In the summer of 2016, we took our 15 and 13 year old sons, and 11 year old daughter to Peru for a week. It was an amazing experience. I thank Kouda Travel for helping me create an exceptional itinerary. I shared our itinerary in an earlier blog called Machu Picchu For Kids: A Week in Peru. If you are interested in a more detailed account of where we went and our day to day activities, please take a look at that blog.
In this article, I am going to to highlight what I loved and what I would do again. Further, I will tackle what I didn’t like or how I would have changed our week.
With any holiday that I plan and take with my family, I am always trying to find the right balance between providing experiences that are cultural and historical, with having fun. I want my children to leave our holiday with new knowledge and respect for a country and its people. I also want them to tell me that an adventure that we had, like horseback riding in the mountains, was the best thing ever and they can’t wait to do it again.
For me, I define a vacation as being successful if my family reconnects with each other again. We all lead busy and independent lives at home that leaves us disconnected from one another most of the time. I strive for our holiday to be filled with lots of laughter and happy times together. I also hope we have quiet moments together where we are left in awe of a beautiful view or site, or meet someone who makes us think about something other than ourselves.
Lima, the Capital of Peru
Lima was fantastic. We spent two nights there but only ended up having one full day to tour as we arrived late the first day. I would have liked to have one more day to walk around, shop and explore on our own. The tour that we did was very informative and provided a really nice balance between the educational – visiting historical sites and churches – and enjoying ourselves by tasting treats at a local market and a restaurant. The evening at the Magic Water Tour at the Parque de la Reserva was a fabulous way to finish the day. It was actually magical!
I liked staying in the Miraflores area of Lima. We picked up gorgeous leather shoes for a ridiculously low price. We stumbled upon some original art studios with some inexpensive and cool art. There were lots of great restaurants, like Tiendecita La Blanca, from which we had to choose. I would not recommending staying at our hotel, Casa Andina Private Collection Miraflores. The customer service was repeatedly bad, and one of the rooms that we had smelled very bad.
The Sacred Valley far surpassed everything that I was expecting. It was spectacularly beautiful. Our guide and driver provided by Kouda Travel were two of the best that we have ever had.
We had three full days in the Sacred Valley and it was the perfect amount of time. We stayed at Casa Andina Private Collection Valle Sagrado which was a beautiful hotel set below the mountains. Everywhere we went, the food was delicious.
Our itinerary superbly blended historical and cultural visits with fun and relaxation. I would do everything again!
- Hang out with llamas and alpacas.
- Watch and learn how the Peruvians colour and weave the alpaca wool to create exquisite items.
- Visit the Inca Ruins in Pisac and shop at the local market.
- Horseback ride in the Sacred Valley surrounded by the beautiful mountains.
- Spend an afternoon trying to create beautiful pottery.
We adored exploring the local community of Umasbamba Community, learning about the daily lives of the native people and visiting a home. Kouda Travel organized the teacher and the local children of this community to come meet us on a Saturday! We appreciated seeing their school and hearing about all of the children’s accomplishments that may take them beyond the small remote village in which they live.
I’ll be honest with you. It was my husband who wanted to see Machu Picchu more than anything else on a trip to South America.
I wasn’t opposed to visiting it, but I envisioned a tourist trap with swarms of people making it a packaged experience. But, I was completely wrong! I am so grateful to have visited Machu Picchu, hear about its amazing history, and take in the breathtaking sites. It is an absolute must see.
I really enjoyed walking around Aguas Calientes, the town below Machu Picchu, and would have been happy to spend a night there. However, I thought that one day visiting Machu Picchu would be enough. For our family, it was.
I loved the train ride to and from Aguas Calientes. The windows allow you stunning views of the mountains and the valleys. On our return from Machu Picchu, we were highly entertained by the train’s staff with a mini play with full costumes and a fashion show in the aisles.
It was a very long day. We started around 6:00 am at our hotel in the Sacred Valley, and ended our day in Cusco around 10:00 pm. However, the days leading up to this very long day were filled with mid morning starts, relaxing tours and adventures, and days that ended around 4:00 pm. My children thoroughly relished the day and did not complain about its length.
We adored Cusco. Our family spent two nights and 1 1/2 days there and felt that it was enough. We stayed at the JW Mariott El Convento Cusco which was beautiful. I would be happy to stay there again. The restaurants we went to had delicious and sophisticated food.
The first full day there, we had a tour of the City, and visited more Inca Ruins at Sacsayhuaman just outside the City. Cusco is a beautiful and intimate city. There are many narrow streets with cobblestone paths that lead to cool little shops or cafes. There are many high end stores selling beautifully crafted alpaca ponchos, sweaters and scarves, among other things.
We enjoyed touring the City and visiting the churches. However, we were less interested in Sacsayhuaman and the other Inca Ruins that we saw. I could see my children were half listening to the guide, if at all. Based upon their horsing around, they clearly needed to blow off some steam after the long day at Machu Picchu. Consequently, I believe that had we seen these ruins before Machu Picchu, or a couple of days after, this tour would have been more successful.
After the tour, we had a couple of half days to ourselves. We spent them delving into the narrow winding streets, looking for alpaca sweaters and other treasures. Our boys headed back to the hotel for some relaxation and screen time before our long journey back home to Canada.
By the time we left Peru, everything that I hope to accomplish on a family holiday was accomplished. We were relaxed, spending lots of time together laughing and sharing our experiences. We all left with impactful memories of different sites, flavours and people.
Peru was a fabulous place to visit with our children. We felt safe and found many conveniences that we have in our day to day lives at home. The people were friendly. Nothing felt touristy. We met very genuine people who were keen to share their history, daily lives and their special skills. Peru offered us an exquisite blend of history, culture and fun.
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