Traveling as a family to the lost city of the Incas of Machu Picchu is a truly enriching experience and it is entirely possible to do so without exposing children to unnecessary dangers.
The citadel of Machu Picchu was built by the Inca Empire approximately six hundred and fifty years ago, during the reign of the Inca Pachaquteq who was also the creator of the so-called Tahuantinsuyo Empire, which in its times of glory stretched from northern Colombia to southern Argentina, and is estimated to have covered an area of more than two million square kilometers of territory. With the arrival of the first Spaniards in Cusco, around the year 1530, the once invincible Inca army was defeated, their populations were conquered and their natural resources were gradually sent to the old continent. It is in this context that the city of Machu Picchu, which, in the language of the Incas, Quechua, means 'Old Mountain' was hidden from the sight of the western world for more than three hundred and eighty years. In 1911, the American explorer Hiram Bingham, in command of an expedition along the Willcamayu or Urubamba River, rediscovered this wonder of the ancient world and according to the stories, he was guided by a little boy who was his advisor during most of his odyssey.
The lost city of the Incas is located at an altitude of 2,430 meters above sea level, almost 800 meters below the city of Cusco (3300 meters above sea level), so altitude sickness also called 'Soroche' should not be a problem to consider.
The climate in Machu Picchu is humid due to the regular presence of rain, but at the same time temperate, being in a sub-tropical environment, with temperatures that fluctuate between 9° and 23° degrees. Both Machu Picchu and the surrounding area is covered all year round by a dense green layer of vegetation and characterized by the incessant roar of the mighty Urubamba River that flows downstream.
Admission to the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu for minors is upon presentation of their passport or National Identity Card (DNI), if they are Peruvian. All minors must enter Machu Picchu in the company of their parents or legal guardians.
Children under eight years of age do not pay admission, but must still present their passport or ID and be accompanied by their parents or legal guardians.
The trip to Machu Picchu consists of several short sections that must be done to reach the lost city of the Incas.
To access the Inca citadel there are several alternatives, which vary depending on the traveler's budget, physical condition and desire to walk.
The first alternative that is the most common among travelers to Machu Picchu is to make the first leg of the journey by bus, from the city of Cusco to the town of Ollantaytambo, a journey that has an average duration of an hour and a half to two hours, with an average cost of S/.20.00 (USD 6). In the second part of this option, you must board the train from the town of Ollantaytambo to reach the town of Aguas Calientes after approximately two hours. Train tickets for children, in the two companies that offer the service (PeruRail and IncaRail) have a discount of approximately 40% to 50%. The final section in this option consists of choosing between going up from the town of Aguas Calientes to the citadel, located at the top of a mountain, using the Conssetur bus (average discount of 50% for children's tickets), or walking up, at no cost.
The second alternative to get to Machu Picchu is to take a bus at the bus stop 'Almudena' in the city of Cusco, with an average cost of S/50.00, and after approximately 6 hours of travel to reach the town of Santa Teresa, once there you must board another vehicle to the so-called 'Central Hydroelectric', this section has a regular cost of S/.6 (USD 2) and a duration of 30 minutes. On the next leg of this option, you must choose between taking the tourist train (USD 31) to the town of Aguas Calientes or walking (6 hours of walking along the train tracks in the middle of the sub-tropical jungle) and finally choose between the Conssetur bus or the hike to the Inca citadel.
There is also the famous trekking called 'Inca Trail' as an alternative to reach Machu Picchu, but this option is not viable with children, due to the high physical demand that this route requires.
The weather in the Inca citadel is unpredictable, so it is recommended to dress the children with different layers to change them according to the weather and the situation, for example a capotin or poncho for the rain, but also light clothes to feel comfortable in the sub-tropical heat.
Apart from the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, also known by the Quechua word 'llaqta' which means land, there are also other mountains to explore that are close to this wonder of the ancient world.
The Machu Picchu mountain is the most appropriate alternative when traveling with children, because the ascent to this viewpoint located near 3000 meters above sea level is through a relatively flat and accessible path, away from the abysses, which can be traveled by a child without running great risks.
The other alternative is the Huayna Picchu mountain, which is located right next to the Inca citadel and is the one that appears in most of the photos; access to this mountain is restricted to children under 12 years old, due to the narrow steps during the ascent and the dangerous abyss of almost 400 meters that is located next to it.
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