PERU AND BRAZIL TOUR DIARIES
2 countries, 3 helicopters, 5 weeks, 17 flights and a hunger for adventure
It’s 2.30am. I’m writing to you from the comfort of home (sporting some very sexy flannel PJ’s) having just returned from five incredible weeks in South America.
It’s fair to say the jet lag may be contributing to my early morning inspiration but honestly, I’ve got so much to share with you I can’t go back to bed.
My five week photography adventure started with two weeks in Peru, followed by a three week tour of Brazil with my good friend Ken Duncan.
Both Peru and Brazil proved to be amazing destinations for landscape, wildlife and travel photography. And the photos we captured… there are no words!
I can’t take the smile off my face just thinking about it. We shot some outstanding , unique images across both tours and because I know you love photography as much as I do, I want to share the experience and highlights with you.
I also want to let you in on a secret… if you’d like to be a photographer who is famous for amazing landscape, wildlife and travel photographs, then you have embrace adventure. Get out of your comfort zone, experience the world, and surrounded yourself with people who are as passionate about photography as you are!
FIVE MOMENTS WE GOT HIGH IN PERU
Before you panic, I’m talking about a “photography high”.
Peru is another-worldly destination and photographing it was a high. I was lucky enough to take a small group of intrepid photographers on a Peruvian adventure to photograph the country’s iconic mountains, Inca ruins, warm-hearted people, wildlife and breathtaking landscapes.
While there is so much to love about Peru, there were five highlights I’d like to share with you:
1) Cuzco: Cuzco had a life of its own and is fabulous base from which to visit Machu Pichu and Rainbow Mountain. While we spent a lot of time shooting the city, we were surprised to find the food was fabulous. Cuzco is a city for the culinary curious. We ate guinea pig (don’t tell the kids) and Alpaca – both delicious!
2) Machu Pichu: This bucket list did not disappoint. Yes, there were a lot of tourists, but we knew the tricks to avoid the crowds. Scoring the perfect tripod positions to capture Machu Pichu at sunrise (my tip for you is to get there early).
Photographing the 15th-century Incan citadel set high in the Andes Mountains was a privilege and we all scored amazing photos of this iconic location.
3) Rainbow Mountain: It’s a day trip from Cuzco to visit Rainbow Mountain and we travelled the 5000 metres above sea level to shoot this spellbinding multi-coloured mountain. It was a sight to behold, and while the weather wasn’t great, we still captured some great images.
4) Santa Cruz Trek to Cordillera Blanc: After Cuzco we travelled to Lima and then Huaraz to trek Santa Cruz trek across the Andes. The multi-day trek is not for the faint-hearted, but we quickly realised why Santa Cruz is considered one of the best hiking routes in the world. The trek revealed lush valleys, rugged mountains, raging rivers, wildlife and the spectacular “Cordillera Blanca” (which means white mountain range in Spanish and is one of the most concentrated collections of big peaks in the Western Hemisphere). It was a tough trek but with the help of porters, and horses we made the high-altitude pass at 4800 metres.
5) Andes Astrophotography: While on our trek we camped under the open sky and indulged in amazing astrophotography. It’s hard to describe how special this experience was but I’ll never forget it.
Finally, I can’t talk about our Peru tour mentioning the emotional journey. Embarking on a tour like is a transformational experience and along our adventure our group forged a very powerful bond as adventures and artists. I feel so lucky I got to share this experience with each person in our tour group.
BIKINIS, JESUS, OPEN-DOOR CHOPPERS, SPEED BOATS, JAGUARS & INCREDIBLE IMAGES: THIS IS BRAZIL
Brazil was everything a photographer could hope for and more. In just under three weeks we travelled across this enormous country to shoot: Rio de Janeiro, Iguazu Falls, Pantanal, the Amazon and the beautiful sand-dunes and lakes of Lençóis Maranhenses.
The tour started in Rio, where cultures and cliches converge and where I was happy to discover the bikini is a national treasure. Though I quickly forgot about the local dress when I decided to photograph the famous Christ the Redeemer with Ken Duncan from a chopper with the doors off in the middle of a storm. Yes, this decision probably bordered on crazy but with great risk comes great reward! Before the flight we were told the weather was crap, visibility was terrible, and the CCTV camera was covered in cloud – but we didn’t let that stop us. In the air, we circled the statue a few times is a sea of white cloud. We couldn’t see a thing until miraculously the clouds parted, and there it was. Christ standing in front of us, arms outstretched as if commanding the clouds to subside. The combination of iconic monument and dramatic cloud formations created a powerful image, and infused our images with the coveted element of storytelling we all search for as photographers.
I can’t talk about this incredible experience without giving a shout-out and thanks to my friend Clara Davies, who not only helped secure the choppers on the day but also encouraged us to fly despite the grim outlook.
After Rio we journeyed into the Iguazu National Park, staying at the exclusive Belmond Hotel (the only hotel located in the park itself). As a guest of the Belmond, we enjoyed the privilege of being the only people to photograph the falls at sunrise, sunset and night (as the park only opens to the public at 9am). For me, experiences like this are a key part of my tours. It may cost more but if you’re going to do it – do it right.
The astrophotography was without question a tour highlight for us.
From Iguazu, we went in search of the elusive jaguar. For two days we explored the largest wetlands in the world by speed boat, photographing four different jaguars and an abundance of bird life.
We then continued into the Amazon, where we were spoiled with more amazing birdlife beforereaching Lençóis Maranhenses. Lençóis Maranhenses is a landscape photographers paradise. It feels almost surreal, as the photogenic sand- dunes and lakes play off each other to create visual poetry.
What I love about Lençóis Maranhenses is that it’s always changing. The two rivers and wild Atlantic winds constantly whip, shift and sculpt the enormous sand-dunes, and this is the only place in the world you’ll photograph a phenomenon like this. If you have the opportunity to travel to Brazil, please ensure you include Lençóis Maranhenses in your itinerary. You have to do it!
It’s fair to say, we all left Brazil clutching an amazing collection of images (yes, I’m still smiling just thinking about it). Just for you, I’ve included a few images in this email but watch this space… you’ll see more very soon.