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6 Day Machu Picchu Photography Expedition with Alison Wright
About your Trip Leader: Alison Wright
Alison is an acclaimed documentary photographer and visual anthropologist, who travels to all regions of the globe photographing indigenous cultures and people while covering issues concerning the human condition. She is a recipient of the Dorothea Lange Award in Documentary Photography, a two-time winner of the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award, and an Explorers Club Fellow. She was awarded “The Most Compelling Woman in the Travel Industry, 2014” by Premier Traveler magazine and was named a 2013 National Geographic Traveler of the Year as someone who travels “with a sense of passion and purpose.” She has published ten books including her latest, “Human Tribe a series of global portraits celebrating our diversity and visual tapestry of humanity.
Alison has been published in numerous magazines including National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic Adventure, Outside, Islands and Smithsonian.
Alison’s life was nearly cut short during a devastating bus accident on a remote jungle road in Laos. Her best-selling memoir, “Learning to Breathe; One Woman’s Journey of Spirit and Survival,” chronicles her inspirational story of survival, the years of rehabilitation and her ongoing determination to recover and continue traveling the world as an intrepid visual storyteller. Her experience working in post disaster/conflict areas inspired her to establish a foundation called Faces of Hope (facesofhope.org); a non-profit that globally supports women and children’s rights by creating visual awareness and donating directly to grass-roots organizations that help sustain them through education and healthcare.
Day 1: August 6 Welcome to Cusco! / Walking Guided City tour
Arrive Cusco airport in the morning. Driver will be waiting to transfer to hotel for checkin. 1 PM begin guided walking tour. Saunter authentic Inca streets to soak up the vibration of this high-altitude metropolis where ancient and modern worlds collide. We visit a local home to observe age-old “chicha” corn beer-making process, including, of course, a sample of the brew. Continue on foot to “The Golden Temple” of Qoricancha, considered a sacred and treasured Inca structure. Afternoon activities are flexible as you adjust to altitude.
Day 2: August 7 Sacred Valley Tour by Van
8 AM Full day of driving with stops in the Sacred Valley. Highlights: Chinchero Village to observe Qechua farmers who still dehydrate potatoes using authentic native Andean methods / Followed by a visit to Qechua women's weaving co-op / Continue 20 KM by car to Moray Greenhouse ruins to learn about the sophisticated botanical practices of the Inca and how the plants were used for ceremonial purposes / Drive to Maras Terraced Salt Ponds where you learn how salt is harvested from individual ponds owned by single families, and the importance of salt for economic exchange since Inca times. / Finally arrive in Ollantaytambo, the oldest still-occupied village in Peru where you checkin to hotel for overnight.
Day 3: August 8 Train to Aguas Calientes / Afternoon entry to Machu Picchu
7:30 AM Walk to Ollantaytambo ruins, the last Inca stronghold when Emperor Manco defeated the Spanish in a famous battle in 1536. Leave excess luggage at the hotel to prepare for the train ride. Walk to station with overnight luggage and board morning train to Aguas Calientes. About 2 hours. Arrive Aguas Calientes where you deposit your carryon luggage in the hotel, have quick lunch, then board the shuttle bus for late afternoon visit to Machu Picchu. Just in time for the sunset. Return to village for the evening. Machu Picchu Open daily from 6 am - 5:30 pm.
Day 4: August 9 Machu Picchu Morning Entry 6 - 12 PM / Train to Ollantaytambo
5 AM. Meet up with guide and take shuttle bus to Machu Picchu (carryon bags can be stored at the hotel) Enter for guided tour, about 3 hours, where you explore the structures, terraces and temples of the citadel. Followed by time to re-enter and explore on your own. By 12 Noon, take shuttle bus back to village for quick lunch then take train to Ollantaytambo village. Walk to your hotel. With the approaching phase of the new moon, the skies will be perfect for shooting images of celestial bodies. The hotel is in a rural setting with plenty of room to set up tripods if desired.
Day 5: August 10 Sacred Valley / Market & Farms with Pachamanca Community Meal
Pickup from hotel for 1 hour drive to Pisac Market. Continue by car about 30 minutes to a Qechua village for Pachamanca meal with local family. Farmers build an "earth oven" with stones, plants and herbs, in which they cook chicken, portatoes, plantains and fava beans for a shared meal. Continue by van to Cusco. If time permits, there may be stops at Awana Kancha Llama farm and/or Cochahuasi Animal Rescue/Sanctuary.
Day 6: August 11 Farewell. Fly to Lima to make international connections.
Pickup from hotel at least 2 hours prior to scheduled departure. Fly to Lima to make international connections home.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of traveling with a world-class photographer like Alison Wright?
Alison makes herself accessible and on hand to help you create images along the way. She will give a presentation with tips on how to make a good image. There will be an opportunity to view each person’s images as a group at the end of the trip, as everyone can pick their favorite 5-10 photos that they made. They can opt for a critique or not.
What skill level should photographers have?
This trip is for all photographic skill levels, even iphone. It’s all about learning to see in new and different ways, and learning how to approach people. Something not everyone is comfortable doing. In Alison Wright's words,
"Learn how to make powerful, memorable travel images, become more comfortable approaching and photographing people, and feel more confident navigating unfamiliar cultures. Enrich your travel experiences by connecting with others through your camera and use it as a key into exploring other peoples’ lives."
Are tripods allowed in Machu Picchu National Park?
The rules clearly state that tripods and other professional photographic equipment are not permitted inside the park. Professional photographers pay an additional fee to buy a permit to use special equipment. However we have seen people use small tripods discreetly and without impeding the movement of other visitors. This seems to be tolerated, but we cannot guarantee it is permitted in all cases. Cameras and lenses of all makes and models are allowed.
It's common for most people coming from sea level to experience at least mild symptoms of altitude sickness when they arrive in Cusco, which is 11,000 ft/3430 m above sea level. Age is not a factor for the severity of symptoms one can experience. But fitness can be. Symptoms vary from person to person, but can include:
- -loss of appetite
Treatments may include:
- -OTC pain reliever - bring your own favorite remedy for pain relief
- -Oxygen. Most hotels have oxygen tanks in their lobbies and guides will carry small tanks of oxygen on hikes. Some local pharmacies sell an individual size O2 tank for personal use.
- -Coca Leaf. Locals believe that drinking coca leaf tea will help and you will find the tea leaves readily available in hotel tea bars as well as restaurants.
- -Water. Drink extra to keep your blood flowing freely. Dehydration leads to sludgy blood and may contribute to your discomfort.
- -Diamox. (AKA "Acetazolamide") can be purchased by prescription in some western countries or over the counter in Peruvian pharmacies.
- -Treatments may alleviate the symptoms as you adjust in the first 24-48 hours. But you cannot expect the sense of breathlessness to completely disappear, no matter how you treat it. If symtoms do not show signs of improvement within 24 hours of your arrival, please notify your travel companions or guide so s/he can monitor your progress. In rare occasions, individuals may need to seek medical attention.
Is it safe to drink the water?
Tap water in Lima, Cusco and other larger cities is consumed by local people every day. But is it safe for you? There's only one way to find out and we suggest that you not drink the tap water or use it to brush your teeth. Bottled water is cheap and available everywhere including small towns and villages. We support Travelers Against Plastic to reduce the use of disposable water bottles and encourage you to bring a purification device to make your own safe drinking water. The device should be rated to purify water from microbes and viruses, not just for taste. Purified drinking water is provided on all the multi-day hikes and during your stay in the Amazon jungle lodges.
Should I travel to South America if I have a life-threatening allergy?
We've learned that there are different kinds of allergies; from hayfever to insect stings. IF YOU HAVE A LIFE-THREATENING ALLERGY TO ANY FOOD, INSECT, MEDICATION OR NATURAL ELEMENT, WE REQUIRE WRITTEN, ADVANCE NOTICE WITH FULL DESCRIPTION OF THE ALLERGEN AND THE TREATMENT. We reserve the right to require a doctors written approval for you to travel or ask you to provide your own treatment remedy and plan. And we ask you to notify your guide during your first meeting. In rare circumstances we may choose to reject your reservation if we feel that your condition is beyond the scope of the training of our guides or negatively impact other travelers. Epi-pens are only useful in areas where you are close to medical services like Lima or Cusco.
What is the best way to travel between Lima and Cusco?
We recommmend flying between the cities because other means requires more time or is not practical for short vacations. There is no train service between Lima and Cusco. And while there is bus service, the drive is almost 24 hours long over paved, but winding mountain roads. There is no speedy highway. The cost of round-trip air tickets varies from around $250 pp on the domestic carriers, including STAR PERU AIRLINES and PERUVIAN AIRLINES, to $450 pp on LAN AIRLINES and somewhere in-between on TACA (recently merged with AVIANCA) AIRLINES. The majority of the flights between the cities occurs in the morning to mid-day hours. Afternoon flights taper off by 5 pm and there are no evening flights in either direction due to mountain weather conditions.
Where should I stay if my international flight arrives in Lima in the evening?
There are no late evening flights from Lima to Cusco. And there is only one hotel at the Lima airport. The Wyndham Hotel is connected to the arrivals terminal by a skybridge on the 2nd floor. It takes literally 2 minutes to walk from the terminal to the lobby of the hotel. The hotel is expensive by Peruvian standards (in excess of $250 per double room per night). We've seen good rates on Expedia, Orbitz, Booking.com and Hotels.com The hotel will accommodate as many as 3 to a room, but not 4.
This hotel is best for groups who arrive in Lima late evening and plan to depart again by air the next day. For groups planning to stay in Lima, it's best to pre-arrange a transfer to a hotel outside the airport, unless you don't mind paying the "gringo rate" when you negotiate on your own. The travel time is about 45 minutes each way when the traffic is moderate. And the cost ranges from $35 each way and up. If your group is larger than 3 persons, you may need a transfer in a mini-van or two taxis.
Do I need vaccinations to visit Machu Picchu?
The altitude of Machu Picchu is 8000 ft/2440 m and higher. Disease-carrying vectors do not thrive at higher elevations. US passport holders are not required to get Yellow Fever vaccinations or prophylactic Malaria treatments. But it's recommended to bring insect repellent to prevent bites from midges, which can be annoying but not life-threatening. See our guide to biting insects. Although there have been no recent cases of Yellow Fever in Peru, some countries, including the US, recommend that visitors get Yellow Fever vaccinations prior to visiting the Amazon Rainforest including Tambopata Reserve or Manu National Reserve. We recommend that travelers check the regulations for re-entry for any countries they will pass through after leaving Peru, Bolivia or Ecuador. Bolivia requires all foreigners to have proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry if you plan to travel to the Bolivian Amazon jungle. (Some countries including Australia, require their citizens to get yellow fever vaccination if they enter Peru, even if they are only visiting the higher elevations) Other routine travel vaccinations may be recommended. Please consult your physician or local travel medical clinic.
This Adventure Includes
- Accommodations in 4* upgrade hotels with private bath and breakfast
- Cusco airport transfers
- All ground transportation
- English-speaking guide service
- Roundtrip Train tickets
- 2 Days Entry tickets to Machu Picchu
- Shuttle bus to Machu Picchu
- Pachamanca meal
- Lima Hotel
- Lunches/Dinners/Bottled Drinking Water
- Travel Insurance
- Please reserve no later than March 16, 2018.
- International arrival flights to Lima, Peru should be on Aug 5 or early AM on Aug 6.
- International departure flight should depart Lima anytime after 4 pm on Aug 11
- Tripods, reflectors and professional photographic equipment not permitted inside Machu Picchu National Park
- Weather calamities, local strikes or other situations are beyond our control. There are no refunds for any unused portion of the trip
- In case last minute changes must be made, additional costs are the responsibility of the traveler.
- Photographer spouses and companions are welcome.
- Recommended for adults over age 21.
- Group limited to 16 people.
- Single supplement: add $550 pp
- No strenuous hiking, however there is a lot of walking on uneven terrain. Trekking poles can be provided on request.
- Most flights come through Lima, Peru. Wyndham is the only hotel at the airport. Short walk over skybridge from terminal.
- Additional days in Cusco can be added on request.
- Extensions to Amazon jungle or Lake Titicaca can be added on request. Please consult us before booking your flights.