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#PeruUncovered – a Q+A with Photographer Santiago de Hoyos


Santiago de Hoyos is a traveller at heart, but whether he’s at home in Vancouver or exploring a new city abroad, he sure knows how to take one hell of a photo. This winter, Santiago waved goodbye to the windchill and spent two weeks exploring the photographer’s paradise that is Peru.

Here are a few of his photos, plus some of his thoughts about his #PeruUncovered adventure:

What big #travelgoals of yours did you tick off in Peru?

I ticked off my most anticipated travel goal when I stepped into the Amazon jungle. I’ve had the privilege of seeing a wide variety of grandiose landscapes but I’ve never seen anything quite like the sights, sounds, and smells of the Amazon. Obviously, Machu Picchu was also a dream come true and its beauty and grandeur cannot be overstated.


What was your favourite moment from your trip?

I could write a book about my favourite moments from this trip. One that stands out was watching the clouds roll through the valleys of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. It was quiet, ominous, beautiful and daunting.

Machu Picchu

What’s your favourite photo from your trip?

The photograph of the dancers on Taquile Island really stands out to me. From a technical standpoint, there isn’t anything particularly exceptional about the photograph. However, the photograph tells a story – a beautiful and vibrant story about culture, tradition, family, and community. There are so many other moments that stand out so if you’re thinking about seeing Peru with Contiki, contact me – I’d love to tell you about all of them with more detail.

Taquile Island

You have a knack for taking photos that make the viewer feel as though they’re there with you – what tips do you have for travellers on how to take ‘in the moment’ photos when abroad?

It’s going to sound a bit counter-intuitive, but for me, creating a photograph that draws the viewer in begins with removing myself from that moment. This means putting my camera(s) down, taking a step back (figuratively and physically), and gathering observations from an outsider’s perspective – seeing the big picture so to speak.

Once I’ve been able to identify a unique perspective, I step back into the moment and ensure that I’ve placed myself and/or my subject in the perfect place to optimize the natural light I’m working with. The creative process is a subjective experience so it’s essential to try new ideas and see what helps or hinders in the progression towards transmitting a vision through a photograph.

Machu Picchu Train

What are your “must do’s” for anyone choosing the #PeruUncovered trip?

One of my happiest days was spent on the back of a horse, riding through the Sacred Valley up to the Maras Salt Mines. I have a deep-rooted love for horses that takes me back to my childhood and the journey offered magnificent views of the valley that are otherwise inaccessible to travellers. Honorable mentions: Zip-lining over the Colca Valley and the Canopy Climb offered by the local guides in the Amazon – the viewing platform at the top offers stunning views of the jungle.

Salt Mines

What surprised you most about Peru/your trip?

Something that really stands out to me is the incredible scope of the Contiki experience. When I was preparing for the journey and going through the itinerary, I looked through the cities and the names of the hotels, among other things. However, I was amazed with the attention to detail that went into organizing such a positive experience – delicious complimentary meals, comfortable and safe transportation between cities, beautiful hotels, knowledgeable local guides, etc. It’s all taken care of!

A Santiago de Hoyos hammock in a grassy field with mountains in the background.

What are your #travelgoals for 2016?

Haida Gwaii on the northern coast of British Columbia ranks high on my list. A solo road trip from Vancouver to Alaska has also been brewing in my head for a few months now. I’ve also been thinking a lot about Norway and New Zealand lately – so many places to see and not enough time!


Check out Santiago’s Instagram account and website to see more of his fabulous work at home and abroad.