Peru....

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by BradS, Feb 10, 2009.

  1. BradS

    BradS Member

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    I'll be visiting Peru for two and a half weeks. I'll be travelling with asmall group of people who all know each other but, none of whom I've ever met (except one). They're all...eh, how shall I say..."very thrifty" so, we'll be travelling by bus once we get there.

    We'll be working in a small village near Ica the first week but, this time, we'll actually get a week to do some sight seeing. (They went last year and only stayed for a week of work and didn't do any touring). The second week, we'll be visiting Arequipa, Cusco, and Lima for two or three days each. We'll take a day to see Machu-Picchu of course and the usual Cathedrals, etc...

    What else? Anything special in any of these three cities I should definitely make an effort to see? or to avoid?



    I'm vascillating (as usuall) between taking the Nikons and a handful of lenses or the Crown Graphic and a couple hands full of film holders. Leaning toward the Crown Graphic today...Nikons would be color print film. Crown would be Tri-X 320TXP. (discuss.) :smile:
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Beware thieves, Peru has tourist Police to help protect tourists but you need to be very vigilant. Very friendly people, beware altitude sicness in Cusco, see what your doctor can help with before you go. Film is hard to find.

    Ian
     
  3. BradS

    BradS Member

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    Thanks Ian. I keep hearing warnings about thieves and petty street crime...is it really that bad? Is it any worse than, say, Quito, Ecuador? Or Rome? (or, Los Angeles for that matter?) Or, is it kinda the same? I've travelled a bit and even lived on the street for a while myself...so, I'm not usually a victim of the usual stuff that happens in the big dirty city...but keep getting warned about Peru and Lima in particular...just don't know what to think.
     
  4. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Ica is near the Nazca lines (remember Chariot of the Gods?) and they are well worth seeing, but best from the air. From Ica you can bus to Arequipa (The White City) which is arguably the most beautiful city in Peru. The volcano "Misty" is visible from Arequipa. From Arequipa you can bus to Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. There is a floating village there that the tourist boats will take you to. (There are some gift stores selling small statues, most of them pornographic, which unfortunately my 13 year old daughter discovered). There is a train running between Puno and Cuzco and I highly recommend the trip. It's high up in the Andes and passes through beautiful countryside and small villages. Cuzco has some other Inca or Pre-inca sites besides Machu Pichu (which alone is worth the trip) that are well worth visiting. Lima is a nice city. The Plaza Central (lots of photo ops there) and the Gold Museum are not to be missed, but there are many things to do and see. Miraflores, where I used to live, is a suburb of Lima with some very nice restaurants. The buildings in downtown Lima and other old parts have some fantastic balconies worth a few pics.
    Ian is right about the thieves, but if you're careful you won't be bothered. I lived there for two years, and only once did someone try to rob me. Tried to take my wristwatch. Don't wear jewelery and keep your wallet and passport in your front pocket, not the back.
    There are a lot of nice "pensiones" in Lima, sort of bed and breakfasts, and I recommend them.
    Ian is also right about the altitude sickness ("seroche"), but it doesn't affect everyone the same. Smokers seem to deal with it better than non-smokers, probably because their lungs are used to a lack of oxygen. You can get pills for it, but I think they're mostly sugar. The natives chew coca leaves, so coca tea might help (no more of a hit than our tea, legal and available everywhere). Mainly don't exert yourself too much if the altitude starts to bother you.
    If you want to see the Amazon, you can take a bus to Pucallpa, a days drive from Lima, longer on the bus. However it's a great trip across the Andes.
    Take a Spanish phrase dictionary and learn how to pronounce the words before you go. Spanish is very phonetic - if you see it written you can pronounce it, once you learn the simple rules. Don't drink the water (the beer is good, but watch out for the Pisco, the local white lightening). Have a Pisco Sour though, it's the national drink.
    It's been 10 years since I last visited, and I'd love to go back. Have fun!
     
  5. BradS

    BradS Member

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    Thanks JohnnyWalker.

    We're staying in Miraflores a couple of days at the front end of the trip and possibly on the way out too. I'll be looking for a good breakfast restaurant....I like good coffee in the morning...not that freeze dried stuff. :smile: Any recommendations?

    The train from Puno to Cusco sounds wonderful. Right now, the itenerary shows us taking a bus from Arequipa to Cusco...I'll ask how firm that part of the plan is.

    I speak a little street spanish and have been to ecuador a couple of times. So, I completely understand what you mean about "learn some spanish".
     
  6. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    The "instant" coffee I remember from Peru was a very thick liquid served in a small jug. You got a jug of hot water at the same time, and you mixed the two to your liking. Don't do what I did the first time and drink the thick stuff - you'll be wired all day long. I don't know the origin of the thick stuff, but I preferred to think it was brewed.
    Sorry, I don't remember the names of the pensiones, but a google search might work. I don't think you could go wrong with any of the pensiones in Miraflores, as it's kind of a high end district.
    The centre of Miraflores is on Avenida Arequipa and a great place to have ice cream, cakes, meals, a beer, or just hang out.
    The trains are scenic and relaxing. The buses are scenic but far from relaxing! Seriously, the train trip is just great. I took my kids on it when they visited me there and they still remember it.
     
  7. KenR

    KenR Member

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    Peru hiking

    We did some of the Inca trail and used Cuzco as our base for day trips. I never felt unsafe walking in town or in the environs. I used a Bessa R4 with a couple of lenses, as I wanted something relatively small and unobtrusive. No matter what you do, you look like a tourist and stand out in a crowd. Most of the people I was with had digital p&s cameras, only one fellow had a big Nikon slr (with only a single zoom) and even he didn't feel that he was being targeted.
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I should add we didn't feel unsafe, or rather I didn't :D But we had been staying with a senior diplomat in Chile who handled visa's etc for Peru her Embassy and she had first hand experience of dealing with the aftermath of street robberies etc. Unofficial taxis are particularly unsafe in Lima.

    Ian
     
  9. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Times and places sure change. When I lived there 25 years ago the Shining Path guerrillas were very active and there were army and police armed with machine guns on every corner in Lima. But not much crime, at least not violent crime. Between the guerrillas and the coca trade, traveling in some areas in the countryside could be very dangerous. Lima and the bigger cities like Arequipa were pretty safe (not to say you didn't have to exercise reasonable caution), although the Shining Path did set off the odd bomb (mostly in front of police stations) just to let everyone know they were there. As in most big cities, some parts of town had more crime than others.
    Most of my work was in the Amazon basin. No Shining Path, but you did have to stay off the Amazon river at night, as thats when the drug boats made their runs to Columbia. All of the taxis in Lima were "unofficial" but safe.
    I went back for a month about 10 years ago. The Shining Path was pretty much defeated and the machine guns and the army had disappeared from the streets of Lima and the country looked more prosperous, even in the neglected Amazon area. I would have stayed longer just to get the feel of the place again, but my client didn't travel well and I had to take him home.
    I'd love to go back some day, but it probably won't happen. In any case, I'll be anxious to hear your impression of the country when you get back. Of all the countries I've worked in, Peru ranks right at the top of my favourites.
     
  10. arigram

    arigram Member

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    My brother stayed a month in Peru in September.
    He told me that he was very aware of thieves and had a general concern about crime, especially since he stayed with a family in one of the not so great parts of Lima. He also found that often people wouldn't want to be photographed and a couple even became somewhat aggressive.
    But, in general, he had a great time, he found the people friendly and interesting and he explored many fascinated places. I have successfully instilled the film-is-superior propaganda into him and so he brought many beautiful negatives with a Nikon F90X.
     
  11. Peter Markowski

    Peter Markowski Member

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    When I was there in December of 2004, I traveled with a Leica M6 and a Hasselblad, no problems.

    I did the Inca trail from Cuzco to Machu Picchu with a group and had porters. With such a short time there, and the altitude that I would be going into the pass, I could not manage the camera gear and backpack and have enough strength to keep my head up to enjoy the area or think creatively. In retrospect I had a standard lens for the Blad and 35mm for the Leica and I found that the landscapes could accommodate wide lenses easily. Very narrow valleys compared to the Canadian Rockies by far. You don't seem to have to reach for mountains (optically) there are very tight.

    I happened to be traveling with a stills photographer that did the store front ads for the GAP and Versace, and he had the latest wizzbang digital camera. To his dismay the mositure and/or altitude made his battery life fail rapidly. He did not have enough power for the end of the trail. I'm not sure if this problem has been rectified with the camera or it is inherent with these conditions (to be honest I did not care..its film nothing), his last words on the trail to me was "damn you and your negatives". I had no problems with my meters.

    When photographing locals I shoot with a smile and a pocket full of change. One or both offer opportunities take images.

    If you can hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu I would encourage it. Lots of interesting historic sites along the way..and most importantly to me was the last train to Cuzco departs before the park closes. Therefore most of the clumps of tourists in your wide shoots are gone, and your are more likely to get the site clean.

    Good Luck. Have Fun! Try the Inca Cola

    Peter
     

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  12. thefizz

    thefizz Subscriber

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    I loved my trip to Peru when I travelled there with a friend in 2004. The people are very friendly and helpful. I found Miraflores (& the centre of Lima) to be safe, I experienced no problems. There is a nightly market in the square in Miraflores where artists sell their paintings etc. This is worth seeing as the paintings are stunningly beautiful. There are also people selling other crafts and antiques. I even saw a few old folding cameras that a guy was selling.

    Allow a few days for Cusco and its surrounding areas which are full of old ruins etc. There is lots to see in the Sacred Valley. We rented a taxi for a half day trip to see sites such as Ollantaytambo.

    We spent two half days in Machu Picchu. First day we got the bus from the nearby town of Agues Caliantes and entered the site in the afternoon and we were the last people to leave after the sun had set. We walked the 8km back to Aguas Caliantes with only the stars to light our way. Next morning we were the first in before the sun came over the mountains and lit up the site, stunning.

    Climb all or part of Huayna Picchu for an aerial view of the site. Another good but more difficult climb is the Machu Picchu mountain itself. Not a climb for the faint hearted though. Each climb takes about an hour.

    The town of Puno at lake Titicaca is not really worth staying in but the floating islands are worth seeing even if they are over commercialized. I was only passing through Puno so maybe there is more to see and do.

    I’d recommend you ask permission before photographing anyone. I never encountered any who objected although it usually meant handing over a few coins in return.

    Get yourself a copy of the Lonely Planet Peru guide book.

    I should be a great trip, enjoy.

    Peter
     
  13. Aurelien

    Aurelien Advertiser Member

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    We visited Peru in August and september of the year 2006.

    Clearly we did not notice any problem with people, except in the area between Nazca and Lima. A very unsecure area.

    But we made a trip lone between cuzco and arequipa, passing by puno, titicaca lake, canon de colca, macchu picchu... We had a great time.

    I was holding my Mamiya 7II , and my dynax 7 and never had any problem. On the contrary, the Mamiya 7II was intriguous for people, and hey asked me a lot to make portraits of them (you can see on my website).

    I made the choice to shoot only in black and white , and my M7II was charged with TXP320 in 220 rolls, or with the last rolls of PX125 in 220 too. I shot also a few BRF 100 with pleasure, and one Rollei pan 25 for Macchu Picchu.
    In 135, I chose mostly FP4+.
    Very happy with this trip.
     
  14. David Henderson

    David Henderson Member

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    Have a look at the Peru section of Jeffrey Becom's website www.jeffreybecom.com and note that in many cases he identifies the locations, and these will give a good indication of the villages around Cuzco in which you'll find good colourful architecture
     
  15. lcooper

    lcooper Member

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    I spent over a year in Peru and still did not get to see everything I wanted. Lonely Planet put out a great guide book, informative and fun to read. Conquest of the Incas by Hemmings is also a great read. Definatly take all the film you will use. Altitude sickness can get you down for 24 hours or so, more if you are not particularly healthy. Pulmonary or Cardiac conditions are exacerbated by the thin air. Take it easy, drink lots of coco tea and you should be okay. In a year I never had one thing stolen, but you need to be on alert, particularly in tourist towns like Cuzco.
    The people are kind and gracious, and the book I mentioned by Hemming will give you great insight the turmoil the county has been through, and how many are still very much affected by its recent history.
    Its a shame you don't have time to walk the Inca Trail, but then you need to save something for the next trip.
    Oh I see you are in Ica, a flight over the Nazca lines is essential.
    Enjoy
     
  16. BradS

    BradS Member

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    Thanks for all the feedback and suggestions folks! After reviewing some of Jeffrey Becom's photos...well, I was going to shoot B&W but, now, I see it would be terrible sin to not shoot some color also! Thanks for the link David.