. 

Beautiful old Trinidad from the church. 

Horseback in Trinidad.

Che monument at grave site. 

Return to slow carriage pace.

DAY 10-11 - Matanzas & Cardenas

We will drive North, hopefully stopping at Santa Clara. This is the town that has the gravesite of the Revolution intellectual leader Che. It is an impressive and large statue for their war hero. We continue on and check into our hotel in Matanzas. In the next two days we will explore both Matanzas and Cardenas, and even take a short trip to see Varadero Beach. 

Matanzas is a great small town with interesting sight seeing. In past visits, we stopped at a unique book store that sells rare hand-made Cuban books. There will be time to explore this small city on your own.

Cardenas is a colorful, clean town with many unusual art works. It is also world known as the home of Elian Gonzalez, the young boy who once was forced to leave Miami and return to Cuba. Again, you will have time to slowly explore the sights and people of thie pretty town. 

One afternoon we will travel about 10 miles to explore the fabulous beach town of Varadero. Every Cuban American dreams of coming back to Varadero Beach, remembering childhood days of white sand & blue water. They would not recognize Varadero as it has become the "Cancun" of the Caribbean... towering glamorous hotels line the many beaches. We will drive to see several and have lunch on the water while the old classic cars slowly drive by.

Day 12 - Drive back to Havana  

We leave Matanzas and drive back on the Northern Coast returning to Havana. We will explore together a new neighborhood for more pictures. Evening will be free to explore Old Havana.

Day 13 &14 - Havana

On day 13 we will visit the Revolution Museum and a super visit to a cigar factory, watching them make their famous cigars. We will also have a drink at the Floridita Bar and have a picture next to the bronze statue of its most famous drinker, Ernest Hemingway. 

In the afternoon we will visit the artist street called Hamel Alley with its wild art. Then a visit to shoot the city of Havana from the Fort Murro viewpoint. 

On Day 14 we will have a free morning and afternoon to explore areas of Havana you want to revisit on your own. Perhaps you can rent a 1950's convertible for several hours and see the city that way, or shop at an area your enjoyed.

Our famous Farewell Dinner will be near the hotel. Our last night in Cuba may find us dancing in a local club as we celebrate our time together.  We pack and get ready to leave the next day. 

Day 15 - Havana  

We leave early for the Havana airport, go through Customs and on to our short Charter flight back to Tampa.  We then will travel thru USA Customs and fly back to your homes either early evening or the next day.  Memories of our visit to Cuba will linger long with unique photos that will be the envy of all those at home.  You will have witnessed Cuba when it felt unique and forbidden.  Later, when Cuba opens up, the pictures will look far more generic as it becomes “American” with USA businesses everywhere.

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Total Cost:  $5975 pays for the trip...........  Bill was able to keep the price as low as possible, even with the increased costs of the hotels and all the things we offer.  It is still much lower than any other company that offers trips to Cuba that are at all similar in length of time and places explored. Most Cuban experiences you see online will be only 7-8 days and do not visit all the places we do.  The demand for Cuba is enormous, but Bill tries each year to get the lowest price available.  The best thing to do is reserve your spot as soon as possible to hold your reservation. This will be Bill's 10th and last trip to Cuba for some time.  

Single supplement is $945 **

** We will do all we can to “double up” to get you a roommate if you want to save on the single room supplement.  It usually works out evenly for those who want to share a room.

Included in the price:  Charter flight to/from Tampa to Havana, 14 nights at Hotels with all breakfasts, some lunches, some dinners, the fees for acquiring individual Cuba Visas, all transportation for the days on AC coaches, driver, guide, and leader, Bill Bachmann.  Also included are excursions, entrance fees, and the Farewell Dinner.


Not Included in the price:  Flight or drive from your hometown to/from Tampa, hotel in Tampa near the airport the night before the trip, lunches & dinners that are not included (which will be relatively inexpensive), alcohol & beverages, tips (for driver, local models and Spanish guides).

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UPON RECEIPT OF DEPOSITS, YOU WILL BE SENT SEVERAL OTHER FORMS TO FILL OUT AND RETURN.


THIS IS AN UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO VISIT CUBA AND WE ALL MUST MOVE QUICKLY TO GET APPROVED VISAS IN TIME.

PLEASE PRINT ALL OF THESE PAGES FROM THE PDF LINK BELOW AND KEEP THEM FOR YOURSELF. BILL WILL RETURN YOUR EMAILS WITH ANY QUESTIONS OR NEEDS.

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To reserve your space on this exciting trip, you must do the following quickly:

1. Check made out for $1000 to "Bill Bachmann."

2. Two passport photos for the new Cuba Visa.

3. You must print, fill out & include this Registration Form for each passenger for our 2017 trip - CLICK HERE - 

4. Photo copy of your passport photo page..... make sure it does not expire by November 2, 2017.

Mail all of this RIGHT AWAY to:

Bill Bachmann
PO Box 950077
Lake Mary, FL 32795-0077

Any questions email me at the studio RIGHT AWAY!

EMAIL: bill@billbachmann.com

To print a PDF version of the Itinerary please CLICK HERE