Karen was 12 and Billy was 9 when we first traveled to Peru. It was January in Colorado. My contracting business was in the middle of its slowest season, so we decided to take 3 months off in order to travel together as a family on an adventure that we were hoping would be both educational and fun. The kids had studied about Peru in their geography class. They were totally excited. This 3rd largest country in South America sounded like such an interesting place, full of mysteries and mysticism and ancient ruins.
Cusco, the legendary Capital of the Incan Empire, was to be our base of operations. After a few days at the beach in Lima, we flew in to Cusco and rented an apartment near the Cusco airport. The price was reasonable, and the kids each had their own room. Our apartment was on the third floor, so the view was great. On the first floor there was a rotisserie chicken restaurant which the kids came to love.
Traveling together as a family was really so great. It was a fantastic bonding experience, and we got to spend tons of time together. There was no going off to work in the morning, and then returning home exhausted ten hours later with just enough energy to flip on the TV. This was a kid-centered trip.
In the Cusco area there are thousands of fascinating places to visit. On our first day we went up to a place called Sacsayhuaman which is an Incan ruin on a big hill just outside the city of Cusco. There we found giant, green, grassy fields where Karen and Billy could run and jump and get their ya-ya's out. There was even a slide called the Rodadero that was made out of stone. The kids of Cusco have been wearing out the seat of their pants there for many generations.
Our kids were at that wonderful age when they were old enough not to require minute by minute supervision, but still young enough that their favorite thing in life was spending time with their parents. Both their energy and their curiosity seemed boundless. They kept asking me how the Incas could have quarried and transported the gigantic blocks of stone out of which the walls of Sacsayhuaman were constructed. Some of these stone blocks as bigger than a school bus. They are all irregularly shaped and fitted together like a jig-saw puzzle. There is not enough space between the stones to squeeze in a razor blade. The Incas worked without the wheel and without draught animals. When my two intelligent little ones asked me how it was all accomplished, I was unable to give them a satisfactory explanation.
When traveling with our kids we received a great reception from the locals. The family unit is very strong in Peru, and all the folks who we encountered thought that it was great that we were a family taking the time to travel together.
We had a wonderful experience when we visited that Wonder of the World, Machu Picchu. We had all decided that we would hike up to the top Machu Picchu Mountain together. The Incan ruins, the Citadel of Machu Picchu, is situated on a saddle of stone about half way up the mountain. There are buses that will take you that far. The hike from the ruins to the top of the mountain takes a good couple of hours. The trails are very old. Our kids´ imagination ran rampant. The were envisioning painted savages rising up from the Amazon rainforest below. These naked warriors were shooting poisoned arrows at us in an attempt to keep us away from their most sacred site. Luckily, we all survived the experience.
We ate a fabulous lunch at the hotel called the Sanctuary of Machu Picchu Lodge that is just outside the gate of the archeological site. We were hoping to re-enter the ruins after lunch, but that is when we discovered that once you exit the site, you are not allowed to go back in without purchasing another ticket.
It was just as well. Karen and Billy were pretty exhausted after the hike to the top of the mountain. We returned by bus to the steamy little jungle town of Aguas Calientes where we had a few hours to kill before our train departure time. We found the hot springs for which the town is named. ("Aguas Calientes" means hot waters). It was great to jump in and relax. Of course, you know kids. They don´t settle down and relax very well. They were splashing around and playing with the Peruvian kids and communicating just fine with their limited Spanish.
All in all, it was an incredibly wonderful trip to Machu Picchu and to Peru. Billy's first question when we got off the plane in the US was: "Hey dad, can we go back next year?"
While we were traveling in the Cusco region and on our visit to Machu Picchu, Travel 1 helped make all of our tours go very smoothly. We would like to thank the very friendly folks from that agency.