Peru is a land of great wonders and beauty for visitors of all ages, but especially so for little ones for whom the magic is all the more alluring. Families visiting the Andean nation will find themselves spoilt for choice when it comes to fun and adventurous activities to make the most of their stay here, and children will also be warmly welcomed by a society that will always put family first. For some action-packed and eye-opening experiences that can be enjoyed by the young and the young at heart, this South American country has a great deal more to offer than you might expect.
In places the Urubamba River can be unsafe for beginners, but fortunately there is also a range of companies offering to take groups rafting to different levels of intensity, so children can join in the fun too. As well as being an adrenaline-fueled adventure to enjoy with the family, the Urubamba River also makes its way through the stunningly beautiful Sacred Valley of the Incas, a place of unparalleled scenery. Most rafting sites are near to Urubamba town, which is located around one and a quarter hour’s drive from Cusco.
When it comes to wildlife, Peru has a great biodiversity and animal species unique to this part of the world. For both children and adults, encounters with weird and wonderful creatures is an enjoyable learning experience that shouldn’t be missed on a trip to this country. The Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary is an organisation dedicated to the rescue and recovery of endangered or poorly treated animals, offering tours to visitors for the purposes of raising awareness. Here you can see the endangered Andean condor, vicuñas, alpacas, pumas and, of course, llamas. Shuttles are available to the sanctuary from Cusco for a two hour journey.
Originally by the name Intikancha, Qorikancha was one of the most important Incan temples and festooned with gold, though it was looted and replaced by the Santo Domingo church and convent. The original Incan stonework remains at the base of the colonial buildings, and is still an impressive example of Incan architecture. The site is a mix of Incan and colonial remains which provide for an interesting history lesson and insight into local cultures. Qorikancha can be conveniently found in the centre of Cusco.
The Cusco area abounds in amazing historical ruins to choose from, but among the most impressive is Sacsayhuaman, the ruins of a citadel that precedes the Incan empire. It is made of giant limestone blocks that mysteriously fit perfectly together, to create the effect of a fantasy castle. Sacsayhuaman is an absolute delight for children who can enjoy exploring the ruins, and the site also offers excellent panoramic views over the Cusco valley. Sacsayhuaman sits above Cusco and is around 2 kilometres north of the city’s main square.
With a long Pacific coast, Peru certainly doesn’t disappoint the seasoned surfer. But for beginners and young learners, lessons are available to ensure everyone receives the instruction they need to get them started. At Makaha beach in Miraflores surfing lessons are available to budding surfers of all ages, boards and wetsuits are provided, and they can provide children with a fun and engaging sport on the Peruvian waves.
When it comes to chocolate many children don’t need to be asked twice, and as one of the world’s biggest chocolate producers, Peru has the goods. Choco Museo has two sites in Lima, one in Miraflores and the other in the historical centre, and they both offer a wide range of chocolate products, an information centre for about the chocolate making process, and a selection of workshops and classes for some real hands-on learning with the best flavours.
Animal lovers will jump at the chance of meeting with some of the large populations of sea lions that gather on the Palomino Islands, just off the Lima coastline. Not only can visitors view the fascinating creatures in their natural habitat, but they are also able to go swimming or snorkelling alongside these playful mammals of the sea. The islands are also home to a wide range of seabirds, including cormorants and pelicans, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled. Boats can be taken from Lima’s port of Callao, and all swimming and snorkelling gear will need to be taken along.
Perhaps not for the faint of heart, but we all know that the ghoulish and the macabre can hold a special appeal to children so the skulls and bones to be found beneath the Convento de San Francisco church should provide a tantalisingly chilling excursion. The catacombs were originally used as a cemetery, and there are reckoned to be as many as 25,000 bodies buried under this 17th century baroque church, many of which are arranged in strange formations. The San Francisco church can be found in the heart of Lima’s historical centre.
For a relatively tranquil trip, the Circuito Mágico del Agua is found in the Parque de la Reserva to the south of the historical centre. Far from being a mere series of water features, the Magic Water Circuit made the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest water fountain complex. The largest fountain rises to 80 metres in height and the walk-through tunnel fountain is 35 metres in length. Some of the fountains are interactive and beautiful light and music displays take place after dark. A great excursion that the kids can watch and also become involved in.
At first glance Peru may seem like a rugged land with a harsh climate that could prove difficult for children to cope with. But with a strong tourist infrastructure and facilities, the country can offer a convenient and safe visit to all generations. Most importantly, intrepid and edifying experiences can be enjoyed by all in the mysterious and beautiful Peru, a time for learning and bonding with your nearest and dearest.
The jewel in the crown of any visit to Peru, Machu Picchu is iconic sight and one of the new 7 wonders of the world. Believed to have been built for the Incan emperor Pachacuti in the fifteenth century, a trip to the citadel can be a history lesson as well as a spectacular experience resulting in the best of holiday snaps. The Inca Trail of over 80 kilometres may be a bit much for young children, and while there are no official age restrictions. Those not taking the Inca Trail will need to travel by car or bus to Ollantaytambo, before taking the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, as there is no access by road. Both journeys take less than two hours.
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