there is a LOT more to Peru than Machu Picchu!
What many people fail to appreciate is that there is so much to see and do besides visiting the lost city.
The following itinerary is based on my own experience and recommendations. This holiday can also be fully customised to meet the needs and interests of your family, and the number of days you have available.
The holiday is available to book through my partner agent (scroll to the end of this document for more information)
Day 2-4: The Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley sits between Cusco and Machu Picchu and stretches some 60 miles (100km) from Pisac in the east through to Machu Picchu in the west. Carved out by the Urubamba River, this valley was the heart of the Incan Empire and, owing to its fertile land, was a major agricultural source for the Incas.
Things to do in the Sacred Valley with kids
Learn to weave
Visit a hands-on weaving cooperative and learn how Peruvians have been creating textiles for hundreds of years. Kids can also feed llamas as well as a handful of guinea pigs - a food commodity in many kitchens here!
play the panpipes
Andean music is popular throughout Peru and can be traced back to the Incas. Pick up some panpipes and join the local musicians!
Explore the rings of Moray & the salt mines of Maras
It's believed that the ancient site of Moray is where the Incans carried out agricultural research and the dazzling white flats of Maras are salt mines that have been in use since the Inca times.
Cleanse your soul with Moon Quartz at Pisac
Considered one of the finest Inca sites in the region, Pisac has a impressive set of rippling agricultural terraces and a series of ceremonial baths where Incas used to clean themselves with moon quartz.
Climb 300 stone steps at Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo is home to a spectacular Inca fortress that once served as the royal estate for Emperor Pachacuti. During the Spanish conquest of Peru it became the citadel from which Inca emperor Manco Inca Yupanqui successfully fought off the Spaniards in 1536, marking one of the Incas’ greatest victories of all.
Ride a Peruvian Paso horse
This region is known for both its superb riding country as well as its beautiful horses. The Peruvian Paso horse is a unique breed to Peru, known for its unusual, fluid gait.
Visit Museo Inkariy
This family-friendly museum offers a thrill-filled journey through the pre-Columbian cultures of Peru. Scenes from the past are reconstructed using life-size statues that are so realistic they will certainly have little kids fooled.
Walk a llama
The Llama Pack Project is a private initiative that works with local communities to preserve the traditional use and breeding of the llama as a pack animal. It runs half- or full-day llama treks.
See the endangered Andean Condor
The Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary offers kids the chance to see the endangered Andean Condor. Other animals include the Peruvian Hairless Dog, llamas, alpacas and deer. This is a wonderful place for children to see animals native to Peru and to learn about the dangers that many of these creatures face.
Zip over the Sacred Valley
Earn your Inka Cola / Pisco Sour at the end of the day by climbing a 400m rock face before zipping back down the mountain. You can opt to climb ‘Via Ferrara’ (a system of iron ladders secured onto the rock face that you are roped up to) or just the zipping (via 6 lines ranging between 150m to 500m in length), or both! (Min. age for Via Ferrata: 9 yrs. Min. age for Zip Line: 6 yrs).
Play Inca Chess
Legend has it that the last emperor of the Incas, Atahualpa, played chess matches while in captivity against Francisco Pizarro González, the Spanish conquistador who conquered the Incan Empire. Whether or not that story is true, Inca chess sets depicting the Spaniards versus the Incas are now found throughout Peru and are fun to play!
Note that it is not possible to fit all these activities into a 3 day period. As itineraries can be fully customised, please detail your interests when making a booking enquiry
Photo Gallery: The Sacred Valley
Day 6: Machu Picchu
No one knows really why or how Machu Picchu was built. As the Incas had no writing system they left behind no records or histories or stories and so the true purpose of Machu Picchu will never really be known.
The citadel was constructed at the height of the Incan Empire in 1450 but abandoned just over a century later in 1572 after the Spaniards arrived in Peru. Incredibly, it was only discovered in 1911 when Hiram Bingham, an explorer and professor of South American history from Yale University, happened to come upon it.
In the afternoon you will return to Ollantaytambo by train before continuing by car to Cusco
Photo Gallery: Machu Picchu
Day 7-8: Cusco
The ancient capital of the Incan Empire, Cusco (or Cuzco in Spanish), is a charming city steeped in history and legends. In Quechua, the official language of the Quechua people, the name is pronounced Qosq’o and translates as “navel” or “belly button” as all roads in the Incan empire once spread outwards to and from Cusco making it the most important city in the kingdom.
Things to do in Cusco with kids
Walk the cobbled streets
Cusco is an easy place to wander around but don’t forget though that you are very high up here. Cusco sits at an altitude of 3,400m (11,152ft) so altitude sickness is a very real possibility (why we recommend acclimatising in the Sacred Valley first)
Discover what Peruvians would serve at The Last Supper!
Inside Cusco's main cathedral ask the children to look for the painting of The Last Supper and see if they can work out what Jesus is having for dinner (a cuy clue: it’s one of Peru’s most famous dishes!).
Get your chocolate fix
Learn about the 2000-year old history of chocolate in a hands-on, chocolate-making workshop. In these 2-hour classes kids can learn how their favourite sweet snack is made, from coco beans to chocolate bar (For 8yrs+). The small museum also explores the 2,000-year-old history of chocolate.
explore san blas
The bohemian neighbourhood of San Blas is Cusco's artisan district. Here the streets are lined with artists’ studios and workshops as well as cool cafés and bars. It’s a great place to wander and to pick up some souvenirs. We recommend the ceramics of Tater Camilo Vera Vizcarra, an award-winning artist specialising in traditional glazing techniques.
Pat an alpaca
Plenty of these friendly creatures wander the city streets with their owners, both animal and keeper dressed in traditional Peruvian dress. This is obviously entirely aimed at tourists but your kids will treasure the photos!
Chicha is a fermented or non-fermented drink typically made from maize (corn). Your children will love it, particularly when they discover it turns their tongues red! You can find chicha on menus in most Peruvian restaurants, our favourite being the aptly named Chicha!
Visit a museum
Cusco is home to a number of good museums. Top or our list is the Museo Inka home to a large collection of jewellery, pottery, mummies, textiles and more. In the inner courtyard you can find women from the Centro del Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco (one of the best weaving cooperatives in the region) making beautiful rugs, tablecloths and bags.
Try the local speciality
Kids can impress their friends back home by trying the local speciality - roasted guinea pig!
But if rodent-kebabs aren't your thing, rest assured the food is excellent throughout Peru (it was undoubtedly the best gastronomic experience I’ve ever had!)
Locally-made products to look out for include hand-woven textiles, alpaca-wool sweaters, hats, ponchos and other clothing, silver jewellery, woodcarvings and ceramics. Children may like the Peruvian dolls, alpacas (made with alpaca!) and the chocolate. We particularly enjoyed Republica Del Cacao’s Pink Rock Salt dark chocolate. The salt is from the Maras mines and the chocolate is devilishly good.
Take a tour of the Inca sites
There are a handful of impressive Incan sites surrounding Cusco that are worth visiting. It's a 10-minute drive up a hill to the ruins and from there families can either opt to return to town by car or on foot. The sites include:
Photo Gallery: Cusco
Days 9-14: The Amazon
This trip can also be extended to include the Amazon Rainforest. Sadly we did not have the time to add this to our visit but my partner agent has designed a 3-night, programme specifically for families.
Explore the jungle on foot and by dug-out canoe, and head out after dark to look for alligators in the Tambopata river.
"No one will protect what they don't care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced" - David Attenborough
If you are lucky enough to have 3 weeks, the itinerary can be further extended to include a home-stay on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
When is the best time to visit Peru?
Best: Peak season is May to October (the dry season or ‘winter’ in the Southern Hemisphere), with the greatest number of visitors in July and August. During this season the days are usually clear and sunny with chilly nights, especially at high altitudes.
Good: Spring Break is also a good time to visit. This coincides with the tail end of rainy season when the landscape is a lush green.
Avoid: The rainy season runs from November through to March (January and February are traditionally the wettest months). This period sees dramatic price drops and fewer visitors but flooding and landslides are common.
Booking this holiday
We work with an excellent partner agent in the UK who specialises in family travel and who has organised many family holidays for our UK & International readers.
Please note that this is a sample itinerary only. This holiday will be fully customised to meet the needs and interests of your family, and the number of days you have available.
Peru is a large country and itineraries will include at least one internal flight (without the Amazon extension) or two internal flights (with the Amazon extension). The guidelines below include the Amazon extension.
2 Weeks | Family of 4 | Mid-range hotels: Approx GBP 8000 (including internal flights but excluding international flights)
2 Weeks | Family of 4 | High-end hotels: Approx GBP 12,000 (including internal flights but excluding international flights)
2 Weeks | Family of 4 | Budget hotels: GBP 6,800. If you are travelling on a tighter budget we can made a few accommodations to bring the price down, e.g. not having a guide, basic accommodation and joining group tours at some sights.
Please note that we receive a small commission for any holidays booked but this does not affect your quote in any way. You never pay more making an enquiry through Far-Flung Lands than by booking directly with our partner agents.
Get a quote
Clicking on the button below will direct you to our contact form. When making an enquiry, please state which destination/s you are interested in, the number of adults and children (including ages of children) and approx dates of travel.
If you'd like more information on any of the activities and experiences outlined above, please visit our destination guide to Peru With Kids by clicking on the link below.