Planning a family vacation brings with it many unique challenges, and when the destination is a South American country, the more you know, the better the trip will be for all. This is particularly true if you’re vacationing in Peru since there are so many regions and unique locales to explore.
The Peruvian culture is family-oriented, so family vacations here are an excellent idea and fun way to share time together. Whether you’re looking for an experience in the Amazon rainforest, the Andean highlands, mysterious archeological ruins, quaint colonial cities, or a combination of these, planning a family trip to Peru can lead to a vacation your children will long remember.
To help with this, consider adding one or more of these top nine things to your Peru family travel itinerary.
Whatever age your children are, they’ll be amazed by the spectacular site of Machu Picchu. So much so that they’ll love learning about the Incas and the history and culture surrounding this ancient site. As one of the many top things to do in Peru with kids, this will undoubtedly be a highlight of your trip.
Situated between the Andes highlands and the Amazon jungle, Machu Picchu served the Incas as a safe location and way to avoid invaders. Mountain springs in the area brought in enough water for the Incas to live comfortably here for long periods of time. Join a tour through the ruins and learn about its unique characteristics. If your children are a little older, also consider hiking up the challenging Machu Picchu Mountain and observe the ruins from above.
Add variety to your family vacation when traveling to Peru with kids by mixing it up a bit in the Sacred Valley. Located along this stretch of land between the towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, various activities abound. You can continue to explore ruins and historic colonial towns. You also have several options to add adventure, which may be essential for the older children in the family.
The Sacred Valley has become somewhat of an adventure hub for tourists, offering ziplining over beautiful scenery or cycling along the hills and flats in the area. You can also go on a guided white water rafting trip on the Urubamba River. Sporting the occasional grade-4 rapids, this is a thrilling adventure for the entire family. In addition to exploring ruins and a touch of adventure, you’ll have colorful local markets to peruse and delicious foods to try here also.
If you’re looking for a spot to spend a few days and experience the many things Peru has to offer, consider Pisac. Located in the famed Sacred Valley, you’ll have plenty of things to keep your kids busy while the adults also enjoy the various sites. Start by roaming the colorful market and letting each child find a souvenir to take home.
For an additional bonding experience, make your way downhill from Pisac on a 25-minute hike together. While the trail is well-marked, it does contain a few challenges, especially for younger children.
You’ll pass through an Incan doorway, landing you on a small ridge. From here, you can spend as much time as you want to explore the ruins. This locale is usually sparse of crowds, so you can enjoy it at your family’s own pace. Once finished, continue downhill to see irrigation channels and small complexes. You’ll also enjoy stopping occasionally to admire the scenic landscapes surrounding you.
Immerse your family in authentic Peruvian culture by spending several days in the town of Cusco. Explore the unique architecture in this UNESCO World Heritage Site by admiring the Sacsayhuaman, the Cathedral, church of Santo Domingo, and La Compañia. Spend time in the main square known a Plaza de Armas and enjoy the various restaurants, shops, and museums.
Take a break from sightseeing and visit the Mercado Central de San Pedro, or Cusco market, and intermingle with the locals. Stroll among hundreds of stalls offering everything from local handicrafts to clothing. Search for souvenirs to take home, to both share together and individually for each child. Stop in the food court to try various local treats, including sugary churros with chocolate sauce.
Immersing your family in an Amazonian adventure can be as easy as arranging a stay at an all-inclusive jungle lodge and experiencing everything the rainforest has to offer. This wildlife-rich region is a curious locale and one of the top places to explore while in Peru with kids.
Your jungle lodge will serve as your base from which you can embark on boat tours around the rainforest. Spot giant river otters, caimans, parrots, toucans, and even tarantulas. Some locations allow you to fish for piranhas. Canopy towers provide incredible jungle views, while botanical farms nearby provide lessons on forest medicines.
And what better or more fun way to stay in the Amazon than in a treehouse? Situated in the Amazonian tree canopies, The Treehouse Lodge is an impressive structure offering 12 bungalows connected by steel cable bridges and raised wooden pathways. Solar-powered, you’ll have everything you need here, including individual showers and bathrooms. Each bungalow is sealed with finely woven mosquito mesh to maintain the spectacular views.
Venture to the highest, navigable freshwater lake in South America and gain a new perspective of Peruvian life. Lake Titicaca sits high above sea level and provides a glimpse into the spectacular nature Peru has to offer. Blue water sparkles as you enjoy the sights of the surrounding jungle forests.
Climb aboard a boat tour to the islands of the lake, including the Uros Floating Islands crafted out of reeds. Here your children will discover all about the indigenous people and civilizations of Peru and also spot wildlife on the way. You can also visit the traditional villages on the outskirts of the lake.
The capital city of Lima offers much for families to explore and experience together. The location serves as an excellent break from the natural terrains found throughout the country, giving your kids a view of modern-day Peru with cultural and historical influences as part of their way of life.
Walk or bike along the boardwalk above the Pacific Ocean and admire the many gardens, soccer courts, and various unobstructed views of the coast. Stop in at the Choco Museo in the Miraflores district and take a tour. Your children can even make their own chocolate here. For the smaller children, visit the El Circuito Magico del Agua, a waterpark with water bridges and a timed water fountain to run through. At night there is also a fun water light show to enjoy.
Spend the day exploring the Colca Canyon, located in the southern portion of Peru. The canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and provides for a spectacular natural sight. You can also spot the large Andean Condors soaring overhead, so be sure to bring binoculars for your children, so they can spot them on their own. Also, have them look for the Giant Hummingbirds found here.
Enjoy roaming around in the surrounding family-friendly villages and get to know the Peruvian natives and how they live. You can also explore more Incan ruins in the area. To top off your visit, soak in the outdoor hot springs for a special treat, making this location a must to add to your Peru family itinerary.
Enjoy the beaches of Paracas in coastal Peru, then embark on a boat trip over to the uninhabited Ballestras Islands. Here you and your children will enjoy sighting various unique wildlife, including sea lions, Humboldt penguins, dolphins, pelicans, and Inca terns. Viewing wildlife in their natural habitats is a fun way to learn about these amazing creatures by both children and adults alike.
Visit the Paracas National Reserve, which covers various terrain, including desert, ocean, and islands. You can observe the unique wildlife here or sit out on the sandy white beaches of La Mina and Mendieta. On its peninsula, catch a glimpse of the mysterious, gigantic prehistoric candelabra geoglyph etched into the coastal hillside. If time permits, wander through the Museo de Sitio Julio C. Tello for its ancient relic displays.
Family vacations are a time to be together and make memories. With such biodiversity, historical ruins, fascinating wildlife, delicious food, and colorful markets, Peru offers a spectacular family-friendly vacation for those with children of all ages.
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