You know those moments you’ve been looking forward to for so long that even when you’re in the plane flying towards them at 600 mph you haven’t realised that the waiting is over? That was this trip for me, a year in the making with my family. Finally I arrived at it two weeks ago, in Peru, and all I could think about was how suddenly I was flooded with photographer’s anxiety about whether I was up to the task at hand, capturing all the moments I had been dreaming of until then. Soon enough though with anticipation we step outside of our thoughts and are awoken that the reality of our destination is infinitely more foreign than the preconceived one. Only then when we cross the threshold of imagination does real experience begin and we become present in moments as they happen, some captured with a camera and others only in our mind that we’ll return to later when we’re back where we came from. For me that’s the power of travel, reminding us that even the moments we wait so long for do come, are only new once, and then they’re gone. Inversely, there’s the power of a camera, a machine that stops split seconds in time and let us keep them forever. If that isn’t magic I don’t know what is. To be a traveler with a camera is to have it all, to be present in a moment that will never come again, and yet somehow keep it forever. I hope you enjoy the photos, stories, and history Peru shared with me…
At 11,000 feet up in the Andes, Cuzco hardly seems a natural habitat for humans, and yet this place served as the capital of the Incan Empire, the only advanced isolated civilization to emerge south of the equator. What one comes to understand though traveling in Peru, is that high and low is precisely the nature of this place, both literally and figuratively. The Incas were a flourishing culture, wealthy in gold, silver, and knowledge who conquered vast areas of South America not by force, but by adoption and influence. However, once the Spanish arrived it wasn’t long before their palaces high in the mountains were diminished to ruins to serve as foundations of colonial architecture we see today, their bloodlines, traditions, and religions mingled to form the culture found there now. The history is a violent one, but the native and colonial melody of modern day Cuzco and greater Peru is romantic. We stayed at the luxurious Palazio Nazarenas, finding that even amidst the simple life most of the region lives, Peru is finding a place for luxury. Never without hospitality, the people are so welcoming of foreigners despite the consequence of the arrival of outsiders in centuries past. To be 11,000 feet up in the cradle of an ancient indigenous civilization with the comforts of soy milk and wifi is a strange and wonderful thing. Yet there is no absence of tradition at Palazio Nazarenas, as the staff will tell you about the historical convent the hotel has grown into, the traditional herbs planted in the garden that they brew beautifully in a curated tea service, and even stories about their families who have lived in Cuzco for as long as they can trace back. Beyond just hosting you, they share with you and teach you about this special place. To me, that is the true definition of hospitality, to feel that you’ve more than just visited a place, but rather know it in a way that you couldn’t have discovered alone.
THE SACRED VALLEY
Descending into the Sacred Valley, nature becomes more hospital. At 8,000 feet one can begin to understand why this place was deemed divine, as a vein of life that nourished the empire surrounding it. The agricultural epicenter produces food for much of Peru still today from the same fields engineered by the Incas, making the area rich with culture and color culminating at traditional markets. On any side of it, the views and winds are sweeping, standing a top the various ruins that served as tambos, or checkpoints, along the Inca’s many trails.
At its base the valley is lush with nature; flowers, fruits, birds and more that flourish in the friendly atmosphere, rich with oxygen the surrounding heights lack. The setting is calm like a vast garden, with towns along the river flowing through the valley.
We stayed in Urubamba, and ventured one morning to a nearby village overlooking the valley. At the end of the winding dirt road, the village school welcomed us to their local 4th grade class, where the children sang songs in Quechua and Spanish for us. We taught them some words in English, and they were shy and curious all at once, warming up quickly to people that seemed as exotic to them as they to us. Our guide brought them coloring books, crayons, and rulers, but we were sad to learn that it was antibiotics they really needed, as many of the children in the village suffered malnutrition from a stomach bacteria they only recently learned they had, making them much smaller than the average eight to ten year olds.
Machu Picchu is one of those fabled destinations we all hope to make it to someday. It’s a place reachable only by train, following along the river from the Sacred Valley descending north east into the mountains along the historic Inca Trail. Following these tracks, the foreign becomes exotic, as the nature tamed by agriculture in the valley becomes wild, overgrown, and ever more diverse into the jungle.
Vacation here starts to feel like an odyssey, overwhelmed by a feeling of exploration and discovery. One can imagine the excitement Hiram Bingham must have felt, stumbling upon the glorious ruin of Machu Picchu in the early 1900’s. Strategically positioned in the ‘cloud forest’ by the Incas at an intersection of the empire, it was abandoned centuries earlier for reasons unknown, shrouded in secrecy by the nature that overgrew it, protecting it from demise by the approaching Spanish.
I’ve written here before about how much I love trains, how they’re one of the most inspiring places to think and write. I had always dreamed of taking a journey on one of the Orient Express ones and experiencing the ceremony of luxurious and stylish train travel that doesn’t exist much anymore. It was everything I dreamed of, enjoying a different kind of Thanksgiving dinner here, complete with pisco sours and a Peruvian band, amidst plenty of quiet time to just sit back and enjoy the view as we cut through twilight, emerging from the high jungle of Machu Picchu and returning to Cuzco to fly to Lima for the last leg of our journey.
Our time in Lima was brief, but I was happy to be able to see the different side of the capital. We visited the beautiful cathedral named after Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish explorer and conquerer whose days were ended by assassination, organized by his ‘friends’ no less in their bid to obtain his power. His body was hidden in this cathedral, and discovered only many years later and placed in his tomb. Not before he had the chance to have children with Inca nobility however, marrying the sister of the very Inca king he killed, a strange man indeed. The architecture of the church and many of the historical buildings in the city is a strange combination of adobe and bamboo, flexible for earthquakes and allowing them to still stand today. After a day here ending with an amazing Amazonian dinner at Āmaz, we bid farewell to Peru for this time.
Beautiful photos! I would like to go to Peru one day.. I am half from Ecuador and I’ve been there plenty of times but never to Peru. I would love to visit Machu Piccu 😀
I recommend it Leah! How cool to be multinational. One of my good guys friends is from Ecuador and his family is in the US, I have been to there house to eat Ecuadorian food and it’s delicious!
Your trip to Peru looks like it was incredibly life-changing! So many amazing photos, woud love to visit one day.
It was really special Nicole! The people there are really wonderful and it was such a pleasure to discover it. Covetting the chanel polish BTW that you just posted about!
Beautiful photographs, they are so dreamy but exotic. I love the way you write also, perfectly translates the photos into real meanings!
Thank you so much Ella! That really means a lot to me that you appreciate and take in both. For me it’s about the pairing of the two and if you can take the in feeling of the place through both that’s exactly what I hope to share! So nice to hear from you here. BIG HUGS
OMG… love the pictures and colours are so vibrant. I can se that you had great time with your family. Seeing your pictures made me want to go to Peru. Thank you for sharing this lovely pictures.
It was great Nathalie, so happy you like the photos. Peru is such a colorful country, with so much to offer. I definitely recommend it!
These photos are absolutely gorgeous and it is so amazing to see a country that I have wanted to see for such a long time through your beautiful words and photographs.
Girl your photos are breathtaking!!! Must work harder on my own photography…. And also visit Peru at the next opportunity.
Thanks Freya! There are a lot of photographers on the web that I look at that push me to try harder with my own photos and do more things. Always great to find those motivators, happy I could offer some inspiration to you here. Your photos and stories on your blog are already GORGEOUS.
Amazing!!! Your photos are incredible and capture the aura of Peru!
Thank you Casey! Your UK isles post just wowed me too! XOXO
These pictures are beautiful!
Thanks so much Asia! Always happy to hear that from other photographers like you 🙂
My love. You are a treasure and these photos are a wondrous reflection of who you are. <3
You are sweetness little darlin. Missing you and want to go get your signature burger with you in LA soon!
Yes let’s!!! When are you back in town?
Wow, what amazing photos. Looks like an incredible trip! Such a great combination of personal photos, landscapes and portraits. Something I can strive for in my own trip photos!
PS. those baby llamas are so cute! Also, I’m looking to invest in a new camera and I would love to know what you use!
I know! I love al pacas and llamas…they are the cutest! So glad you liked the mix of photos. I use a Canon 5D and a Canon 7D with various lens bust mostly 50mm with aperature between 1.2 and 1.8. I recommend a Canon Rebel XTI with a 50MM 1.8 lens to start. You can take professional quality photos on it and its a nice affordable but quality kit to start with. 🙂
Wonderful – wonderful – great fotos 🙂 <3
Thank you Helga! <3
Incredibly beautiful pictures of Peru. I went there for my honeymoon exactly 1 year ago and I miss it so. Thanks for bringing back the memories.
Beautiful post, writing and photos! Once again, I would love to travel everywhere, it’s incredible how much beauty there is in a place, and how many memories you can have right after the trip is over and also how much you can learn from there. I’ve always been inspired by all of the indigenous people, they’re part of Peru, and it’s good to know about the culture of Peru and their culture itself, like see it from their point of view, know what is their day to day like for example. Have a small talk to them. When I think about traveling, I don’t think about going to the capital of X place, I think about going outside the city, go on a road trip and just enjoy the nature and meet the people who live there, to me that says a lot more than just a place with lots of buildings, people in a hurry to go to work, it’s like the same routine just in a different place, perhaps, it’s my way of thinking I don’t know, but of course would love to go there, too. Happy you interacted with the kids. Plus, I would love to get on that train, I can imagine myself being there and I can even imagine people whispering. (Added to my bucket list already) also it’s incredible how these people you don’t know but meet throughout your stay make it more enjoyable telling you stories and being kind and friendly at the same time and just a smile from them can make us so happy and feel like we’re at home. Definitely, this is one of my favorite travel posts! XO
Amazing post doll, I love these places, so full of beauty!! Travelling really opens up our eyes to so many things we never thought!! Peru is a favourite of mine!! Am glad you got to go and enjoyed yourself…beautiful outfits too xx
What a beautiful post. Really inspiring and I want to visit Peru now, even though it has not been on my bucket lsit so far.
Beautiful pictures!! xx
Beautiful, I’ve been waiting to see where your trip took you. Sometime in my lifetime, I would love to make my way to South America.
UTTERLY beautiful photographs!!
Wow these photos are just so indulgent! Lovely outfits too and I am in love with your hair! x
Sounds like such a magical trip. Gorgeous photography! I remember 2 summers ago in Bali, I was snorkeling with my dad, I was pretty scared at first, and then a school of silver fish started encircling us, swarming around. It was one of those moments where photography couldn’t capture it anyways, and my mind just clicked a mental picture.
Question: the picture with the table and all the tins filled with colorful powders, what are they??
Hi Kim, those are synthetic and natural dyes produced by the local women and used to dye fabrics and yarn they weave with. 🙂
Pure magic. All the colors, the baby lambs, the views…. This post certainly has me dreaming. Hope all of your dreams came true on this trip.
In a word: wow! I would love to go to Peru one day and your beautiful photos have only fuelled that wish 🙂 Looks like you had a wonderful time xx
Beautiful, amazing, majestic pictures Haleigh! greetings from Matera! xo
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Beautiful !!!! Thank you and Thank your Dad from all who get to view your lovely pictures .
Questi scatti sono strepitosi, così colorati, così belli. Adoro ogni tuo outfit. Bacio Marcella
What a stunning post. Peru looks like such a beautiful place: you are such a lucky girl! xx
Amazing and inspiring. Thanks for sharing. Greetings from Poland.
Very beautiful Peru Photos! I’ve been there as well in March and just loved it – if you want to check out my pictures as well: http://www.travel-photographs.net/peru-photos/
Hey Hans! Your photos are spectacular! Totally breathtaking and I always like seeing how different people saw the same place in unique ways. Thanks a million for sharing. I’m gonna head over and check out your Thailand ones too. All the best!
Thank you very much Haleigh! I really like your Peru Photos as well – they’re way more emotional than mine. Oh, and the person in the picture looks better as well than me 😀 Cheers from Germany!
PS: Would you be interested in exchanging links? I think we have a similar audience 🙂
[…] (more stunning images and Haleigh’s story about her adventure at Making Magique) […]
Your photos are so amazing, you do make everything seem magical!
Peru has never been on my ‘bucket list’ but perhaps it should be! Haleigh, you have so many artistic talents – but travel photography is high up on my list for you! You capture the regions with personal feelings, attitudes and those of the indigenous people and architecture as well. The Orient Express is definitely on my ‘list’, however, -who knew- I could take it to Machu Picchu?
tech issue: I have trouble getting my computer to stay on your photo texts! What can I do to read them more easily? PLEASE ADVISE.
Merci for your gorgeous travel blog!
[…] Making Magique shares her stories and photos from Peru […]
Haleigh, I’ve been following your blog since 2010 and by far this one is the best.
“To be a traveler with a camera is to have it all, to be present in a moment that will never come again, and yet somehow keep it forever.” So profound, so eloquent. Thank you for sharing that beautiful moment in time with us. 🙂
Glad to see you are following your heart once again.
Thanks so much Elissa. It’s always been a pleasure to have you as a reader here and talk with you on the facebook page and beyond. I hope you are having some adventures of your own as of late. BIG HUGS
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hi there! your pics are awesome. i’ve also been to peru (last year in december) and it was a dream. once again, amazing pics. x from paris!
Thanks Christelle! Glad to hear that you too shared this wonderful travel experience. Glad you could relive it a bit here with the photos. BISOUS!
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I feel so inspired reading about your adventure and seeing our stunning photography. I share your love of trains and the Orient Express is on my bucket list oo. Thanks for this noire post – I feel like I went with you!
Let me translate my response that was edited by autocorrect without me realising it! *your stunning photography (!) *list too. *noire…? I think that just got put in there. Auto correct on a 1st gen ipad is clearly not the way to go. XX!
hey Haleigh! 🙂 i just stumbled upon your blog and I immediately fell in love with it! i really love these pictures from Peru and I really hope that one day I can visit these places myself as well 🙂 xx
My question is, what are you going to contribute to the Peruvian people who you claim to love so dearly? You have used these images of your luxurious accommodation, designer clothes and post-production edited photos of the poor ‘natives’ to indulge your photography hobby and develop your online profile.
But what benefit do the human beings you present as exotic objects of interest in these images receive? What is with rich western ‘travellers’ who photograph poor people as though they are decorations? Lordy me..
Actually Fran, you will be happy to know all of the locals I photographed are indeed individuals that hang out around tourists areas dressed up in traditional clothing most local people no longer wear so that people like me will give them money to take their photograph. They charge about 10$ a piece, which is a lot more than I make for one photograph so they are opportunists posing for such photos making a good local living off of “rich” tourists like me coming to visit and going and feeding and housing themselves with out, true entrepreneurs! They present themselves to be photographed. I never photograph any people that do not agree, and in fact in Peru if you ever actually visited you would realize how many are provoking it for personal gain. Oh, and you criticize me for visiting Peru in general? Not sure what that is about, in fact tourism is Peru’s fastest growing industry and HUGELY important to their economic progress in the last decade which actually has them “classified as upper middle income by the World Bank” and not a “poor” country (perhaps you yourself are an ignorant first world rich person who assumed because people are on South America they are poor?). Tourism creates jobs all over Peru, funds the preservation of their monuments, encourages the spread of the culture, history, language, stimulates their entire economy. If you have a tooth to pick with “white people” like me then go pick it somewhere else. I’m an educated respectable individual who makes an effort to travel and learn about real culture in a curious and gracious way, and go forth and share it in a positive way for other people to know about and appreciate themselves as shown with this article I thoughtfully created, maybe even go there themselves and poor more money into Peru’s economy. Not that I ever even said I “love so dearly” the Peruvians even. Perhaps I don’t feel the need to be self righteous like you and brag about charitable deeds but since you seem so distraught you would be happy to know that a whole village of children in the Andes antibiotics were paid for by me and my family when we went to visit and their class so they could marvel at us like “exotic decorations” and learned that they were suffering from malnutrition because of a bacteria they all contracted. At least now you know, but I’m glad I don’t feel so high and mighty as you to need to advertise such deeds in a blog post. Please never come back to this blog. You are nothing but an ignorant self righteous troll moonlighting as a do gooder.
Stunning photos|!!! and so colorful!
definitely on my bucketlist!1
kisses from Greece
Ceea ce see stie despre Acai Verde este ceeaa cce nne spune prospectul si anume
ca este un adaus nutriti conceput special pentru a fi folosit in dietele de slabit deoarece te ajuta sa slabesti natural si sanatos fara sa te infometezi.Pe langa faptul caa
arde grasimile si nne ajuta sa slabim, Acai Verde este recomandat si
persoanelor care vor sa-si regleze trzctul intestinal si care vor
sa-si accelereze metabolismul poces care iar ne ajuta sa slabim-, dar si penrre cele care vorr sa aiba un sistem cardio-vascular in stare buna de functionare.
De la aparitia Acai verde in Romania tot mai multe intrebari si rapunsuri apar pe Acai verde forum.
Astfel iin articolul de fata va vom aduce la cunoastinta unele dintre aceste intrebari despre Acai verde si raspunsurile lor.
Beautiful photos! I was wondering which tour guide you have used and if you can provide me with the website/link? I am planning to go in January.. Hope the weather is beautiful then too!
What’s up, constantly i used to check web site posts here in the early hours in the morning,
as i enjoy to learn more and more.
You’re very pretty Haleigh 🙂
Congrats on so many followers and FABULOUS photos.
I just got back from Peru, thought you might like this well written, short write-up about Cusco- the Gateway to Machu Picchu
Cheers, I enjoyed your stuff. Just sharing
[…] Peru Travel Diary (via Making Magique) is getting me excited for our upcoming honeymoon. Guys I just wanna cuddle a […]
What a lovely job capturing the essence of Peru! I recently returned from Peru and am still soaking it all in! Thrilled to find photos from someone who adored the experience as much as I did. https://gustoandgrace.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/highlight-travel-guide-machu-picchu/