- Swim with friendly sea lions on a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean
- Hike an easier, one-day alternative to the Inca Trail via Wiñaywayna
- Take a private morning tour of Machu Picchu with a local guide
- Explore the lesser-known "Rainbow Mountain" of Palcoyo for stunning views
|Day 1||Arrive in Lima, Explore||Lima|
|Day 2||Free Day in Lima||Lima|
|Day 3||Palomino Islands Sea Lions Tour||Lima|
|Day 4||Fly to Cusco, Visit Llamas at Awanacancha Farm||Sacred Valley|
|Day 5||Sacred Valley of the Incas Tour||Sacred Valley|
|Day 6||Short Inca Trail Hike: Ollantaytambo to Wiñaywayna||Aguas Calientes/ Machu Picchu|
|Day 7||Machu Picchu Tour, Transfer to Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 8||Guided Hike & Cusco Tour||Cusco|
|Day 9||Hike the Rainbow Mountain of Palcoyo, Fly to Lima||Lima|
|Day 10||Depart Lima|
Day 1: Arrive in Lima, Explore
Welcome to Lima, Peru's capital and largest city! Upon arrival at the airport, a private driver will meet you and your family and take you to your hotel. Let your kids take the window seats so they can take in the sights and sounds of one of South America's most vibrant and bustling cities. Your driver will provide you with an introduction to Lima's rich history and culture, pointing out landmarks that you pass.
Take some time to rest and get settled at your hotel. Depending on the hour and how much energy your family has after the journey, you can head out into the city to explore at your own pace. A good place to start is the main square in Lima, called the Plaza Mayor de Lima, with its grand architecture and open spaces. If you're in the central city after dark, check out the Circuito Mágico del Agua (Magic Water Circuit), with choreographed sound and light shows that your kids will love.
Day 2: Free Day in Lima
After a good night's rest, you and the family should be ready to see more of Lima. The day is free to spend as you like, according to your family's ages and interests. In terms of weather, you're in luck, as Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean and mild desert climate make it ideal for exploring on foot.
Families interested in history and culture might want to check out the Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion granted by chief conquistador Francisco Pizarro to Jerónimo de Aliaga, one of his captains, in 1535. This is the only house from that era that still belongs to the same family. Then stroll around the Pueblo Libre district to get to the Larco Museum with pre-Columbian art and gold and silver artifacts that are housed in a beautifully restored mansion.
Day 3: Palomino Islands Sea Lions Tour
Get out of the city today for a tour of the Palomino Islands, a small archipelago near Lima in the Pacific Ocean. To get there, you'll take a boat from the port of Callao, a journey of about 90 minutes. Keep your eyes peeled on the journey as you'll pass several other islands like San Lorenzo, El Fronton, and Cavinzas, which are usually covered with seabirds.
When you reach Palomino, however, you'll immediately notice that it's covered with sea lions, which hang out on the rocks and in the water. If you and your kids are competent swimmers, feel free to jump in the ocean and hang out with the jolly creatures. Around 8,000 sea lions live here, and they are very friendly. Of course, you can always enjoy watching their antics from the boat if you'd prefer that instead. After returning to Lima, you and the family will have the rest of the day to explore on your own.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Fly to Cusco, Visit Llamas at Awanacancha Farm
It's time to head to the Andes today! At the appointed time, you'll be picked up from your hotel in Lima and transferred to the airport for your flight to Cusco. This ancient city, the gateway to the Sacred Valley, was once the capital of the Inca and is now layered with Spanish colonial history, too.
After checking into your hotel in Cusco, your guide will pick you up to explore the nearby town of Pisac, about an hour's drive away. There you'll find the Awanacancha, a hillside farm, where you can meet the resident camelids: alpacas, llamas, and the lesser-known vicuñas and guanacos. You and the kids can learn all about these cute creatures, their significance to the local culture and economy, and what can be done with their wool. You'll also get the chance to peruse Pisac's famous market, where a huge range of local handicrafts are displayed and sold, from textiles and rugs to jewelry and ceramics.
Day 5: Sacred Valley of the Incas Tour
Learn more about Inca civilization today on a guided tour of the Sacred Valley's historical, cultural, and archaeological sites. The first stop is Moray, an unusual Inca site that consists of circular terraces built into a natural depression. It seems to have been an experimental agricultural station used to help adapt crops to different temperatures. Whatever it was used for, it's an incredible sight that will impress kids as well as adults.
Next, visit the fascinating salt mines in Maras, an impressive complex consisting of thousands of small terraces. The locals have been collecting and selling salt at the markets of the region since before the Inca times, making it an important economic activity in the area. You and your kids can walk among the intricate terraces and witness the salt extraction process. You'll also learn about the history and importance of salt production in Andean culture and how it has been passed down through generations.
Later on, refill empty bellies with a traditional culinary experience called pachamanca, which means "earth pot." In this ancient cooking technique, the food is prepared underground using preheated stones and leaves to separate ingredients from the soil. The main elements are Andean ingredients like potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, and plantains, as well as beef or lamb and aromatic herbs. It's a filling meal and provides just the right amount of comfort, especially when the weather is cool.
Day 6: Short Inca Trail Hike: Ollantaytambo to Wiñaywayna
This morning, your family has an exciting day ahead in which everyone will be challenged and delighted. First, head to the train station in Ollantaytambo to board a train that will take you to the place where you'll start the day's hike. While the full Inca Trail takes around four days to complete, you'll embark on a shorter, more family-friendly version that includes some of the highlights without the multi-day challenge. Start by walking toward the Chachabamba archaeological site, which is located at 7,381 feet (2,250 m). Take your time and stop when little legs need to rest.
After about 3.5 hours of walking, you'll reach Wiñaywayna, a steep, terraced Inca site at 8,858 feet (2,700 m) and one of the most beautiful spots on the hiking route. From here, you'll be treated to some of the best views of the Río Urubamba to see some colorful varieties of orchids. There will be time to visit the Wiñaywayna archaeological site before refueling with a packed lunch here.
Continue after lunch to Machu Picchu, the famous 15th-century Inca citadel. You can enjoy the fantastic views of the citadel from the Inti Punku (Sun's Gate) before taking the bus down the mountain to Aguas Calientes. Don't worry, as you'll be returning to Machu Picchu for a more in-depth visit tomorrow after your family has taken a well-deserved rest.
Day 7: Machu Picchu Tour, Transfer to Cusco
Return to Machu Picchu today, starting with a 25-minute bus ride up the steep, zig-zagging mountain road from Aguas Calientes. Enjoy a three-hour guided tour tailored to your family, so you can all gain a better understanding of this incredible city and its Inca culture. Don't forget to take plenty of family photos with the citadel as the backdrop. Older kids will love learning about the Inca civilization, while younger ages will still be impressed by the dramatic scenery and the sight of furry llamas.
At the end of the tour, you'll return to Aguas Calientes for lunch and then take the train back to Ollantaytambo. From here, take a private transfer back to Cusco.
Day 8: Guided Hike & Cusco Tour
Strap on all of your walking shoes again this morning as you take a leisurely hike around Cusco and the surrounding countryside. Begin on the outskirts of Cusco with a visit to Sacsayhuaman, a massive Inca fortress overlooking the city. Areas of the fortress were built with individual stone boulders that are much taller than a full-grown person; kids will enjoy lining up for photos beside the rocks. Descend for about an hour on an easy route that follows part of an old Inca road, one of the best-preserved in the area, until you arrive at the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas.After your hike, you'll embark on a historic walking tour of Cusco's historic center, which covers the Main Square, Qoricancha (Temple of the Sun), local markets, and old neighborhoods. This guided walk can be tailored to meet your needs and is the perfect way to get an authentic feel for this unique city and its people.
Day 9: Hike the Rainbow Mountain of Palcoyo, Fly to Lima
It's not time to put away those walking shoes just yet. Today you'll embark on another amazing hiking tour to the "Rainbow Mountain" of Palcoyo, a more peaceful alternative to the extremely popular Vinicunca. Palcoyo is also at a lower altitude and doesn't require as long of a walk as its more popular counterpart, so it is an ideal option for families. First, you'll drive for about three hours before you reach the starting point of your hike, and then walk for about an hour to reach Palcoyo.
Even hard-to-impress kids will be amazed by the stripes of color in the spectacular striated mountains, set against the snow-capped peaks of Ausangate and Mariposa, which you can see on clear days. If you and the youngsters are up for a slightly longer walk, you can ascend to a small stone "forest" on a 30-minute trail that's quite demanding. Return to Cusco in the afternoon and head to the airport for an onward flight to Lima in the evening. Tonight you'll be staying in an airport hotel so you don't have to go far tomorrow.
Day 10: Depart Lima
It's time to say goodbye to Peru, a country in which you and your kids are sure to have had a great time exploring. Relax at your airport hotel until it's time to head to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!