For most people a visit to Machu Picchu is a once in a lifetime experience, a fulfilment of childhood dreams spurred on by movies of Indiana Jones as he searched for lost cities. If you are going to visit, then make sure that you do it the best you can! And especially if you are taking the kids there are some extra things to consider to make your Machu Picchu Family Holiday perfect!
- Tickets do sell out well in advance for the high season.
To clarify: there are a number of different tickets you might need, firstly if you plan to trek you need an Inca Trail Permit for either the 4 day or the 2 day trek.
Classic Inca Trail Permits (4 day trek) sell out at the beginning of the year, especially for the Easter Break, May, June and July. Year after year we have disappointed people enquiring about permits! You must make your booking prior to Christmas, or at the latest in the first week of January.
For those with older kids (10+) and Huayna Picchu climb is on the agenda, permits are very limited and you need to get in quick to get them. (They sell out in January too.)
For the Short Inca Trail (just 1 day of trekking) permits are more plentiful until later in the year but get in early to get your preferred date!
Machu Picchu itself is limited to 2500 people per day and has not sold out as far as we are aware!
- Get the best train tickets
Machu Picchu is most easily accessed by train, and booking early means you get the best train tickets. (There are other ways to visit but they require travelling on hairpin bend roads etc. Adrenalin filled but not family friendly!)
There are only two trains a day from Cusco to Aguas Calientes (and in reverse) so if you would like a wonderful 4 train journey through the Andes, you need to book this train really early!
Alternatively, you can take the train from Ollantaytambo, which gives you a lot more options – but the best timetables book out early! Another tip – especially on the Vistadome service the first seats on the train are the best!!!
- Plan to spend two days and take your time.
If you are going to travel all the way to Peru to see Machu Picchu, don’t cut yourself short by allowing just one day to visit the famous Lost City. We strongly recommend allowing two days, which means that if the weather is overcast on the first day, you can visit a second day. Or, you can stay right until closing time and have the ruins to yourself!!! In short, during the planning process plan to spend two days!
We’ve already blogged regarding some specific things to plan for during your Machu Picchu trip, https://worldoftravelswithkids.com/peru/machu-picchu-with-kids/
- Pick your seasons, and check out some local fiestas.
If you are well organised you can take your pick of the seasons. We love April when the mountains are still green, and September when it’s not so cold and the tourists are not so abundant. It’s true that there are fiestas in Peru almost year round – but if you want to see something specific or you would like to see a couple its worth getting out the calendar and doing some real planning! Take note, that as the bulk of Peruvian fiestas are linked to the Catholic Feast Days they are movable dates – and can fall anywhere in a month long period. Check out our partner travel agency calendar for more info http://www.apus-peru.com/trip-planning/cultural_events_calendar.htm
- Family rooms
How you travel as a family depends on various factors, such as the ages of your kids, how many they are, and how fond you are of co-sleeping. Peru has a relatively generous policy when it comes to sharing beds and so if you have a child under 3-ish that co-sleeps they won’t charge you for the child to occupy the room. Other rooms that have multiple bed arrangements do exist, but book out very early! Especially those in the mid-range budget option! So getting the best Family Rooms is another reason to get your Machu Picchu family holiday
- Getting prepared!
This point applies *mostly* if you are going to trek either the 4 day or 2 day trek. Take your family out trekking for a full day – see if they are able physically to walk for 5 hours, and also for the kids, mentally able to do it! If at first you don’t succeed, then try again! Cusco and the Inca trail are high altitude treks – which means in addition to the distance and steep terrain you will have to deal with altitude. Therefore you must be prepared. All good travel agencies should be able to give you some ideas for training!