Month Visited: December
We are a family that looks forward to adventure, and we like to find new out of the way places and visit exciting cultures. We like to plan each day with as many activities and stops as time will allow so we get the most out of each trip. We are an active family who loves nature and the great outdoors, but we also value quality time spent together as a family as well. Our children at the time of this itinerary: 4 children-Boy age 27 years, Boy age 25 years, Girl age 21 years, Boy age 17 years.
Special tips and warnings about this trip: There are some vaccinations that are recommended for anyone traveling to Peru, and you should discuss these with your doctor in advance before you leave on the trip. In many places Peru does not have potable water so it is important to plan for this and pack extra bottles of clean water accordingly. Avoid eating or drinking anything prepared with local water sources because you could become ill due to parasites and germs that you are not used to. Insect bites are another common problem, and some of the mosquitoes may carry malaria. Your doctor may prescribe anti malaria medicine just to be safe, and mosquito netting and insect repellant can be a good idea.
Description: Cusco is one of the top tourist destinations in Peru, and this region was once the heart of the Inca civilization and empire. The history and culture that can be found here is unbelievable until you have walked the streets of the city and experienced it for yourself. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the large city makes an excellent base for visitors who want to explore the surrounding ruins and villages. Colonial architecture and historic structures have been preserved very well, and visitors can mingle with rural farmers and the descendants of the Incas in the local streets and markets. There are a number of churches found here, some dating back to the 1500s, and also markets for food, handicrafts, and even potions for love or success. The Plaza de Armas is a square that has a rich history and riding on horseback through this region can be an unforgettable experience with exquisite scenic vistas and many pleasant surprises.
Our Experiences: We spent the day exploring Cusco and our whole family had a terrific time. We toured one of the most well known churches in the area and rubbed shoulders with local crowds in the streets and the main squares. Shopping in the local markets was fascinating and the kids really enjoyed seeing a unique witch market while the adults were intrigued by the handicrafts and exquisite workmanship of the textiles offered for sale. We explored the Sacsayhuamán ruins that overlook Cusco and rented horses for an exciting ride in the countryside. This was a day well spent, and there was something for everyone in our family. The rich sense of culture and history make this a stop that should not be missed if your family enjoys adventure and exploring new places.
Description: Cusco is home to many churches, and these offer incredible architecture and a long and fascinating history. The Cathedral of Santo Domingo was built over another structure, the palace of the Inca leader Wiraqocha, and visitors can experience very detailed items of intricate gold smith work and wood carving from centuries past. The spectacular interior of this cathedral is incredible, with architectural features and artifacts that are a must see. The Church of the Society of Jesus offers some of the best examples of colonial Baroque architecture. Built in 1576 this structure features hand carved stones and is home to many sculptures and paintings, with an altar made of gold and an underground chapel. There are many other churches in the region as well.
Our Experiences: As we explored Cusco we came across some very distinctive churches and incredible religious structures with vivid details and features. The kids were thrilled to view ancient artifacts and religious items, as well as being awed by the architecture and elaborate artwork that these buildings display. There are a number of churches in the area and we chose to tour a few of them, and many of these date back 400 years or even more. The churches and convents in Cusco are a must experience, even if you are not deeply religious, and they offer a sense of history that is amazing.
Address: Cusco, Peru
Description: The Sacsayhuamán ruins are the remains of an ancient fortress that was built around 1100, before the Inca empire rose to power, and the Killke were responsible for building the initial fortress. Today all that is left is archeological ruins of the once towering walls and buildings, and this site is a very popular attraction for visitors. The Incas expanded the fortress and were occupants of the location from around the 13th century. In 2008 an ancient temple, roads, and a system of aqueducts were discovered by archeologists, and these excavations led to the discovery of another temple. It is believed that Sacsayhuamán was the center of religion for the Inca empire, and evidence suggests that it was also used by the Inca military as well.
Our Experiences: Our visit to the Sacsayhuamán ruins was a highlight of our trip. The three walls of the fortress that are still standing today are massive, with stone blocks that are larger than vehicles or even some buildings. Each block in the walls weighs around 300 tons and all of them fit together seamlessly. We were amazed at the ability of the Inca civilization to construct such a marvel without the use of modern tools and technology. We learned about the history of this ancient fortress and how it was used in the Inca rebellion against the Conquistadors, and kids and adults both were fascinated by the tale. We saw the three foundations, all that is left of the defense towers that the Incas built, and everyone greatly enjoyed exploring these ruins and taking turns standing next to the large blocks of the remaining walls. This experience is highly recommended for almost all ages, although very small children may not enjoy it as much.
Description: The Plaza de Armas is situated in what once was the capital and heart of the Inca empire and civilization. Today this square is the center of Cusco, and it is ringed by colonial arcades. There are several churches situated on the plaza edges, and visitors will usually see two flags that are flown constantly. One flag represents Peru, and the other represents the four quarters of the Inca empire. The Plaza de Armas is also called the Square of the Warrior, and it has been the location for many important events in the past. This is where Francisco Pizarro declared that Cusco had been conquered by the Spanish, and where the Inca resistance leader Túpac Amaru II died. This square is a must see for anyone who comes to Cusco looking for history and a sense of the Inca culture.
Our Experiences: We wandered through the Plaza de Armas for a short time, and the surrounding arcades and architecture that can be found here are very interesting. The kids were in awe of the massive structures on the plaza edges, and everyone enjoyed seeing the crowds. We also wandered through a pedestrian alleyway that had walls built by the Incas, and the quiet of this alley was a nice change from the noise and crowds in the plaza, At night the square is lit up with lighting, giving it a different appearance and feel.
Description: The local markets of Cusco offer a wide range of handicrafts, textiles, local foods, and even some more unusual offerings like love potions and witchy brews. If you want to experience the true culture and see the population of the region in action the local markets can help you do this.
Our Experiences: Everyone in our family really enjoyed wandering through the local markets and checking out what the vendors were selling. The wide range and diversity of the offerings is tremendous. We sampled some of the local foods and admired clothing and blankets that were elaborate and crafted completely by hand. The witches market offered some very unusual and unique potions which we browsed but did not buy, and the area was full of crowds that were friendly and very colorful. This was a great way for us to experience the real culture of Cusco and see how the people in the area interact.
Admission: varies, depending on the stable chosen and rental time desired
Description: Riding horses through the scenic vistas can be a fantastic way to see Cusco and have fun at the same time. Feel the wind in your hair as you gallop across the landscape and experience gorgeous views of the area. This activity can be an unforgettable adventure that few are likely to forget, one that you will want to repeat.
Our Experiences: We had a lot of fun horseback riding, and the cost of the horse rental was very reasonable. There are many stables that you can choose from, and a wide range of horse sizes and types to choose from. This was an exciting activity that all of the kids recommend, and the adults in our family had just as much fun as the kids. The horses we rode were in good shape and friendly, and they behaved well during the ride so we did not have any problems or incidents. We saw some of the most beautiful views found anywhere, and this was a highlight of our time in this area.