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Going to Machu Pichu with 4 children

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Hi, I plan on traveling to Machu Pichu end of June with 4 children. A few questions:

1.Which mountain is easier to climb with 4 children ages 8-15? machu pichu or huayna pichu?
2. Do you think Sun Gate will give us similar views? I am concerned the altitude may make it hard for some of the kids to climb.
3. I am looking for an English speaking tour guide recommendation.
4. We plan on visiting Cuzco, Machu Pichu and surrounding towns. Other areas you recommend?
5. When I plan this trip using an agency, it's very expensive; so I have decided to plan this myself and book it myself. I welcome any suggestions you have. Or any agencies you recommend that were fantastic but not crazy expensive?

Thank you in advance!

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    Hi there!
    I live in Cusco and recently climbed the Huayna Picchu, and I can say that is doable in general, just need to be cautious and take your time to climb it (it takes around 1 hour). Regarding the tickets, you need to buy it in advance. Unfortunately, you can't buy tickets for children online, your travel agency/hotel must buy it for you in Cusco. You can check the availability here: http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/
    The Sun gate is also great (it takes about 40-50 min) and it's free, so it may be a good option if you're not able to get your tickets for Huayna Picchu. I would also say that it's safer to hike the Sun gate than the Huayna Picchu, especially if traveling with Kids.
    I share with you an article that talks about our experience climbing the Huayna Picchu if you're interested. https://goo.gl/VzamJB
    Cheers!

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    Just do the Sun Gate, you get an excellent distant view. And the view from the "Watchman's Hut" is probably even better.

    If you are not used to the altitude, the Sun Gate will take longer than 40 to 50 minutes. You might wish to do that when you arrive so you aren't stuck up there needing to run back down to make your train.

    Many of us have booked our own trips. You don't need a travel agency. You can book your own hotels online and your own train tickets. There are a number of trip reports and blogs that lay out a reasonable itinerary.

    Note that children's tickets are half off, but require presenting proper ID and it can be a hassle buying them via a travel agency. So many people just go ahead and buy the adult tickets online since agencies often mark the childrens tix up anyways. Some hotels will do the children's tickets for you also.

    Bear in mind that even without a guide, a day to MP includes train tickets (roughly $120 per adult from Ollantaytambo)entry tickets, (roughly $50 for adults), the bus tickets up and back from Aguas Calientes ($24 approx r/t adult). That doesn't include any agency markups and assumes you can successfully complete online purchases. I have found the Peru Rail website touchy, so last time I used Inca Rail.

    The hotels can arrange transfers. You can also book through www.taxidatum.com, who is transparent re pricing. With that many people you'll have to book a van so it will cost more.

    I have not used guides. If you want one, expect to pay $100 or more per day for English speaking, not including the cost of the transportation. June is a busy month, so there is no guarantee that an English speaking guide will be available nor will they discount their prices, same will be true for taxis.

    There are going to be guided groups all over Machu Picchu. Another option is to bring a guide book and you will be able to overhear different guide spiels (they are all different).

    Because June is busy, you need to book now your trains, flights and hotels.

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    Hi, I went up Machu Picchu Mountain and gave up halfway but then continued on to the gate and it really wasn't that hard. The views are really nice along the way to the gate as well so if they would give up, it would still be spectacular. Although getting to the gate is the real prize.

    I went with an operator and took the cheapest deal I could make. First they didn't pick us up, then we had to do everything by taxi and we were forced to pay a lot of things ourselves. We felt really ripped off.

    I would suggest doing your research either in Cusco itself and checking them on Tripadvisor or use Find Local Trips to search for Machu Picchu Tours. They only use good local operators at their own prices. They are partners so co-responsible so it's more likely to be protected if something goes wrong. Most operators offer English speaking tour guides. By bus it's a little over a 100 dollars, by train it will be 260pp. The train is superexpensive.

    You can go to Santa Maria (between Cusco and Machu Picchu) to go rafting! It's not that wild depending on the season and it's lots of fun. You can also do ziplining there or mountainbiking. There are thermal baths in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town at the base of the mountain) and in many other places around that area for probably a lower price.

    You can also go quadbiking from Cusco and visit Moray. It's a fine piece of agricultural science and really impressive. There are a lot of ruins and museums to visit around Cusco too. Check for the Cusco Tourist Ticket. This gives you discounts at many places for a certain number of days.

    I did not book anything in advance ... I always booked tours a few days before and my hostels/hotels the same day. Machu Picchu can be tricky though so definitely do that like 2 weeks in advance.

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    Hi Cecilia, Our family of 4 went to MP last year - our boys were 12 and 8 then. We did Lima - Cusco (did not stay) - Urubamba (3 nights) - Aguas Calientes (1 night) - Cusco (2 nights) - Lima (1 night, would have been OK to skip even that 1 night in hindsight). Sun Gate is good, our 8 yo was able to get there. Like you, I too found that the prices through travel agents were marked up (possibly for a convenience which I did not care for), so I booked the trip piecemeal. The only part of our trip that I outsourced to an agent was the booking of the train tickets to and from Aguas Calientes and the buying of tickets to Machu Picchu, along with an English speaking guide at MP. They also arranged transportation from our hotel in Urubamba to Ollanta, from where we boarded the train. We had them book tickets for MP for 2 visits, 1 in the afternoon of our arrival, and another the following morning. In hindsight, that was a very good thing that we did, although I wish we had gotten a wildlife expert to give us a tour on one of the 2 visit - the MP area is fairly biodiverse and my little one had many questions that I could not answer.
    On our way back we stopped at Cusco for 2 nights, and again in hindsight I am glad we stayed in Urubamba and not Cusco. We would probably be OK with 1 night in Cusco. We found the Sacred Valley to be safe, but not Lima. The reason many people avoid DIYs is because of safety issues. We used a guide in Urubamba on 2 of the 3 days to visit Awanakancha, Moray, Maras, Pisac, and Cinchero. The private guide is mentioned in Fodors (Percy Salas). He is articulate and courteous, and has a large van. I would recommend him. We had to slow him down sometimes because he wanted to fit in a lot and we are inherently slow travelers. Other than that travelling with him was very convenient and stress free - he saved us a lot of time by finding good restaurants, places to exchange cash with better rates than anywhere we could find on our own, and quality shopping.

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    Hi Cecilia,

    I just purchased tickets to both Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu on line at the government site. It required a bit of patience but is doable. It seems very important (IMHO) to make reservations for Huayna Picchu in advance as only 400 per day are allowed access to it. Machu Picchu allows over 2000 per day and is much easier to get into.

    With enough research on line you can make your own arrangements for a lot of stuff in Peru. The information from the previous respondents has lots of good ideas.

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