Machu Picchu with kids Everything You Need to know
Are you wonder if Machu Picchu is for kids? I am telling you it can be a family adventure. We finally made the dream true and took the boys to Machu Picchu…what an adventure! We defied all those scary notions that the trip would be too much for the for kids…that it’s too hard for the little ones. That is hard to travel and also to walk along the high cliffs (they might fall!), etc. Well, our kids are 6 and 8 and we’re very glad we did it now as a family – and I’ll tell you why.
Being Peruvian, I have been to Machu Picchu about seven times before I had kids, twice with my husband. Yeah, it sounds like too much, but I just got addicted to the energy of the place. It recharges me, I don’t know why. I can tell you that it is way better than a perfect day at the beach…and I am a total beach addict!
I haven’t come back there since our wedding, more than 10 years ago. Last time we were there we went with all our wedding guests that flew in from the USA (and Australia – love you, Bruce!) for our wedding. We had tons of fun as tour guides for the gringos…but that’s another story. Back to the kids traveling with us to Machu Picchu…
Over the past decade, Peru has had tremendous economic growth. It’s great for the Peruvian people, and as a tourist you’ll find a lot more comforts than in the past. But now you will face different challenges, especially traveling with kids.
The great thing is that the Machu Picchu ruins look better preserved, and you and your family will be blown away – safely. 🙂 No more fungus that erodes the ancient stones, yay! What has changed is that now you’re not free to explore the sanctuary as long as you please. There are two openings each day for visitors (morning and afternoon), and you must follow an established circuit, moving forward only.
Once you visit an area inside the ruins, they don’t want you to go backwards. That is challenging for little ones that like to explore. Don’t worry, they’ll be fine since there is so much to see ahead. It has changed so much and there are so many more people than when we last visited in 2006.
There is so much information to give you about Machu Picchu for kids and about how to get there with Kids and how much it cost– and you can find it here, but in this post I want to share with you our experience, let’s start with this. Once we got to Machu Picchu and how our day trip went
Getting to Machu Picchu with kids
Once in Cusco, to get to Machu Picchu you need to get tickets for the train, bus tickets (to get you from the “Machu Picchu Village” (formerly known as Aguas Calientes to the sanctuary), and get your entrance tickets to get into the ruins. You will probably end up taking the train from Ollantaytambo or Cusco. There are many tour operators who will book a complete package for you, including tours of the Sacred Valley for a family adventure.
If you go all the way to Machu Picchu, I say, go all the way. That means getting there at dawn to see the sun rise and burn away the clouds, gradually reviewing the grandeur of the sanctuary. Many people and families do the afternoon opening but you will miss a truly spectacular show.
Bus to Machu Picchu
To make sure we were there bright and early, we got in line for the bus at 3:00 A.M – but we had a little help. The night before, we found a couple of Peruvian women at the bus stop and asked them if this is where we line up. They said yes, and in fact, they were already in line. They couldn’t afford a hotel that night, so they were just going to sit there, all night long.
We made a little deal with them, since the hotels were all full: we bought them some blankets and a few snacks, and asked them to hold a place for us. Six hours later, I went to get in line at 3:00 A.M. I left the kids asleep in the hotel with my husband, and then they came around 5:30 because the first bus leaves at 6:00 AM sharp.
That’s the tricky part, since kids are cold and basically asleep – even though they got 8 hours of sleep, getting them up at 5:00 in the cold and dark is tough! Make sure you bring a bunch of stuff for them to feel warm and some fruit or something to wake them up. Keep enough free space in your backpacks for their stuff (hats, jackets) so that climbing and visiting will be easier for them so they’ll better enjoy your family adventure.
Along the way up, you’ll see all the hardcore backpackers who make the trek on foot from the village to the sanctuary. They have guards at the bottom of the road to make sure nobody sets off before 4:00 AM – a fast hiker can make it up to the top in 90 minutes, but most people will need two hours or more to make the climb. Even though we were on the first bus of the day, about 50-60 hikers made it there before us and were already in line by the time we arrived.
I have to tell you the bus route still scares me – it hasn’t changed, it’s still the same road hugging a cliff barely wide enough for two cars. You can’t see it at 6 am but on your way back in the afternoon it can make your heart stop for a second as the driver navigates dozens of hairpin turns. But, don’t worry – I’m told no Peruvians or foreign tourists have fallen off the cliff.
MACCHU PICCHU INCA CITADEL FOR THE KIDS
The kids slept in our arms on the bus on the way up. Once we got there, they started walking like zombies…they moaned and complained like the undead, believe me! When dawn broke, we were expecting the clouds to fade away and show Machu Picchu in all its glory…but unfortunately it was a very foggy morning, so the clouds didn’t burn off until 11 A.M. or so, by which time the place was overrun with tourists.
Once the kids were awake they started running and playing around the ruins and went ga-ga over it all, even though they’re well past the goo-goo ga-ga stage of life. 🙂 It was a magical family adventure, and it’s one that kids will never forget. They keep saying that they climbed mountains. I won’t forget it either.
Few Questions about Machu Picchu with kids
Is Cusco, Peru a Safe Place to Visit with kids?
Cusco is a definitely safe place to travel if you want ideas of what to do in Cusco check this blog
Why is Machu Picchu Considered one of the Wonders of the World?
Machu Picchu is a breathtaking example of ancient Incan architecture and artistry, located at the top of a mountain in Peru’s Sacred Valley. Its impressive location, rising nearly 8,000 feet above the winding Urubamba river, and well-preserved stonework in traditional Inca style have earned it an iconic reputation worldwide, awarded with a place among the 7 Wonders of the World in 2007.
How the Incas achieved the feat of constructing this majestic citadel with such large boulders remains a mystery; however, Hiram Bingham’s international attention in 1911 has since led to crucial efforts in preserving this historical wonder. In 1981, the citadel was declared a sanctuary, and two years later, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site. Today, Machu Picchu is a major draw for travelers seeking a glimpse into the stunning Inca past.
What is the nearest airport to Machu Picchu?
If you want to visit Machu Picchu with kids, Cusco’s Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ) is the closest access point. From the airport, it’s a 3-hour journey to Aguas Calientes – the village that serves as the gateway to the ancient ruins. You can take the shuttle bus or trek up to Machu Picchu, or opt for the tiny Chinchero airport, 18 miles away. Taxis are available at the airport, but it’s wise to plan your pick up in advance to avoid inflated prices. Cusco is generally a safe city, and public transport is reliable.
What is The Weather Like in Machu Picchu and Cusco, Peru?
Cusco, Peru is an adventurer’s paradise—the city is nestled in the Andes Mountains, at an impressive elevation of 11,200 feet! And while the weather in Lima is mild, Cusco has distinct seasonal weather patterns that you need to take into consideration when planning your visit. From November to April, Cusco experiences its wet season, and from May to October its dry season. February is the wettest of the months, while temperatures average from 43 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. During the dry season, you’ll find partly cloudy skies and pleasant temperatures during the day. However it can get chilly at night, so remember to pack your winter gear!
Travel to Machu Picchu and experience its subtropical cloud forest year-round. Temperatures typically range from 12 to 25 degrees Celsius (54 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit), with the warmest temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit) and the coolest temperatures reaching -2 degrees Celsius (-36 Fahrenheit). Whether you visit during the dry season (April to October) or wet season (November to March), be sure to bring layers for the warm days and chilly evenings!
Is Cusco, Peru a Safe Place to Visit with kids?
Visiting Cusco with kids? Don’t worry – safety is achievable with some simple precautions. Ensure you and your family stay secure by taking the same measures as if you were in Lima: ask locals for advice on transportation, stay in well-known locations with multiple people at night, carry minimum currency and valuables, and remain aware of your environment. Tourist operators are also usually happy to help – after all, that’s their livelihood – so don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations. With a little street smarts and common sense, you and your family will enjoy all the city has to offer without compromising safety.
How easy is Machu Picchu with young children?
Visiting Machu Picchu with young kids can be a rewarding experience – if you’re prepared. Altitude sickness is a real concern, so make sure to bring plenty of water, limit your caffeine and alcohol intake, and factor in plenty of rest. You’ll also want to consider the difficulty of the trails and the ever-changing weather. Lastly, keep a watchful eye on your kids to ensure their safety. With these tips in mind, your family trip to Machu Picchu will be nothing short of incredible.
What is the best age to take kids to Machu Picchu?
With its high altitude (rising over 2,400 meters / 7,800 feet above sea level) comes the risk of altitude sickness, which can make it a difficult challenge for younger children. Therefore, it is suggested that those planning to hike Machu Picchu should be at least 7-8 years old and in good physical shape. That said, smaller children can be carried around the site and I have traveled with a 6-year-old who had no issues exploring the citadel.
When taking children of any age to Machu Picchu, it is important to take the necessary precautions and consult with a doctor prior to the trip to ensure that they are healthy enough to handle the altitude. Generally speaking, the older the child, the more they will be able to remember and appreciate the experience.
Finally, if you do decide to bring a smaller child, consider dividing your visit into smaller segments, or consider hiring a guide who can tailor the experience to the child’s age and ability. Ultimately, the decision is up to you.
If you want to learn the cost of our trip get it here. Or if you have any question don’t hesitate to ask in the comments 😉 I would be happy to share what I know.
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