I usually write about tips on how to travel with kids and why it is such a great experience but, after recently returning from a 4 week holiday in Peru with my family, I am totally inspired to share this great destination with you.
We covered a lot of the country, but the highlights for us all were the Amazon Rainforest and the ancient Inca settlements around Cusco. Both of these areas are great for families and are easily covered in a 2 week holiday period.
Peru – A Great Family Holiday Destination
To access the best part of the Amazon Rainforest we flew to the small town of Iquitos, situated in the north of Peru. We then journeyed by boat for 3.5 hours up the Amazon River until we arrived at our lodge, set back off the river and surrounded by jungle. Once there, we were treated to multiple daily wildlife excursions along with fabulous food and an enlightening village visit.
With water levels high at the time of year we were there, all our excursions were done by boat making the much anticipated spotting of leopards fairly impossible. The plus side of the high water level, however, was that we were that much closer to the tree canopy which made viewing of all other wildlife so much easier.
And what a lot of wildlife we saw! Along with the incredible sight of sloths hanging from branches above us, we were lucky enough to see 6 different types of monkeys; anteaters; squirrels; over 60 types of birds including woodpeckers, macaws and numerous birds of prey; iguanas; crocodiles and tarantulas.
We even had a daily swim with Pink Dolphins in a nearby lake – a totally surreal experience!
From the pristine rainforest of the Amazon with its amazing wildlife we headed to the giddy heights of Cusco, an historic town set high up in the mountainous range that was once home to the ancient Incan civilisation.
You need to spend a few days either in Cusco itself or the surrounding Sacred Valley taking it easy and getting used to the high altitude before you head off to do any trekking.
At 3,400 metres above sea level some people can experience altitude sickness which, as my 17 year old son found out after the first day when he pushed himself too hard, is not nice! Once you are acclimatised, however, the wonders of the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu await.
We did a 5 day/4 night guided trek along part of the original Inca Trail, ending at Machu Picchu, camping overnight in provided tents. We were expecting to find it a bit tough but apart from it being hard to breathe sometimes on the up-hills (I blame the altitude, not my general lack of fitness!), it was no tougher than a lot of walks we have here in New Zealand.
In fact, in lots of ways it was easier as we were accompanied by a huge team of porters to carry all our luggage and all the equipment (including a portable flushing toilet!) along with our own personal chef who served up delicious 3 course meals at each stop.
Although Machu Picchu is one of the most iconic sights in Peru, we really enjoyed seeing the numerous other Inca settlements along the trail and learning all about Incan history from our guide as we wandered across cultivated fields, through dense rainforest and over exposed mountain passes.
For those families who have younger children which might preclude them from the Inca Trail experience, there are numerous other day trip options which still give a great insight in to the culture and the surrounding countryside.
The combination of wildlife, landscapes, history and culture meant that there was something for all the family to enjoy throughout our trip. The friendly Peruvian people and the great cuisine was the icing on the cake. We had a fantastic time – muchas gracias Peru!
For more great family holiday destinations, and tons of travel advice, check out our Family travel section.