Ruins of Moray and Salineras de Mara
This is the third part of our story covering Damon Beckford’s amazing photography destinations in Peru. To get the full story circle back to part number one here!
After an amazing trip to see Machu Picchu our legs were seriously done after all the walking, and it was once again time to relax in Cusco for a few days and recover. As soon as we had the energy, we went on a day-trip to explore some of the gems in the Sacred Valley. This day didn’t require waking up super early or walking ridiculous distances, so it was perfect after the other hikes.
Our first stop was visiting the visually beautiful Inca ruins of Moray. These circular shaped terraces are thought to be an agricultural laboratory used by the Incas. The different levels of the terraces had their own microclimate so they would use this to test crops and to experiment with them. How smart is that? Maybe this is one of the reasons Peru has more than 2000 different varieties of potatoes? Well anyways, nowadays it’s just a tourists attraction.
Here the Pro Fisheye G4 was clearly the winner! You really need a super wide lens to be able to fit the entire terraces in a single photo. The Pro Fisheye does exactly this and that’s why it was my go to lens here. We thought the Inca ruins of Moray were super interesting and they make for some great photographs too! The only problem with the tour was that we didn’t have enough time to explore this place. I would recommend you to hire your own driver or take the taxi, so you can explore and photograph this place with as much time as you want.
From the Inca ruins of Moray we continued driving for half an hour to the nearby ancient salt mines, Salineras de Maras. This incredible place is made up of thousands of small pools on the side of the mountain used to dry the salt water. The people somehow realized that under the mountains here, lie huge amounts of super salty water and that they could harvest it by this technique. I tried the salt water and yes it was very salty! As it was still rainy season, the salt flats were not yet in the most photogenic stage, as the salt was just beginning to dry. Apparently, during the summer months, all the salt pools are dry and the whole area is completely white! Just a little tip if you’re planning to come here to get those epic shots.
My favorite lens to use here was the Cinema lens. But if you hike up on the road, it’s possible to get some pretty epic shots looking down at the mines and there you’ll definitely need the Tele lens!
By now it was time for us to move on and go explore some of the other regions in Peru. We took a 17-hour long night bus on the extremely winding roads through the Andes mountains. Our destination was Huacachina, a desert oasis near the coast in Southern Peru. I remember seeing photos of Huacachina, and thinking how cool that place is, so why not go there! It was also time to get to lower elevations and to warmer climates. For the past 1,5 months we had been staying mostly over 3000 meters and I can tell you it’s not that warm up there.
Once we arrived in Huacachina, the hot and dry air sure felt good. We relaxed a few hours during the midday heat and then left to watch the sunset on top of the massive sand dune just on the side of the oasis. It took us about half an hour to climb on top of this sand mountain, but the views from the top were mind-blowing! The Huacachina oasis really is a beautiful destination and it’s no wonder it’s becoming very popular with tourists. It’s also possible to rent a snowboard and ride down the sand dunes after watching the sunset!
I chose to go on a dune buggy tour and take a board with me, so I didn’t have to walk on top of the dunes. It’s actually very hard work if you’ve never tried climbing up a sand dune before. Otherwise, there’s not much else to do in this place rather than relaxing and enjoying the sun in the hostel pool. I climbed the sand dune to watch the sunrise too, which was even better than the sunset. There were only a few other people watching the sun come up. It was way more peaceful. Photographing here, I used all of the lenses and they all came in very handy to get different types of shots of the oasis. Just be careful not to drop anything in the sand, because it will be lost very easily!
After just a few weeks in Peru and seeing so many epic locations, it really is a travel photographers dream country to photograph! And this was just the South of Peru. I can’t wait to see what else this country has to offer as we keep on going up north! Hasta Luego!