Travel in Latin America
There are a few things every mum wants to do. One is make sure your kids are healthy, happy and well educated. Two is to open their eyes to something different. And challenge yourself too. And three is to run off with George Clooney and never cook chicken nuggets again (just kidding kids! - well sort of). As a parent you soon find the first takes up all of your time. Whilst the second falls off the list.
Last summer, I decided to change that. I booked four flights to Lima and called a family meeting. We are going to do the Inca trail, I announced. In Peru I added to some of the stumped faces around me. My eldest daughter, an intrepid spirit who was always pushing for more family activity holidays instead of our usual beach bum break, whooped for joy. But to my 13 year old son, I had to explain some of the finer points of one of the greatest civilisations on earth.
It was pretty easy to impress him. The Inca empire stretched as far as the Roman Empire, their capital Cusco was drizzled in gold later taken by the Spanish conquistadores and we were going to trek an ancient trail to their fabled lost city, Machu Picchu. I then threw in a little bit about Indiana Jones, ancient sacrificial rites and the fact we'd also get to go white water rafting and he was hooked. Family activity holidays, it would seem, are a lot easier to sell in than homework and green veg!
Three months later we arrived in Peru. Walking out from one of the highest international airports on earth can make you feel a little light headed. You venture away from the small airport, move away from the city and step out into a land filled with dramatic snow capped mountains and one of the most tantalising blue skies I've ever seen. Our guide met us at the entrance. He would be just one of a substantial team who would take us up the Inca trail. Joining us would be two other families and a team of cooks, porters as well as our friendly, helpful guide. He immediately warned us of the dangers of altitude sickness and gave us helpful tips on how to watch out for the symptoms and to always make it your business to report them. I drummed this into the kids and before we knew it we were off on the trail.
Believe me, it wasn't easy. If you are considering doing the trail with your family, make sure you do bit of training, even if you have sporty kids. The uphill is hard and at times feels relentless. But if you think you can, go for it. It was an out of this world experience. The kids still talk about that one morning, when exhausted but excited you crawl out of our sleeping, don your small rucksack and set out to see Machu Picchu before sunrise.
This article was written by Thom Sanders on behalf of The Adventure Company, who offer family activity holidays including the Inca trail. http://www.adventurecompany.co.uk/holiday-types/trekking-holidays/inca-trail