Machu Picchu with the kids
On our second week we made it to Ollantaytambo having visited Moray and the Salt Pits and stayed overnight in a hotel near the station. At 4am our alarms went off and we began dressing for the cold weather outside - hats, overcoats, gloves - and then began the five minute walk down towards the station. We had managed to get tickets in Cusco to ride the residents train which is 1/13 of the price of the cheapest train offered to tourists, and which is no frills but just as good as a South West train I went to school on every day! And we had assigned seats which South West Trains did not always provide! Unfortunately the bus company in Aguas Calientes has a monopoly and is the only way to get up to Machu Picchu other than walking uphill for over an hour. We had to pay the $19 per person (reduced resident rate) 25 minute ride. Definitely the most expensive bus in Peru! We're used to a 25 minute ride costing 30p/50c! Was worth it though, even with the long queue to get on at both ends.
Taking advice from some travelers who spent much of their time traveling with kids, we decided not to get a tour guide, but to instead walk around Machu Picchu at our own pace and that was definitely the best decision for us. (We got only one official guide on the whole trip because the boys begged up to in the Sun Temple in Cusco, but they found it very boring!) We had studied a lot about Machu Picchu and the Incas beforehand in homeschool with books (this one and this one were really interesting overviews and the boys loved this one too) before we left so we knew what the places we were looking at were and the older two were able to identify the different places. (You can read Daniel's study of the Incas on his blog here!)
We had also visited the small Machu Picchu museum in Cusco which shows several photos from Hiram Bingham's exploration trips in 1911, and a few artifacts found at the site, as well as a scale model with accompanying video and computers which give you a virtual tour of the site. Daniel enjoyed the museum so much he begged me to go back again after we had visited Machu Picchu. It was really interesting to put more things in place after the trip too.
It was a long day with the train not getting back into Ollantaytambo until 8.45pm (we should have booked onto the 3.30pm train rather than the 6.30pm) but definitely a day we will remember for the rest of our lives. We didn't visit the ruins in Ollantaytambo before returning to Cusco the next day because the boys had had enough walking around ruins, and to be honest, I needed a day off from walking up hills too!
This post is part of a short series of posts about Practicing Rest, focusing on our family holiday in Cusco. You can read part 1 on practicing rest here, part 2 on caves, mountains and ruins here, and part 3 on Moray and Salineras Salt pits here.
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