South America has a lot of great places to visit when it comes to family vacations. However, travelers wonder which destination would be best when combining the interests of a family traveling with two adults, two small children, a teenager, and a grandmother. It might be a hard nut to crack if each individual has a different vision of their perfect holiday.
Many clients wonder if Machu Picchu, Peru can offer a memorable vacation for the whole family regardless of age or fitness level. It’s an excellent question for me, as I visited Machu Picchu with my husband and my mother-in-law. From that experience, I can confidently list some reasons why Machu Picchu is not only a perfect family destination but also an incredibly memorable one.
Here are 5 reasons why Machu Picchu makes for a memorable family vacation.
1. Machu Picchu is Easily Accessible
Most people assume that to visit Machu Picchu, you must endure heavy trekking, walking hundreds of steps, and climbing mountains. This is not always the case.
Rest assured, anyone can visit the Machu Picchu ruins. You do not have to hike. Instead, you can access the ruins by jumping on a shuttle bus that regularly runs from Aguas Calientes. This bus ride provides a scenic uphill experience, lasting roughly 25 minutes. During the journey, jaws will drop while passing by the landscape of majestic mountains leading to the Inca ruins. The trip conveniently finishes at the front entrance of the Machu Picchu Citadel. From there, travelers need to walk a short distance and climb some stairs. However, you can climb the stairs at your own pace, and local guides will be there to help at every step of the way.
2. You Can Hike to Machu Picchu With Your Children
If you are adventure-seeking parents who worry about your children staying in hotels while you embark on a unique experience, I have good news for you. After visiting the Machu Picchu ruins you can do a short 1.5 – 2 hour Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Montana hike. Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Montana are two mountains close to the ruins of Machu Picchu. Many travelers prefer to climb these mountains for their views of Machu Picchu.
If your children are over 12 years old, you can enjoy this adventure with them. Of course, proceed with precaution. Both hikes are quite steep and require some preparation. I recommend watching videos from the hikes before you decide to do them, to see if your whole family can enjoy it equally.
3. The Machu Picchu Train is Fun for Children and Parents
Without a doubt, Machu Picchu is one of the main highlights of a Peru trip but let’s not forget about the amazing journey that leads to it – a train to Machu Picchu. You can take the train from Cusco (3-hour ride) or Sacred Valley (1h 30 min ride). This journey takes travelers along a fantastic landscape of lush mountains – possibly reminding children of the magical world of Harry Potter. Enjoy a snack on board and a traditional beverage, such as coca tea or a pisco sour. Older travelers can appreciate a nice trip in a comfortable carriage.
Pro Tip: Sit on the left side of the train from Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu to see the landscape along the Urubamba river.
4. Machu Picchu Altitude Sickness is Avoidable
Some may think Machu Picchu might not be a good idea for a family vacation due to its high altitude. This concern may be avoided if you prepare well for your trip. To prevent altitude sickness at Machu Picchu, spend two nights in Sacred Valley before going to Machu Picchu. Sacred Valley is at a lower altitude, and will give travelers more time to get used to the altitude before heading to see Machu Picchu and Cusco, which is even at a higher elevation than Machu Picchu!
5. Machu Picchu is Full of Friendly Llamas
Probably the most delightful photos that your children can take in Machu Picchu are those with cute llamas and alpacas – typical Peruvian animals that wander around the ruins. They are very friendly and love selfies. Children will adore playing with them. If time permits, visit llama farms in the Sacred Valley or see a local horse show.
For more adventure, try zip lining via ferrata in Sacred Valley. Some other recommendations for family adventure include rafting, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
How to Plan a Family Trip to Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu and its surroundings are without a doubt a perfect destination for a memorable family vacation. Most of the hotels are family friendly and have local operators with significant experience in working with people at any age, doing their best to offer safe and fun tours for younger and older family members. A family photo in front of the Machu Picchu mountain is undoubtedly the best souvenir you can bring home from your memorable family vacation in Peru. Get started planning your family Machu Picchu tour today!