After a great time in Lima visiting family, we started our way to Cusco and Machu Picchu. I was super excited for the kids to have this experience. The first time I was in Machu Picchu I was 15 years old and it was an amazing experience.
Cusco is located in the South of Peru, so from Lima we needed to catch a plane for the hour-plus long flight. However, Some people travel from Lima to Cusco on the bus, and that takes about 24 hours. It depends on your sense of adventure – if you like driving on a bumpy road along cliffs that plunge down hundreds of feet, the bus is your ticket!. Since we travel with kids, so comfort and faster travel time is important. So, we took a flight to Cusco from Jorge Chavez Airport, the only civilian airport in Lima.
We all were afraid and excited about the high altitude of Cusco. Getting out of the airplane, we were welcomed with a basket full of coca leaves. You can chew it or not, or take it to later for a coca tea. Don’t worry, coca tea is the same as a strong cup of coffee, and how you react to it will depend on your sensitivities. It is legal, and optional, but imbibing it one way or another helps with the altitude. Pretty much every hotel provides coca tea. So, don’t worry about drinking coca tea, it is just an experience to have if you decide to go for it.
WERE TO STAY
We stayed at Kamila lodge – a little hotel in town. A pretty decent hotel but a little difficult to access since it is in the heart of the commercial district in Cusco. Since I know Cusco very well, we felt comfortable staying there despite its economical price. Also, I think it’s good to expose your kids to crowded, hectic places where they can meet real, local people and eat authentic cuisine instead of tourist fare. This little hotel was located in a walkable area relatively close to the main square. Cusco has a lot of narrow streets and it’s hard to see landmarks, but if you have a good sense of direction you’ll be fine. We were able to walk around and find this bakery that makes local bunuelos. We all loved them!
The flight from Lima to Cusco takes only an hour, but you do need to be at airport early because it gets busy. Kids were easy and happy to get on the airplane…I’m so glad they are old enough that they can play card games like Uno and entertain themselves. iPads or movies are a great help as well.
WHAT TO EXPLORE ON YOUR FIRST DAY
Once we’d put our bags down at the hotel, the kids were excited to get out and explore. We let them do that but kept it to the minimum since we didn’t want the altitude to affect them. Actually, my younger son was okay with it as well as my husband. However, my older son and I got a headache. So, the two of us rested and then we went for a walk to the main square. We found a restaurant that has beautiful balconies and we enjoyed another coca tea. My son got a soup (sopa Criolla) that was called “levanta muertos” (raise the dead), it’s a soup that I love and my grandmother (she was from Cusco) used to make.
After feeling better, that night we went to visit the twelve-angle stone located by the Archbishop’s Palace. The next day we took a tour to amazing Chincheros, Salineras Maras and Moray, check my blog about it. The second day we visited a rescue zoo, Aras Rapay and Ollantaytambo…there’s so much to tell you about each one that is why I wrote up separate articles for each of them. On our 4th day we stayed in and explored the town of Urumbamba before taking the train to Aguas Clients where we stayed till next day when we visited Machu Picchu.