Peru Machu Picchu Photo Tour and i’ts approach
Jean Jérôme Destouches
The design of the Peru Photo Tour to Machu Picchu & Sun Festival
I was asked to design a Peru Photo Tour around the Sun Festival (Inti Raymi in Quechua language), equally focused on the sacred Machu Picchu and the Indian communities on the Titicaca lake. It’s all about masked dancers, condors breaking the wind over Colca canyons, and native Uros tribes at the floating island on the Titicaca lake
Being totally fluent in Spanish and having been a South America resident for eleven years, I had the chance to visit Peru, as a professional photographer, several times. Clearly, a good relationship with local people is most important to get the best experience ever.
The Peru Photo Tour I have designed is a very special trip that connects – as all Nomad Photo Expeditions Photo Tours- with the surprising and amazing life of “real” people, away from tourism mass market where travel agencies bring photographers to witness a “show” of local people acting.
Our adventure begins in the Inca Capital of Cusco with the Sun Festival and later will we feel the power of the Machu Picchu and follow the sacred valley to photographically witness the Peruvian markets, finally heading towards south in Puno where the Titicaca lake stretches. Once there, we will have the unique opportunity to make great shots of the Uros tribe and then to spend two days with an Aymara community.
Peru Sun Festival
As said, Peru is one of my favorite destination! I traveled a lot there and each time I went I discovered new photographic opportunities. I am really fond of the country and enjoy photographing Peruvian culture and always wear a Chacana (“The Stair” in Quechua, the local language) around my neck. So much that I finally started a nice collection of “Chacanas” all of them bought in Cusco, close to the Plaza de Armas Square: The exact place where we will be taking photographs for the breathtaking Sun Festival.
The Inca Empire was honoring Inti (the sun God) and used to make a religious ceremony during the winter solstice in June. Today, Peruvian people keep celebrating the Inti Raymi in Cusco as performed in the good old times..
For several days the city is the place where thousands of Peruvians are dancing day and night in their traditional colorful dresses, wearing evil and others folk masks.
Also, on June 24th we will live an amazing historical reconstruction starting from the Armas Squares and finishing in the Saqsaw Huaman, an Inca fortress, where the great Inca god will be carried in his golden throne. It´s a unique and amazing festival that takes place once a year where we will get the best images we ever dreamed of.
Magic Machu Picchu and the Aymara community
Besides the magic of Machu Picchu where we will challenge ourselves finding a way to represent the spiritual feeling of Machu Picchu in photography, our trip will lead us to the sacred Titicaca lake in Puno ( “The Mountain Lion” in Aymara language). Once there, we will have the privilege to meet and document photographically the Uros tribe in their amazing floating islands right in the middle of the Titicaca lake and later we will spend two amazing days in an Aymara community.
Usually, Aymara people are afraid of being “taken” in a picture, but through the years, I have succeeded to build a strong relationship with them.
It will be a unique opportunity to make photographs of the intimate life of Indian people. We will split our all ready small group, in order to stay in local Aymara houses on the bank of Titicaca lake. (More than decent, comfortable houses, with private bathroom and hot water)!
The first time I went there I stayed with this Aymara community and was amazed by the beautiful houses they built. Each day the Aymara community works in the fields to cultivate potatoes -Peru has more than 5 000 varieties of them – they go fishing on their traditional boats and collect the Totora plant that is being used to feed the cattle.
On our last night with them we will be part of an Aymara celebrations with their traditional music, dance and tasty food.
I look forward to share this next photographic adventure! This was just a short glimpse of the experience! We will live together much more! Please feel free to visit the entire program of the Peru Photo Tour 2017.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. What about altitude sickness?
We are staying several days in a high altitude area and this should usually suffice to get accustomed to it. It’s hard to tell if you will be affected by altitude sickness as some people can be more susceptible than others regardless of age, sex or physical condition. There is always the possibility to experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness or ‘soroche’ as it is known locally. As you already know, Cusco and Machu Picchu are one of the most visited touristic places in the world .
2. What does the trip to Machu Picchu look like? Would we travel there by train? Would we be staying in Agua Calientes overnight? Is a stay at the Inkaterra Hotel possible? Do we have time in the early morning or evening outside of the horde of tourists? Would we be doing anything on the Inca Trail?
The photo tour to Machu Picchu is the best experience ever. We will head for Aguas Calientes in train where we will be staying overnight. We will arrive in the afternoon at 5 pm in Agua Calientes where will stay for the night. The next day we will wake up very early to get to Machu Picchu. Usually, Tourists arrive to Machu Picchu much later (around 10 AM). So, we will have the privilege to enjoy Machu Picchu outside of the groups of tourists.
Later in the day we will catch our train to get back to Ollantaytambo and then to Cusco by bus.
We decided to not do the Inca Trail because it is mostly trekking. The Inca Trail is visited by people who are interested in trekking and there is nothing -photographically speaking- specially interesting hat can not be photographed elsewhere in our itinerary.
3. Is the time equally divided between Cuzco and Lake Titicaca?
4. What is the documentary being recorded on Lake Titicaca and how would we be involved or not?
When we say “photo-documentary” it means that during that day we will have the possibility to make photographs of the Uros Tribe on the floating island as a photo reporter does. It is like a “task” given by the photographer expert leader in order to work your photographic skills. it is obviously optional. If you are not interested you can approach this opportunity following your own style or ideas.
5. What is meant by house – stay on Lake Titicaca? How would this work?
That’s a great experience. We will have the opportunity to spend two days in houses on the Titicaca lake.
The houses are lovely and suitable for travelers . The community has been trained by the government in order to attain an acceptable touristic standard. All the infrastructures, such as the water we will drink during meals, are 100% safe. The houses overlook the Titicaca lake and having lunch outside is the best experience you’ll ever had. Each room has its private bathroom with hot shower. The showers run with sun panel or with electricity device. Staying with the Aymara people is a special moment in the trip!
For the lodging there, we will split into different groups depending on the final size of the group to sleep in several houses. Some of the houses have 4 beds and others 2 beds. At midday each group will have a lunch in his homestay family.
6. How much carrying of bags would be required? Would we need to be all backpack or would a small rolling suitcase (carryon size) be acceptable. ?
Personally, I travel with a rolling suitcase that is left at the hotel or in our private bus. We will not have to walk a lot with them.
It is recommended to also bring a small light comfortable backpack in order to keep the different layers (raincoat, fleece, etc..) with you. In Cusco or Titicaca lake the weather will be cooler and Machu Picchu has a tropical weather: you will need a raincoat if it rains. Usually it doesn’t last long .