The famous inca citadel is best known for being one of the seven wonders of the modern world, and is visited by more than 3,000 international travelers a day.
A visit to Machu Picchu requires much planning in advance as there are various steps. From selecting dates based on weather and tourism levels to finding a certified tour guide, the logistics can seem overwhelming.
But the truth is, traveling to Machu Picchu with kids can be an enjoyable experience for the whole family with the right preparation.
Offering culture and nature in a one of a kind spot, here’s what you need to know about traveling to Machu Picchu with kids.
Located some 80 kms from Cusco city and standing 2,340 metres above sea level, Machu Picchu was built by the Inca Empire in the 15th century. The ancient citadel is believed to have been a religious sanctuary or one of the holiday residences of Inca Pachacutec, depending on which historian’s account you read.
What is certain is that Machu Picchu, located beneath Huayna Picchu mountain, is known worldwide for its magnificent architecture, beautiful scenery and breathtaking magnitude.
The sanctuary was made popular around the world when American explorer Hiram Bingham publicized its existence in 1911. From that time onwards, Machu Picchu has become the most visited and admired archeological site in Peru and one of the most popular in the world.
The first thing parents need to consider when traveling to Cusco with kids is their wellbeing. At 3,400 m.a.s.l., Cusco is actually at a higher elevation than Machu Picchu, so new arrivals can often experience soroche (altitude sickness).
To prevent headaches, fatigue, nausea and other side effects caused by the sudden rise in altitude, take the following cautious steps: get plenty of rest upon arrival to Cusco, keep a slow pace, enjoy light meals during the first day or two, and keep some candies on hand for an extra energy boost.
Once in Cusco city, spend some days enjoying the surrounding area before heading to Machu Picchu. Organize a day trip to the Sacsayhuaman ruins or go by horseback to Zona-X, a magical place full of caves and rocky formations that is a lot of fun for kids.
You could also consider a trip to the thermal baths of Colcamayo, a pleasant and unique experience for the whole family.
Machu Picchu with kids can be a rewarding experience for all members of the family. Be sure to take in various factors that could affect your child’s behavior: the climate, the altitude and the treks that, long or short, can be tiresome for young travelers.
Awaken their curiosity by informing them of the history and myths that surround this sacred site. The more they know and understand about Machu Picchu, the more eager they will be to explore.
Lots of water is important for all ages, as are sunscreen, a sun hat and a good pair of sneakers or hiking shoes.
For many kids, traveling by train can be as adventurous as the destination itself, especially for the ones with little to no experience of boarding trains. It’s always a good idea to bring some of their favorite small toys, some pens and paper or other handy activities to enjoy along the ride.
Nevertheless, all of the Inca Rail trains are equipped with Wi-Fi. The 360 service includes an on-board entertainment portal, and young passengers on The First Class train are provided an activity book.
Don’t forget to walk through the train wagons and have a look at the spectacular scenery as you make way through the picturesque Sacred Valley of Peru.
Upon arrival, we suggest hiring a tourist guide that has experience working with kids. It is very important that he/she uses terminology that can be understood by a child, and can explain things in an entertaining way.
In Machu Picchu, you may also find llamas walking around and children can be thrilled about playing or just looking at this all-andean species.
If we get even more creative (especially if traveling with more than one child) we could organize a treasure or scavenger hunt, where children could tour some sections of the citadel in an adventurous way.
If you are interested in traveling to Machu Picchu with kids, we recommend Inca Rail’s The Voyager or The 360. Have a look at our options here to make a reservation. Trains leave from Cusco or Ollantaytambo (at the Sacred Valley) to Aguas Calientes, from where you will board a bus that takes you to Machu Picchu.
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