Pretty much everyone who travels to Peru plans their trips around visiting Machu Picchu, especially family trips to Peru. In addition to the World Wonder, this also usually includes visits to some of the principal archaeological sites in and around Cusco.
There’s no doubt that Machu Picchu is awe-inspiring, even to jaded children who spend more time on the Internet than in the real world. Still, you can help keep their interest by including in your plans some options that are not so history-focused.
For example, when in Cusco, you can take your kids to a workshop at the Choco Museo. They’ll learn about chocolate from harvesting the beans to processing and even get to make their own chocolate. The workshop lasts about 2 hours and the candy will be ready for pick up around 45 minutes after the end. The workshops are available 3 times per day and should be booked ahead of time.
Take the family to lunch or dinner at the colorful Aldea Yanapay. The food is quite good and proceeds go toward helping a non-profit that offers after-school educational programs for local children. The favorite part of eating here are the many silly hats… everyone is encourage to pick one to wear for the duration of the meal.
The standard Cusco City Tour is done by private car or tour bus and this is the best way to see these sites. However, you can also do an alternative one, sometimes called the Mystical Tour, which will take you to such sites as the Temple of the Moon, by horseback. Be sure to go with a reputable operator to ensure that the horses are well taken care of and that they won’t bolt off with your children on board.
On your way to the Sacred Valley to see the sights there, stop off at Awanacancha. Adults and children alike will find the weaving demo interesting. But even more entertaining are the camelid farm, giving you the chance to learn the differences between the four that are native to Peru: llamas, alpacas, guanacos and vicuñas. Feeding these furry creatures is a treat.
A note about these basic tours… it’s worth the added expense to do them in private service instead of in a group. It’s not really that much more expensive and it allows the tours to be catered to the interests of your family, as well as makes it easier to hear the guide’s explanations.
While you’re in Peru, it would be a shame not to spend some time in the Amazon jungle, especially with children. The reality is, most of them are far more interested in seeing monkeys jumping from tree to tree than carved stones. Take a look at Rainforest Expedition’s Refugio Amazonas Lodge. They have programs especially for children including a nature trail just for them, as well as guides who are experts in how to cater their tours for the younger crowd.
Although you can make all arrangements on your own, it’s worth it to consider using an experienced, such as Peru For Less, especially when traveling with a family. They’ll know which operators are reputable, such as for your horseback riding tour.
As important as that is, even more important is their knowledge of on-the-ground logistics. Especially with small children, you want to make sure that your travel from one place to another is planned taking not only the transportation schedules into account but also such details as to how the weather in an area may create delays.