2 week trip to Peru, Machu Pichu and the Andes

  • May 21, 2011 · 8:00 AM

If we can get 10 photographers together, this could be the most exciting, rewarding and spiritual photo op of our lives. I'm somewhat of an budding expert on the history of the Inca, Chimu, Moche, Chavin, Huari and Tiahawanako civilizations - all of whom at one point thrived in what is now Peru. I began with traveling to Peru to visit historical sites and I've been nothing less than floored by what I've seen and experienced. So for this idea, I've first chosen a group of the most magnificent ancient historical Inca ruins and then mixed it in with some of the best geography in the Andes. I then came up with an itinerary with the help of guides and archaeologists that is both doable by the ordinary human being, and as awe inspiring as one can imagine. And now I've put this together. These are my photos and I'm the guy in the first picture who's doing his best to do an indiana jones impression.

In all seriousness, my heart and soul are in this completely and I will do my best to get it off the ground. There surely has to be others who consider this an opportunity of a lifetime. And the best thing is - it's affordable. And while I'm a guru when it comes to trekking this region of peru, I'm by no means a professional photographer. My payment for putting this together? I learn from all of you.
I imagine 10 of us all sharing ideas and taking some of the most remarkable scenery in the world. So please - if anyone has any questions at all, and I'm sure there are a thousand, I'll be happy to answer all of them. Know that I know Peru and I know the Incas and I know what it's like to trek for a week or more at a time in this area.

Here are a few things to understand before you read the itineary. This is a long trek. Of the 11 days, 9 evenings will be spent at campsites. We will bathe in rivers and streams, not showers. We will be sleeping in tents, not beds. We will be exposed to the elements whatever they may be (but it is towards the beginning of dry season so don't worry) - and part of the journey will be through the mountainous jungle - so there will be bugs... and yes, mosquitoes. There are no easy ways out once we begin, for the most part. Sure we'll be passing indigenous villages, but these people don't have modern medicine or the comforts we enjoy. So if for whatever reason you need to hit the eject button, the only way out is by horseback. And just in case anyone does need to eject, we'll have three emergency horses. We will be climbing over 12,000 peaks and descending through the cloud forests and into the jungle so there will be moments you want to kill because your legs and lungs are so tired. But you'll also at any time be able to jump on one of those horses to carry you up if you so desire - and at any time and as many times as you want, too. You won't be eating at restaurants, but you will be cooked three times a day authentic peruvian meals by professional cooks.

Basically, and in a nutshell, this isn't a trip for the weak at heart. But all you need to be is in relatively good shape (you DON'T need to be an athlete - just look at me), have a healthy mind and attitude. There are three expert guides and they have helped plan this FOR photographers and they are keenly aware of showing us the best places to shoot, and also WHEN to shoot. They are patient and they will ensure every person starts and finishes with a huge smile.

In terms of photography, we'll be in paradise.

****************** THE TREK ****************

TOTAL COST: (approximately) $2000-$2400
Includes basically everything, from international flight to internal flight, hotels, meals, incidentals, trek, and yes, gifts to bring home.

*At the time of posting, One way r/t airfare from Philly is $1000. See www.sidestep.com

A Brief History for our Route:

After the conquest by the Spanish, Manco Inca and his successors dominated the region of Vilcabamba. It included several centers and settlements built to honor the last dynasty of the Inca: Manco Inca, Sayre Tupac, Titu Cusi Yapanqui and Tupac Amaru I. According to customs and traditions of other pre-Incan cultures, a Neo Imperial state was created to preserve all knowledge in religion and astronomy.
Vilcabamba is located northwest of Cusco, in the province Convención, in the eastern mountain range of the Andes. It has a chain of snow-covered peaks and high forest mountains with constant climatologic changes. The region is bounded by two very deep canyons, the canyon of Apurímac on the left and Willcamayu on the right. Through both run very fast-flowing rivers which have carved and still carve one of the most beautiful and spectacular landscapes of our Andean region.


Day 1: Cusco (3350 meters) – / High Pass Malaga (4453) / - Chaullay (1350) – Huancacalle (2360) H/W 1 hour almost all day in bus

We will leave the hotel around 08:00 Am and go to the Sacred Valley. On the way we will pass by Chinchero and Ollantaytambo two historical and beautiful Inca sites. We will continue ‘till the High Pass of Malaga 14609 Feet and we will stop to see the glacier of the Wakay Wilka (the god who always cries’ ) and see the difference in the environment between the mountain and the Jungle area. We will descent to 3937 fee to Santa Maria and Chaullay in the jungle and then climb again to Huancacalle. Along the way will be possible to see coca plantations and the beautiful valley of the high jungle. We will then arrive at our campsite.

Day 2: Huancacalle (2360) – Qolpàqasa(3700) H/W 6 to 7 hrs Difficulty since 1 to 10 …. 6

We will walk like half day to visit Huancacalle and then Vitcos, an extremely important set of ruins, made significant of the murder of Manco Inca, leader of the Great Inca Rebellion. We will see the snow caped of Pumasillo over of the 19356 feet … which is consider ‘till now days as the protector of the families around this area … Ñusta Hispana is part of the complete site of Huancacalle where we can explore some sites like Yuraq Rumi. Here the landscapes are beautiful because it combines the mountains, forest and archeological sites. We will then continue for 3 hours until Qolpaqasa, our campsite situated at 12139. We will visit Vilcabamba La vieja.

Day 3: Qolpaqasa (3700) – Ututo(3100) – Cedrochaca (2600) H/W 5 to 6 hrs Difficulty since 1 to 10 …. 5

After breakfast we will walk 2 hours to Maukachaka (Old inka Bridge) and then descend to Ututo. We will cross by Pampaconas, a village of weavers that are still keeping their ancient Inca techniques, considered of the best in human history. Also we will see some of the people who works the land, and we will see how the environment is changing, from the mountain to the cloud forest. In this area we will see lots of Inca trails with some bridges from the Inca’s time, in the humid place of Challca River where will be our camping site near of the river Cedrochaca ……

Day 4: Cedrochaca (2600) – Vista Alegre (2580) – Urpipata (2800) H/W 6 to 7 hrs Difficulty since 1 to 10 …..7

Cedrochaca is Located at 8530 feet and is in a cloud forest where the vegetation and the humidity is high. We will see wild orchids, moss covered trees. It is beautiful. We will then pass by Vista Alegre, a little town where we can visit indigenous people working in the farms of coffee and coca leaves. All of these places are over the 8464 Feet … and it is possible to see and walk on a beautifully conserved Inca Trail. We will then climb a little to Urpipata a wonderful spot to see the environment and the mountains of Vilcabamba and the snow capped Yanantin Urpipata which is located at 9186 feet and where we will camp.

Day 5: Urpipata (2800) – Concevidayoc(2500) – Espiritu Pampa (1600) H/W 6 to 8 hrs Difficulty since 1 to 10 ……8

After breakfast we walk by the cloud forest descending to the Concevidayoc River, and then begin climbing to the high Pass of Cedrocasa (3850 masl) 12631 feet. We will be at a place called Pajonal and descend into the tropical Espiritu Pampa at 5530 feet, a real fine place to see some birds indigenous to the area along with a great many hummingbirds. We will camp here and do some Pachamanca, one of the most traditional Inca delicacies. It is meat cooked in a pit used as an oven mixed with vegetables and potatoes. I think we have to pay a couple dollars extra for this.

Day 6: Espiritu Pampa full day to Visit H/W 5 to 6 hrs Difficulty since 1 to 10 …. 4

After breakfast we will will visit all the archeological sites of Espiritu Pampa. Terraces, aqueducts and all of their buildings. This is not a frequently visited site due to the relative difficulty to reach! It is where the Inca survived. The visit will take us all day we can come back to the camp site to have the lunch and to rest a bit for the next day.

Day 7: Espiritu Pampa (1600) – Chiwankiri (1200) H/W 6 to 7 hrs Difficulty 1 to 10 ….. 6

After breakfast we will start essentially our last day of hiking. We will cross by many rivers and bridges, fruit trees, varied vegetation of the high jungle. It makes for a great camp site.

Day 8: Chiwankiri (1400) – Quillabamba(1110) – Santa Teresa (1800)

After breakfast our bus will pick us up by the road to Quillabamba. There we will have the lunch and rest. Then we head to Santa Teresa by car to camp near of the town. We can stop for taking pictures form the jungle ‘til Santa Teresa

Day 9: Santa Teresa (1800) – Llaqtapata(2600) – Hydroelectric Power(1985) – Aguas Calientes(2010) H/W 9 to 10 Difficulty since 1 to 10…8

Today we leave our staff to take a bus to Lucmabamba for the trail to Llaqtapata. This is going to be a gem of a day. We will walk part of the classic Inca trail that is going to the top of the mountain to see Machupicchu. At Llaqtapata we will rest and then start the descent to the Hydroelectric Power Station, where we can have lunch. Here is a great place to snap shots of the back of Machu Picchu. Some can opt to take another path if they're tired of climbing and choose to go by the river side. Once at the Hydroelectric they can visit the Inti Watana (a place where to tie the sun). After the lunch we can have the chance to go by train or to walk by 3 more hours to Aguas Calientes where we can have our Accommodation in the hotel with a well deserved private bathroom and hot shower.

Day 10: Aguas Calientes (2010) – Machupicchu(2500) full day in Machupicchu

Wake up extremely early for the bus to Machu Picchu. After in the afternoon we can come back to the town of Aguas Calientes where we can take the train back to Cusco. Transfer to Hotel end of our trek


* Professional English/Spanish speaking guides
* All transport in terms of the trek
* Double Occupancy Tents
* Camping Equipment: Bathroom tent, kitchen tent, dining tent, chairs, tables and comfortable mattresses
* Horses to carry our equipment food, tents and cooking gear
* Muleteers and Cooks
* Coffee breaks in the afternoons
* All meals (whenever we are not in a city)
* First aid kit

DEPOSIT: $200: Earlier deposits get room preference. Also be aware of Airfare increases. Make though Paypal to [masked] but let me know it's coming, first, ok? If you pay via CC then add 2.9%, because I'm not doing this and have it cost me money. Always remember via bank account is free. PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU LIST THIS AS A PERSONAL TRANSACTION, otherwise another fee is charged and I'll pass that on to you.

So that's it. Before anyone makes any deposits, let's see a list of who is likely to come. If it looks like we have enough people, we'll make our deposits and hire our guides etc. If you have any questions at all, i will be thrilled in helping answer them and to help you decide whether you're a good candidate for this trip.

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  • Ed G.

    I'd be interested in this trip if it ever comes up again. My best times are btw 01 Oct and 01 May.

    October 11, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    I may decide to postpone this, Matt. I planned it to coincide with memorial day weekend so taking time off wouldn't be so bad... but it doesn't look like this is generating a whole lot of interest - at least people en mass aren't emailing me. stay tuned.

    February 27, 2011

  • Matthew S.

    This is my dream trip Ken. I only wish I knew about this sooner for I am unable to attend. Sadly, just joined the group. Think you will do something like this again?

    February 27, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    HISTORY CHANGING NEWS. Yesterday (my birthday), they released the discovery of an ancient tomb of a Wari King - potentially[masked] years before the Incas arrived. Until now, archaeologists and historians believed the Incas built their own jungle city -this could change. The Wari culture died out 200 years before the Incas arrived on the scene. They were never believed to have had any influence in the Jungle. This changes history. And we may be able to see "king tut!"

    February 24, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    Reminder - I arranged this trip FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS so they are giving us 3 guides all who are experts in the areas we'll be passing through. They will take us to the most pristine places for the best shooting and at the right times of day. And they'll wait for everyone patiently as we do our thing. We have more than three months to get all this together. WE can make it happen. Please, if you're interested, just click that you're going so we know who's possibly in. no deposits required now :)

    February 18, 2011

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