Travel in Peru is probably better suited to older, adventurous children who will appreciate the depth of history and archaeology of Incan sites, cope with the indigenous people groups you could come across and handle jungle trips and rougher transport more readily. Peruvians have a strong sense of family and will certainly try to make things as easy for you as possible, however the rugged terrain, rough transport and long distances in some areas would make travel with small children a challenge. However don’t let that put you off if you’ve done family trips before and feel you can handle it. Some things that can make it easier are to fly around the country as much as possible to cut down the travel time on bumpy roads, spend a little bit more time in each place getting used to it, and recovering properly from the previous days exertions before moving on.
In terms of suggested itineraries, the only thing you might do differently is to simply take a little longer in places like Cuzco to allow children to acclimatize properly before heading to the higher altitudes of the ruins at Machu Picchu. There are also ruins near Cuzco that the children might enjoy in the meantime and plenty of fun market, eating and sightseeing experiences. If you do then go on to Machu Picchu, make sure you factor in an overnight stay at Aguas Calientes near the ruins to allow for adequate recovery of little limbs after clambering over the site all day.
The scenic train ride from Cuzco to Lake Titicaca is one that children will particularly enjoy. They’ll also love the boat tours and chance to meet the indigenous communities who live on the floating islands. If you overnight with one of the families on Isla Taquile, it will also enable your kids to meet local children, which is often a highlight for them and a good experience for them to see how other people live.
Lima is a great place for kids to go shopping in places like Lima’s Miraflores, although they might prefer the more artisan style markets of smaller towns where they can shop for exotic Peruvian flutes, alpaca items like socks and shawls and local jewelery. Trips beyond these on-the-beaten-track areas, such as into the Amazon jungle, you might need to research carefully to ensure it is a comfortable and smooth experience and that the children are suitably prepared for it.
Whatever you plan to do, include the children in the decision making and preparations as they will love researching the food, culture and sightseeing choices and really feel part of the trip. Learning Spanish together is also a great idea, although you might find the children pick up the sounds and words faster than you do! If you’re keen to make the trip educational then make them keep a diary, take photographs and learn words as they go along. They might also like to go to a local school or orphanage so they can see how children in Peru live.
If the kids are adventurous eaters then they’ll also have a lot of fun trying out new things in the restaurants and markets. Two things to look out for are the Inca cola, a bright yellow soft drink and cuy - guinea pig. If you’re worried about their stomachs just make sure fruit and vegetables are washed in purified or boiled water and vegetables are eaten cooked. If they aren’t that keen on trying new things, make sure to pack some of their favorite treats. You should also pack any special medications or entertainment they might need for long drives or bus trips.