Family Travel to the South of Peru: Huacachina and Sand Dunes
One of the things in our bucket list was visiting with the family the south of Peru Huacachina Village and its famous sand Dunes located in Ica.
Huacahina is a Village build around a lagoon know as the desert oasis, Huacachina is a popular place to adventure on dune buggy and sandboarding. We stayed at the hotel Las Dunas, a good fun family resort located 15 minutes from Huacachina in Ica. After we visit Paracas and fly the Nazca Lines with the kids we decided to take them to have fun at Huacachina Village and do some sanboarding and dune buggy.
First, I have to tell you I have been to Huacachina before and now it is busier than ever. The sad part is that there is so much plastic on the sand Dunes. There are lot of dune buggies and they transport you deep into the desert to see the huge sand dunes on the coast. These ancient mountains of sand are beautiful and surreal. And adventurous travelers are welcome to try sandboarding down the dunes!
For these reason, we hired a van from the hotel to transport the 8 of us, but only 6 of us went in the adventure. My parents wouldn’t go it was so much. We found Huacachina full of visitors, you can see the pictures. We stop at the entrance and got our tickets per 7 soles, after that our guide introduce us to our driver and we got in our dune buggy.
Our guide and driver greet us – Note there are so many companies and type of cars. Usually, people book in advance their drivers. Ours dune buggie and driver wasn’t like I expected. He seems that enjoy what he does but didn’t seem to worry about security. However, he was very lay back for this mama bear.
Our car wasn’t as I expected. The seat belts were in bad shape and didn’t hold tight. However, no one seems to worry about it. The kids were super excited d to be in a boogie car. The dunes were the beautiful infinite view of sand and we keep going in deeper dunes and I started to feel uncomfortable for the kids safety althioygh i knew they were doing this for long time. The first one deep drop, second deeper so fun and my kid – the most reluctant to speak Spanish said “Mami me gusta mucho” then I relaxed! After that, we stop and got ready to slide on the sand.
Tips: Things to not forget: Googles or glasses per sand. I brought googles because easy to carry and we used at the pool. Maskto don’t get sand in your mouth especially when you slide down. So much fun!
Look at the video the slide was easy for my 7-year-old and my 9-year-old. They really have a blast with their cousins in this unique place. So glad for this amazing experience.
After so much fun we stop to enjoy the view of Huacachina Village, some food, and festivities this little charming town has.
I hope you enjoy the pictures and videos we took of our adventure.
Our Cuzco adventure with kids couldn’t be complete without visiting Sacred Valley. On our visit, we stayed in Urubamba, the little gem of Sacred Valley.
Sacred Valley is fertile farmland on the heart of the Inca Empire located in Ollantaytambo and Urubamba Districts. It was Inca’s properties and Inca’s people settle up there because of their very important maze production.
We stayed in Urubamba for a day before taking our train to Machu Picchu. This little town is less “touristy” than Ollantaytambo but still close by to the train station.
Our itinerary with kids in Urubamba:
We arrived in a small town in the evening. It was fascinating to me, the streets were so small for the cars that it made hard to manipulate to get in. The reason is that the size of the street reminded the same size since the Colonization. Our car was too big for them and it almost got stuck. Exciting!
Next morning, after a good breakfast provided by the hotel, we have so much fun exploring Urubamba’s local market with the kids. During our visit to the market, they got to make new friends and played with local kids and dogs. At the market, boys found a toy store, and you know how boys are when they see a ball, right? They beg us for a ball and we got one with they played around until we left and donated it to the local kids.
At the market, we were able to find great tea and Maca. After a nice stroll back to the hotel we left to Ollantaytambo.
I feel that visiting Urubamba was a real Andean’s experience for the kids, it was a town very laid back. You don’t find a bunch of tourist walking around, just working on trading or selling agriculture products. We love this!
If you are wondering if visiting Sudamerica, Peru with kids is the right idea. Here is the information you need to take this decision. South America is located mostly in the Southeast hemisphere and Is the Spanish and Portuguese speaking area of the Americas. I am going to focus mainly on Peru on this blog.
The Spanish invasion to Peru in latest 1500, brings a strong influence of Spanish culture in Peru and in most South Americas countries. There is so much to see in South America and Peru is the gem of Southamerica.
South America geography helps to created amazing cities and places to visit. It is surrounded by Ocean Pacific and Atlantic, and on the Western are dominated by the Andes; while in the eastern side present a tropical area with lowland surrounded by major rivers. Peru is one of the few countries that geographically posses part of the coast, Andean and tropical area. Peru is a must visit Country due to their diversity, there is more than just amazing Machu Picchu is a country that will awe you.
Does Peru Have One of The New 7 Wonders of The World?
Machu Picchu in Peru is considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, together with:
The Great Wall of China
Christ the Redeem statue in Brasil
Chichen Itza in Mexico
Roman Coliseum in Rome
Taj Mahal in India
Petra in Jordan
What Should I know before Traveling to Peru with kids?
Weather in Peru varies according to the City. This is happening due to its geography. Peru has a coastal city like Lima and Nazca. Andean Cities as Arequipa and Cusco, as well as tropical cities as Loreto and Madre de Dios, this last two located on the Peruvian Amazonian Jungle.
Cusco is in high altitude, you need to take actions to prevent it.
Cusco is located on the Andean while Machu Picchu is located in the tropical and warmer area.
You would need to drink water from a bottle.
Eat only cooked vegetables.
Spend time in Lima. Lima has so many great places to visit
If you take a picture you will be charged, especially in the tourist areas. don’t be surprised if you take a picture and then the peso ask you is “5 soles” please. Also, if you take pictures with them usually they charge you. Keep in mind is their main income and your sweet souvenir.
If you are doing the Inca hike book your slot as earliest is possible months in advance.
If you doing the Inca trail make sure you are in shape.
There are two shifts to enter to Machu Picchu and a limited of 200 people per day to enter Huayna Picchu
People start getting in Machu Picchu at 6:00 am you will need to be up sometimes from 4:00 am to get in there.
You don’t need a VISA if you coming from the USA.
Be ready for the unexpected
Is It Safe to Travel To Peru with kids?
Thousands of people visit Peru each year and return home from a trouble-free trip. By taking the same basic precautions as you would traveling anywhere is safe for you and your family.
If you want to avoid the crowd you can travel from April to May or September to October that is considered the low season. Although there are chances for rain May and October are generally great months to see everything greener and less crowded. I have been there on those months and once in heal, so an umbrella or poncho will be great to add to your packing list.
Cusco is a definitely safe place to travel if you want ideas of what to do in Cusco check this blogs
Why is Machu Picchu Considered one of the Wonders of the World?
Machu Picchu is a citadel build in the 15th century on the top of a mountain located 7 970 feet. Above the Sacred Valley through where the Urubamba rivers run. This was the citadel where the Incas and his royalty family lived. Its impressive location and construction in classic Inca style well preserved despite earthquakes and harsh climate made it famous around the world.
It was built with big boulders and there are many theories on how they did that. No one has a final answer. Machu Picchu was voted in 2007 as one of the new Wonder of the world. After getting international attention in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, in an effort to help its preservation the Citadel was declared a sanctuary in 1981. Later in 1983, it was declared a World Heritage by the UNESCO before becoming a World Wonder of the World
How Easy is it to Visit Machu Picchu with Young children?
Traveling with kids has their own challenges, like anything with family, so in order to make the trip a briss, plan in advance. the experience is priceless and to me definitely worth it.
if you are nursing a baby be sure of their routine and bring wherever is need to keep the routine going. I traveled while nursing my kids, not to Machu Picchu but to Lima. keep hydrated is the clue so you can keep baby happy, I nursed my kids during take off to easy their ear pressure, or gave them a pinkie to suck on.
To get to Machu Picchu you need to take an airplane or bus, a train, and another bus. My kids appreciate all the rides. To travel with kids you need to be ready for the unexpected and have the best attitude. Machu Picchu with older kids is easier, but you need to expect them to wake up earlier to go to the ruins. One of us went to nake the bus line earlier and the other one stays, but your kids have to be ready at the bus station by 5:30. There is the option of the second shift later during the day, which is good for kids. We just didn’t want to miss the amazing show of the fog breaking through the sun. We had great time kids were faster than us and they love exploring the Inca ruins.
High Altitude sickness?
Cusco is located at an Altitude of 3,400 meters (11,200ft) above sea level, everyone reacts to attitude different. I always get a slight headache, my older son got one too, on the other hand, my husband and the youngest kid didn’t feel discomfort. For attitude I always tend to have an easy first day in Cusco, arrive and don’t walk around too much. I take into consideration that some streets are on hills and it doesn’t help for your body to acclimate.
There is always mate de coca available in local restaurants and at hotels. Usually, hotels give you that as soon as you arrived. I recommend you to drink it. water is boiled so you won’t get sick for that. then, rest for a few hours before exploring the city, a good nap will help your body to the different amount of oxygen is getting.
What is The Weather Like in Machu Picchu and Cusco, Peru?
Peru weather varies according to the area.
Lima weather is average during the year not too hot or too cold, with temperatures ranging from 12 C or 54 F to 18C or 64 F in Winter. On the hot season temperature range from 24C or 75F to 28C or 82 F.
Winter is during the month of July and September and Summer from January to March.
Cusco weather is different than Lima due to its geography, the Andeans have a great influence on it. It has two very mark seasons from November to April is the wet season or winter and May to October the dry season or summer. February is wettest. The dry season is partly cloudy and is cold year around. Over the course of the year, the temperature varies from 32F to 66F. the temperature varies so little then we can’t cold or hot season. when sunny during the day is pretty warm. Cusco is usually warm and sunny during the day and very cold at night.
Machu Picchu Weather:
The rainy season is from November to March and April to November is dry season. weather is part of the jungle so it can feel very tropical. The hottest temperature in 26C (79 ) and reaching temperatures of -2C (-36) in the coldest months. it always warm during the day and cold evenings, so bring layers.
What is the nearest airport to Machu Picchu?
The closest airport to Machu Picchu is Alejandro Velasco Astete located on Cusco. It is an international airport that received domestic flights as well as some international flights. Is located close to City Center. Machu Picchu is located 3 hours on the train from Cusco. You may want to know how we made it to Machu Picchu, route and costs.
Named after the first airplane Pilot that cross the Andean. Taxis are located just outside the landing area. Plan in advance your pick up. Although Cusco is pretty safe if not plan in advance taxis can be pretty expensive.
What Should I Prepare for a Trip to Machu Picchu?
Peru is one of the best places in the world to travel make the most of it planning it correctly.
Make arrangements for you pick up from airport to hotel in Lima or Cusco
The Nazca lines are amazing geoglyphs draw in a huge scaled by the Nazca people. A civilization which began around 100 B.C. and flourished from A.D. 1 to 70. These geoglyphs are drawn on the desert dirt and can be seen from high. They were drawn along 30 miles or 48 kilometers ( and around 170 Miles Square and 450 Kilometers Square) and represent animals and plants. The Nasca Lines were created between 500 BCE and 500 CE. You can see pictures of them here.
There are many theories but they still a mystery. In 1994 the Nazca lines were declared UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What are the Nazca Lines Drawn?
The Nazca lines drawings are a series of animals like monkey, whale, llama, duck, lizard, and dog. Also birds as the Hummingbird and Insects as the spider.
We can find plants like cactus, flower, tree and a humanoid shape called “astronaut” that seems greeting you. Check for your self here
Why Are the Nazca Lines a Mystery?
Nazca Lines has been studied for over 80 years and it still a mystery to many. First, because there is not a completely proved theory of how the geoglyph was made.
The studies of Nazca lines started on the earlies the ’20s by local Toribio Mejia Xesspe, a Peruvian archaeologist. However, more research started after it was flying over on the 1930s.
Earliest studies pointed out that the purposed of the geoglyph were astronomy related taking in consideration the position of the lines around the winter solscitice.
Later, Maria Reiche, a German archaeologist got to research them and concluded that its purpose was to be an astronomical calendar. She further believed that some of the animal geoglyphs were representative of groups of stars in the sky.
More recent researchs lean to believe that its purpose was related to water, a very valuable source in the arid lands of the Peruvian coastal were Nazca Culture developed. Some believe that Nazca lines were used to point to where water can be found. Later another theory said that the drawing was used to as a part of a ritual to the gods and effort to bring needed rain.
Research still trying to find the real purpose, but something is real, they are amazing creation that has survived 1000 years!
Are the Nazca Lines Visible from Space?
There are Nazca Lines viewing tower right off the side of the Pan-American Highway, which passes right through the desert where the ancient Peruvian symbols are found. However, the view of all the Nazca lines is limitated. We recommend to see them on the airplane if you can afford it.
Are Nazca Lines for Kids?
Absolutelly yes! our kids really enjoyed visiting and learn so much about ancient culture. There are Museums you can visit once there. Besides the fly, they were impressed with the mommies. You can check that here.
Nasca with kids was for us a great learning experience and I hope you you dont hesitated to do it with kids.
I hope this help you when take your kids to Peru and have fun in family!
I will keep updating this as we keep travelling back there.
Our first stop exploring the Sacred Valley was an amazing visit to Chincheros with the kids. Chincheros is well known for its great artisans. It is located in Urubamba before Moray and Mara’s Salt Pond’s
The first thing you want to know about Chincheros it is that is a small town close to Cuzco. It has great artisans that have created beautiful textiles since the Inca’s time.
Second, I highly recommend it for kids. They are great weaving centers and local women gave us a great educational show. They explained the Inca’s process of getting colors from plants in English and Spanish in a very entertained way. You can watch the video here. scroll down
Once there you get inside and find this little ginny pig house where they raised them. The kids were able to see them, they are kind of cute.
Next, we are greeting by the artesian and proceed to seat down.
We can find on the display what plant belongs to a specific color. It was wonderful and educational to see where they come from. I feel this visit was very educational for the kids.
Basically, they ground in a mortar the desired color. Once they get the sheep wool they watched and make it boiled together with the desired color.
Last time we visit we stayed in Miraflores and visit the Malecon de Miraflores, Lima scenic cliff top pathway almost six miles long and it is line with gardens along the way and the views are amazing. Along with this, you find different parks, restaurants, mini gyms, skateparks among other things. This is divided as Malecón Cisneros, Malecón de la Reserva, and Malecón 28 de Julio. The views from it are just amazing!
All the way in Malecon de Miraflores you can find great parks: Maria Reiche, Antonio Raimondi, Parque Grau, and Centro America Park, IIZHAN Rabik Park and Parque del Amor.
2. Stop at El Parque del Amor
Love’s Park is one iconic park in Miraflores. The giant sculpture of two lovers kissing is in the middle of this park overlooking the Ocean. It is surrounded by mosaic walls on the benches. Is located in Malecon Cisneros a short walk from Larcomar. When in Lima make sure you visit this gem.
3. Shop in Larcomar
Miraflores is a popular touristic area and Larcomar is a beautiful shopping center located by the Cliff of the beach. Its construction in 1998 caused controversy among neighbors because it was built on what it was a public park: Parque Salazar. Now is the favorite of locals and tourists, it has brought more people to already popular neighboorhood.
The park where was build it had a Cliff view and now this beautiful shopping mall posses those view. People local and tourist can enjoy a lunch, dinner or any meal with a stunning Ocean View. Besides restaurants, Larcomar has bowling alleys, clothes stores, ice cream shops, coffee shops, kids games areas. Is a great place to spend time.
4. East around Parque Kenedy
El Parque Kenedy is located on the heart of Miraflores at the end of Avenida Arequipa. is the little main square with the little the Virgen Milagrosa’s Church and County building.
There are traditional restaurants as well as fast food restaurants. Around the Parque Kenedy, you find la Calle de las Pizzas, it is basically a street full of pizzerias, bar, and pubs. It is loud and they work on making you get inside their place. Sometimes it can be too much with family.
The Parque Kenedy usually has art exhibitions of local artists that are selling their work. Also, you can find souvenirs fairs. There you can find also the stop for the City Sieghsight panoramic Bus Tour, Mirabus.
El Parque de la imaginacion is a playful science and technology park and museum for children age 5 to 12. It is set up in a warehouse type of building where you can find different activities for kids.
A mini fire station, where kids can ride the fire engine and put the fire down. You can get to experience an earthquake, make giant bubbles. Learn about the human body and walk through some organs. It has a robot dinosaurs exhibition and jungle animals. Create energy riding a bike.
There is also an aquarium with sea animals from local areas in Peru. fun for little and older. For Spanish speaker or non-Spanish speakers.
The park opens from Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm. Entrance Cost $5. This Park and Museum is located on Av. José de la Riva Agüero Cdra. 8 s/n – San Miguel.
Lima’s Horse Race Track is a choice If you want to do something different with your family while in Lima. Lima’s only Horse Race Track called Monterrico hipodromo. This is Horse Race Track was built in 1959 and open to the public in 1960. It is at a great distance from Lima Center. Located in Derbi Avenue s/n door 3 in the District of Surco.
The Monterrico Hipodromo’s entrance is free for the public but there is a for members only, with a bar and restaurant. The public entrance is not luxury, it is a local area and free of charge. There, you can see people really passionate about horse races. The public area has a great view of the Horse race Track wherever you are. Plus it has a huge screen. You won’t miss a bit.
Inside the track, you can buy the race info horse as time and horse numbers. We watch a couple of races before betting on it. There are lots of local folks betting. My dad is a huge horse race track and this was kinda a family thing to do.
My kids really enjoy watching the races, eating popcorn and playing on the little play area. It was the first time they saw a horse race as well as mine. Crazy right? but growing up I just saw this on TV. I hope you enjoy this gallery and learn what to expect there.
This is the oldest zoo in Lima. The legends park is an extended park where you can appreciate not only the zoo, also a botanical garden, archeological sites, butterfly rides, playground amusement, restaurants and more. For these reasons is a local favorite spot.
The park is located in the Av. Parque de las Leyendas 580, San Miguel Lima. The unique thing about this zoo is that you can find many birds and animals from South America and Central America. The entrance costs $2.3 per kids and $4 per adults and It is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
One of the highlights of this zoo is that houses lots of animals from Peru. The zoo is divided into geographical regions Cost, Jungle and Andes showing typical animals from those areas and the world.
Remember, It is always better to arrive when they open (9 am) if you want to avoid the crowds, especially on weekends and holidays. You can see llamas, jaguar, cougar, Amazonian monkeys, elephants, zebras, lion, tiger. You can easily spend a half day here looking at the animals and visiting all the areas.
This park is very big and open, so during summer time, it can get very hot. So, you can buy an umbrella at the kiosks by the entrance or wear protection (hat, sunblock). If you have little kids bring a stroller if you can.
As you explore the park you will notice there is one court food area but many kiosks. On the court food, you can find the famous Peruvian roasted chicken, yummy but not many vegetarians options. There is plenty of candy and snacks on the kiosks.
Ancon is one of Lima’s Beach Resort located in the North part of Lima. An hour by car (about 43 km) from Lima and very popular for local people because of its calm water.
This area was an important pre-colonial town. It was a fishing town and a burying area on the pre-Inca era. Ancon has an archeological museum with an exhibition of all the rest founds in this area. Later in 1930, it was transformed into an upscaled Beach resort.
On these times, it is not a very touristic place but if you like some real experience visiting a foreign country, this can be a great experience for the whole family. We do recommend if you do this trip to hire professional transportation or doing through an official local tourist agency.
Ancon has a beautiful path walk build among the building and the beach. At the beach, there are row boats, paddle boat, and kayaks that you can rent or you can pay to be ride per around $2.5 per person. The rides can take you to the cave house of many birds, sea lions, and even penguin if you lucky enough.
Ancon beach is a calm beach and full of seaweed and it makes a great house for beautiful sea creatures. It has abundant sardines and our kids were fascinating watching them, swimming with them and trying to catch them.
The good news is you can rent there chairs and umbrellas, boat, paddle boats or kayak. Its peaceful water will let you enjoy these type of rides.
The Port City of El Callao is a great place to visit and relax. El Callao is an upcoming area like many in Lima. It used to be a dangerous area and now you can enjoy its beauty in a safe way.
First, a little bit of history, during the Viceroyalty of Peru, Callao was one of the main Port of the Americas. Callao it is a peninsula surrounded by the Pacific Ocean with three main beaches Cantolao, Malecon, and Arenilla. Where you can find great Cevicherias (restaurants specialized on Ceviches), Naval Museum and the Real Felipe fortress, Peruvian Naval Academy, Real Felipe Fort.
Peruvian Naval Academy
Beach Resort La Punta
Cantolao is a great beach located by Peruvian Academy Naval. On the 19th Century, one of the top beach Resort.
It is well known by locals for its cold water and rocky ground. You can get a boat ride per $3 – $10 per person upon how far you want to go. You have the options to go Island San Lorenzo or Island Palomino.
It has green areas and a little playground, very well maintained. Real Felipe is a walking distance of this beach.
Real Felipe Fortress
The Fortress Real Felipe was built to defend the Peruvian Port and the city of Lima from pirates and corsairs during colonial times. In 1886 the fortress was used as a naval defense point between a Spanish fleet sent to South America to reclaim its colonies and the land batteries in the cost of Peru.
The fortress is currently the Peruvian Army Museum. Cost $5 per person.