Long before our wedding, my wife Laura and I decided that we didn’t want to have the typical, relaxed, “lay on the beach all day” type of honeymoon — so we decided to plan a trip to the Peruvian mountains instead.

We knew very little about Peru when we arrived, but that added to the excitement of the trip for us. We wanted to create a completely new adventure together to commence our marriage. Although I expected to find natural beauty in Peru, I greatly underestimated the depth and magical quality of the country.

We arrived on the west coast of Peru and stayed in Lima for two days before heading east to Cusco. From there, we visited Urubamba, Písac, the Chinchero District, Maras, Moray, and Ollantaytambo, and continued on to Aguas Calientes to hike to Machu Picchu.

Between hiking and eating, I set aside as much time in the early mornings and evenings as possible to wander with my camera.

Maras stood out to me most. Its landscape struck me immediately — I had never seen anything like it before. It was like we had landed on another planet. It was peaceful, quiet, and beautiful. But the element that set Peru apart from other landscapes and places I’ve photographed was its vastness. Each region we visited had an epic, untouched, and infinite quality to it — as did the mountains in the distance. I have more photographs of the mountains in Peru than anything else in my archive. Their appearance constantly changed with the shifting weather, giving them a commanding presence from wherever I stood. The mountains are also very important to the people of Peru, so the stories and culture surrounding them added to their visual qualities.

My favorite photograph from the trip was shot at the salt mines in Maras. We heard about the mines every place we went, and were continually told that the site offered something special. I typically don’t take these types of recommendations seriously because they usually equate to tourist traps, but after almost two weeks in the country, I hadn’t seen anything remotely close to what I would call a “tourist trap.” It was cloudy and rainy the day we visited, but the hour drive to the site yielded incredible views. Once we arrived, we followed the winding roadway and descended into the valley where the salt pools stood. Their scale was difficult to take in. Although this picture only shows a very small piece of the larger site, it reminds me how incredible it was to be present in such a grand location and how much history the salt pools hold.

I hope these photographs instill a sense of wonder about the Earth as a whole and inspire others to visit Peru themselves. The mountains, geology, history, culture, food, and people of Peru are just part of what makes the country so special.

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