Mountain Landscapes, Jungle Wildlife, Ancient and Indigenous Cultures
Peru contains more than its fair share of wonders for the curious travel photographer. Join us on this beyond-the-beaten-path adventure as we explore the thin air of the Andes and thick jungles of the Amazon basin as well as fascinating cultures past and present. Some sights just shouldn’t be skipped, so we’ll pay proper homage to must-see attractions like Machu Picchu and Rainbow mountain, but we’ll also travel well off the tourist trail in search of more authentic visions of Peruvian life.
Find out why it’s worth the effort to be among the first to enter Machu Picchu when the gates to the former Inca capital open at sunrise. Meet the Quecha, the Inca’s modern day descendants and be captivated by their colorful and elaborate traditional attire. Ride the trail of the 7 lagoons on horseback and capture their iridescent shades of blue and green.
The Amazon portion of our itinerary is starkly different but equally fascinating. Here, we’ll seek out the jungle’s inhabitants on foot and in river boats. Parrots, toucans, monkeys, caiman, capybara and giant river otters are just a few of the species of wildlife we’ll likely encounter in this epicenter of biodiversity. We’ll also meet the people of the rainforest like the Machiguenga tribe in visits to their villages and the markets of Puerto Modonado.
- Price $6200
- Duration 6+ days
- Group Size 5+
- Date 07/05/2020 - 20/05/2020
- Sunrise at Machu Picchu
- Spectacular Rainbow Mountain
- Jungle Wildlife - photograph Parrots, Monkeys, Caiman, Capibara, and other creatures of the rainforest deep in the Amazon Basin.
- Indigenous Cultures – meet the modern-day descendants of the Inca and inhabitants of the rainforest in isolated communities far off the tourist trail
- Street Photography in Lima & Cusco
Day 1 (May 7) Lima – Welcome to South America! Our adventure begins when we meet you upon arrival at Jorge Chavez International Airport (airport code: LIM). We will transport you to our hotel in central Lima where you can relax and recover from your travels until 4pm when our group gathers for introductions and a trip overview followed by a brief session on image management in Adobe Lightroom. Afterward, we’ll head out to enjoy some of Lima’s amazing cuisine. Overnight in Lima hotel.
Day 2 (May 8) Lima Street Photography - discover the ‘real’ Lima as we explore its central market, fisherman’s harbor and other neighborhoods well away from the tourist trail. Capture historic colonial architecture as well as vignettes of modern life in Peru’s bustling capital. Throughout the day, in restaurants, markets and on the streets, we’ll sample some more of the incredible variety of Peruvian fare. Overnight in Lima hotel.
Day 3 (May 9) Lima – Cusco – our flight (included) takes us from coastal Lima to enchanting Cusco, high in the heart of the Andes mountains. Spending the night in the former capital of the Inca empire will help us acclimate to the altitude, but Cusco is also a spectacular photo destination in its own right, so we’ll get busy right away exploring with our cameras. Picturesque cobblestone lanes, ancient Inca architecture, dramatic vistas, as well as Cusco’s large indigenous population compete for your attention at every turn. After dinner, Ken will present ‘Seeing 101 –Practical Ways to Sharpen Your Creative Vision’. Overnight in Cusco hotel.
Day 4 (May 10) Cusco – Aguas Calientes – the journey is truly the destination today as we depart Cusco early this morning for the town of Aguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu. You’ll have numerous opportunities to practice your landscape and cultural photography skills throughout the day as we slowly make our way through the Sacred Valley, indigenous villages and even a giant salt mine. Overnight in Aguas Caliente hotel.
Day 5 (May 11) Machu Picchu - be ready for an early start because we want to be among the first to enter when the gates to the iconic ruins open. Images of magnificent Machu Picchu in early morning light with no/few people in the frame are the reward for our extra effort. The window to make such pictures doesn’t last long, so stay focused on your photography in the beginning. Ken and our local guide will help you choose the best angles for both grand overviews and intimate details. Later on, make sure to take time to soak in the whole experience and marvel at the mind-blowing craftsmanship of this immense complex. When everyone has had their fill of photography and history, we’ll descend back down to Aguas Calientes for a late lunch. Then we catch a train to the town of Urubamba, where we’ll spend the night in a cozy mountain lodge.
Day 6 (May 12) Quechua Village – today is a very special day dedicated to exploring and photographing the Quechua culture, the largest indigenous group in the region and the direct descendants of the Inca. We will drop in on a local market in Urubamba for our first photo session of the day where we can wander the aisles with our cameras and pick up some treats for the children of the village we will be visiting later. Afterwards, we’ll drive to a remote Quechua village in the mountains that rarely sees outsiders. With members our host family as guides, we’ll explore the village environs, including homes, the local school, farmers’ fields and flocks of alpaca. We’ll learn about their subsistence farming lifestyle and see how they transform raw alpaca wool into the brightly colored traditional clothing that most residents still wear daily. Opportunities for portraits and candid images of everyday life are everywhere (check out the workshop gallery for examples). Overnight at Quechua village homestay.
Day 7 (May 13) Quechua Village – Cusco – a sunrise photoshoot at a local Inca ruins site which doesn’t appear on any tourist map is a fitting way to cap off this amazing experience. We’ll return to the village afterwards for breakfast and to say our goodbyes to our hosts. Then we drive back to Cusco, where you’ll have the rest of the day at your leisure. Overnight in Cusco hotel.
Day 8 (May 14) Rainbow Mountain - we depart early for this amazing, colorful, but no longer undiscovered natural attraction. Fortunately, we will miss most of the crowds because our approach will be by the rarely visited ‘back side’. The air is thin up here, but the views are spectacular. The route to Rainbow Mountain is almost as scenic as the destination, so we’ll make numerous stops along the way to photograph the lush mountain valleys, huge herds of alpaca and tiny indigenous communities. Later, we’ll drive to Pacchanta village where you can enjoy a pre-dinner soak in their natural hot springs. If skies are clear, we’ll also have an opportunity to make some great Milky Way photographs at night. Overnight in Pacchanta village.
Day 9 (May15) 7 Lakes Trail on Horseback – for those who have the energy, it’s well worth setting an early alarm to catch first light on the peak of sacred Ausangate mountain. Otherwise, catch a few extra z’s and join us for breakfast. Afterwards, we’ll spend the rest of the day on horseback exploring a series of spectacular alpine lakes in their various shades of blue, green & turquoise in the valley below Ausangate’s glaciers. Overnight in Cusco.
Day 10 (May 16) Cusco ¬ Puerto Maldonado – The jungle portion of our journey begins today with a brief (~1hr) morning flight that transport us into the heart of the Amazon basin. After settling into our lodge on the banks of the Madre de Dios river, we’ll board wooden long boats in which we’ll hunt for Caimans and Capibaras with our cameras.
Day 11 (May 17) Tambopata Reserve – is a true jewel of the Amazon rainforest and a hot spot for wildlife encounters. We’ll spend the day exploring this area on foot and by boat on Lake Sandoval. Be on the lookout for local fauna such as alligators, giant river otters, monkeys and wild pigs as well as parrots and an incredible diversity of other jungle birds. Tamboapta is truly a wildlife photographer’s playground!
Day 12 (May 18) Canopy Tour – we’ll begin this day with a 1 hour river boat ride during which we will be on the lookout for Tucans, Macaws, Monkeys and other animals beginning their daily routine. At the end of the trip, we will arrive at the Suspended Bridges that allow us to access the treetop canopy. On our way back, our focus will shift from wildlife to environmental portraits during our visit to a village of the Machiguenga tribe. Later, we’ll take a photowalk through the lanes of Puerto Moldonado and its markets full of plants and fruits from the Amazon.
Day 13 (May 19) Puerto Moldonado – Lima ¬ One last early morning start but our destination, Parrot Clay Lick, is well worth the effort. A claylick (locally known as colpa or collpa) is a naturally forming wall of clay on a riverbank caused by erosion from the river.
Every morning at around dawn, macaws, parakeets, parrotlets and other parrots flock to these clay licks to eat the mineral rich clay, sometimes hundreds at a time, creating an incredible wildlife spectacle and an impressive color festival. Afterwards, we’ll return to our lodge for breakfast and then head to the airport to catch the flight back to Lima.
In Lima, we’ll relax and enjoy a final farewell dinner.
Day 14 (May 20) Lima – Home Transfers to the airport
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