But what does this translate to if you are travelling Peru with kids? You might re-read that as Peru – the land of strange food, altitude sickness and scary transport. However, we are here to reassure you lovely folk that a Peru family holiday, even with the under 10’s, will still be a trip of a lifetime, for all the right reasons. Lima, Lake Titicaca, Cusco, Colca Canyon, Ollantaytambo and the Sacred Valley, Arequipa and of course, Machu Picchu all await and the Peruvians love kids, so you’re in good hands.
Head in the clouds
First things first, let’s get it out of the way and talk about altitude. One of the key traveller discussion points for this destination is, of course, its geographic positioning. There’s no getting away from it; it’s darn high. We say, be aware of the altitude but not scared of it. Definitely allow 1-2 days adjustment time and this may be after flying from one part of Peru to another, higher area – and build this into your itinerary (or we can for you!). Take things extremely slowly. Avoid alcohol, eat lightly and get plenty of sleep. This applies to everyone, kids and parents alike (especially no booze for the kids ;-)).
At 3400m, Cusco is higher than most people’s number one ‘must see’ Machu Picchu, so try other areas first. For example, Bogota is 2640m above sea level and Quito is 2800m above sea level. Machu Picchu itself sits at 2430m, as do many of the towns in the Sacred Valley. Keep an eye on your children to see how they are coping with the altitude before charging off on your adventures. “Poco a poco” as they say – little by little. Quiet children are a sign that something is not quite right, mind you, that’s not always to do with altitude!
Lively Lima – Time in the Capital
You can start your Peruvian family adventure by flying into Lima, the main airport in Peru or directly into Cusco – but given the higher altitude of Cusco, we’d probably recommend Lima (1550m), if you are with young children. There’s plenty to do in Peru’s capital if you decide to stay and acclimatise, so don’t be too quick to exit. Obviously it’s a large city in a new country, but if you position yourself well and take your time, it’s very enjoyable.
Miraflores is a great area which is also safe, so a good choice for families. The same can be said for San Isidro, and both areas are pretty modern compared to the older colonial Centro district. Barranco is also popular due to its coastal location, although more bohemian and attracts a younger crowd. You can stroll or bike El Malecón de Miraflores — Lima’s cliffside boardwalk. This five mile path has fabulous ocean vistas and can include lots of interesting stops including the quirky Parque del Amor, restaurants and shops. You can rent bikes or take a bike tour and there are usually several kids bikes available, just be sure to reserve these ahead of time. There’s also Friendship Park featuring a vintage steam train and pedal boats on the lagoon, lots of museums including a Natural History Museum, great open top bus tours and despite being a sizeable city, it’s family friendly with outdoor events, markets and wonderful food.
On the subject of food – a very important family topic – Peru is pretty good for youngsters as there is generally always something recognisable on offer; meat, rice, potatoes, fish and salad, so it’s not so challenging if you have less adventurous eaters. There’s also plenty of unusual (and quite frankly amazing) stuff if there are curious foodies in your group; grilled heart or guinea pig anyone? But seriously, specialities like ceviche and lomo saltado (stir fried beef) and papas a la huancaina (potatoes in spicy cheese sauce) await your hungry tummies. Always remember to drink only bottled water though and be mindful of how raw food (fruit and veg) may have been washed.
For this kind of family trip, depending on how long you have and the age range within your travel group, it really can be best to work with experienced travel specialists to plan your trip, with a support network in place. As easy as they can be for you alone, planning is important when travelling as a group if you want to have experiences that are exciting, inspiring and meaningful in this amazing country. In cities, we’d always recommend using only official taxis, being (normally) cautious after dark and if you’re so inclined, using a driver for a day if you want to cover some ground with little ones. For more to do in Lima, have a look at our guide.
Birds and Beaches – Paracas, Ballestas and Huacachina
You can go south from Lima to the coast if you want to include some beach time during your trip to Peru, generally a welcome holiday within a holiday for young children. Remember though that Peru’s coast typically has very different weather than the Andes. The wettest months in the Andes (often referred to as the ‘worst’ months to visit Machu Picchu) are the dry sunny ones on the coast (December, January, and February). April into May can be a great time for your Peruvian adventure as it’s generally good weather across both regions.