Should Kids Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: Parent Checklist
Yes! Kids should hike the 4-Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. But like adults, there are some instances where they should not. We provide a checklist for parents to determine if your child is ready.
Use the list of questions below to help decide if your child should do the 4 Day hike.
- Does your child participate in regular physical activity?
- Does your child like, or seek out his/her own opportunities to be active?
- Does your child enjoy camping or sleeping in a tent?
- Is your child able to carry a small backpack with water, rain gear, snacks and personal items?
- Is your child's weight proportional to his/her height?
- Has your child ever participated in a multi-day physical activity? (hiking, biking, kayaking)
If you answered yes to at least 4 questions, then chances are your child would be good candidate to do the 4-Day Inca Trail hike. The thing to remember is that there is no turning back and there is no way to send in vehicles or helicopters to pluck you up for a rescue. In cases of dire emergency, the porters and guide have access to stretchers (strategically stored in campgrounds along the way) or mules, to carry out a sick or injured hiker. But most hikers who become ill during the hike, must hike themselves out.
If you answered "yes" to the question about participating in regular physical activity, but your child moans and complains about it, then that question should be a no. Is there an age limit? No. But kids under age 6 may not be mature enough to hike. And any age kid who is not able to understand safety precautions should not hike. Kids who ignore parental or guide advice, are not suited for this kind of hike. Even older teens who have issues with adult authority may not be good candidates for hiking the Inca Trail. Reckless behavior, whether intentional or careless, can lead to accidents and puts the safety of guides and other hikers in jeopardy.
And if your child has never had the chance to sleep in a tent, but you answered yes to all other questions, he/she would probably be fine if you take the time to discuss the trip in advance.
Should Families with Children Book Group Hikes of Private Hikes?
We recommend that families with children book a private hike, whether it's 4 days or 1 day. Although Peruvians are family oriented and love children, group hikes are designed for adults, mostly foreigners, who may not expect children, and may not have the patience it takes to adjust to their needs.
Hiking with Kids in Backpacks
If your dream is to hike the Andes mountains with your smiling baby peeking over your shoulder from her backpack, please try it out at home first. Babies and toddlers can be picky about trying new things and you don't want to introduce something new like riding around in a backpack, while you're on your epic family vacation in South America. I don't recommend hiking with babies in backpacks on the 4-day Inca Trail. Here's why.
- The altitude can affect them in ways that are unpredictable.
- There are no medical facilities along the way.
- Regulations require that groups have assigned camps. You have to begin the hike knowing you will make it to each camp.
Hiking with baby can be done on the 1-day Inca Trail understanding that once you get on the trail, you are committed to hiking the entire day. It's not possible to call for a car for pickup or go back and get on the train. You have to hike either on the trail, or if for some reason you can't make it on the trail, you would return to walk along the railroad tracks to the village of Aguas Calientes (aka Machu Picchu Pueblo.)
Alternative Hikes for Families with Kids
If you're still not sure about the 4-day Inca Trail hike for your child, check out the easy 1-Day Inca Trail hike? The distance is 12 km / 7.5 mi total and does not involve camping. Children only need to hike for 1 day. Keep in mind that if your child has never hiked a full day in his or her life, this is not the hike to start with. Try them out on a hike at home first. This hike must be completed in roughly 7 hours. Average time is 6 hours.
Normal, healthy children are more than capable of doing the 4-day hike. But whether or not they are emotionally mature enough to make the commitment is something Mom and Dad should take seriously. There is no wifi or "entertainment." And children who have never been without electricity, may not know how to amuse themselves.
As parents we travel with our children to inspire them to tap in to that vast, innate sense of curiosity that we are all born with and the 4-day Inca Trail hike is perfect way to do this.
If you still have questions, get in touch with Adios office in the US. We're happy to discuss your child's needs.