Any journey to Peru would not be complete without a trip to Machu Picchu. Full of history and beauty, the legendary Machu Picchu is a must see for any trip to Peru or South America. But if you decide to visit Machu Picchu with kids, the experience can be even more enjoyable. Kids seem to see everything differently, with every new experience opening their minds.
Some really cool things have happened in the history of Machu Picchu that would be great to share with your children. In 1911, an American Explorer and historian, Hiram Bingham set off in the Peruvian Jungle to find what was at the time only a legend. He wandered around for weeks in the jungle with no luck until he found an 11-year-old boy who helped him locate the lost ruins. On arrival, he was astounded at what he saw, saying it took his breath away, but before all of this occured, over 500 years earlier, the Inca people lived and enjoyed the beautiful surrounding mountains for 100 years of worship in the gold laden temples watched over by their king in peace and tranquility.
Today, most of the ruins have been reconstructed, so you can get a fairly good idea of how the town of Machu Picchu was at its peak with only the thatched roofs missing. Take the kids to the Temple of the Condor and see the large stone in the middle of the structure which is in the form of a large bird with the surrounding rocks resembling the wings of the bird.
The main plaza of Machu Picchu is surrounded by homes, temples, a royal palace and stone terraces were the Incas grew corn and other crops. But without a doubt, the most important building in the complex is the Intihuatana or the hitching post of the Sun; a stone construction that the Inca priests would have used to study the stars and the heavens.
Still today, it is not known exactly why or when Machu Picchu was constructed, but historians have estimated that it was around 1450. However, the question still remains as to why it inhavitated for 100 years before it was abandoned or why it was built, for what purpose it was built, and what happened to the people who lived there? All of these questions remain a mystery that will be magic in the eyes of your children who will become fascinated and want to learn more.
Over 500 years ago, Machu Picchu was an Inca settlement perched on the side of a mountain and is a network of trails that links the Machu Picchu site to other important outposts in the Inca civilization. Let the kids explore the vast array of passageways and exert all of their energy running up and down over the 100 stair cases that connect Machu Picchu.
Take the children to explore all of the water features Machu Picchu has to offer, the wonderful series of square fountains and channels that carry water all through the Machu Picchu ruins.
There are many short hikes that are preferable amongst families on their trip to Machu Picchu. For example, the track to Inti Punku or the Sun gate as it is commonly known. A slow climb from the ruins but it is well worth the effort as the view of Machu Picchu is truly amazing. Or the famous Huayna Picchu, another steep climb and only recommended for older children, as it is sometimes slippery when wet, but also worth it for the photos of Machu Picchu you will be able to take from the top. Another great walk to do with the children is the path back down the Aguas Calientes, which is all downhill and not too difficult. This path takes you through a cloud forest with dripping vegetation like vines and tropical flowers. The walk takes around an hour and you may even see the local children dressed in traditional Inca costumes running down the track trying to beat the tourist buses back to Aguas Calientes to earn tips for their efforts.
For those who have had enough of the ruins, in the town of Aguas Calientes, there are the enjoyable hot springs to soak away the aches and pains of the day, where you can spend an hour or two relaxing in the refreshing pools. Also there is a pleasant market in the town of Aguas where you can buy presents for all the family back home. There are many restaurants for you to enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner and many hotels from backpackers to 5 star luxury hotels, to pass a night in the quaint little town of Aguas Calientes.
Not only is there plenty to see at the site of Machu Picchu, but the journey there can also be fun. There are various types of trains for all budgets, the Vistadome train for example, will get you there in style and comfort, with a glass roof to take in the view and a traditional dancing and music show to help you pass the time.
It is recommended that families spend at least two days at Machu Picchu to enjoy all it has to offer and take part in some of the hikes on offer. Let the children explore and take in as much as possible at this wonder of the world.
As you can see, Machu Picchu with the family can be an enjoyable and unforgettable experience for the whole family that we are sure the children will remember for a lifetime.