Inca Trail Signpost

Hiking The Inca Trail

Words & Photography by Emily Ganey
Sacred Valley Day:

Thomas and I have both been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit – both together and independently. When we got married last year, we knew we wanted to go somewhere different, where neither of us had gone, for our honeymoon. Machu Picchu had always intrigued me, so it wiggled its way to the top of our list.

We flew into Cusco and our tour guide picked us up at 5:30 in the morning. They drove us to our hotel – Rumi Punku. The hotel staff made us tea and showed us to our rooms. Normally, I’m a “let’s explore as much of the city as possible” kind of girl, but after those flights and that altitude (over 11,000 feet), I just needed to rest. We eventually mustered up the energy to grab lunch at a local organic restaurant a few streets away. They fed us amazing, fresh food that was really delicious! That evening, we relaxed out on the terrace at our hotel.

One thing that struck me from that first day was all of the dogs roaming the streets. So many! Our tour guide said that they were pets, they weren’t just strays, but no one had enough room in their home to keep the dogs inside. The dogs would run in the street and get out of the way when they saw cars. I never saw one dog on a leash. It was so different!The next morning we got a private tour of the Sacred Valley through our tour group, Alpaca Expeditions. Our guide took us to numerous historic sites and explained the symbolism and meaning behind the masonry and the placement of buildings. We saw where the Incas farmed and where they buried those that had passed. They even had all of these secret animals carved into the mountains – frogs and llamas. We saw examples of how they would tell when it was summer solstice and how they would tell time.

Exploring the market was probably my favorite. I love seeing that kind of culture with my own eyes – especially when it was a real market where the locals were shopping – not just a tourist trap. I was so nervous to take photos of the people running the stalls. My heart was pounding through my chest. It is hard to be super stealthy with a gigantic camera!

That evening, we watched women dying wool and weaving runners. They were all wearing beautiful clothes that they had made themselves.

We watched the sun set over the fields that looked like patchwork quilts.

The Inca Trail: 

The tour group picked us up on a bus at 4 am, as promised. It was about a two hour ride to the trailhead. And I was terrified. I could feel my heart pounding whenever we slowed down, thinking we were almost there – and that this painful experience was going to start soon.

When we got to the trailhead, we all took a quintessential photo with the sign and we started walking. The first day was great. The trail was a dirt path. We were walking along a river. We started chatting with the other hikers – talking about work and other hiking vacations.

There were 16 of us on this journey. We ranged from 22 – 35. Most of us were Americans, but there were a few Europeans in the group. There were also porters there to help us carry 4 kg of contents (we had to carry anything beyond that). I was expecting maybe 1 porter to 2 hikers. No. There were 22 porters. They ranged from the age of 18 – 61. Sixty-one. Some of them wore broken rubber sandals. Their feet were cracked. They were so incredibly quick as they walked on the trail – hardly looking at the ground as they bounced along the ground. They carried more than 50 pounds on their back – their packs were as large as they were – easily the size of 4 golf bags. The porters would always beat us to our destination, and by the time we arrived, there was a dining tent set up and a meal was on the table. And I’m not talking about camp food. This was real food. Fish. Vegetables. Rice. Desserts.There was more food than could even fit on the tables. They even baked a birthday cake for one of the hikers (no idea how that is possible, but it happened). But seeing these porters broke my heart. It was so hard to sit in that tent, on stools that they had carried for us up these crazy mountains, and to have them setting up our sleeping tents, washing our dishes, and preparing our food. I know that being a porter is one of the best jobs you can have in that area of the world, but it hurts my heart.

The second day of the hike was the hardest. We woke at 4:30 am. I attempted to use dry shampoo for the first time in my life with no success. The clouds were thick, engulfing us and clouding our visibility. We went up hill for four hours that morning. Step after step, every breath was harder to breathe. We went downhill for two hours. We stopped for lunch, went up another two hours and then down another two. This second day, the terrain was so different than the first. We were officially on the original Inca trail. The ground was uneven. The stones were different shapes and sizes. They were slippery. The rain was coming down, and it was hard to see over my poncho. My knees were aching, but when I stopped, my legs just shook uncontrollably.

Most of the hike for the next two days blends together. Steep inclines and steeper declines. Ancient ruins. Llamas grazing. The conversation evolved from work and previous hiking trips to taxes and the oxford comma. Lord help us.

The last morning of our trip we woke up at 3:30 am. This was the day we were going to hike to Machu Picchu. I assumed we were starting that early to watch the sun rise over the 7th wonder of the modern world. Nope. We got up that early so we could be the first in line at the checkpoint that was about 5 minutes from our campsite. The checkpoint opens at 5:30. See, the last day is sort of a race. There are 200 other hikers all waiting to get past this final checkpoint and haul booty to the sun gate, where you can see Machu Picchu for the first time. Our tour group was the second in line, so we were lucky enough to snag benches to sit on. Finally, 5:30 rolled around and we were let through the gates. From there, the race was on. We hiked for an hour and a half at dawn through early morning fog. Trusting my feet to find the best rocks for placement for the first time this whole trip. It wasn’t that I needed to be the first to see Machu Picchu, but I wanted to see it before it was clouded over. The last obstacle was this huge staircase that is practically a straight vertical. You climb up it with your hands and your feet. They call these “the gringo killers.” Well, I’m pretty sure I’m a gringo, but at least the stairs didn’t kill me.

Peeking over the sun gate, I finally saw it. There was Machu Picchu. It took me a minute to realize what it was. We had another 45 minute haul down the mountain to really see it. As we got closer, it finally sunk in. These mountains are incredible. How did they get all of this stone here? What a truly beautiful place this was. 

Our tour group: https://www.alpacaexpeditions.com/


Film | Kodak Portra 400
Camera | Hasselblad 5x, 100mm 2.2
Lab | Richard Photo Lab

A bit about us: We are The Ganeys! Thomas and I are based out of St. Petersburg, FL, but we love to travel as often as we can. We keep a map above our bed, and put pins into cities to keep track of our travels! This was our first big international trip together, but we are anxiously awaiting our next trip to South Africa! As wedding photographers, one item on our bucket list is to shoot a wedding or an engagement session in every state.  I know we can do it!

Website: www.theganeys.com
Instagram:@theganeys
Facebook: www.facebook.com/theganeysphoto

UK Blog Awards 2016

UK Blog Awards 2016

UK Blog Awards 2016


Well! We can’t quite believe it. It has been just over a week since the UK Blog Awards Ceremony, at the Park Plaza Hotel, near Westminster in London – (a beautiful hotel!) – so this means it has been just over one week since we were awarded winner for the photography category.

We won guys!

Over 2,000 UK Blogs entered, over 79,000 people voted and then, after making it through all of that, 10 finalists per category were judged by a panel of experts. And we won!!

See, we’re still in shock!

And, we absolutely could not have done it without you. Obviously, since it is your stunning travel pictures we get the honour of sharing here! But also you all gave us so, so much support – every single vote and every message of good luck. It means the world to us. So thank you.

We hope this is also recognition at the increase (and hopefully survival!) of film photography – because we bloody love it! We want many more photographers out their to pick up a film camera and give it a go!

And going forwards, we want to share much more of your film work – and much more often! We want to work with you guys on producing informative posts – about cameras, film stock, travel destinations – to help others improve their photography. And we wanna try out, share and learn about different film formats: medium format, 35mm, alternative film process, instant film, disposable. Let’s do it!

This can be something awesome.

We had no idea, when we started nearly one year ago, how hard it is to run a blog (kudos to all you bloggers out there, we TOTALLY get and repect how much work this is!). In this time, (9 months as I write this) we have grown  so much already – we have great followers and incredibly talented photographers who share their work with us, we have an award (we can say we’re an award winning blog!) – and our print magazine, which due to workload was set back – will be produced and available to pre-order shortly (we’re gonna try coincide it with out birthday!)

So thank you for sticking with us, cheering us on and making this blog something incredibly special.

Anyway, enough of the rambling and let us just finish with another, massive thank you.

Keep shooting film & supporting your labs.

Keep exploring!

And as long as you do, we will keep sharing your incredible work.

Thank you everyone!


UK Blog Awards 2016 Photography Winner

Family Camping in Wisconsin


F&F: We recently received such a beautiful set of images from a photographer – taken during her family camping trip. We absolutely love it because it embodies what a family get-a-way should be! Family, pets, fun, stress free and – (of course) – a board game!

It really is something.

We adore the images and their simplicity and love the fact they all take time to get away and unplug from the internet and their usual, busy lives – and just be together.

Everyone should go camping right now!


Photography & Words | Gretchen Willis

“Last year we went to the North Woods of Wisconsin (Gordon, WI – on private camp site directly on the St. Croix River – which is about an hour from the Minnesota border). We spent a week on a spot of  property on the St. Croix river. We canoed, fished, hiked, and had a wonderfully unplugged, relaxing time.”


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  Camera |Canon AE-1 Program
Lab | TheDarkroom & FIND Lab

Film Stock | Ektar 100, Fuji Provia 100, Delta 100, Kodak Max  800, Ilford PanF50, Tmax 100

About Gretchen

“I’m a mom of five and wife to one. I live in south central Wisconsin and we love doing things outdoors with our family, like
visiting the state parks. I began shooting film about 3 years ago and  the AE-1 Program was my first film camera. It holds a very special place  in my heart, as I learned film on that camera. I have a small business shooting families, seniors, and events, as well as volunteering with 3 non-profits.”

Website | www.gretchenwillis.com
Facebook | www.facebook.com/Gretchen.Willis.Photography
Instagram | @gretchenwillis

A weekend in Brussels, Belgium

 


Photography | Angelworx Photography

“This was a weekend trip with my day job, from Friday to Sunday. We got some free hours in Saturday where I got to go around on my own and photograph the city.

We stayed at a very central location near Grand Place, Scandic Grand Place.
A comfortable place with good service.

I also got to meet a film photographer and friend, Gert Huygaerts, who I got to know during the Moda e Arte workshop spring the same year. We took each others photographs at the beautiful Mont Des Arts, which has gorgeous light and warm ground that makes for a really good, natural reflector.

During the stay I got to explore among other places; Grand Place, Mannekin Pis, St. Hubert Gallery, Royal Botanical Garden, Mont Des Arts, Tintin Walk and the Cathedral of Saints Michel and Gudula.

I took the hop on and hop off bus and got to see a lot of the landmarks and main attractions of Brussels.

On one of the days, we were fortunate to have a guide with us to tell us about the history and also took us for some food and beer tasting in different shops. We got to taste homemade cookies, macaroons, beer with finger foods and chocolate which of course Belgium is known for.

I really enjoyed my stay and hope to come back to see the Japanese garden and the bluebell forest near Brussels.”

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  Camera | Contax 645 & Canon EOS 1V
Lab | Richard Photo Lab.
Film Stock | Fuji 400h

About Angelie
I am a photographer based in Norway and I obviously love traveling 🙂
I specialize in wedding photography, but I also do portraits and other type of photography.
Willing to travel and photograph to most destinations in the world.
I shoot both film and digital as of now.

Website | www.angelworx.no
Facebook | www.facebook.com/angelworxcp
Instagram | www.instagram.com/angelworx
Pinterest | www.pinterest.com/angelworx

Waiting For a Flight | Bahamas

F&F: It is the people you meet, from your travels, that really stay with you. The stories they tell you and the stories you tell others about them.
This story by Shandi is really touching! Sometimes you can get a bit cynical when you travel. I find we hear so many tales of mishap or danger and we read up on ‘how to stay safe when travelling’ (a good thing to do, for sure!) that we forget that people are, generally, good! We love a tale with a happy ending.


Photography & Words | Shandi Wallace Photography

“I was in Lyford Cay, near Nassau, for a wedding. When my trip was over, I ended up going to the Nassau airport nine hours early because I mis-read my itinerary. The airline wouldn’t let me check in. So I decided to go back into the town and explore for the day alone, with all my luggage. I grabbed a cab, and I started talking to the driver on the ride from the airport back to the downtown district of Nassau.”
“The cab driver’s name was Falcon. First of all, how cool is that? We had so much in common – from music, to food. He told me about his family and which restaurants on the island had the best Conch fritters. He was a cab driver by day-job, but a musician at heart. He was so interesting and wonderful to talk to.”
“When he dropped me off downtown in front of the straw market, he offered to hold all my luggage while I explored the city so I wouldn’t have to carry bags around. I said “Sure! Meet me back here in a couple hours?” It was only until after I walked away, I realized what I’d actually done. I’d left all my luggage with a cab driver – in another country!”
“I walked around with my Leica and shot some film, grabbed lunch, bought everybody souvenirs, and walked back to the spot where I was supposed to be picked up (hopefully). And there was Falcon, waiting, sitting in his cab playing his guitar. I could’ve cried. I was so ashamed of myself for feeling so jaded, but also so incredibly grateful that there are such wonderful people in the world.”

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“In Nassau, I’d recommend the Conch fritters at Arawak Cay restaurant. It’s where the locals eat, and it’s always really busy. It was my very first time eating Conch, and I was so nervous, but it was delicious! And I’m not a seafood eater at all. The Little Mermaid was always my favorite movie – so I’ve never eaten it!”
“Conch is the staple local food of the Bahamas, and the shells are a huge selling souvenir piece for tourists. During my stay, I also learned of a place called Harbour Island that has PINK SAND from the Conch shells. I didn’t make it over there this trip, but definitely will next time. It has to be amazing to see!”
“The biggest recommendation I can make is to talk to the local folks. There’s none better than a native to give you the best information for an amazing time, whether it be for food, music, or the best spots to snorkel.”

Camera | Leica M2
Film Stock | Fuji Superia 400

About Shandi
“A little about me: I’m based in Washington DC, but moving to South Carolina next week! I’m a mom of two, I love German Shepherds, I ride & restore vintage mopeds, and I think I could beat Bobby Flay in any throw down of his choosing! But seriously, I love to cook! I have a sense of humor on hyper drive or something. I laugh at everything. It’s probably a curse because sometimes it happens when I’m really sad or scared and I can’t help it.”

Website | www.shandiwallace.com
Facebook | www.facebook.com/shandiwallacephotography
Instagram | @shandiwallacephotography

Devon & Cornwall

F&F: Being based in the UK, it is always interesting to see a selection of images come through from a holiday to the UK. I find we rarely think of a ‘staycation’ here – however it is about time that changed!

This series from Elisa Leochel shows the English countryside and seaside as they are – quaint, calm and totally picturesque. We love that they also rented a car to explore at their leisure – what a great idea! – and the cosy pubs, outdoor theatres and hikes just add to why a UK holiday is actually pretty fantastic!


Photography & Words | Elisa Loechel Photography

“Devon & Cornwall had been on my travel list for quite a while but this year we finally made it. In April my husband and I traveled to London, rented a car and drove for 10 days through Devon and Cornwall.”

“We were pretty lucky with the weather! However on the day we drove through Dartmoor National Park it was rainy and windy. This didn’t bother us much since it fitted the mood of the moor perfectly. Due to the weather, we had to pass on the hikes you could possibly do in that area but nevertheless we stopped several times, wrapped our rain jackets around us and stepped into the harsh wet cold. Especially when there were wild Dartmoor ponies on the street – that still makes my girly heart jump every time.

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We hadn’t booked any accommodation in advance except for our time on the Scilly Islands. Most days we just checked the tips on pages like TripAdvisor and tried our luck at those places that had good reviews. We found some great B&B’s that made our vacation even better. One fantastic example is the Millhouse B&B near Tintagel which did not only offer a comfy room at a good price but also served the best food.
ElisaLoechel-Devon&Cornwall1 The highlight of our tour were the Isles of Scilly where we stayed in The Wheelhouse Guesthouse which is run by an incredibly kind couple, Jen & Dan, and is located right at Porthcressa beach. We spent three nights on the islands and although they are tiny, there still is so much to discover. On the island St. Martin’s you can book a seal snorkeling tour which I did – despite of the very cold ocean! The seals were a bit sceptic seeing us big creatures swimming in their territory but were also very curious and came close. Scilly is such an adorable place and the food was so good. Fresh seafood all the way. Also don’t miss Juliet’s Garden on St.Mary’s – delicious food and a spectacular view.

ElisaLoechel-Devon&Cornwall3 Another favourite of ours was the Minack Theatre, an open-air theatre nestling to the cliffs near Land’s End. While overlooking the sea you can enjoy a play or you can just visit the theatre as an attraction itself. We wanted to do the latter but arrived right in time for a children’s play and we were hooked! We sat there for an hour and a half enjoying a one-man-show about a zookeeper and his animals – singing and laughing with the children. We can only imagine how amazing it must be to see a Shakespeare’s play at nighttime. ElisaLoechel-Devon&Cornwall4

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As for accommodation we can totally recommend – besides the ones already mentioned – The Somerville in Torquay. A lovely B&B where we enjoyed the Garden Suite and an incredible breakfast. When in that area, of course you have to eat seafood because it’s so fresh and the chiefs know best how to interpret old recipes with new flavours. And you have to try one of my favourite things: scones with clotted cream and jam. We had the best ones at Russels Tearoom at The Alpaca Park . They were freshly baked when we ordered them. And you can spend the rest of your afternoon visiting the cute alpacas. 

ElisaLoechel-Devon&Cornwall4 Although we picked those couple of highlights, our whole vacation was full of wonderful moments that make great memories. We met nice people, saw stunning landscapes, tasted delicious food and enjoyed every bit of it.

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Camera | Canon EOS5
Lab | Carmencita Film Lab.

Film Stock | Kodak Portra 400 (pushed 1 stop).

About Elisa
“My name is Elisa and I live in a small village called Dilsberg (which is near Heidelberg) in Germany. My husband and I recently moved into a 200 year old house and since then we have been busy renovating. I love the life in our small village but I also love to get away from it all and travel. We travel whenever we can and have already seen some spectacular places – from the cold Icelandic north to hot and sweaty Bali.

I’m always accompanied by my camera and lately it’s an analogue one – a Canon EOS5. When I’m not taking pictures or traveling, I love to cook (and eat!) and I’m addicted to chocolate, raspberries and Sushi! I enjoy watching TV series and singing to the radio when nobody listens. When I was younger I wrote little stories, today I prefer telling them through my pictures.”

Website | www.elisaloechelphotography.com
Facebook | www.facebook.com/elisaloechelphoto
Instagram | www.instagram.com/elisaloechelphoto
Pinterest | www.pinterest.com/elisaleochel