In 2016 I decided to take a gap year after finishing high school. Next to my drive for traveling and photography, it was necessary as well, as I want to study biology. Due to the fact that I am missing physics and chemistry I needed an extra year. So besides catching up with these school subjects, I worked in my favourite bar in Amsterdam as a barista to save up for South America this summer.
These subjects are shot over the course of a little less than 2 months, from Quito, Ecuador through Peru until La Paz, Bolivia. Although the trip was planned to last 2 months, unfortunately after 7 weeks I had to be “evacuated”, as my insurance company likes to call it, due to a dog bite. Accordingly I had to get an emergency injection, which was only available in Europe. Therefore. I only saw a minor part of Bolivia, Lago Titi Caca, which is located next to the border with Peru. However, South America’s wildlife, landscapes and people were stunning, mesmerizing and beautiful.
The subjects below represent the main regions of the trip. I tried to cover those subjects how I experienced them, while still making a nice photo to look at. Regrettably, due to the backpacking schedule, traveling light and by bus, we didn’t stay on one spot for longer than 4 nights and mostly 1 or 2 nights on average. Which is of course rather short if it comes to studying your subjects. Still, I tried to document these subjects to the best of my capabilities, regardless of the light, vivid sunsets or overcast rainy days. To create a pleasant photo series for the viewer to scroll through.
Life high in the Andes
From the area around Quito, Ecuador with its volcano Cotopaxi and further south in Peru around the city of Cusco and Arequipa. This photo series represents life higher than 3000 meters. From the famous Colca Canyon, which is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, to the lesser-known Cajas National Park near Cuenca. And around the city of Cusco, with its rich culture, street vending and copiousness amounts of small markets.
The Amazon Basin
This series is shot over 3 trips into the Amazon. Near the city of Puyo in Ecuador, where we stayed in a little lodge just 15 minutes by foot from a small jungle town called Canelos. In addition, we stayed in so called “Cloud Forest” for 2 nights, at the base of Manu National Park, which is called one of the most bio diverse places in the world. With target species like the Andean Cock of the Rock. After I saw Charlie Hamilton James’s TV series “I bought a rainforest” I couldn’t skip this part. I recommend watching that. After recharging our batteries for 1 night in Cusco, we immediately headed out the next day for Puerto Maldonado, the biggest town in the far southeast of Peru, and called “gateway to the jungle”. From here on we travelled for about an hour by bus and continued further by boat on the Madre Dios into Tambopata National Reserve, where we stayed 4 nights.
Paracas National Reserve and the city of Mancora are the only places where we stayed to lay on the beach, or at least my friend did. Paracas is named the place to photograph marine wildlife and mainly seabirds, which are largely concentrated at the water's edge in what is called the largest concentration of birds on earth, if we ought to believe Wikipedia.
The Salcantay Track
The classic Inca Trail is famed for the diversity of its topography and ecosystems; the Salcantay Track is Inca’s mean brother. Likewise called “The Gringo Killer” the track can be a pain in the ass. The 20,500-feet-high Mount Salcantay was one of the holiest peaks in the Inca religious pantheon. It’s still revered today in traditional Andean religion. We, our group of 10, were mule-assisted on this hike through the beautiful Mollepata Valley and past Salcantay Mountain at an altitude above 16,000 feet. From those chilly heights, we descended into subtropical cloud forest, back down until we reached the town of Aguas Calientes, which is base town to Machu Picchu. One usually closes the Salcantay track with Machu Picchu on the last day, which is, what we as tourists did as well. I wasn’t planning of including a photo of Machu Picchu in this series, solely if I managed to get a photo of Machu Picchu through the legs of an alpaca. Go to the Salcantay gallery below to see if I managed…