Family Time

Peru for kids: How to Do Nazca Lines with family

Nazca

Seeing the Nazca Lines from the air with kids is no joke. If you are afraid of taking your kids in a little airplane to fly around thousand-year-old geoglyphs, this is not for you. Despite the anxiety that I have of flying in little airplanes, I did it with my family, and I have no regrets. My kids couldn’t believe what they were seeing!  It was really a blast seeing the wonder on their little faces – and the best part is they didn’t puke!  Here is how we did it and how much it cost.

WHAT ARE NAZCA LINES

Nazca is one of Peru’s many treasures. It is a small town, the home of an amazing thousand-year-old civilization, very well known for the giant lines drawn on the sand. They were created approximately between 500 BCE and 500 CE.

These geoglyphs expand in an area of around 75,358.47 ha. Every Individual figurative geoglyph designs measure between 0.4 and 1.1 km that means about.2 and .7 mile across! It is amazing just to think about it.

The whole length of all the lines is over 1,300 km that means 808 miles. Some people think they can see them by land. There are few spotting sights on a road, but I’m telling you don’t set your expectations high if you do. You can’t see the whole enchilada, believe me, I tried once!

Peru with family: Nazca Lines
Nazca dessert. This one of the picture we took from the air

HOW WE GOT TO NAZCA

We went to Nazca by bus and it took us 6 and a half hours to get there from Lima. There are many bus lines you can take, but we chose Cruz del Sur. We chose their Cruise Suite Service that cost $40 per person. Seats were comfortable which is important for traveling with kids. It includes food, however, the food wasn’t the best.

You will think seven hours is a way to long ride for two littles. My kids are used to long rides. But in Peru, the buses come with a bonus of electronic board entertainment. They look forward to it.

STAY IN NAZCA

Nazca is a little town and there is not much exciting to see but we wanted to grab the first flight the next day so we stayed there for a day.

We chose the Hotel  Casa Hacienda Oasis. It cost around $100 per night, of course, you can find cheaper places. We stayed here because the pool and hotel were pretty. Although you probably won’t spend much time on there, to be honest. The restaurant was pricey, and the pool was full of bugs during the night. No swimming at night.

After our flight, we used the pool. It’s early summer in January so the weather was perfect for us. It was a perfect day.

FLYING THE NAZCA LINES: THE FLIGHT

We got our tickets to fly through Nazca Flights from its good reviews on Trip Advisor.  The cost was of $102 per person with an additional $10 per person airport tax.

Travel with kids: Nazca Lines
Ticket to fly Nazca

They picked us up from our hotel around 7:30 am and took us to the airport. At the airport, we got weighed and our documentation was checked (everyone had to have a passport or DNI, the Peruvian ID card).  After all that was done, we waited 20 minutes to pass through a simple security check. Then waited about 10 minutes for our airplane.

We were greeted by a friendly co-pilot that gave us the safety information. The kids couldn’t have been more excited to ride the small airplane. We took some pictures, and the co-pilot was nice to take pictures of us and provided us with maps and an explanation of what we will see and when we will see them. The little map with the route of what we will see was very helpful when in the air.  They sat us according to our weight to balance the plane, and everyone had a window seat.

Family fun: Nazca Lines with kids
All of us, ready to go

Peru with kids: Flying Nazca Lines with kids

The tribulation, using a map, explained to the kids and us what we were about to see. The order of the lines

Nazca Lines
Here is the map!

Once in the air we were able to see for the first time the whale draw on the sand. I had flew the Nazca lines before, but is the first time I saw the whale. Finally! and  pretty amazing. Check the pictures of the fly:

DURING THE FLIGHT

The astronaut geoglyph was one of the most impressive. This figure is located on a mountain it was hard to spot. Although we flew in circles several times, my husband and 7 years old kid couldn’t see it. It was right there! I took pictures for them.

After a while, by the time we spotted most of the lines,  my 7-year-old was feeling the altitude of the flight. He started resting his head and keeping it straight to stop the dizziness.  It was great that the crew kept an eye on everyone constantly, so that was helpful. Luckily he didn’t puke and we were able to land without any incident, but in case your kid does there are bags for it 😉

How did the Nazca people create these amazing geoglyphs? I still have no clue. There are many theories out there of how and why, but the only thing I know is that they are spectacular!  After landing, we hydrated getting some food from the little store on the mini airport and got some souvenirs at a good price ( t-shirt for $4 and little 3-key chains for $1, an example). Then, we were able to use the pool at the hotel and the weather was perfect at 10 AM when we returned. Next our next stop Dunas of la Huacachina!

Trip Item Cost
Adults Kid second Adult
Bus Lima to Nasca on Cruise Suite Service * $40 $40
Hotel one night for a family of 4 ** $100
Nasca Flight $102 $102
Airport tax $10 $10
total cost  per family of 4 $708
* you could get other services for $20 but they do stops and seats are different
** but this for one of the more expensive end this included taxi from bus station to the hotel

Finally, I hope you find this information helpful when planning your trip!

 

 

Back in the Redwoods – My first hike after breaking my ankle

Last week I was back in the redwoods, on my first hike after breaking my ankle in the summer of 2018. However, I didn’t realize how much I missed the forest until I was there. Nisene Marks Park, is a great place to visit and explore for hikes and I will explain to you why.

During the summer I broke my ankle I didn’t want to go into many details and make it  a big negative thing. Although there are many things I learned from the experience, I wanted  to focus on recovering and being positive. You can easily fall into depression if you just focus on the negative part of injury. Being dependent sucks.

Talk about a Surf Break

I broke my ankle learning to surf.  To make a long story short, after two hour of catching waves on the cold Monterey water and numb feet, I rolled my ankle on the sand. Although for the two hours before that I was having the time of my life. I couldn’t believe it was broken and it took a while to swallow the bad news and get used to my new temporary living arrangement.

Anyway, after 6 months (ten weeks in a cast, four in a boot and four in an ankle brace  and lots of physical rehabilitation) I finally feel strong enough to hike again. My hike started after a rainy day and I promised myself I wouldn’t go near the water, but I couldn’t help it.

Nisene Marks State Park

If you ever come to Santa Cruz, go explore the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, you can see the redwoods without going too far into the mountains. The park charges $10 per car for parking. If you want privacy and a beautiful jog or hike, this is your place. Many people go on bikes although the trails are closed to bikes (they can go on the main fire road though). You can still drive for portion of it, which is nice for people who can’t go on their own to far. I’m know how it is when you are mobility challenged. The trails are easy to follow and while trees are not as tall as they are in, say, Big Sur – it is still a gem in the wilderness.

Before I came here to Santa Cruz California, I had never hiked in a forest with redwood trees. I lived in Lima and to visit a forest I needed to travel by airplane or in a bus for 8 or 12 hours. The forests in Peru are located in the jungle. Forest in Peru’s jungles are beautiful, but humid and scary! It’s more like a Hawaii feeling were creatures can be anywhere. Also bugs..many bugs in the Peruvian jungle.

I remember going into a Santa Cruz forest for the first time, I wasn’t too excited. I was skeptical when I was told there were no bugs. But I kept adventuring and going deeper on hikes and seeing more and more colors, the smell and something about redwood trees and their height that captivated me.

Later on, seeing my kids exploring it just makes my heart dance and now, I can’t get enough adventures when we visit. If you ever close to the Santa Cruz mountains it is a must visit. Enjoy my gallery 😉

Never tired of collecting stuff

Family Trip to McWay Falls in Big Sur

Months back, we decided to take a family trip to McWay Falls in Big Sur. We needed to decompress and don’t have a huge budget to travel. I have been to Big Sur just few time for camping and hiking and it never disappointed me.  We research and decided to head to McWay Falls at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park , a place I hadn’t visited. It was a spur of the moment decision, now after six month since I broke my ankle break I don’t regret.

Our trip to McWay Falls in Big Sur just took few hours from home. So, we pack and hit the road.  We made short stops to get snacks from the fruit kiosks. Fruits Tatar’s good and is always good to support local farmers.

The beautiful scene helps you forget about the time you spend on the car. When you get there The Mc Way Falls is a short hike. I’d seen many pictures before -and you may have, too- of  the 80′ waterfall that pours onto the sand of the beach below, getting lapped up by the stunning aquamarine sea.

Unfortunately, they don’t actually let you go down and splash around under the McWay falls.  It’s a steep climb down some almost vertical cliffs to get there, and they have yet to put in an elevator.  It may be possible to access it via rubber dingy or something from the ocean, but as a tourist arriving by car, the best you’ll do is to gawk at it from a trail which runs along the northern side of the inlet, a few hundred yards away form the falls themselves.

But that’s OK.  I can’t help but feel that if people were allowed to go tromping around the falls, it wouldn’t maintain its majestic beauty for long.  Certainly the sand wouldn’t look so pristine for picture taking.  Speaking of the sand, I learned something interesting when I was there – not long ago, there wasn’t any sand there whatsoever.  A massive landslide in the 1980’s poured gazillions of tons of dirt, sand, and rock into the water, and a lot of it ended up washing up into the inlet and forming the beach.  The beach we see there today is very new, and they say some other geologic event might cause it to be washed away again one day.

Getting to the view of the Mc Way Falls took about 5 minutes on the trail. The Tunel that connects the trail from across the street fascinated the kids. When they stop playing there they did enjoyed the beauty of the view that is Just breathtaking. So go check it out while the getting is good!

Looking back I’m so thankful I didn’t hesitate taking this trip, because just two month after that I broke my ankle. We had great fun as a family on the trip. I know that as a parents sometimes you try to plan ahead everything because little people depend on you. However, sometimes the best  memories are made when you just follow your guts.

I’m so thankful for our planet and I’m glad Big Sur is so relatively  close to us. When I see the recently Catastrophe that is happening in California. I can’t help to reflect on the world that my kids know now, and the world we are leaving to them. Therefore, I commit to show my kids more of the beauty of the world. As well to  teach them more ways to help the planet: recycling, cleaning beaches, and  in general consuming less plastic. I hope you too.

I hope you enjoy a selection of photos from our outing.

 

 

Family Trip to Peru: 8 things to do in Aguas Calientes with Kids

Aguas Calientes (aka “Machu Picchu Village”) has so much more to offer than you think. It is the closest town with access to Machu Picchu. It’s located 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) away or about a 1.5 hours walk from Machu Picchu itself. Yes, many people walk! Urumbamba is a stunning place with natural hot baths that gave its Spanish name. It lies at the Vilcanota River and the only way to get here safely is by train.

You can take the train from Poroy, Urubamaba or Ollantaytambo and If you want to find updated information on how to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco click here or to find the cost of the train you can go to www.perurail.com.

Aguas Calientes has a rustic style mixed with the modern. Thanks to Peru’s growing economy, the rustic feeling of this town is changing. You may well stay there to get early to Machu Picchu, so I will give you some ideas of what to do with family or just yourself.

 

We decided take the train form Ollantaytambo – glad the kids still love trains! The view is gorgeous. Once we arrived at Machu Picchu Station (located at the town of “Machu Picchu Village” and not at the citadel) and checked into our hotel, we started exploring. Among the things we did and recommend are:

1.Check out the Mercado Artesanal: This is right at the exit of the train station, so you couldn’t miss it even if you wanted to (keep in mind that tourism is the main activity in this town) and prices are about the same than in other areas in Cusco. If you looking to save some money don’t buy at the first kiosk you come to – ask around.

2.Walk by the Aguas Calientes Bridge: bring a padlock and make a wish. Apparently this is a new tradition in this town that is happening in many cities in the world.

Not many padlocks yet but curious of how is going to be in few years!

3. Eat:  We were super hungry when we arrived in Aguas Calientes so we went straight to find a restaurant.  Indio Feliz was our choice after reading the reviews but it was hard to find with two hungry and tired kids. So we decided to eat at the nearest place with good reviews and a little view of the river. Can’t complain, everyone was happy with the food. Most restaurants in Aguas Calientes are of decent quality now that online reviews have become so important. Tip: don’t hesitate to check the reviews before you go in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Gelato: after a good meal we walked around and got a great gelato at Incontri del Pueblo Viejo located in Av. Pachacuteq 6° Cuadra S/N, Aguas Calientes, it is a pizzeria that sells terrific gelato at the front of the restaurant.

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5.Walk around Plaza Manco Capac and twon  Our kids were very happy to be able to run around the little Plaza and we checked out the cute little church.

6. Hike to Putukusy: After gelato we tried to find the entrance to Putucusy to show it to our family. The entrance is a short walk from town down the train tracks, and walking along train tracks is always an adventure. To get up to Putucusy you need to hike for miles and climb a series of pretty steep ladders but the view of Machu Picchu is amazing. However, the trail was closed due to slides, although the sign indicated it would be re-opened someday.

We hiked to PutuKusi before kids and we were looking forward to take the kids as far as we could
It was a crazy hike!
Our kids at the same spot were we were more than 10 years before. Putukusi was close for repair. Kids were excited and ready for a crazy hike
Our first time hiking to Ptukusi. More than 10 years ago and without kids

 

My husband was very bummed we couldn’t go farther

 

 

 

Although we couldn’t climb so far this time. This is the view to star. There are way more buildings

YOU CAN WATCH OUR GALERY OF OUR FIRST HIKE TO PUTUKUSI HERE!

7.Jardines de Mandor: this is another thing to do if you have time. Unfortunately we didn’t. This is an amazing botanical garden. It’s a one hour walk to the entrance gate, and access is 10 Peruvian soles. The walk itself is a nice adventure since you walk along the railway into the humid forest. You can see a waterfall at the end of a walk full with flowers and birds.

8.Thermal Baths: This may have medicinal properties due to its sulphurous waters coming up from the rocky subsoil. The Hot bath were destroyed by floods several years ago, but have been rebuilt and they are quite modern now. In order to provide a better service, it has facilities such as dressing rooms, restrooms and a cafeteria. This is an easy thing to do with kids but make sure they don’t want to swim there. It is not a pool and don’t forget to add swimming suit to your packing list.

Honestly we didn’t do it because we were there for just two days but if you have more time to stay go ahead and enjoy it.

We did need to get to bed early for our next day adventure. I hope this help yours!!

Family Trip to Peru: Cusco with kids

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.

Altitud first

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.