Machu Picchu with kids

Machu Picchu/Cusco

Day 4 - Machu Picchu 
It is a very long day and a long way to get to MP.  No wonder Incas chose it to hide and protect themselves from Spanish Conquistadors.  If you wish to hike the Machu Picchu, it’s better to spend a night in Agua Calientes before or after your visit.  We got up at 4:30 am to make 7:05 am train, leaving out of Ollantaytambo, which is about 20 min. car ride from the ranch.  From there, the train ride to Agua Calientes takes about 1.5 hrs.  We decided on a Vistadome train, known for all over windows to admire the scenery. On the train, we were served light snacks and beverages, and the time passed rather quickly.  We met our guide Oscar at the AC station, and went straight to the bus stop.  You have to buy the bus tickets at the bus station, so while Oscar was getting the tickets, we got in an hour-long bus line.   After a 30 min ride along the winding narrow road, we were finally at the entrance to the MP. The entrance is timed and you need a passport to get in. Machu Picchu, as we learned, is not the name of the city, but rather a tall mountain, whose peak is hidden in the clouds, making the scenery breathtaking and mysterious.   Incas, looking for a place to hide and escape the Spanish Invaders, found the water spring on top of the mountain. The rocks from nearby stone query (possibly a result of a rock fall), helped them build their settlement, over a period of 50 years, known today as Machu Picchu.  The Incas lived there for about 80 years, from 1450 to 1530s until they had to leave again for Vilcabamba, about 80 miles away, which came to be known as the original Lost City of Incas.  We stood on the original Inka trail (the entire trail spans thousands of miles from Argentina to Ecuador) and walked through the ruins, imaging the glory of the former empire.  After the visit, we stamped the passports with a MP stamp, kids had ice cream and returned to AC. There is a trail down that takes about 1.5 hrs if you need more exercise. We had time to have lunch in AC, and get on the 4:05 pm reserved train to Ollantaytambo. Due to the train malfunction, it took us a bit longer to get back. After another hour and half to Cusco,  we checked in at our hotel, beautiful Palacio Del Inca.

Day 5 - Cuzco/Cusco
Cuzco is a capital of Cuzco region, a charming, colonial city with Spanish architecture built on top of Incan walls.  In its prime (1400-1532) it was a capital of the Incan empire, with up to 150,000 inhabitants at its peak. There were so many people, that some had to be expelled from the city every night.  After the period of civil unrest, the death of Inca emperor, disease (smallpox wiped out roughly 90% of the population), and the subsequent conquest by the Spanish, Cusco fell and many remaining structures were practically destroyed.  Today, it is a city visited by 2 million tourists every year.  In 1983, UNESCO granted Cusco the title of “Cultural Heritage of the Humanity”, and Peru declared it the “Tourist Capital of Peru” and “Cultural Heritage of the Nation”. 

Our day in Cusco we spent resting and exploring.  There is no lack of little shops and markets.  It’s a great place to load up on souvenirs and everything else you never knew you wanted. The tourist area is relatively small.  We walked through Plaza De Armas to San Dominguez Market, had a lovely lunch at Chicha (a traditional Peruvian restaurant by Gaston Acuria). After lunch, we took a cab to a bohemian neighborhood of San Blas, and walked back to our hotel.  Kids wanted to rest up (Minecraft), and Chris and I took a pisco sour making class at our hotel.  Dinner at Limo (reservations are strongly recommended) didn’t disappoint- a blend of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines, sushi and  beautiful view of the Plaza Del Armas. 

When planning the trip, I thought we would have too much time in Sacred Valley and would run out of things to do.  I think we could’ve easily used another day in Cusco to see the museums and Inca Archeological monuments.  

Palacio del Inca - worked great for the family.  They offer interconnecting family rooms.  Ours had a king size bed, and the kids had a suite with two full beds and a living room.  The location can not be beat - in the center, across Santo Domingo Monastery, constructed atop the ancient Temple of the Sun, and a 10 min. walk to Plaza de Armas.