- My two kids (ages 9 and 10), my husband, and I went on Adventures by Disney Peru tour, which included stops in Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and an amazing day at Machu Picchu.
- Here’s my honest, candid review of the tour.
Adventures by Disney’s Peru tour brings stories and history to life in Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu for kids and adult alike. On this physically active eight-day tour, we visited 14 attractions, including archeological sites such as Machu Picchu, the Moray Ruins, and Sacsayhuaman, and it includes other activities like river rafting and a visit to a llama and alpaca farm.
As an Adventures by Disney first-timer, I was impressed that though there was the occasional nod to Disney characters, the real star of the show was Peru and the ancient Inca culture. The company’s Adventure Guides are gifted storytellers, and the tour’s focus on upscale accommodations, seamless service, and access to experiences is what really sets this Adventures by Disney Peru tour apart from others. And the tour was equally geared to kids and adults—in fact, some of the travel groups on my tour were all-adult groups like adult kids and parents, friend groups, and sisters traveling together.
Things to Know About Adventures by Disney’s Peru Tour
- The tour’s minimum age is six years old but the recommended age is eight, since there are long travel days, elevation changes, and some physically demanding visits (like the stairs at Machu Picchu). Watching different aged kids on the trip (including my own), that recommendation seemed just right. With the time difference, the altitude, the long days, and the walking and climbing, it would be a lot for (most) kids younger than eight.
- While there are Adult Exclusive departures, the majority of dates are geared toward families. This Adventures by Disney Peru tour is a particularly good fit for families with multiple generations of active travelers. I went with my husband and kids, but could absolutely imagine doing something like this with grandparents as well.
- Adventure Guides create surprise moments to delight and engage both kids and adults. Think treasure hunts, interactive storytelling, and surprise treats. This was honestly a highlight, and took some of the pressure off of parents since the Adventures Guides played both the role of fun parent (coming up with these delightful surprises) and organized parent (getting everyone to the right place at the right time in a friendly way).
- Disney characters are included in the pins, on the Junior Adventurer movie night, and in a few other places, but the real Disney focus on this trip is in the service and the storytelling.
- The Adventure Guides are personable experts who take time for every guest and are experts at keeping everything running smoothly. They also find authentic ways to create connections that turn the group of strangers into a community, and that turns the gaggle of kids into a tight-knit and inclusive group.
- All included hotels are upscale family-friendly properties, and many have adjoining rooms for more comfortable stays (which, thank you ABD for recognizing how much everyone having a little space at the end of the day is AMAZING for both kids and their adults).
- Most (but not all) meals are included in the tour price; when meals are not included (for instance, on one of the evenings in Cusco), Adventure Guides are standing by with some great recommendations based on having actually tried the food.
- This Adventures by Disney Peru tour makes learning about some of the world’s most incredible sights an easy shared experience for adults and kids.
Adventures by Disney Peru Tour Highlights
- Machu Picchu
- The Salt Pans of Maras
- River rafting on the Urubamba River
- Ruins tour and lunch in the town of Ollantaytambo
- Llama and alpaca farm and weaving center
Important Details About Adventures by Disney’s Peru Tour
Though the tour technically starts in Lima, Peru’s capital city is really just the gathering point as guests arrive throughout the first day. Since some flights to Lima arrive early and others late, some guests get a day to explore the city, while others arrive in time for a late dinner and sleep before the tour really gets started on day two, as the group heads back to the airport and boards the one-hour flight to Cusco. We were among the late arrivals and got to the hotel just in time to sleep and wake up in time for the abundant and international buffet breakfast and departure.
From Cusco, small buses take guests to a welcome lunch (where guests get to introduce themselves and formally meet the group) and an interactive (especially for kids) traditional weaving demonstration at the The Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco (CTTC). Note that this is the highest point in terms of elevation of the whole trip, so making sure to stay hydrated on this afternoon is a big part of managing any feelings of lightheadedness or headache.
The group then heads to the Sacred Valley, with a stop at a lookout point along the way. After settling in at the hotel in Urubamba that will be the home base for the next four nights, there’s a festive dinner and performance that introduces the culture of the ancient and modern Incas and some of the stories of the Sacred Valley.
In terms of what I observed with my kids, this was the hardest day for them because of the jetlag/altitude combo. But there was enough downtime in transit that they had time to rest between activities. This was also a day when it seemed like the most people needed motion sickness meds, I think because of winding roads but also just the jetlag/altitude combo. I had abundant Bonine (it makes me less sleepy than Dramamine) that worked well.
Day three of the Adventures by Disney Peru tour kicks off with rafting on the Urubamba River followed by a light snack at the end of the rafting trip. From there it’s a short drive back to Ollantaytambo, where the Adventure Guides and kids who want to participate put on a play about the town’s famous Inca archeological site, and then the group climbs to see the ruins before heading to an outdoor lunch.
The picture above is at the lunch. As you can see, this was the point at which all the kids went from acquaintances to best friends, with the Adventure Guides right in the middle of the fun. That evening, kids have dinner and watch a movie with the Adventure Guides while adults have dinner on their own at the hotel. It was lovely to know that the kids were having a great time while my husband and I were having a relaxed and unhurried dinner.
On day four, the group heads up into the mountains to visit the Moray Ruins, an ancient agricultural lab of the Incas. Although this was one of the stops that I was, on paper, less interested in, this was the place I ended up feeling like the stories of the Incas really came to life. It was an incredible place to see firsthand the engineering and science Incas used to improve farming methods and quality of life around its empire.
The morning’s second stop is the beautiful Salt Pans of Maras, where the families of a small town have been collecting and harvesting salt for 500 years. On the way to this sight, there are stops where you can look down upon it and get some amazing pictures. Note that this drive is going to be slightly-to-somewhat challenging for heights-averse travelers, so this is a good time to choose to sit on the left side of the bus, where you’d be exposed to dramatic drops less often.
Kids and adults have the option to head back to the buses and drive back down into the valley or take a two-ish hour hike that’s all downhill but does have some uneven terrain. The hike is beautiful, though, and gives guests the chance to see the salt pans up close. And along the way, the guides keep things fun.
In the afternoon, there’s an optional trip into Urubamba. My husband and kids stayed back at the hotel to swim and relax, but I went and loved it. It was a great glimpse into local life, with stops at the town’s market (the perfect place to score some coffee and chocolate) and an art gallery.
In the evening, kids and adults have parallel fun with a Pisco Sour and cooking demonstration for adults and local fruit juice tasting (and mixing) plus pizza making for kids.
Day five is the big Machu Picchu day, and it starts by catching the train from the station in Ollantaytambo. The 90-minute train ride includes beautiful views plus tea and snacks. A bus ride (ABD charters one of the buses that makes the circuit up and down the mountain to Machu Picchu so there’s no standing in line) completes the trip and the group then spends a few hours exploring Machu Picchu with the help of some additional guides (the larger group is divided into smaller groups for the tour of the site).
The switch-back trip up the mountain was slightly challenging for the height-averse among us (I keep mentioning it because I was usually sitting close to my husband, who doesn’t like heights, so I have a good read on where this was an issue.) At the top, you’re delivered to within 50 feet of the entrance, but from there, it’s a trek that includes a lot of stairs to get to the famous view of the site and then down through the complex. The way Machu Picchu tours are now set up is that you follow a route during your time (rather than wandering), so seeing the whole site isn’t a possibility, even if you’re coming as an independent traveler.
All told, we were in Machu Picchu for about three hours. A few people in the group felt it was too little time, and I understood their point. But I thought it felt about right, given that it was part of a bigger trip.
Before heading back down the mountain, the group has a buffet lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge, which is a not-fancy but just-fine restaurant that sits just below the entrance to Machu Picchu. That evening, dinner is at the hotel.
On day six of the Adventures by Disney Peru tour, the group packs up and leaves the hotel in Urubamba, stopping at the Pisac Market for local handicrafts and then driving out of the Sacred Valley and going to a llama and alpaca farm where everyone has the chance to interact with (at their own comfort level) Peru’s famous camelids.
From there, the group is dropped off a few blocks from the center of Cusco (there are some rules about where buses can and can’t go in the city center) and walks to the center of town for lunch and a short city familiarization tour on the way to the centrally located hotel. That evening, dinner is on your own, though the guides give great advice and excellent options at every price point are abundant. I was delighted by all of the recommendations the guides gave and thought the meals in Cusco were pretty uniformly excellent.
Day seven, the last full day of the Adventures by Disney Peru tour, starts with a bus ride to the a hill above the city where the Adventure Guides show the group around Sacsayhuaman—an Inca site characterized by 200-ton stones. This was a great example of the guides engaging the kids on the group in a place that might have felt a little uninteresting to kids without some great storytelling and even a little acting.
The walk back down into Cusco is pretty and takes the group through a number of little neighborhoods, and to a music center where the group builds their own pan pipes to take home and learns about some of the region’s musical traditions. There’s some free time (and a great crafts market about a block from the main square) and then the final group dinner at the hotel, which is full of fun surprises.
Adventures by Disney’s Peru tour includes two internal flights (between Cusco and Lima), as well as a number of bus rides on windy roads at high altitudes. As I mentioned above for a number of people on my trip, Bonine or Dramamine was an essential part of some of those drives. There’s also a train ride between Ollantaytambo and the town in the valley below Machu Picchu. And the bus ride from Aguas Calientes (the town below Machu Picchu) to Machu Picchu is up a steep, partially paved switchback road.
Adventures by Disney’s Peru adventure is definitely an active trip, but everything was doable (if slightly challenging) for our entire group, which included both a six-year-old and some older people with stiff joints. There’s river rafting, hiking, and a lot of stair climbing and walking (some of it uneven, since there are a number of trips to ancient ruins). A few people chose to opt out of a few things, but most activities were accessible to most. And the exceptional sights are worth it.
On the majority of the days, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included in the tour. In general, the only times you’re on your own are in places where options are abundant and easy. At the hotels, large buffets with a wide variety of offerings (plus in some cases a la carte options) are available each day for breakfast.
A mix of buffet and a la carte lunches and dinners are easy to navigate even with food allergies and dietary restrictions. Meals are often private for the group, and take place in beautiful locations. In general, the food is at least good and is often very good. And Adventures by Disney makes a specific effort to include both familiar foods and local specialties.
Lima: The Westin Lima is the overnight hotel before guests head back to the airport to fly to Cusco on the second day of the tour. Accommodations are modern and upscale, and the breakfast buffet leans international in scope. The hotel receives 9.1/10 on Kayak, 5/5 on Tripadvisor, and 9/10 on Booking.com.
Urubamba (Sacred Valley):
Adventures by Disney uses two hotels in the Sacred Valley for its Peru tour:
- Sol y Luna has individual casitas plus restaurants, a spa, and outdoor swimming pool. The resort is rated 5/5 on Tripadvisor and 9.4/10 on Booking.com.
- Tambo del Inka is used on private departures of the Adventures by Disney Peru tour. The resort has a national park lodge vibe with plenty of large fireplaces and extensive grounds, plus a beautiful half-indoor, half-outdoor pool. Kayak users give the property 9.2/10, Tripadvisor users give the resort a rating of 5/5, and Booking.com rates it 9.5/10.
Cusco: Palacio del Inca is a short (less than 10-minute) walk from Cusco’s central square. It is located in a 500-year-old mansion and has a series of attractive common spaces including a courtyard. This hotel has only a limited number of adjoining rooms (we were not able to get one, so we divided up and had one adult and one kid in each room). Kayak gives the property 9.2 out of 10; Tripadvisor users give the hotel a 5/5 rating; and on Booking.com the property rates 9.2/10.
Who Should (and Shouldn’t) Go on the Adventures by Disney Peru Tour
Multigenerational active travelers will love the variety of bucket-list sights and local immersion experiences, packaged as truly hassle free travel. And though Disney is in the name, Adventures by Disney focuses less on Disney characters and more on the stories of the destination, making it a good fit even for families who are not Disney super-fans.
Anyone who is really sensitive to car sickness or heights is going to struggle a bit at times, but the trip is exceptional and definitely worth just packing the appropriate medications to get through the more challenging transportation moments.
Overall, this Adventures by Disney vacation blended family fun, Incan ruins, and chances to meet and engage with modern people, cultures, and traditions. The Disney standard of excellence was visible everywhere, from the high caliber of guides and the outstanding accommodations to the small surprises built in along the way. Based on this trip, I’d certainly bring my family on another ABD tour.