Peru – a country with exquisite diversity in its nature, landmarks, food, and people. It is a great country to begin your journey into exploring South America: the perfect window into the untamed landscapes, vibrant colours, and the enduring stories.
– Photos and text by Jordan Hammond
I fell in love on my first visit in 2017 to Peru (and to South America) as it was so distinct from the Asian and European countries I had spent most of my adult life travelling in. It is a fantastic place for photography, particularly street and landscape photography. Spend your week in the country with these top photography spots!
Millions of people flock to the UNESCO site of Machu Picchu every year by train, bus, or hiking. Should you wish to conserve your energy for the Rainbow Valley hike, skip the hike here and take the scenic train from Cusco instead. Spend the night at Aguas Calientes after taking the train, and catch the bus to Machu Picchu the following morning in time for sunrise. We recommend trying to get to Machu Picchu for sunrise, as the view of the sun peeking over the mountains and hills surrounding the citadel is to die for. If you are lucky, a low fog will surround the area, making it look like something out of a fairy tale.
Once inside the archaeological site, head to one of the best vantage points in Machu Picchu to get that classic postcard shot – and shoot the sunrise. This is also a great place to photograph the local llamas and alpacas too. There are some great angles to shoot including close up of the terraces near the Watchman’s Tower. And be sure to explore Cusco on your way back – it’s one of my favourite towns to photograph in the world.
After our trip to Machu Picchu and roaming the quaint streets of Cusco, our next stop was the lesser-known – but arguably more beautiful – Rainbow Mountain, located deep in the Andes Mountains. We opted to do a guided 2-day hike to see the Rainbow Mountain, something which we would definitely recommend if you are up for a challenge and achieving a new personal best. The hike is strenuous and requires a good level of fitness, but is much more manageable than the 6-day hike, and is a great option if you are short on time. The altitude in this region can really affect you, with the hike being at altitudes of 4,500m to 5,200m, so you must acclimatise in Cusco first.
Another reason we opted for the 2-day hike was so we could see the mountain at sunrise – something which most other tour groups don’t get the chance to do – the early morning fog creeping around the colours of the mountain was an incredible sight to witness. The trek to Vinicunca, which starts at Quesiuno, was also beautiful and offered some great mountain photography opportunities. I’d recommend bringing a zoom lens for this excursion so you can shoot the colours on the mountain close up and get a good sense of scale with someone walking up the mountain.
Huacachina Desert Oasis
The Huacachina Desert Oasis is a great place to watch the sunset. This tiny village became popular in the 1960s with locals, when it was thought that the water in the oasis had healing powers, and is now incredibly popular with tourists too. We visited Huacachina as part of a day tour to Paracas from Lima, and climbed a sand dune to watch the sunset over the vast desert – a true highlight of our trip in Peru. We also did some sandboarding on the biggest dunes in South America, which we would highly recommend as it was a great way to end a wonderful week in Peru. Head to Lima after your visit to Huacachina for a day or two in the city, before heading back to reality.