My family’s 8 day trip to Peru last week finds us on day 4 in my blog….
We had a SUPER early wake up call that morning because Adventure by Disney’s goal is to beat the crowds. Have to admit – I was not loving being told what time to wake up – which is part of a being with a tour group- but it ended up being worth it.
Arriving at the Ollantaytambo train station to being our journey to Machu Pichhu, I already felt transported somewhere lost in time.
Although the station is pretty modern, Peru is still a third world country. It felt old fashioned. But once inside the passenger car, which services thousands of tourists, the ride was surprisingly plush: leather seats, meal service, and even a fashion show!
In my seat I took it all in. The additional windows on the ceiling allowed more extensive viewing of the lush and rugged Andes dotted with Inca ruins.
The thick fog rolling in and out between the hills – revealing a new scenery each time it dissipated… and the mysterious music playing through the train’s speaker set the scene for a spiritual and mystic journey to the lost city of the Incas.
It was an hour and a half train ride, and when we arrived at the main gate, you must show your passport. Tickets are pricey about 50 US dollars. Our tickets were already part of our Disney package, so we didn’t need to wait in any lines. The Peru govt is now limiting the number of people, so order tickets in advance. There are lockers to check personal belongings too. (The other way to enter is to hike the Inca Trail.)
Meandering up a hill, the ruins suddenly become visible as you walk through a tunnel-like rock formation.
The first glimpse is an awesome moment – it makes you think about life and those who came so long before you.
Machu Picchu - Put This On Your Bucket List
We spent a few hours following a guide up close through the ruins….I had always wanted to come to Machu Picchu. It is easy to savor the moments here.
Bringing my kids was a thrill. Having guides from the region is a huge bonus. Disney trains all the local guides, so they are jovial and a fabulous source of information.
I could tell you all the amazing stories about the Incas that you come to appreciate by exploring Machu Picchu… but you are better off getting the history lesson from another website. www.peru-machu-picchu.com/
In a nutshell. the Incas built this city to purposely be out of reach.. and up high to be closer to the gods.
The reason they say these remains are so special is that they weren’t destroyed by the Spanish when they conquered Peru…. and were actually kept secret to most of the world, overgrown with fast growing lush vegetation. That, until American explorer Hiram Bingham discovered it in 1911.
Because they’re unspoiled, we can marvel at the Incan construction – how did they get this many tons of boulders up to 8000 feet above sea level?
How did they get each stone to fit together flawlessly, without mortar and modern tools?
So how did the kids like it?
As parents, we bring our children on trips like this with the hopes of teaching about other cultures and explaining history. At the same time, I realize true appreciation of this magnificent site won’t take root immediately, and that’s OK. The guides on our tour did a good job of trying to keep the kids engaged, and my six year old actually asked if we could Google the Incas…. mostly because he learned they had small feet, but hey – it was a start…. My older kids had fun imagining playing laser tag at Machu Picchu. Had to be honest.
We ate lunch at the restaurant right at the entrance – which is much more expensive than going back down the mountain for a cafe, but it gives you more valuable Machu Picchu touring time. My tip would be to splurge at the expensive restaurant near Machu Picchu, or pack a lunch if possible.
After lunch, the guides gave us two choices: to hike part of the Inca trail from the ruins up to the Sun Gate.. or to spend more time wandering the ruins on our own.
Our family chose to hike about 1000 feet higher along the stone path that the Incas built some 500 years ago. All my kids made it – even my six year old. The Inca trail here is wide enough that parents don’t have to worry. You should however, judge the maturity, and physical shape of your child before you take him or her up there.
It is a good hike – most in our group didn’t find it too strenuous – about two hours round trip depending on how long you rest at the top, and how big a ham you are…..
Kids having fun at Machu Picchu. Disclaimer: There IS solid ground below their feet.
We took many photos – you can’t resist…. but we found the views at Sun Gate aren’t more spectacular than below, just different.
The Incas were highly spiritual people.. so I couldn’t help but feel the power here. It was nice actually.
Needless to say… we all slept like babies that night…. with strangely lucid dreams. Machu Picchu had infiltrated our souls.
Tomorrow: Lovin’ the llama.