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Active Family Program
This family travel program offers a fun and unique chance to immerse yourselves in the culture and history of Peru in a flexible way, at your own pace. We also recognize that adults 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 the option for childcare at the hotel.
In addition to Peru’s most famous Inca site of Machu Picchu, our program includes a multi-day stay in the remote community of Vicos, located in the Cordillera Blanca just outside of Huascaran National Park, where we've watched each other’s families grow and change over many years. You will spend several days in the community of Vicos sharing quality time with our friends as your hosts. From here, it’s on to Cusco, which was the heart of the Inca Empire at the height of its glory. Together, your family will explore the hidden corners of this enchanting city, with its narrow streets and rich history, and take your time breathing in the sensory feast that is modern-day Peru. This is an unforgettable journey, filled with adventure and connection, 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, this 4-day program includes 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 identifying a new species to launching drones into the canopy to explore the local ecosystem. Activities are a la carte, so you can set the pace each day. 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.
Arrival in Lima, Peru
Spend the day in flight to Lima. Upon arrival, you will be met by a private driver and brought to your guesthouse near the ocean. Depending on your arrival time, go out to explore the city, or get settled in and rest. Overnight in Lima.
After breakfast at the guesthouse, take the day to recover from travel 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 capital. Your local guide will take you to visit the historic city center to stroll through the plazas and visit the catacombs, and learn about the history of colonial Peru. Share a buffet lunch before returning to your hotel.
In the afternoon, head out to explore the arts district of Barranco. If the weather is nice, 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 places to eat, from the humblest street food to the finest dining, and we can suggest a place according to your tastes. 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 for an evening in Lima, known for its world-renowned gastronomy and excellent pisco sours. We can arrange for childcare at the hotel upon request.
Travel to Vicos
Your short flight to Huaraz leaves early this morning. Upon arrival, your family will be met by Pablo, our community partner, and brought to the village of Vicos. On your first day in the village, meet your host family and get set up in your homestay. It is difficult to describe the warmth and genuine welcome one receives in Vicos – here, you truly feel like family! It is a very special experience, and a unique opportunity to experience the beautiful way of life of a remarkable Andean community.
Each family involved in this community-based tourism program has built a small guest house next to their home. These are simple adobe buildings with composting toilets, running water (cold only), and a fireplace. This allows you to have an intimate cultural experience, while still having some privacy and a quiet place for your family to rest and reflect. Vicos is at around 9,500 feet of elevation, and most travelers feel the altitude. Take it easy on your first day, stay hydrated, and share some coca leaves or tea to help with the acclimatization process.
You will spend the next two days with your host family, participating in daily life, learning about the Quechua culture and sharing stories, and exploring the beautiful countryside. Each host family takes care of their guests, providing meals and acting as guides. Food here is simple and nourishing, grown by the local families, and consists mainly of quinoa, corn and potatoes. Depending on the season, pitch in with the harvest, or help select the best seeds for planting next year’s crops. In the afternoon, learn how to make bread in an earthen oven, or visit surrounding families on foot.
There are many great choices for today! One great option – together with your hosts, help build a smokeless oven for a local family. Smokeless ovens improve respiratory health for every member of the family by improving indoor air quality, and their increased efficiency means less wood is needed for cooking. This is a simple and effective health intervention, and a great chance to work side by side with the village to improve health for families.
Another great option - take the day to trek to a lake in nearby Huascaran National Park. The hike to the glacial lake is a great physical accomplishment, and the views are breathtaking. Evenings will be set aside for fireside chats, dancing, music and hanging out with your host family.
Vicos - Huaraz
Today, your family will share in a special celebration experience: a traditional feast called a Pachamanca, a tribute to Mother Earth. All the families will come out to celebrate with us. A Pachamanca is a traditional meal prepared in an earth oven, where various kinds of meats and potatoes are wrapped in leaves and cooked by hot rocks buried in the earth. There will be musicians playing traditional music and dancing to celebrate.
In the late afternoon, we will pack up and drive to Huaraz, where you'll get checked into the hotel for hot showers. The evening is free to explore and have dinner on your own.
Today is a free day to get cleaned up, catch up on email and laundry, walk around town or take part in an adventurous activity. Options include: rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, or a day visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Chavin de Huantar. Huaraz is the adventure capital of the area, with lots of fun to be had in the surrounding Cordillera mountains. Cost of today's optional activities vary, and we will help you book a custom day for your family. In the evening, enjoy a delicious dinner at one of Huaraz’s many fantastic eateries, and turn in early to prepare for an early flight.
Travel to the Sacred Valley
You will head to the airport early this morning to catch your flight to Lima, where you will connect to Cusco, the Imperial City of the Incas. Upon arrival, you will be met by a private driver and guide and will head directly down to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, to the charming little town of Ollantaytambo. Stop on the way for lunch along the riverbank of the Urubamba River, which winds its way towards Machu Picchu.
Ollantaytambo 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 into the wonderful guesthouse, which is safe, clean, and comfortable and common areas feature hammocks (and wifi). In the afternoon, take a walking tour of the city center and visit the ruins complex with your local guide in the spectacular afternoon light. There will be time to relax before finding dinner at one of the town's lovely eateries.
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, take a cooking class with your family to explore Andean cuisine at a beloved local restaurant, visit a guild of llama breeders with the Llama Pack Project, or book a mountain biking excursion through the valley. In the evening, take it easy and prepare for your trek to Machu Picchu tomorrow morning.
Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
After an early breakfast, you will be met by your guide and will head to the train station to catch the morning train to the trail. At km104, hop off the train to begin the trek to Machu Picchu. Following the footsteps of the Incas, the Royal Inca Trail route is believed to be the ceremonial path that the Inca ruling caste used for ritual purification before entering the sacred site of Machu Picchu. The trail is a magnificent hike from the Choquesuysuy ruins, through the cloud forest to Quetzal Falls, to the watchtower of Winayhuayna ruins. In the afternoon, you will climb to Intipunku (Gate of the Sun), the entrance to the sanctuary, and arrive in the late afternoon to see Machu Picchu for the first time. When all the crowds have cleared, descend to Aguas Calientes where you will enjoy an evening of soaking in the local hot springs and a celebratory meal with your guide. Overnight in Aguas Calientes.
Machu Picchu - Cusco
After an early breakfast, catch a morning bus up to the archeological site of Machu Picchu. You will spend the entire morning exploring the ruins. Your 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.
In the afternoon, you will return again to Aguas Calientes, where there will be time for lunch and exploration before catching the train back to Ollantaytambo. Upon arrival, your private driver will meet you to take your family to Cusco, where you will spend the night.
Overnight in Cusco.
Wake up in Cusco, and share a delicious breakfast at your hotel. Your guide will meet you this morning to take you on a walking tour the city to 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. Once you are oriented, take the afternoon to explore the city’s meandering streets on your own!
In the evening, we will arrange for 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, your guide will meet your family to explore the upper Inca ruins on horseback. This is a wonderful way to explore the area around the capital! You 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. You will enjoy a picnic lunch before returning to the hotel.
In the afternoon, go out to explore on your own! 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. The neighborhood of San Blas has incredible views of the city center below!
After the kids are settled for the evening, parents have the chance to go out and experience Cusco’s charming nightlife. Head to the Pisco Museum and learn how to prepare Peru’s favorite drink, the Pisco Sour, or visit a local peña to hear Peruvian music. Childcare can be arranged at the hotel for families with younger children.
Overnight in Cusco.
Departure (or on to the rainforest extension)
After breakfast, you will have one last morning in Cusco before catching an afternoon flight back to Lima. Depending on the time of your international departure, you will remain at the airport to await international departures. Lima 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 Day 14 (Extension)
Puerto Maldonado - Refugio Amazonas
Upon arrival in Puerto Maldonado, a guide will meet you at airport reception and transfer you to the Tambopata river port, where you will board a boat to continue the journey to Refugio Amazonas. During the voyage, you may see bird species typical of the river and forest edge habitats. When you arrive at Refugio Amazonas, take time to unpack and unwind. You will receive a short orientation and a complete briefing on the lodge and the ecotourism project before an afternoon activity. We recommend a visit to the Canopy Tower.
Canopy Tower: Get to the top and have an eagle’s 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.
Activities at the Lodge are a la carte – you can decide which sound the most interesting to you and your family, and participate in as many or few as you like. From stand-up paddle boarding to mountain biking through the rainforest, Refugio Amazonas offers remarkable opportunities to explore the diversity of this ecosystem.
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 Day 15 (Extension)
One of the activities best suited for an early morning is a visit to the oxbow lake, where a family of giant otter lives. After a short hike through the rainforest, take a long, easy canoe ride around the lake. Your guide will help you spot wildlife, possibly giant otters, turtles, hoatzin, and wading birds. 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 Posada Amazonas for dinner and overnight, or we can arrange for you to spend the night at the ethnobotanical center, learning from the local Ese E’ja indigenous people, who are experts on medicinal plants of the rainforest.
DAY Day 16 (Extension)
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 gather at these spots. Each clay lick has a viewing blind, so you will not disturb local species gathered there.
In the afternoon, launch a drone into the canopy to assist local researchers, or head out for a kayaking adventure on the rivers nearby. In the evening, you can join a guided night walk to search for nocturnal species and appreciate the fascinating sound of the jungle that never sleeps!
DAY Day 17 (Extension)
After an early breakfast, we depart by boat back to the city of Puerto Maldonado, directly to the airport, in time for our flight back to Lima and in time for your flight back home.
From $3395 per person ($1150 extension)
14D / 13N (17D / 16N with extension)
Lima - Huaraz - Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu - Cusco - (Puerto Maldonado on extension) - Lima
Customizable, village experience, great for families
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