Trekking The Inca Trail With Kids

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If you are interested in trekking the Inca Trail with kids, then you have come to the right place!  We’ve got years of experience in helping families hike the Inca trail with children, and can give you some real, tried and tested tips to make it the best experience.

Why is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu so special?

The Inca Trail is a world-famous hike that is on many people’s bucket lists. With good reason, as the trail winds through spectacular mountain scenery and visits some really special Incan ruins.  If that isn’t enough, you are following the reputed Royal road of the Inca – an ornate Incan trail that was supposedly only for the Inca himself or those of high birth.  Add in the fact that permits to the Inca Trail are very limited, and you have yourself a bucket list trip.

Can I do the Inca Trail with kids?

Sure, you can do it.  But – the Inca Trail for kids is going to be a challenge.  It is not for everyone and it should be considered very carefully.   We really recommend people considering the Inca Trail with kids aged 8 plus – that is tweens and up.

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Trekking The Inca Trail With Kids

Logistics To Consider When Hiking The Inca Trail With Children

1.  Minimum Age

Some Inca Trail operators say the minimum age for the Inca trail with children is 8.  To us, that seems too young for the Inca Trail.  Even the short Inca trail version, which doesn’t involve camping, is really steep and there are sections where kids would find it hard to clamber up the extremely steep steps. (see photos)

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2.  The Four Key questions to ask yourself

We think that age 10 would be the absolute minimum age for trekking the Inca Trail with kids, but only if they meet most of the 4 initial questions Should I Take My Children Trekking In Peru.

In Short, our children should be fit, outdoorsy and resilient.  They should have long distance trekking experience.  The Inca Trail is a trek that MOST adults struggle with, both due to the altitude gain and loss, and the altitude in general.  If in doubt, put your Inca Trail with kids trek off for a year or two.

3.  Best age to hike the Inca Trail

In our opinion, the best age for an ‘average’ child to trek the Inca trail would be their teens – from 13 upwards.

4. Steps, steps, and more steps.

Steps on the Inca Trail are often about 30 cm or 12 inches high, in some parts approaching the sun gate even harder.  This will be challenging for smaller children.

5.  It is going to be a challenge.

The narrow trail and steep drops that characterize some sections of the Inca Trail are challenging for many adults, more so for children.

What You Need To Know – Inca Trail With Kids

If you decided to do the Inca trail with kids (whatever the age), then these are our top hints.

1.  Look for a good quality trek operator.

Ask them about their evacuation procedures.  Inquire if their guides are first aid trained, and confirm they receive regular updates to that training.  Ask about their first aid kit and oxygen.  It is extremely difficult to evacuate from the Inca Trail – so if you do have a problem you want to be with a quality operator.  This is not a time to be economizing if that means compromising safety.

2.  Hire an extra porter.

Most reputable agencies include a limit of about 7kg/15lbs in the price of your trek.  This covers a basic change of clothes and your sleeping bag.  It means that you need to carry a decent amount in your day pack as well.  By hiring an extra porter, they can carry all those extras so that the kids can walk without a pack.  Remember, ask every company about their treatment of porters.

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3.  Consider doing a private trek.

Again, this is a cost consideration, but if you choose to do a private trek it means that it is just you and your family on the trail.  The guide will be able to adapt your hours hiking perfectly to your children’s pace.  You will feel better because you know that your kids aren’t holding up the group – or even being goofy (in camp) at the end of a long day.   Ask your trek operator for a kid friendly guide – someone who will be patient with the many questions kids have.  We highly recommend APUS Peru adventure travel specialists.

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4.  Acclimatize extremely well.

By this, we mean at least 3 days at altitude but preferably 4 or 5 days.  Take a look at our Tips For Acclimating To Altitude With Kids.  Don’t listen to trek operators who say 2 days are enough – acclimation is a serious issue and if you have any issues it will significantly affect the quality of your trek.

5.  Get travel insurance.

We personally never travel without a comprehensive travel insurance policy.  However if you are trekking the Inca Trail with kids it is ESPECIALLY  at time to have great travel insurance! Make sure that it covers adventure activities.  If you need to get your child helicoptered out of the Inca trail, you will want to have travel insurance.  Consider World Nomads Family Insurance for your adventure, but make sure the policy is right for you!

What Are Other Options, If I Decide The Inca Trail With Kids Is Not For Me

You can still go trekking in Peru with kids.  In fact, we would consider taking one of the Peru alternative treks for kids in preference to doing the Inca trail.

Major reasons for suggesting an alternative trek are:

  • You can hire a mule or riding horse for the children to ride if they are tired.  This has major benefits of adding a fun element for the kids, as well as resting tired legs.
  • Some of them have road access to various points, meaning that evacuation or simply finishing a trek early is much easier than the Inca Trail.
  • You don’t need to buy permits in advance, so there is greater flexibility in what you can do.
  • Some of them offer much more interaction with the local people and animals which are likely to be more interesting to younger kids or tweens.
  • There are no steps.  The steps on the Inca Trail are a killer.
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In our opinion, doing a variation of the Lares trek would be the best.  All around the Lares region there are tiny villages where people live an age-old way of life.  They wear traditional dress and still herd alpacas and llamas.  Lares is crisscrossed by trails used by the local people in their everyday life – a good travel agency should be able to make suggestions of a less challenging route that offers plenty of local interaction.

While we are on the subject of recommendations, we don’t recommend the Rainbow Mountain with Kids.  All the reasons why are contained in the post.

Looking For More Information On Peru For Kids

Check out some of our most popular Peru for kids blog posts below.

Best Of Peru Itineraries With Kids

11 Fun Peru Facts For Kids

Sacred valley Peru With Kids

Visiting Machu Picchu With Kids

Best Family Hotels In Machu Picchu

Want to get your kids excited about Peru – check out these books:

 

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6 comments

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  • Wonderful tips! I would love to do this as a family. Our daughter is only a toddler, so we have to wait a bit, but I’m inspired to keep this in mind for our future!

  • This is a really useful read. We’ll be in Peru next year with our kids (they’ll be nearly 8 and 10 at the time). I’ve done loads of reading up about the Inca Trail, and even though I think our kids are very fit and resilient, we’ll probably aim to do another multi-day hike and visit Machu Picchu the ‘easy’ way from Aguas Calientes. I’d love to hear more of your recommendations. #fearlessfamtrav

  • This is a really useful post. We’ll be in Peru next year with our kids who’ll be nearly 8 and 10 at the time. I’ve done lots of reading on the Inca Trail, and though I think our kids are fit and resilient we’ll probably chose to do another multi-day trek to experience the Andes and local communities and visit Machu Picchu the ‘easy’ way from Aguas Calientes. I’d love to hear more of your recommendations. #fearlessfamtrav

    • Thanks! I agree that even with fit kids the Inca Trail would be tough for an 8 and 10 year old. Consider Lares as a good local community trek around Cusco. We will be in Peru next year too (my daughter will be 10, son 7, and baby just 1). I’m thinking we might do a short mother daughter trek with the 10 year old but not sure where yet!

  • A wonderfully informative post about hiking the Inca Trail with kids. This is high on my wishlist of things to do with my boys. I’m thinking mine are probably old enough now at 11, 13 and 15. Thanks so much for linking up to #fearlessfamtrav.

Hi! We are a multicultural family from Peru, Nicaragua & Australia. We believe adventures can be global – and local – and are one part of our sustainable lifestyle, and raising children who are global eco-citizens.