Speededit Machu Picchu
In 2003 I read a book (The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield) and this book somehow planted a seed in me. This seed grew into a deep wish to visit Machu Picchu once in my life. I had no idea if, when and how I was going to get there but I had faith.
Eight years later my dream came true and I spent 3 weeks backpacking through Peru with a good friend. Visiting Machu Picchu for me was the climax of the whole trip although the rest was a wonderful experience as well. As world culture heritage, Machu Picchu has been preserved and taken care of pretty well over the years although hundreds of thousands of people visit the site every year.
This is however not going to be an article about travel information, general facts or how to get there. In fact – I have recently seen this video by Mark Wallace who talks about his approach on how to shoot the site.
Seeing him standing there on the plaza of Cusco and talking about his experiences brought back so many beautiful memories. I remember standing in that same spot several times…in front of the cathedral and just looking at what was happening around me, breathing in the air and enjoying the moment.
I have to add that that dream I once had became not only reality once…but twice. I re-visited Cusco and Machu Picchu 3 years later because the experience has had such a huge impact on me. And believe it or not – if I ever have the chance, I will go there again! Anyhow – the first time was long before I had taken photography serious. I had a simple but decent point and shoot camera on me during the trip to Peru. I must say – it was much easier that way because the hike up to Machu Picchu is quite challenging – especially when you have a lot of gear to carry around. But for the first time it was perfect. We could enjoy the site in all its splendor and peacefulness although it was raining first.
Two years later I wanted to document my visit properly and I brought everything I needed…lenses, camera, tripod, raincovers, a rainjacket and clothes to change. The weather turned out to be much better than the first time and so the hike up was exhausting but no way near as wet as the first time. We made it up the Inka trail from Aguas Calientes in 1.15 min (it’s nearly 7 kilometers straight up stone steps) in the morning at around 5 am.
From my first visit, I exactly new where the best spot in the ancient town is and what vista I wanted to capture: The whole city seen from above while the sun rises and the fog clears. Luckily at that time, there’s only little visitors at Machu Picchu and when we got up it started raining again…but that was ok. I was where I needed to be, there was a little shelter to stand under and I had food and dry clothes with me. Now I only had to wait. Wait for the sun to fully rise, for the air to warm up, the rain to stop and the fog to clear. I waited for 2.5 hours literally not being able to see anything. I didn’t even know if my camera was pointing the right direction. In fact – I shot a timelapse during these 2.5 hours and I had to adjust the direction towards the end of the timelapse. You can see the video here.
After the sun had cleared the fog, I started shooting panoramas. I wanted to capture the whole scenery because it’s just not from this world. The city being on top of a mountain with the Urubamba river flowing around it in the valley and the huge mountains covered by rain forest in the background is simply breathtaking.
I have traveled a lot and I have definitely seen places…but this one will stay in my mind forever and I am truly grateful that I had the chance to visit this very magical place on earth…twice. If you should think about visiting Machu Picchu, don’t think twice. It is definitely one of the things everyone should have on their bucket-list.
All this remembering made me go back to my photos and bathe in memories. One of the shots I took in Peru was this amazing Panorama of Machu Picchu and since it has been sometime since I edited it, I wanted to see how it would turn out, if I edited it today…with my current skills and taste.