Machu Picchu with Kids? Yes it can be done!
The clouds dramatically drifted apart, opening the sky to reveal the famous lost city of Machu Picchu. Filled with the wonder of this perfect moment I turned to my 5-year-old daughter, with an expectant smile on my face. “So, this is Machu Picchu, what do you think?”
She frowned: “Where are the Incas? There are no Incas!” More petulance. “ I thought that there would be people dressed up as Incas.”
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Our Top 8 Hints – Visiting Machu Picchu With Kids
Yes, the reality of traveling with kids is usually different from what we imagine. Wonderfully fulfilling, but not even remotely the same as if you were traveling alone.
These are my top tips for traveling to Machu Picchu with kids. It’s a long way to Machu Picchu, and for many a once in a lifetime experience, make sure you do it right!
Consider A Kid-Friendly Splurge
We stayed at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel . Not only is this easily the most atmospheric hotel in all of Aguas Calientes, but it has a kids’ program and a small heated pool. The kids’ program is targeted to youngsters a little older than Miss M (5 years old) but includes a variety of activities, some of which she could participate in. They also provide an eco-guide (nanny) service. We noticed that more than one family left their children in the care of the eco-guide, doing activities around the hotel, while the parents went to Machu Picchu for a second day. Thus getting the best of both worlds: time as a family AND time as a couple. We had a great Machu Picchu trek both days. Check current rates here.
For a more complete list of recommendations this our list of The Best Machu Picchu Family Accommodation.
Plan Your Visit
Get a map and plan your day, preferably with a guide who knows the site. We divided our visit into a couple of different sections, with breaks in between, and this made it much easier on the kids and on us. Visiting Machu Picchu with kids requires a good plan or a guide.
The Grazing Camelids Are Cool
They were the most exciting thing at Machu Picchu for the kids. Our kids really enjoyed them. Don’t be like some of those less well-informed visitors, though, poking a range of different foods and snacks at the llamas while trying to get selfies.
Find A Grassy Area To Rest
There are a few grassy areas to run and play – but you have to look for them. We found that there were a number of grassy areas roped off, and more that had steep precipice falls on one side (not good for a 22-month-old eager to explore!). Finally we found a safe place, had some snacks, and soaked up the atmosphere. It was in a less visited section of the ruins which made it a pleasant break.
When traveling to Machu Picchu with kids it is really important to take breaks so the kids can relax and burn off some energy.
Get A Good Lunch, Rest, And Then Return To The Ruins
We lunched at the Tinkuy Buffet restaurant. While it wasn’t cheap, it provided another great break for the kids (e.g.; not looking at ruins) and offered a fantastic range of food and drinks. We really enjoyed this meal, there was so much variety. Also, the restaurant has bathrooms, a vital piece of info for families traveling with children. There are no rest rooms inside Machu Picchu, which can be inconvenient when you have small kids. After this break, we returned to the closer sector of the ruins, and were able to enjoy another hour at Machu Picchu.
Don’t set your expectations too high, as far as how much history you’ll be able to soak up with the kids. With a 5-year-old and 22-month-old, we enjoyed the ruins and the experience but truly didn’t get lots of the history. If this is important to you, consider taking turns caring for the kids with your partner! Visiting Machu Picchu with kids is a totally different experience than visiting alone or as a couple.
We Loved The Train Trip
The Train Trip to and from Machu Picchu was the highlight for the kiddos. They both loved it; especially when a kind man gave up the front seats on the Vistadome carriage and we got amazing views of the tracks. Miss M was transfixed by the sight of the rails and mountains and we all loved the journey. It was an awesome experience.
The Steps Are BIG For a 5-Year-Old
After an hour of climbing these HUGE steps, our Miss was exceptionally tired. To be honest, I also was fairly tired carrying around 22-month-old Master L, who weighed in at 14 kg. He was becoming frustrated by the constant stream of people looking at him, the many stone walls, and the painstaking slowness of the climb. Normally if he gets frustrated in the backpack I can divert him by jumping, playing and moving but this is not feasible at relatively crowded Machu Picchu.
We used the Deuter Kid Comfort 2 carrier for hiking Machu Picchu. It was a great carrier. Check current price here.
Bonus Machu Picchu with Kids Hint
Get travel insurance! While Machu Picchu is visited by thousands of people each year, it is still quite remote. If you or one of your kids gets sick you want the peace of mind that you can get yourself to a doctor as quickly as possible, and that the cost does not matter. That’s why not only should you get travel insurance, but make sure it includes evacuation, as well as medical cover… and of course theft, and cancellation. World Nomads offers Family Travel Insurance.
More top hints for Machu Picchu with Kids
Best Family Hotels in Machu Picchu is our summary of where to stay when visiting this famous site.
Make your reservation early since accommodations fill-up fast. Book your Machu Picchu Family Holiday early – 6 reasons why!
Helpful Information For Travel To Peru With Kids
Our site has LOADS of information about traveling to Peru with Kids!!! We love Peru and know the country very well. If you are interested in a Peru destination but haven’t seen it on our site, please ask.
Starting out, but not sure what planning a Peru family holiday involves? Planning for Peru Family Vacation?
Once you have your tickets booked? What next Packing tips for Peru with kids
Want to get the kids interested in what they might see and do in Peru? These are some of our favorite bedtime books Best Peru books for children
Upon arriving in Peru, Lima offers a lot for family travelers – Take a look at Lima with Kids: Things to do in Miraflores with Children
We have also stayed in many Lima hotels and have many recommendations. Please check out our reviews Lima Peru Hotels –Best Kid Friendly Choices
In Cusco we recommend a number of different hotels Best Family Hotels in Cusco
Recommended Peru Travel Agent
Consider asking a travel agent for help for some of the logistics. Apus Peru Adventure Travel Specialists have plenty of experience in offering treks with young people!
This post was originally published on the Apus Peru Blog and has been adapted by the author, Ariana Svenson, coincidentally a CoFounder of Apus Peru!
We always travel with insurance, it has saved us numerous times. World Nomads have specially designed travel insurance for families! Take a look at their Family Travel Insurance here.
Final thoughts – how to visit Machu Picchu with Kids
Machu Picchu is a lifelong dream for many, one of those special places to tick of your bucket lists. With many not wanting to postpone their travels until their children are older, Machu Picchu with Kids is becoming increasingly popular. We’ve done it, and we certainly think that you can do it too!
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