Inca land, Perú
As a photographer, I had to quickly accept the idea that nothing in Machu Picchu hasn't already been captured before, and yet, somehow I wanted to convey the very special feeling of being at a mountain top and still surrounded by jungle. An overwhelming feeling, as altitude, air humidity and light conditions deliver a unique mix.
Touring the land of the Incas requires acclimatisation to the altitude, to the traffic, to bad or missing infrastructure and requires good timing. On the other side, the rewards of having seen these unique views, experience the friendly Peruvian people and tasted their cuisine are worth it.
How to prepare yourself for a trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu? The literature is vast, the imagery endless and there is tourist information in any level of detail—you can literally spend hours searching and reading, and somehow the info remains abstract, you are not any wiser. You probably know this effect which is typical for information overload. People have different strategies to counter this &madsh;I think it is related to your personality. I tend to prepare trips by combining maps and images (google maps and flickr are great friends) and read about the place after the trip. In fact, I highly recommend you read the original report by Bingham about Machu Picchu after being there. Machu Picchu is indeed one of the most visited places on the planet (entrance tickets are limited to 2,500 per day :-), but it is amazingly well maintained by the government (think Acropolis as a counter example ;-).
We came to Arequipa as a starting point to a trip to the Colca Canyon. Arequipa, a large city, shares with all other cities in Perú the misery of relentless traffic and its companion the smog. Enter the monastery and you are transported into another place and time.