Peru_Kids_LoriOscherFriedman cropped

Photo: Lori Oscher

Give Your Kids the Trip of a Lifetime:

Go to Machu Picchu and Beyond in Peru with Kids

Peru with Kids - Cusco Peru Travel

Photo: Ed Conwell

What could captivate a child’s imagination more than exploring ancient, mountaintop ruins and mazes with names like Temple of the Moon, The Palace of the Princess, and the Temple of the Condor?  No, we’re not talking a Raiders of the Lost Ark theme park, we’re talking Machu Picchu – a destination for traveling Peru with kids.

Being able to ramble the rocky maze of its 200 buildings, sacred rocks and carvings, terraces and underground dungeons lets kids channel their inner Indiana Jones’s and discover real-life relics, niches, and tombs of a vanished Inca civilization.

We’ve planned itineraries for families traveling to Nepal, the Galapagos, and Myanmar.  All give children memorable and unique cultural experiences, but one of our most popular destinations is traveling to Peru with kids age 7 and older.

Peru with Kids

10 Lessons Learned Taking Children to Machu Picchu and Beyond

We call this experience ” Machu Picchu and Beyond,” because it goes beyond touring the 600-year-old Inca ruins to meeting the contemporary people of Peru’s small rural villages, markets, and towns. It’s an adventurous mix of wonder, mystery, and real-life experiences with Peruvian culture.

The ruins capture a child’s love of fantasy and the people they meet throughout Peru will open their hearts. Here: 10 lessons we’ve gleaned from taking many families to this wonderful country.

  1. Plan as many opportunities for cultural experiences as possible. Visit a rural school and allow your children time to be spontaneous with the local children. (Parents often find it interesting to talk with teachers, too.) Before you go, learn and practice a few words of Quechua with your children. This is the ancient language of the Incas that is still spoken today. Being able to say “hello” and “how are you” to a Peruvian child will bring smiles and giggles to all of you.
  2. Give hotels a heads up, too.  Is there anything in particular you’ll need while you’re staying at the hotel? Will your child have a birthday while in Peru?
  3. Give guides a heads up.  At Myths and Mountains, we interview each family  for their preferences for everything from specific foods to travel style and we pass the pertinent information along to our Peruvian guides before you arrive. Is your 10 year-old an adventurous eater?  Does your 7-year-old need an afternoon nap? Does your 8-year-old girl prefer physical activities? Is her 12-year-old brother easily bored? Does your family prefer to start the day after 9:00 AM or a bit earlier?
  4. Bring pictures of home.  Showing children photos of your pets, your classroom, even your backyard gives them something to “show and tell” the children and adults they meet on the trip. Having familiar pictures of your backyard, your furry best friend and playmates also helps your child not feel overwhelmed in the new “foreign” surroundings and language.
  5. Stay in small, comfortable hotels. Peruvian hotels rarely have family rooms or connecting ones, so a small hotel allows you to have two rooms near each other. Also, since small local hotels lack the anonymity of large, bustling ones, kids and parents feel more at ease.  Since Peruvians tend to be family-oriented, you might feel like the staff will “adopt” you during your stay.
  6. Get physical. With help from your private guide, let your child safely explore the hidden dungeons of Machu Picchu, ride a horse to a rural village, feed llamas and alpacas, and go fishing for piranhas in the Amazon jungle. No child will be bored who is allowed to “do” things. 
  7. Learn a new skill. Don’t just watch the weaver using a backstrap loom, let your child try it. Take part in a cooking class as a family, using food grown on the farm you’re visiting.  Learn how to track animals on a night safari hike in the Amazon. Go bird watching and make a list of birds you see. (These are examples of activities we can arrange ahead of time.)
  8. Make room for down time. Set aside a day or two in the itinerary to just hang out in a village or at the hotel pool. Children are not inexhaustible and enjoy having time to do whatever they want to do….or to do nothing but take in the views, sounds and smells of Peru.
  9. Be flexible.  When we plan a trip for a family, we know that the best laid plans can go awry if a child becomes unhappy, ill, or is just tired, so we build flexibility into the itinerary and work with guides who always have an alternative plan if things don’t go according to schedule. 
  10. Making sites like Machu Picchu accessible. We recommend kids aged 7 and up for any trip to Peru. For any overnight trekking trips, it’s best for kids to be at least 12 years old and able to handle six-hour daily hikes.  We try to pace the trip well so your family can adjust to altitude easily before heading to the higher elevations.

Photo: Andrea Armstrong