If you’re looking for a destination that travelers of all ages can enjoy, family travel to Peru offers a broad variety of activities, animals, ecosystems and cultures.
Your family can immerse in unique indigenous cultures and engage in off-the-beaten-path activities. At the same time, you can enjoy the modern conveniences that make exploring Peru accessible to all. From the ancient archaeological wonder of Machu Picchu to the energy of bustling cities such as Cusco, family travel to Peru will create bonding memories you’ll remember for a lifetime.
When you travel to Peru, the options for activities and attractions are endless. But the following are five of our favorite experiences that the whole family will enjoy!
Catch a Train to Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu tops many world travelers’ bucket lists. But if your kids are too young to know about the ancient Incan citadel that’s tucked into the Andes mountains, a visit will introduce them to a treasure trove of history.
A trip to Machu Picchu requires planning and patience, but it’s worth the effort. For families, the train to Aguas Calientes is the most convenient way to get there. The 3.5 hours spent zipping along the Urubamba River pass quickly as the stunning Peruvian countryside flies by your window. Once you arrive, you’re just a short bus ride away from Machu Picchu.
Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the ruins. The intricate stone architecture is a stunning and curious spectacle… one that we might not know about without the help of a kid! It was actually an 11-year old Quechua boy who famously helped explorer Hiram Bingham locate the ruins in the vast Peruvian mountain range.
Cruise Down the Peruvian Amazon
When most people think of the Amazon, they think of Brazil, which is home to around 60% of the rainforest’s total area (2,100,000 square miles). Unfortunately, Brazil’s exploitation of natural resources has led to massive deforestation.
Fortunately, the Amazon River spreads across much of the South American continent. For a true taste of the rainforest’s world-famous biodiversity, hop aboard a once-in-a-lifetime luxury Amazon cruisethat will take you 600 miles along the mighty Amazon and its many tributaries.
Kids and adults alike will be astounded to see countless Howler Monkeys, Iguanas, Pink River Dolphins, tropical bird species and occasional big cats (Jaguars, Ocelots, etc.) as you glide through the forest in intimate excursion boats. If you travel with International Expeditions, you’ll also get a chance to meet a traditional shaman and spend time with the welcoming Ribereños (river people) who call this area their home.
Take a boat ride on Lake Titicaca
The birthplace of the sun (according to Andean belief) is also the largest lake in South America and a great place to bring the family. The lake is home to bright blue water and various indigenous communities, providing a fascinating glimpse into ancient Peruvian traditions and culture.
The Uros floating islands are an especially unique aspect of Lake Titicaca. These islands were constructed from totora reeds, which are conveniently buoyant and abundant in the area. The Uros people have been living on these floating platforms for centuries. A tour of these islands will provide helpful background information on the people and their way of life.
Give yourself plenty of time to acclimate to the high altitude of Lake Titicaca. Family members of all ages should drink plenty of water(link sends e-mail) and pay attention to how they’re feeling as they explore this magical place.
Meet the Animals of the Andes
Alpacas and llamas are irresistibly cute, with long fuzzy necks and fluffy faces. These iconic Andean species are both central to the livelihoods of locals, but they’re not the same animal.
Llamas are pack animals, originally domesticated by the Quechua people about 6,000 years ago. Alpacas are bred for their hair, and they’re about half the size of Llamas. You’ll find soft knit products made from Alpaca fiber all over Peru. To make matters even more confusing, Peru is also home to Vicuña, which looks a lot like Alpacas and Llamas. The Vicuna are an endangered species, much smaller and more deer-like than its cousins.
Meeting these animals of the Andes are a guaranteed highlight of family travel to Peru. Both Alpacas and Llamas are woven into everyday culture here, so seeing them up close helps visitors understand their significance. Llamas and Alpacas can be found almost everywhere, from the streets of Cusco to the mountains surrounding Machu Picchu. Trekking in Peru will likely involve the help of strong, agile Llamas, and some Alpaca wool will keep you warm along the way.
Awana Kancha is a family-owned farm where visitors can meet and learn about Alpacas and Llamas. Here, you’ll witness traditional Peruvian techniques for the harvesting, spinning, and dyeing of camelid fibers. And of course you can support the local community by purchasing some of their vividly colorful textiles to take home with you.
Sample Traditional and Modern Cuisine in Lima
With a population of 10 million people, Lima can overwhelm your senses. But your tastebuds won’t mind the plethora of dining options in Peru’s capital city. Lomo saltado (sauteed beef tenderloin), aji de gallina (spicy chicken stew), papa rellena (filled potatoes), and tacu tacu (pan-fried rice and beans flat cake) are all common traditional dishes that you should try if you spot them on a menu. For the braver foodies, cau cau (tripe strew) is a more unusual local delicacy.
Dining in Lima ranges from street vendors to world-renowned chefs. If your kids aren’t adventurous eaters, you can always find favorites from back home as well. But Peru might inspire family members of all ages to reach beyond their comfort zone and sample something new. Your taste buds will be rewarded with local flavors fused in creative combinations.
El Chinchito, a restaurant that has delighted visitors and locals for over 50 years, is the place to go for chanchito asado sandwiches. Several branches around Lima will even deliver them right to your hotel! For dessert, parents and kids alike will love the fresh local flavors of gelato at BLU, where you can sample to find your favorite before committing to just one.
The itinerary for your family travel to Peru should be customized to fulfill the unique interests of your family members, and International Expeditions’ Custom Peru Travel Planners have decades of expertise to plan the ideal adventure. Wherever you go and whatever you do, keep an open mind about the unexpected delights that Peru has to offer. Everyone will discover their own special something in this beautiful South American country.
Britany Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon, with bylines in The Washington Post, BBC Travel, Curbed, Green Global Travel, and many more. You can check out her full portfolio(link sends e-mail) here.