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Family Program for Younger Children
Many families think that travel is best saved for when the kids are older – we respectfully disagree! Join us on this unique group program, tailor-made for families with younger children, and watch your kids gain confidence and a sense of wonder as we explore Peru together.
This program offers a fun and unique chance to explore the culture and history of Peru with young children in a flexible way, at your own pace. Each day, there are optional activities and opportunities for deeper exploration – you can choose to join the group, take it easy, or go out on your own according to the needs of your family. We also recognize that parents of young children are eager to explore on their own! In both Lima and Cusco, adults will have the chance to go out and enjoy the charms of Peruvian nightlife, with childcare provided at the hotel.
In addition to Peru’s most famous Inca site of Machu Picchu, our program includes a multi-day stay in the community of Chinchero, where Crooked Trails has a deep connection to the family of Paulino and Vilma Quillahuaman. Crooked Trails has shared in countless celebrations over the years, and watched each other’s children growing up. We will spend several days in the community of Chinchero sharing quality time with our hosts. From here, it’s on to Cusco, which was the heart of the Inca Empire at the height of its glory. Together, we will explore hidden corners of this enchanting city, with its narrow streets and rich history, and take our time breathing in the sensory feast that is modern-day Peru. This is an unforgettable journey, which emphasizes the subtler joys of life: family, and rich time together, while sharing the majesty of Peru.
Optional Amazon Extension:
The Peruvian Amazon offers a deep dive into one of the world’s most biodiverse hotspots. A trip to Refugio Amazonas is perfect for families, balancing comfort with unparalleled access to the rainforest environment. As an extension to the core family program, you will have 3 days to participate in numerous activities designed to inspire every member of your family. Guides are local experts in botany, insects, amphibians, mammals and more. Refugio Amazonas has taken great care in creating special opportunities for engagement and exploration for families, from working to identify a new species to a nature scavenger hunt to explore the local ecosystem. Activities are a la carte, so you can decide each day how busy or relaxed you’d like to be. Visit an oxbow lake and look for giant otters in the early morning light, or climb the canopy tower and gaze over the sea of green. Fall asleep to the sounds of the symphonic rainforest, one of the most biodiverse places in the world. This is a true adventure into the Amazon, in a safe and fun environment. Highly recommended.
Arrive in Lima, Peru
Spend the day in flight to Lima. Upon your arrival, you will be met by a private driver and brought to your guesthouse near the ocean. Get settled in and the kids to sleep; adults can meet downstairs to chat and have a drink.
Overnight in Lima.
After breakfast at the guesthouse, we will take the day to recover from travel, get adjusted to the time zone, and explore this bustling capital city.
Lima was the capital of the Spanish colony and boasts some of the most spectacular architecture, cuisine, and culture of any South American city. Our guide will take us to visit the historic city center where we will earn about the history of colonial Peru, strolling through the plazas and visiting the catacombs. We will share a buffet lunch before returning to the hotel for the afternoon. Take time to rest at the hotel, or head out with the group to explore the arts district of Barranco. If the weather is fine, we may wander down to the beach or enjoy the views of the ocean from the top of the bluffs.
Dinner on your own in Miraflores – there are great kid-friendly places to eat in Miraflores, and Lima is renowned for fresh seafood and pollo a la brasa, delicious, perfectly-seasoned rotisserie chicken. Once the kids are settled, parents have the option to go out together for an evening in Lima, known for its world-renowned food and tasty pisco sours. We will arrange for childcare at the hotel.
Lima - Ollantaytambo
After breakfast, we'll catch a morning flight to Cusco, the Imperial City of the Incas. Upon arrival, we will head directly down to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which sits at a lower altitude and allows everyone to gently adjust to the heights of the Andes. We will travel to the charming little town of Ollantaytambo, which was built on top of original Inca foundations and is the best surviving example of Inca town planning. The town is located at the foot of some spectacular Inca ruins, which protected the strategic entrance to the lower Urubamba Valley. The temple area is at the top of steep terracing, which helped to provide excellent defenses.
Settle in at the wonderful guesthouse, which is tucked back into a quiet corner of town. The guesthouse grounds are safe, clean, and comfortable and common areas have lovely views of the Inca ruins and the valley. After we drop off bags, we will set out for lunch at a local café. In the afternoon, take it easy at the guest house, enjoy the views from a hammock, or join our walking tour of the city center and visit the ruins complex (optional). There will be time to relax before dinner.
This day is wide open and full of possibilities. Take the morning to sleep in and enjoy a leisurely breakfast, then meander through Ollantaytambo’s amazing streets and ruins, museums and shops. Or, we can arrange activities in advance: take a cooking class with your kids to explore Andean cuisine, or visit a guild of llama breeders with the Llama Pack Project. (additional costs, depending upon activity selected)
After an early breakfast, we will head to the train station to catch a morning train to Aguas Calientes, the little town which sits at the foot of Machu Picchu. Tickets to visit Machu Picchu are available for either a morning or an afternoon session; the afternoon generally is less crowded. We will have time for an early lunch in town before taking a bus up to the archeological site of Machu Picchu, where we will spend the entire afternoon exploring the ruins. Our private guide will explain the latest theories about this mysterious citadel. The word "ruins" is misleading, as the site is actually in a remarkable state of preservation -- only the wood and palm-leaf roofs have decomposed over the centuries. Surprisingly, the Spaniards never discovered the sanctuary, and it remained unknown to the outside world until Hiram Bingham's expedition. Its “discovery” in 1911 captured the world's imagination, and its allure remains undiminished. Overnight in Aguas Calientes.
Aguas Calientes - Chinchero
After breakfast at the hotel, we will take a morning train back to Ollantaytambo. A private driver will meet us at the train station to take us to the small town of Chinchero, which is one hour up the valley and several thousand feet higher in elevation. By now, our bodies will be acclimatized and will be ready for the altitude.
In Chinchero, we will meet with our Quechua host family and have lunch together. We will stay in Chinchero with our hosts for the coming days, participating in daily life, and learning about the traditional weaving techniques for which this community is well known.
We will be staying in a private guesthouse owned by our friends Vilma and Paulino, who have four children of their own, and are now proud grandparents of 4! The guesthouse is charming, safe, and clean, with great views of the mountains and windswept highlands. Our friends and hosts will teach us about traditional Inca weaving techniques with a fun and informative demonstration. They will also guide us through the temple and ruins, and share their lives with us.
On this day, families will have the option to visit two amazing sites in the Sacred Valley, just a short drive from our home base. The salt terraces of Maras have been in active use since before the time of the Incas, and salt flats have been passed down from generation to generation. Moray is an Inca site with distinctive terraces of concentric circles, developed by the Incas as an agricultural laboratory. The kids will love these fascinating sites.
In the evening, try your hand at weaving, or join your host family around the fire drinking hot tea and chatting.
Chinchero - Cusco
Sunday is market day in Chinchero! After breakfast, our group will visit the square to see the market in action. This is a great opportunity to practice your Spanish and find unique handicrafts, or just stroll through and soak up the experience of this weekly market first hand. It is great fun to sip a cup of corn beer, paying respect to Pachamama, mother of earth, and clinking glasses with local residents!
After lunch with our hosts, we will bid farewell to Chinchero and transfer to Cusco. Here, we will get checked in at the hotel and begin to explore the famous Inca Capital together. In the afternoon, take it easy at the hotel, or, join the group for an optional walking tour of the city. We will visit Cusco’s traditional market, where we can sample a variety of interesting fruits, and explore the shaman’s market. No visit to the city is complete without visiting the Qorikancha, the Temple of the Sun.
In the evening, we will share dinner at a Peruvian pizzeria, which provides employment opportunities for Cusqueñean youth with special needs. Our friends at Manos Unidas opened the café in 2018, and for many adolescents and young adults, this is the first job they have had. The pizza is delicious and the experience filled with smiles.
Overnight in Cusco.
After breakfast, we will spend the morning visiting the remarkable fortress of Sacsayhuaman, which sits high above the city center. This is one of the most impressive Inca fortresses. Here, you will find massive carved stone walls and towers, and you can imagine a time when these walls stood 3 times as high! Learn about the battles waged here, and the history of this site. Kids will love the wide-open fields to run free, and caves to explore. We will enjoy a picnic lunch before returning to the hotel. Take the afternoon to relax, or visit some of the other Inca archeological sites just outside the city.
Optional: after the kids are settled for the evening, parents have the opportunity to go out to explore Cusco’s charming nightlife. Head to the Pisco Museum and share stories and Pisco Sours, or visit a local peña to hear Peruvian music. Childcare will be provided at the hotel.
Overnight in Cusco.
Today is a free day in Cusco. This amazing city has endless choices. Visit the Cathedral on the Plaza and see if you can spot the painting of the Last Supper, featuring roasted guinea pig! The Choco Museo is great fun and offers classes where you can learn how chocolate is harvested, roasted, and crafted, from bean to bar.
On our last evening together, we will share a celebratory dinner at a local restaurant.
Lima - Departure (or on to rainforest extension)
After breakfast, we will have a few hours to explore before catching an afternoon flight back to Lima. You will remain at the airport to await your international departure. Lima's airport has some great restaurants, and you can buy a pass to a lounge to relax before heading home.
AMAZON RAINFOREST EXTENSION - If you are continuing on to the Peruvian Amazon, you will fly directly from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado to continue this program.
DAY 11 (Extension)
Puerto Maldonado - Refugio Amazonas
Upon arrival in Puerto Maldonado, a guide will meet you at the airport reception and transfer you to the Tambopata river port, where you will board a boat to continue the journey to Refugio Amazonas lodge. During the voyage, you may see bird species typical of the river and forest edge habitats. When you arrive at Refugio Amazonas, you can unpack and unwind. You will receive a short orientation and a complete briefing on the lodge and the ecotourism project before an afternoon activity.
Activities at the Lodge are a la carte – you can decide which ones sound the most interesting to you and your family, and participate in as many or few as you wish. From stand-up paddle boarding to mountain biking through the rainforest, Refugio Amazonas offers remarkable opportunities to explore the diversity of this ecosystem.
Here are a few favorites that Crooked Trails families have loved:
The Children's Rainforest Trail:
Ania & The World´s Voice is an exciting journey designed for children, ages 4 to 10 years. You will travel with guides on a short but challenging walk where you follow maps, solve riddles, and find clues that will lead to the "treasure of Ania.” The path includes a visit to the houses of Ania, a young girl, and Tawa, the grandfather of the woods. Searching for the “lost Brazil nut”, the city of ants, and other fun games teaches children how people live in the rainforest, and why we need to preserve it.
Climb to the top and have a bird's-eye view of the forest. A thirty-minute hike from Refugio Amazonas leads to a 25 meter scaffolding canopy tower. A banister staircase running through the middle provides safe access to the platforms above, and the tower has been built upon high ground, therefore increasing your horizon of continuous primary forest, which extends towards the Tambopata National Reserve. From here, views of mixed species canopy flocks as well as toucans, macaws and raptors are likely.
Each night, visitors to the rainforest can choose from a variety of optional activities, from night hikes to search for nocturnal creatures to lectures by local researchers.
DAY 12 (Extension)
Exploring the rainforest
One of the activities best suited for the early morning is a visit to the oxbow lake, where a family of giant otter lives. After a short hike through the rainforest, you take a long, easy canoe ride around the lake where you can look for giant otters, turtles, hoatzin, and wading birds. You will return to the lodge for lunch before embarking on an afternoon outing.
In the afternoon, you may visit the community’s ethnobotanical center, or a local farm to learn about local crops and growing conditions. You will return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.
DAY 13 (Extension)
Exploring the rainforest
Another great morning activity is a visit to a clay lick. Clay deposits in the rainforest contain high concentrations of essential micronutrients, and a wide variety of species flock to clay licks for these minerals. Each clay lick attracts a unique slice of local fauna, from parakeets and scarlet macaws to large mammals such as peccaries, who gather at these spots. Each clay lick has a viewing blind, so we will not disturb the animals.
In the afternoon, you can take it easy at the lodge, or head out for a boat ride on the river. In the evening, you can join a guided night walk to search for nocturnal species and appreciate the fascinating sound of the jungle waking up!
DAY 14 (Extension)
After an early breakfast, you will depart by boat back to the city of Puerto Maldonado, then continue directly to the airport, in time for your flight back to Lima and your connecting flight back to the US.
$3295 per person ($1150 extension)
11D / 10N (or 14D / 13N with extension)
Lima - Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu - Chinchero - Cusco - (Puerto Maldonado on extension) - Lima
Customizable, village experience, great for families
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