A journey full of breath-taking landscapes, cultural discoveries, and ethnic encounters, this trip to the heart of the Andes is sure to inspire any photographer. During this 9 night/ 10 day trip our native Ecuadoran guide will take us 4 distinct provinces of Ecuador, 4 cities, and three small Andean communities (traditional farmers and artisans). We will photograph historic haciendas, indigenous Andean communities, the highland moorlands of Cotopaxi National Park, Incan ruins, and stunning colonial architecture.
Our workshop begins in Quito, once the capital of the Incan Empire. A South American treasure, the ancient churches, convents, chapels and monasteries are steeped in legend. Quito's ancient and bustling Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its maze of narrow cobbled streets and wide open Plaza San Francisco are the perfect location for street shooting. Landscape shooters will be thrilled as we travel to over 4100m elevation on the TeleferiQO for a spectacular view of Quito and the surrounding Andean valley and volcanic peaks.
A trip down the famous “Avenue of the Volcanoes” reveals snow-capped peaks and emerald-green crater lakes. We will visit the stunning Cotopaxi National Park, which surrounds the magnificent Cotopaxi Volcano, for an up-close view of the Andean paramo habitat and its unique flora and fauna; We will photograph colorful indigenous communities who continue the centuries-old traditions of their ancestors and take portraits of local artisans at outdoor markets.
This is a photography workshop but non-photographer spouses, partners, and friends are welcome (in fact, whether a photographer or not, the second attendee receives a $250 discount). With a limit of eight people, you will have virtually unlimited personalized attention. And remember, from tips to your National Park fees, everything is included so you don't have to worry about anything but creating memorable images. Click the "Sign Me Up" link or email email@example.com!
scroll down for itinerary
- Double occupancy lodging for nine nights in Ecuador. Single rooms available for an additional fee.
- All meals for the duration of the workshop.
- All ground transportation during workshop.
- All gratuities.
- All National and Provincial Park Fees.
- Photographic instruction from two pros including location-specific assignments.
- Image critiques and post-processing tips
does not INCLUDE
- International flights to/from Quito, Ecuador.
- Passport and Visa fees
- Travel medical and evacuation insurance (required)
- Trip cancellation insurance (optional)
- Anything of a personal nature
- Things not explicitly listed as included
One of our instructors will meet you at the airport and transport you to our hotel in Quito, Ecuador's beautiful capital. Founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Incan settlement, this unique city sits high in the Andes at an altitude of 2,850 meters. We will have a welcome dinner and our discuss first assignment.
We will begin the day in Quito's Old Town, the best-preserved historic centre in Latin America. The principal attractions are churches, monasteries and convents dating from the early days of the colony and we help you bring these architectural wonders to life. The monasteries of San Francisco and Santo Domingo, and the Church and Jesuit College of La Compañía, with their rich interiors, are pure examples of the 'Baroque school of Quito', which is a fusion of Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous art. In the afternoon we will focus on street shooting in Guapulois, a bohemian neighborhood that, due to its location on the the slopes of the Machángara gorge river, is isolated from the rest of the city. With a little luck we will be able to photograph the expansive valley below us with a touch of evening fog, making a picturesque scene even more magical.
For more ethereal landscapes, we will spend much of this day at the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve. “Pululahua” is a Quichua word that means “cloud of water” and in the afternoon those clouds descend on the three lava domes of the Pululahua Volcano. Surrounding the central lave dome called Pondoña are multiple agricultural terraces that have been producing the local crop for more than five hundred years. In addition to these stunning landscapes, we will have the opportunity to photograph the 2900 endemic flowers that inspired the Ecuadoran government to make this region the first national park in South America in 1966.
On days three and four, we will move our base to the city of Otavalo, home to one of the largest outdoor markets in Latin America. Known locally as the Plaza de los Ponchos, this colorful Indigenous market takes place everyday and features some of the finest woven products in South America, as well as lots of handmade textile, ceramic, wood, silver, leather, and metal products. If you can pull yourself away from the shopping, the scene offers endless photographic opportunities for street shooting and portraits. In the afternoon we will photograph the ruins of Cochasquí, the most extensive and most important complex of Pre-Columbian and pre-Inca Empire ruins in Ecuador. Built of a volcanic material called Cangahua, these pyramids are thought to be important astronomical observatory for the culture Quitu-Cara. Looming above, the Mojanda volcano makes an impressive backdrop.
The Mojanda Lagoons will be our first location this morning. This other-worldly landscape offers three turquoise lakes set like gemstones into the hills. Nearby, the sacred Peguche waterfall will give us the opportunity to experiment with various techniques for capturing moving water. In the afternoon we will visit Condor Park, a rehabilitative sanctuary for birds. With the surrounding volcanoes as a backdrop, you will be able to make portraits of Andean condors, eagles, hawks and falcons, or capture the birds in flight during the flying demonstrations. We will end the day with a sunset photo opportunity at one of the most picturesque locations in the Ecuador, árbol sagrado del Lechero. This sacred tree is part of local mythology, believed to house the soul of a cursed lover.
Back in Quito, we will take take an early morning gondola ride on the TelefériQo Cruz Loma up the side of the Pichincha volcano, getting a spectacular view of the whole city of Quito. It is one of the highest aerial lifts in the world, rising from 3,117 m (10,226 ft) to 3,945 m (12,943 ft). If the weather is good we will be treated to views of some of the highest peaks in the world: Cayambe, Antisana, Cotopaxi, Pasochoa, Rumiñahui. Depending on fitness levels and reactions to the altitude, we will spend the day hiking and photographing around Ruku Pichincha.
In Cotopaxi province, Quilotoa is one of the Andes’ gems. This emerald-colored lake sits inside a volcano crater and we will walk inside the crater and photograph the jagged ridge of the caldera surrounding the water. At 3800m, the lake is also a host to surrounding indigenous communities who have farmed in the region for centuries. Depending on the day, we will visit either the Saquisilí or Pujilí indigenous markets so you can appreciate the contrast between these and those of the Imbabura province (Otavalo), or visit the community of Tigua, famous for its colorful paintings that show scenes of local life.
For days six and seven we will be staying at Hacienda El Porvenir, a 3000-hectare, family-owned hacienda rich in history and representative of the Chagra (Ecuadorian cowboy) culture. El Porvenir has been in the same family for 7 generations, and was the first hacienda in Ecuador to raise fighting bulls. The hacienda also produces potatoes, lima beans, quinoa, and other crops that grow at altitudes over 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), all with a backdrop of the spectacular scenery Cotopaxi National Park and of the highest active volcano in the world at 5,897 meters (19,347 feet). Needless to say, whether it is landscapes or documenting Chagra culture, we will have plenty unique photographic opportunities in Cotopaxi.
Our last full day brings us to Papallacta in the Napo province. In the morning we will make our way photographing along the scenic drive from Cotopaxi to Papallacta which passes through several towns and small villages before ascending to a peak of over 4,000 m, from where mountains and glaciers are visible. Descending from the peak to Papallacta, the ecosystems transform from alpine to tropical jungle. Once in town, you will put your cameras away and indulge in the Termas Papallacta, (hotsprings that originate at the juncture of the Cayambe Volcano and Antisana Volcano) as your instructors prepare for our goodby dinner and final slideshow.
After a final breakfast, we will bring participants back to Quito and hotels of their choosing or the airport.