Peru 2016 Photography Adventure Tour








New for 2016, we visit Peru’s three main regions:  The arid Pacific coast, the rugged highlands of the Andes, and the verdant depths of the Amazon basin, three ecosystems so distinct they feel like separate continents. 

We begin this year’s adventure in Peru’s sparsely-populated coastal desert, which spans the country’s entire western third, from Ecuador in the north, extending into Chile and the Atacama in the south.  The coast hides many secrets, preserved for the ages by a near-complete lack of rain.  Despite the aridity, fog coats the dunes and craggy peaks, bathing them in a perpetually soft light.  This part of Peru, known as Pisco, already famous for the grappa-like whiskey bearing its name, has gained new renown among oenophiles for delicate whites.  We’ll stay at well-known winery’s luxury rustic accommodations to sample for ourselves.  The following day, we overfly the beautifully delicate Nazca lines, taking them in from a perspective unavailable to their creators centuries ago.  

Following an overnight back in Lima, we then fly to Cusco, heart of the ancient Inca Empire, widely regarded as the jewel of South America.  Photographers from around the world converge to admire the distinct Spanish colonial architecture and mysterious Inca stonework.  Beyond the city lay countless ancient shrines, testament to a civilization that thrived for hundreds of years in this high, barren landscape, before succumbing to the 16th Century Spanish Conquest. 

Despite centuries of Spanish domination and imposition of their culture, religion and language, remnants of the Inca civilization remain to this day, squired away in isolated pockets of the Andes, where Quechua, the Inca’s language, is spoken exclusively, and residents’ knowledge of the world is limited to their particular valley, with ancient superstitions still prevalent.

After touring the city of Cusco, the Sacred Valley and the famous Machu Picchu, we journey into the Andes to attend the colorful Paucartambo festival seldom witnessed by outsiders. Here, Peruvians from around the region and country gather in colorful, symbolic costumes in a celebration of animist and Catholic traditions, some dating back to before the arrival of the Conquistadores. 

Rounding out our exploration of Peru’s three regions, we take the short flight from Cusco to the Amazonian town of Puerto Maldonado to board our skiff along the Tambopata River.  Here, we’ll spend three nights at the luxury Posada Amazonas, giving us two full days to enjoy naturalist-guided walks through the network of viewing trails available exclusively to guests.  The Amazon is a birder’s paradise, but the ecosystem’s engulfing richness ensures that every available niche is filled, and we’ll examine and photograph everything from the macro-photography-scale (such as mushrooms, flowers, ants, frogs, spiders, etcetera) to the birds and mammals (including capybaras, wild pigs, and if we’re supremely lucky, a wild cat), to the largest scale —vine-draped trees, dozens of meters tall and around, sheltering us below in their shaded canopy. 

Returning to the coast from the Amazon, we spend our final day together exploring the City of Lima in a guided tour, visiting sites off the regular tourist itinerary.  The trip concludes with a climactic gourmet dinner at one of Peru’s most well-regarded restaurants. 

  • Matt Granger and Jonathan Stewart as co-tour-leaders
  • Flavio of Incaland Adventures as our local Peruvian guide
  • Professional drivers and specialist guides

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 Testimonial from previous participants:

"This was a fantastic trip, I cannot recommend it highly enough, I will certainly be considering another trip with Matt and Jonathan again in the future." Sam, United Kingdom

"This tour was an experience of a lifetime. We got to experience Peru in a way that most tourist never can. The trip was well organized, thought out, and executed. If you've never been to Peru for photography this is the one to take." Keith, USA.


Detailed Itinerary 9-21 July, 2016  (DOWNLOAD PDF VERSION)

Day 1 - July 9, 2016:  Arrive Lima

Arriving from your international flight (not included), you’ll be met at the airport for transfer to the group hotel, located in Lima’s prosperous Miraflores district.  No group activities planned. 

Day 2:  Lima-Ica Overland 

We board our 22 passenger private bus, entering the dry coastal desert of Peru’s south, stopping along the way to photograph the stunning coastline.  We stop for lunch in Paracas, once a center Pre-Inca culture, and now the headquarters of a national park.  The surrounding area is one of the most striking along the Pacific.  Our early departure ensures we arrive in time to enjoy the bucolic grounds of the Queirolo Vinyard, producer of fine wines and Pisco liquor.  

Day 3:  Nazca Lines Overflight - Coastal Dunes Exploration

After breakfast in our hotel, we board small planes in Ica for the flight to and over the enigmatic Nazca Lines.  Etched into the harsh desert “pavement” centuries ago by the long-vanished Nazca culture they depict, some say to the gods, others to aliens, the life found below:  a whale, a spider, a monkey, a waving human figure, and the most famous of all, the hummingbird.  

Fully appreciated only from the air, everyone will enjoy a window seat and plenty of opportunity to photograph all of the main figures. After the flight, we enjoy a gourmet lunch typical of the coastal region near the dune-nestled oasis of Huacachina, then travel overland back to Lima before flying to Cusco the following morning. Dinner in Lima on your own.

Day 4:  Cusco city tour

Arriving in one of the most important capitals of the ancient Americas, we hit the ground running with a half-day city tour, taking in the principal Inca archeological sights.  We’ll also have a chance to try the most traditional of all Peruvian foods, “cuy,” or guinea pig, prepared in a clay wood-fired oven with native potatoes and accompaniments.  A gourmet group dinner is included tonight at one of Cusco’s finest restaurants.  

Day 5:  Sacred Valley Tour 

We leave Cusco in our private bus, crossing the high country with views of the Cordillera Urubamba, dropping towards the Urubamba River into Peru’s Sacred Valley, so called because it is rife with Inca and pre-Inca spiritual sites.  Today we start in Pisac ruins, which offer a panoramic view of stone-terraced slopes and a fascinating altar to the sun.  From there we visit Pisac market, a gathering rich in photographic opportunities.  On our walkabouts, we’ll be discussing street photography, including techniques to engage your subject, and how to best set up your camera to quickly and discreetly capture the moment.  

After the market, we’ll enjoy a delicious group lunch, then board a train to Aguas Calientes, at the foot of Machu Picchu.   Night in Aguas Calientes, dinner on your own. 

Day 6:  Machu Picchu 

Nowhere is the Inca’s finely attuned natural aesthetic and mastery of stone  more visible than in the citadel of Machu Picchu, a site so well hidden, it escaped Spanish destruction, and was only “discovered” by American Hiram Bingham approximately 100 years ago.

Today we’ll catch a 5:30 a.m. bus for the short ride up to Machu Picchu to observe the sunrise over the Andes and photograph the ruins in the beautiful dawn golden hour.   After this leisure session, those sleeping in will join the others for a guided tour of the ruins, with English-language interpretation from our wonderful local guide, with plenty of time for photos at every location.  For those wishing to get in some leg-burning exercise, we will offer the option to walk approximately 2km to the Inti Punku, or Sun Door, where the ruins are first seen by travelers hiking through the mountains along the fabled Inca Trail.  The view of the valley and ruins from this site has been described by many as nothing short of a spiritual experience.

After our group lunch in Aguas Calientes,  we’ll catch our afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo, where we’ll enjoy our group dinner and board our private bus back to Cusco, where we will spend the next two nights.

Day 7:   Paucartambo Festival

We again awake before sunrise to embark on the centerpiece of our trip, and while it will be a very long day, it will be well worth it.  We start with the 2-3 hour drive from Cuzco to Paucartambo, a small Andean village on the cusp of the Amazon that comes alive once a year for the festival bearing its name.  Arriving in Paucartambo, we’ll warm in our group dining tent to a breakfast prepared by our own cooks before beginning our exploration of the festival itself.   

The festival mixes traditions of pre-colonial cultures with the Catholicism that was brought by the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th Century.  Many of these traditions were disguised in the form of symbolic costumes, whose true meaning was inaccessible to the pious Spaniard colonizers.  Interpretation will be provided by our knowledgeable, English-speaking local guide, while Matt and Jonathan will provide tips and support to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime photographic opportunity.  Lunch and dinner will also be in our private dining tent.  After dinner, we’ll drive back to Cusco for a well-deserved sleep.

Day 8: Amazon Basin - Tambopata River

The flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado, at the confluence of the Madre de Dios and Tambopata Rivers, takes scarcely more than 30 minutes, yet arriving in the humidity and warmth of the low-lying jungle, the air will feel like syrup after departing the cool, dry, thin air of Cusco.  It will feel like we’ve set foot on an alien world.  Following a short airport transfer and briefing at the local lodge headquarters, we’ll board our private skiff for the trip up the Tambopata River to the luxury Posada Amazonas, widely considered to offer the best combination of wildlife, comfort and accessibility available anywhere in the Amazon.  After dinner, those daring enough may embark on a guided jungle trek to search for, and listen to, the myriad Amazonian wildlife that comes out only at night. 

Day 9 - 10:  Amazon Explorations

These two days are dedicated to exploration and photography of the Amazon Basin, the most biologically diverse ecosystem on the planet.  From the smallest undergrowth, fungus and insect, to the lizards and frogs, to the elusive mammals such as javelina (wild pigs), capybaras and even jaguars, to the birds that are easily heard but difficult to see, we’ll take it all in under the ever enveloping jungle canopy, the lungs of the Earth.  All walks will be led by qualified, English-speaking naturalist guides, trained at spotting and identifying wildlife, and very able to answer our questions.  We will split into smaller groups for two main nature walks daily, each lasting between 1-2 hours, depending on sightings and weather.  

More walks, such as sunrise or nighttime, are available upon request, without added charge.  Walks will be on well-marked, mostly-level trails, with occasionally deep mud, and many branches and leaves.  Rubber boots and umbrellas will be provided by the lodge. Walking sticks are available.  All walks are optional, and those wishing to stay back at the lodge and lay in a hammock while sipping a cocktail are more than welcome to do so. 

Day 11: Travel to Lima

Today we board our motorized skiff for the short trip back to Puerto Maldonado and our flight to Lima.  After our arrival in the group hotel, and time to freshen up and grab a bite to eat, Matt and Jonathan will lead a street-photography walk around the lively neighborhood surrounding our hotel.  Lunch and dinner are on our own today.

Day 12:  Lima City Tour - Farewell Dinner

This morning we can finally sleep in and enjoy breakfast and lunch at our leisure.  Around 10:00 a.m., we’ll meet in the hotel lobby for an informal photo review session, sharing our favorite photos from the trip, offering pointers and exchanging ideas.  Following lunch on our own, we’ll again board our 22-passenger bus for a panoramic Lima city tour, concluding with a gourmet dinner at Panchita, opened and operated by Peru’s culinary darling Gaston Acurio. 

Day 13 – July 21, 2016 - Lima - International Departure

Following the included breakfast, the rest of this day is dedicated to flying home.  We will assist with private airport transfers according to your schedule.

Total cost $6300pp twin share. EARYBIRD DISCOUNT $6000 - until 1 April 2016 - unless sold out prior.

Trip cost includes:

  • •Hotel and lodge accommodation, 12 nights, in 4 to 5-star hotels, double occupancy basis.
  • •Meals as indicated in itinerary.
  • •All road, rail, air and water transportation within Peru.
  • •Entry fees to all sights visited. 
  • •Tips for local Peruvian guides, drivers, cooks, and boat captains. 
  • •Group and informal individual photography instruction and photo review by Matt Granger and Jonathan Stewart, includes pre-trip consultations on gear selection.
  • •Group trip insurance

Trip cost does not include:

  • •Dinners on days 1, 5, 11
  • •Lunch on days 1, 11, 12
  • •International flight
  • •Excess baggage on domestic flights (23kg limit)
  • •Alcoholic beverages
  • •Single supplement ($1000) 
  • •Shopping and extras.



Testimonials from previous participants:

"We were all 13 strangers at the start of the expedition. But after 10 days of travelling together, we began to know & understand each other, share & exchange our photographic skills and more importantly care for each other. We utlimately became a big family during the travel. I am sure many of us will leave this expedition with good & happy memories, which i did. This expedition is also part of my Live The Dream adventure journey. To Matt, thanks for making this trip happened. To Jonathan, thanks for all your previous time & effort in organising the trip & introducing me to Peru & also South America. To Flavio, thank you for sharing your Peruvian way of life with us."  Boon, Australia.

"If you want to experience some of the best of Peru's highlights with great photographic opportunities - this tour with Matt & Jonathan is highly recommended."  Alta, South Africa.

"I'd holiday like this more often if I was able to. If you see Matt and Jonathan do this or something like it again, jump at the opportunity, I'm so glad I did."  Ed, United Kingdom.


Minimum group size 8.  Maximum 14.

While this trip is cultural in nature, and designed to accommodate travelers of differing fitness levels, we will be reaching altitudes in excess of 3500 meters, or nearly 12,000 feet.  Travelers are strongly encouraged to consult with their doctor prior to this undertaking to ensure they are fit enough to embark on such a journey, and to make any medically necessary preparations in anticipation of the trip.  

While the trip is geared towards photographers, all are welcome, as there will be much to see and do beyond taking pictures.  Aside from Machu Picchu, where we will slowly walk up and down stairs from site to site, the trip will be of a medium exertion level.  Hikes in the Amazon will be non-strenuous in nature, with most of the time spent photographing and observing the flora and fauna.