My husband will vouch for me when I say that a visit to Machu Picchu is very high up on my own bucket list. It has been there for as long as I can remember. I love to visit places with historical interest and nothing fascinates me more than the history of the Incas and Machu Picchu. We have often discussed going there. We came very close to taking our honeymoon there 10 years ago, we chose Sri Lanka instead! I have done so much research over the years about the best ways to get there and what else there is of interest to do in Peru. No doubt writing this post will reignite my desire to visit there soon. There are a few different ways to get to there. The most popular way is to trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I will cover that and more in this post.
What and where is Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is the ancient and now abandoned citadel of the Incas. It is an incredibly important archaeological site and rightly earns its status as being UNESCO listed. The site is high up in the Andes mountains in Peru. Machu Picchu was abandoned back in 1572 and it’s still a wonder to me why anyone lived there all that time ago. Aside from the fact it’s stunningly beautiful, it’s so remote and not the easiest of places to get to, even today. It was founded only 100 years before it was abandoned. There are more than 150 buildings there and although derelict they still maintain most of their original shape and stature. The buildings play on astronomical alignments plus the amazing views of the Andes.
Today, as well as being able to see the remains of the buildings, you can still make out the narrow streets, plazas and platforms. Can you believe it was only rediscovered back in 1911? You can either take a train up to the Inca ruins or take one of the trails up to the top. You now need a permit to trek the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. The Peruvian government give out 500 permits per day. Of these 500 permits, approximately 200 are allocated to tourists and 300 to porters, cooks and guides. Permits go on sale in January each year and are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. Booking at least a year in advance is strongly advised. Good luck.
Trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – as a family
It is possible to trek the Inca Trail as a family. There are even family-friendly tours out there. Which I strongly advise you do as then you can be sure that you won’t end up on a more exhausting and extreme tour. A trek on the Inca trail as a family will be so unique and like nothing you will probably ever experience again. The classic trail to Machu Picchu takes just one day making it a perfect day trip for families. There are longer 4 days trails but these may well be too much for younger children.
The area around Machu Picchu is known as the sacred valley. Here there are many remote villages and archaeological remains for you to explore. This is all possible by trekking the Inca Trail. A train ride up will not provide you with this level of adventure.
There is even the possibility of trying white-water rafting, stand up paddle boarding or mountain biking. Some tours will then fly you out into the Amazon rainforest. Once there you can stay at a remote Jungle Lodge and here you can go on guided trails to find the wonderful life that lives in the rainforest. Here there is the possibility of tracking monkeys, otters and caiman in the Amazon rainforest. There is nothing quite like the sights and sounds of the Amazon rainforest. They are memories that will last forever.
The Classic One Day Inca Trail
The main trail to Machu Picchu takes four days. This trail can be very full on for children. It is advisable to pick a tour that breaks you all in gently. Not just to the altitude but for how long you walk each day. It’s never advisable to just turn up and visit Machu Picchu the day after you arrive. You need to acclimatise gently visiting different places at different levels before you reach the staggering heights of Machu Picchu.
On the one day classic Inca trail you enter Machu Picchu via the Sungate. There is a steep ascent and the trail is approximately 15 kilometres. Not a short trail by any measure. It is recommended that you have a moderate level of fitness to attempt this trail. Your child should be used to regular exercise and yourselves. Although it is the easiest of the trails you still need a reasonable level of fitness.
Even on the one day trail there are villages to visit along the way. You will arrive late in the day and you will have time to have a quick look around. You will then be taken back down to Aguas Calientes (hopefully by bus) to stay overnight in a hotel. The next day will then give you the opportunity to properly explore Machu Picchu.
Children need to be prepared to carry their own backpack. You will need to carry at least 2 litres of water each. Good, quality and comfortable shoes are also essential. Snacks are also essential especially when walking with children. I have found some great tips for visiting Machu Picchu with kids.
What else can you do in Peru with Kids
As well as trekking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu and visiting the depths of the Amazon rainforest there are a few other family-friendly things to do in Peru.
This is our kind of water park as it doesn’t actually have any slides (my son is nervous of them). It does, however, have plenty of water fun. “It has thirteen cybernetic fountains, which are supported by the latest technology, where music, water, sound and laser light are mixed to display unique and incredible shows”. You can cool down by running in and out of timed fountains or there’s a train to take you around the park. It’s worth staying for the spectacular evening light and water show.
Cusco and Machu Picchu Railway (Sacred Valley)
“This three-hour rail journey between Cusco and Machu Picchu takes passengers through spectacular mountain scenery, dramatic canyons and along the beautiful Urubamba River with stops in the picturesque village of Poroy and other colourful small towns in the foothills of the Andes.” Quote TripAdvisor
Swimming with Turtles
Near to Mancora you can swim with turtles. What a great bucket list experience. El Ñuro is a small fishing town and the turtles have made the Port there their home. I suggest that rather than going to an area where you have to pay to swim with the turtles to just get in the sea away from these companies and swim with the turtles there. Or even better why not observe them from the shore. They swim close to the surface so they are easy to spot.
Huacachina is a huge oasis of sand and dunes. Buggy tours are a great and fun way to explore. The views are said to be amazing and well worth the visit. It is said to be very busy with tourists so be prepared.
Sacred Valley Zip Line
Quote “The Sacred Valley zip-line gives people of all ages the opportunity to fly over this magical and magnificent valley, in a safe and fun way. The zip line has 7 lines or cables, from 150mt to 700mt, for a total of 2800mt. Each line is different from the other, you will start with an easy and short one and the circuit will allow you to upgrade your zip line expertise.”.
Lake Titicaca is huge and there’s plenty to see there. The most famous attraction, so to speak, is the man-made floating reed islands. There are over 40 on the lake. They are all made and lived on by the Uros people. There’s also plenty of interesting ruins to explore and much more.
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Disclosure: This post may contain compensated links. All words are my own. Photos are sourced from Unsplash.