A Family-Friendly Adventure To Machu Picchu, Peru
Peru, especially its most famed destination Machu Picchu is an excellent chance to develop a deeper understanding of the traditions and values of the Peruvian people. Whether it's the vast landscape, small villages, artisan demonstrations or local chefs, you will walk away from this trip with a better connection and respect for this incredible country.
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Where to stay
Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Cusco
Centuries-old Cusco mansion that embraces Peruvian culture with modern conveniences.
Complimentary round-trip private airport transfer per room, per stay.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
JW Marriott El Convento Cusco
Modern hotel in Cusco featuring an array of traditional Peruvian artifacts and artisanal work.
Antigua Casona San Blas
Boutique hotel in Cusco located in the oldest and continuously lived in neighborhood with cobblestone streets and remains of Incan architecture.
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Day 1: Cusco
A note from Juli
My advice is to wear comfortable shoes and stay with your guide. There are a lot of vendors trying to solicit business from tourists but being with a guide helps keep some of them at bay. Also, adjusting to the altitude of Cusco can be difficult for some. I recommend limiting alcohol, drinking coco tea and not trying to do too much on your first day.
Day 2: Head towards Sacred Valley
On the second day, leave Cusco and head towards the Sacred Valley en route to Machu Picchu. Stop at a local textile shop to watch a demonstration of the weaving traditions of Peru and take the opportunity to visit with local vendors and get up close and personal with Alpacas and Vicunas. After the demonstration, shop around before starting the drive to the Sacred Valley.
The first stop is Moray, an Inca agricultural terrace. This is where the Incans tested the growth of all types of food. Much of it is an experimental process to determine what products and foods would grow in the Peruvian soil and in which seasons they would grow best.
Head the Salt Mines in Maras. These salt mines are still operating to this day. A small store sells salt, spices, and other souvenirs at the mine. Stop for lunch at Muña Restaurant, where you can indulge in a lovely, multi-course meal. The food served is traditional Peruvian dishes, and the service is very accommodating.
After driving through the villages of the Sacred Valley, arrive at Hotel Pakaritampu. The grounds of this hotel are exceptional. Nestled at the foot of the Andes the landscaping is lush and so well kept.
Day 3: Ollantaytambo
The first stop on day three is a tour of Ollantaytambo, a living Inca City surrounded by Inca Ruins. This incredible location is just minutes from the hotel. The ruins are vast in both architecture and history. Ollantaytambo was where the final battle between the Incas and the Spanish occurred. The Incans tried to retreat to the top of the mountain before they were defeated.
After visiting Ollantaytambo, head to the town square of the Valley to shop and learn more about the production of silver in the area. Here you can visit the local shops who sell goods and produce and have a chance to buy locally crafted items. The guides are very helpful in showing you which items are authentic and which are not.
From the markets, head to lunch at a local hotel where you can sin under avocado trees to enjoy a delicious lunch of more Peruvian delicacies. On the way back to the hotel, stop at a local brewery, Cerveceria del Valle Sagrado.
Day 4: Machu Picchu afternoon visit
Machu Picchu! Wake up early to catch the train for a truly magical experience. If you have time, be sure to grab a coffee at Cafe Mayu before you board and if you are lucky to find their homemade chocolate chip cookies in stock, grab a bunch for the ride.
The train ride is about 1.5 hours, and you will not stop looking at the windows. From the snowy peaks of the Andes to the lush farm fields to the river running alongside the tracks, there is always something to admire. As you get closer to Machu Picchu Village, you will see other ruins from the train. Along the way, Peru Rails will share stories and history to help you better understand where you are and the area's history.
Eat at Mapacho for lunch. Head toward the bus stop to board the bus to Machu Picchu. It is traditional for most travelers visiting Machu Picchu to see the ruins two times, once in the afternoon and again the following day. The afternoon visit tends to be the less crowded of the two. It is a very organized system, but if you get car sick, you should note that the road to Machu Picchu includes 13 switchbacks up the side of a mountain. However, the drivers are very experienced, and you will feel safe; the entire trip up to the top takes about 30 minutes.
There are no words to describe seeing Machu Picchu for the first time, so I won't even attempt it. All I can say is that it is more magnificent than we could have ever imagined. You are required to visit with a guide, and likely, your guide will do a thorough job of sharing the history of these remarkably well-preserved ruins. Guides in Peru are very well trained and have to pass a university-level course to be offered a position.
The afternoon ticket allows you to be up there for about 2 hours. Once your time is complete, you will board the bus to head back into town. Have dinner back in the village at Full House before heading to Inkaterra Machu Picchu for the night.
A note from Juli
Upon arriving at the train station, you will be greeted by staff from the hotel, and they will take your bags to the hotel to be held until check-in. There are strict rules on the size and weight of the bags you can bring to the village, and unless you are a great packer, you will likely leave your more oversized bags at the hotel in Cusco. Hotel staff are very familiar with this process and will be happy to keep your bags locked up and safe until you return.
Day 5: Morning at Machu Picchu
Upon arriving back at the ruins, tour the back sections of Machu Picchu and continue to learn more about their history. There are endless places to take pictures as you walk around the ruins, so be sure to bring a camera. Once again, you will be limited to about two hours before departing.
A note from Juli
There is a small museum at the base of the mountain. If you are interested in stopping to learn more, you can ask your bus driver to drop you off before the bridge and then you take a short walk to the museum. It's not highly known, but your tickets to Machu Picchu include a visit to the museum. There are many artifacts and displays about the Incan ruins. The downside to stopping at the museum is you have to walk back to town on your own, and it's about two miles along a busy road. It's safe but perhaps not recommended for those with small children or who have trouble walking long distances.
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