If you have children, you probably want to take them on exciting trips to learn more about the world. One way to interest them in the cultural and educational side of the trip is to intersperse those history lessons with tours that are interesting to them. Fortunately, there are a few places to do that in Cusco and the area nearby and they are actually educational as well. The best part is, though, they are also fun.
Within Cusco itself, there’s no question that the best place to take children is the Choco Museo (http://chocomuseo.com/). Here, they can take part in a two hour workshop to learn about cacao, how chocolate is made and actually make their own sweets, which they will get to take with them. You will have to wait at least an hour after the end of the workshop for their creations to be ready to be picked up.
A bit outside of Cusco, on the road to Pisac, you can make a trip to Awana Kancha (http://www.awanakancha.com/en). Awana Kancha means Palace of the Weaver in Quechua, the indigenous language of the area. The site is dedicated to weaving and exhibiting the four basic types of camelids found in South America: llamas, alpacas, vicunas and guanacos. For the adults, it is interesting to see all of them together to really observe the differences, especially between llamas and alpacas which are the animals most often seen in and around Cusco. For the kids, it’s just really cool to get to feed them. They may not be the friendliest of animals but they aren’t aggressive and they are definitely cute and fuzzy.
Less interesting to some children perhaps, you can also get an explanation on the techniques used for dying the wool, spinning and weaving. There are always some weavers busy at work right there so you can see how they practice their art. There is also an on-site store with works from several communities displayed and sold. It’s a great opportunity to get much higher quality goods than you can find in most of the marketplaces and, at the same time, contribute to the economic stability of these communities.
Nearby Awana Kancha is Cochahuasi (http://www.santuariocochahuasi.com/), a privately owned sanctuary for native animals. The owner is a retired biologist who started the sanctuary to save animals from being sold on the black market. When possible, they are released back into the wild but, when this cannot be done for some reason such as injury, they stay on in the sanctuary. Among the inhabitants you may meet there are Andean w ildcats, macaws, toucans, llamas, alpacas, pumas and, most impressively, Andean condors. They have the largest wingspan of any land bird and, although in an enclosure here, they have room to take flight…a sight definitely worth seeing.