We didn’t really know what to expect in Peru and if our kids would appreciate the ruins and culture there. Well they had a blast and it was a great place for young and old.
We landed pretty early in Cusco so we wanted to take some tours when we got there.
We had a car and guide pre-booked through our hotel, but no real plans of sites we were going to visit. After getting in the car we decided to visit the Ruins of Moray and the Salt Mines of Moras.
While Cusco is not a huge town, there is no interstate. It was interesting driving through and seeing Peru culture for the first time.
Our first stop was at an Alpaca Farm which made their own yarn and blankets and stuff. Nothing amazing here, but it was nice to interact with the people who allegedly made the items and see how they made their own alpaca clothing. While a table runner was like $300 USD, we were able to get some nice blankets for about $20USD. This was a pure tourist place, but it was a quick n easy stop.
Eventually we made it to Moray. There is nothing else around it so its a place you need your transportation to stay while you are there. Its a nice walk around to see some of the ancient crop circles that the Incas used for farming. Entrance fee was 70 soles and our kids were free. I think kids 8 and under are free, but our 9 year old did not pay….
After spending 30-45 minutes in Moray, we sped off to the salt mines of Moras. Again not a huge place and nothing close by. There are a few shops here though for snacks and souvenirs. It was very interesting to see how the mountain spring is naturally salty and how they can basically harvest it. Entrance fee was 10 Soles.
We purposefully planned nothing on the next day. We didn’t know if we would be jet-lagged and just wanted to have a day to play it by ear. It worked out great as we did a lil swimming in the morning, walked around town, and then took taxi to Ollantaytambo
Our entrance from Moray was good for 2 consecutive days at multiple sites including Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, and Pisaq. So we took a $60 Soles taxi ride from our Hotel in Urubamba to the center of Ollantaytambo. It was about a 30 minute ride with the train tracks and river on the side. Ollantaytabo is a nice little town where a lot of people start their trek the Machu Pichu. We got dropped off right outside the ruins and explored them on our own for about an hour.
We then walked towards the center of town to grab some food and explore. On the way there, there was a Sunday Church parade we stopped and watched for a lil bit.
There are numerous restaurants all around. Some are quite cheap and off the beaten path a lil bit. Since we were only here for a few hours, we chose one of the restaurants on the main square and sat outside. We had a few different dishes and not really sure what type of meat was on our pizza, but it was delicious.
After that we were eventually able to hail a $50 soles taxi back to our hotel. While not difficult, the first few taxis didn’t want to go to Urubamba. Even though Uber is around, there was none in the area when we needed one. (later on I would just check, and there would be some though)
Finally, the next day was the main attraction of our vacation. Machu Pichu. We booked a package through Venturia Travel Agency which is whom our hotel recommended. While you can book everything on your own, it was stress free to be able to have them do it all. When we arrived at our hotel the first day, we had an envelope waiting for us which had our train tickets, bus tickets, entrance tickets, and lunch tickets. If I was going back, I would now realize that all of these items are actually pretty easy to obtain. However I am very glad in doing it for the first time that I went through an agency. We really only had one day planned for MP so didn’t want to try to plan it myself, mess up and then not see it.
The whole experience is amazing. From the excitement as you board the train. Then going on the slowest train ever that has amazing scenery on the side. After that just following the crowds to get on one of the scariest bus rides of your life. (You can walk from the train terminal to Machu Pichu as well, most people said it take about an hour, all uphill.) Then the excitement builds as you get closer to the top and see glimpses of it around every corner. We read online they only allow small backpacks, but they weren’t checking anything. You could have brought a large backpack full of food and been fine. They do have several guards throughout the ruins making sure people are behaving and not eating. But we were still able to eat or snacks throughout the tour. We had perfect weather and spent about 3 hours there. It was amazing. Just seeing this city that was built by such a small group of people and left untouched when the Spanish came. Our kids were probably able to hike it better than what we could. You don’t have to be in great shape, but its definitely not for people who just like sitting on couches. We saw some groups struggling in the first 5 minutes and I don’t know if they mad it to the best viewing areas…
After our 3 hour tour we had lunch at Tinkuy restaurant. This is the only sit down restaurant at the base of Machu Pichu. The food was pretty good, but they stick it to ya at $40 USD a person. It looked like there was a lil coffee shop with snacks down the path a little but, but those are your only option until you get back down the bus ride.
Then there was a very long line to get back on the bus. It took about 30 minutes to get on a bus. After the bus we walked to the train station where we had about 30 minutes of shopping until we boarded the train back.
Then it was back on the 2.5 hour train ride to Urubamba. While we brought cards to play, they also had some nighttime entertainment, fashion show/dancing.
Overall, The Sacred Valley area was a great place to explore with our family. There is plenty to keep them busy and appealing food for all. It can look like a pain to get to, but in hindsight its actually quite easy. Its just a lot of long complicated names to keep straight.