Visiting Machu Picchu with Kids
Popular for decades as a destination for intrepid travellers, the Lost City of Machu Picchu is now becoming increasingly popular with families looking for a once in a lifetime holiday steeped in history, adventure and a touch of pure magic. Constructed by the Inca in the 15th century, perched high up in the Peruvian Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu was deserted after the Spanish colonists invaded, and left untouched for centuries until explorer Hiram Bingham stumbled upon its majestic ruins. This only adds to its evocative appeal, especially if visiting Machu Picchu with kids; they can make like little explorers themselves on a family trip to Machu Picchu, returning home to share their experience as the ultimate show and tell. So, read on for a family-friendly guide to Machu Picchu, one of the world’s most wonderous archaeological sites.
Practical pointers for visiting Machu Picchu with kids
Let’s get the practical information out of the way before we go any further. As a parent, when planning a trip to Peru, one of the first things that will spring to mind is the infamous altitude sickness. Don’t let this put you off, as there are many ways to minimalise the risk of it. Read up on the condition before you leave so you are aware of what symptoms to look out for – the earlier it is caught, the easier it will be to treat.
Acclimatise in the Sacred Valley
Once in Peru, fly from Lima to Cusco. While it may be tempting to stay here for a few days to recover from your journey, if you leave for the Sacred Valley as soon as you can you will reap the rewards later, as it is the height of this ancient city that may cause issues. When you return from your trip to Machu Picchu you will all be much more acclimatised and can take several days to relax and explore; we recommend a half-day tour for families, as this is the perfect amount of time to soak up the highlights while also not being too arduous for the younger members of the group.
Recommended routes, transport and hotels
Stop off in the Sacred Valley
En route to Machu Picchu, enjoy some time at leisure together in the Sacred Valley. There are plenty of things to do for families, and a clutch of excellent hotels that cater to younger visitors too. Hotel Sol y Luna is a particularly good bolthole from which to explore the wider region, with a fantastic range of activities – from horse shows to pottery workshops, and much more besides – so there is more than enough to keep the children amused while you all get used to your new surroundings. Bear in mind that it is best to leave yourself at least a day to take things easy and get used to the lower levels of oxygen.
Travelling to Machu Picchu from the Sacred Valley
Once settled and having made the most of activities in the Sacred Valley, you will be chomping at the bit to get to Machu Picchu. The iconic Inca trail may not appeal if you have a young family in tow, but thankfully there are alternative methods of transport, including the Vistadome train that affords panoramic views through huge glass windows while taking you straight to Aguas Calientes from the Sacred Valley: the gateway to the Lost City of the Inca.
Family-friendly hotels near Machu Picchu
Upon arrival, check into your family-friendly Machu Picchu hotel. Belmond Sanctuary Lodge has an unrivalled location right next to the entrance of Machu Picchu, great for those who want to have exclusive access to the site, as well as unparalleled views that you will not find elsewhere. However, another fantastic choice is Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, an eco-lodge bursting at the seams with fun-filled activities including in-house tours, twilight walks and, for an additional fee, access to their very own Spectacled Bear Sanctuary, a project that is working tirelessly to help protect South America’s only native bear. After all, you can’t take the kids to Peru and not give them the opportunity to come face to face with one of Paddington’s distant cousins.
Exploring Machu Picchu with kids
On the morning of your visit, you will have the choice of either taking the 1-2 hour walk to your final destination or catching the shuttle bus, which leaves regularly. Given that you will be booked into a specific time slot with your ticket (a newly enforced rule since 2017) – and the unpredictable nature of children! – the shuttle bus is definitely the more enjoyable option for families, meaning you arrive refreshed and ready to discover one of the world’s most spectacular sights. Note that steps can be a little treacherous and uneven so it is advisable to wear sensible shoes and to keep hold at some points of any younger members of the family, as this is an archaeological site after all and therefore, while safe, can sometimes be more difficult for little feet to negotiate.
An iconic wonder of the world for all ages
Whether you are six or sixty the spellbinding sight of Machu Picchu will blow you away. Like the great pyramid of Giza, Stonehenge and the Pantheon in Rome, when a place is so ingrained in our consciousness there is no preparation for the feelings you will experience once there in person. Of course, children don’t always have an understanding of time or age – after all, the 1980’s are classed as the olden days by anyone under the age of ten! – but what they will immediately understand is that they are somewhere really quite special.
Making memories in Machu Picchu
Other than the mystical ruins, they will love spotting the flora and fauna that has made Machu Picchu its home. The pretty flowers, majestic birds and, of course, the beguiling Llamas that roam around, all provide extra entertainment for your little ones; the Llamas in particular are always a favourite highlight. While here, make sure you take a quiet moment to stop and drink in the bewitching atmosphere, as you watch your children climb over walls and structures that were placed there hundreds of years ago. They may not realise what a great gift you have given them at that point, but in years to come they will certainly thank you for introducing them to this enchanting piece of human history.
Go explore Machu Picchu with the kids as part of a wider Peruvian holiday. You can tailor-make your own trip using Discover Your South America, customising your itinerary to make it perfect for you and your family. If you’d prefer to speak to one of our Peru experts, don’t hesitate to call us toll-free on 1 866 978 7398 (Canada and USA) or 080 8189 0438 (UK), and Discover Your South America with Surtrek!