Peru Vacation Guide: Peru Travel With The Whole Family by:Matthew Barker
Traveling with youngsters is an immensely rewarding experience and is the best wayto open your child's eyes to some of the wonders that the world has to offer. A Peru vacation with your children could be the most memorable trip that you take with your young family and this guide, written by a local Peru travel expert, offers some advice and tips for getting the most out of your Peru vacation experience.
No doubt about it, traveling with kids can be tough, but worry not: we are here to assure you that South America is indeed a family-friendly travel destination; all you need is a little research, creativity and a great packing list!
Let's take Peru as an example: in a country as diverse and magical as this, options abound for activities that the whole family can participate in, enjoy and learn from. For starters there's the massive variety of geography in Peru, which alone provides plenty of options for adventurous families in search of an unforgettable vacation experience.
Options range from a jungle experience deep in the tropical selva, to admiring the stunning blue ice giants of Huaraz, exploring the impressive ruins of Machu Picchu (a definite requirement) and swimming on the glorious beaches of southern Peru or white-sanded northern Mncora. With just a little more research, plenty of kid (and adult) friendly activities can be found. To make traveling with kids extra easy, we've listed are a few unusual outings that'll be memorable for the whole family.
Starting off where many a Peru vacation begins, Lima has more than a few distinctly Peruvian activities to offer family travelers. First on the route is the Lima Zoo, known by its more formal name of Parque de las Leyendas. Warning: the zoo isn't up to the highest US standards but is a favorite of the locals and a great place to spend a few hours with the kids. Having undergone an extensive renovation of its animal pens, the park provides a variety of animals native to South America and beyond (giraffes and water buffalo included) as well as up close opportunities to even pet them!
Ave. La Marina, Block 24
Open 9am-5:30pm daily. Adults: US$ 3, children 3-11: US$ 1.30
Not far from Lima is another opportunity for up close wildlife experiences. At Pucusana Port, many families go on penguin and dolphin watching excursions. Located roughly 70 kilometers south of the capital, this is a small fishing town of only about 10,000 inhabitants. Life here remains much unchanged by recent developments in modern technology; the people still live off the ocean as they have for many generations past. Every morning, dolphins crowd to the port entrance and guided adventures can be arranged for children from a minimum age of five which will take you past the lazy sea lions sunning themselves on the hot rocks and occasionally flopping into the water for a fish snack.
If your goal is to provide a little eye-opening perspective for your kids, head south toward Lake Titicaca, and give your children the unforgettable opportunity to share for one day (or more) the lives of the indigenous communities who live on the lake's floating reed islands or Uros. Residents of Uros and the nearby craggy terraced islands of Amantini and Taquile still speak Quechua (the language of the Inca empire) and are happy to share their way of living with you. Take a hike to the island summit of Amanatini's Pachamama and Pachapa (Mother and Father Earth) temples or admire the precision of the centuries-old communal system Taquile Island; run entirely on a co-op system.
Boats and trips to Amantini, Uros and Taquile leave from Puno, on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. Buses are 12 hours from Cusco.
Of course, a Peru vacation that bypasses Cusco and Machu Picchu would be absolutely inexcusable, especially when the goal of traveling abroad with kids is to open their minds to the world's mysteries and treasures. While a trip on the train to Machu Picchu is a definite must-do, don't forget that the remainder of the region offers a variety of other fun learning experiences as well. Visit the Inca 'ceremonial fortress' of Sacsayhuamn, located on a 3,000 hectare site just a mile from central Cuzco. This fortress offers a great landscape for exploring, climbing and fresh air fun-there's even a few stone slides (rodaderos) and adventurous tunnel called the chinkana. Additionally, guided trips through the ruins on horseback can be arranged, as well as a special riverside picnic at the 'holiday resort' favored by Incan rulers-Tambomachay.
If in search of some quiet time to spend with the family, head up north to Mncora for a little peaceful R & R. Although there are cultural learning opportunities to be had here just as across all of Peru, the main draw card is opportunity to relax and enjoy the beach, and soaking up some sun. And if the desire for action manages to overcome the lazy beach atmosphere; try your hand at mastering surfing and body boarding the world class waves. Animal lovers can also visit the UNESCO protected Amotape Forest, where over 100 different species of mammals, birds and reptiles can be found in their natural habitat.
Finally, the idea of letting your children run wild through a jungle might not seem a great idea but at the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Animal Orphanage located a short boat ride away from Peru's jungle city of Iquitos, such an adventure is perfect for families.
Here, orphanage managers Gudrun Sperrer and Roblar Moreno have worked to expand the original facilities of the park to include an abandoned animal refuge. Children and parents can wander the grounds of this not-for-profit animal oasis, examining the hundreds of different butterflies as they glide through the air as well as play with a huge number of friendly monkeys, spotting enormous caiman in the lake, getting up close and personal with an orphaned jaguar and even pet fairy-tale worthy animals like a hulking tapir named Lolita and Rosa, the resident 8ft long anteater
Our top tips for long plane and bus journeys with youngsters:
If at all possible, bring along a car seat for the plane or bus. This not only makes it safer for the child, but also cuts down on stress by putting them in a familiar and comfortable position.
Carry an extra change of clothes for yourself and baby: spills and dribbles happen!Always have some snacks and drinks to hand. Non-perishable items like crackers and dried fruit are great keeping up the energy levels- especially when unfamiliar food is leaving your child hungry and cranky.Only travel by night if necessary. Long, overnight bus rides can be rough on children as there is not much leg-room for comfort and few activities to keep them entertained. If there is no other way, make sure you request first floor seats on double-decker buses to avoid excessive bus swaying. Keep up the interest levels in places like ruins and on city tours by getting your child their own disposable camera, that way they can create their own souvenirs of the journey and focus on points that really interest them.Take along a notebook and a glue stick to create a vacation scrap book while you travel.About the authorThis guide to a Peru vacation with the family was written by a travel-loving Peru vacation expert at Peru For Less, a member of the Latin America For Less family.Latin America For Less, a US travel agency established in 1998, offers a complete South America vacation service to destinations across Latin America, including Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia.The company is unique in its ability to offer a price match guarantee as well as the highest standards in quality and customer service.Fully customized itineraries coupled with personal and friendly service are the hallmarks of a Latin America For Less vacation.