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From Retablos to Fútbol: Cultural Insights for Your Next Family Trip to Peru

family trip to Peru

Peru’s geography makes it the perfect launching off point for endless adventures. You can catch glimpses of pink dolphins in the Amazon River, trek the highest peaks in the snow-capped Andes, or surf Pacific waves along the coast — all within the nation’s borders.

But the activities don’t stop there. Ancient Incan sites prove plentiful, and the Sacred Valley contains challenging yet satisfying hiking paths. They afford gorgeous views of the region, indigenous villages, and iconic llamas and alpacas.

family trip to Peru
© Creative Commons | Dreamstime.com

There’s also the surreal beauty of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable freshwater body, which boasts the reed-crafted Uros Islands. The arid coastal plains contain massive sand dunes, compelling tourists to head out on off-roading expeditions. And the mysterious Nazca lines just beg for a flyover.

But what do travelers need to know about this vibrant culture before traveling to Peru with kids?

A Cultural Melting Pot with Family at Its Core

The “Land of the Incas” boasts the historic intersection of three rich cultures —the Quechua and Aymara (both descendants of the Incas) and the Spanish. Over the centuries, locals and colonists alike have woven these cultures into the elaborate tapestry that is Peruvian culture.

Later immigrant populations from Japan, China, and parts of Europe and Africa have further enriched the nation. In fact, some 600,000 descendants of Chinese and Japanese immigrants call Peru home.

family trip to Peru
© Jialiang Gao | Wikimedia Commons

That makes Peru’s Asian population the second largest in Latin America after Brazil. Where are these influences most prevalent? The delicious and varied flavors of Asian-inspired Peruvian cuisine.

But no matter their ethnic background, all Peruvians share a core set of values that place an emphasis on family and religion. In fact, family units stay close with multiple generations under the same roof, caring for one another.

An Elaborate Tradition: Peruvian Arts and Crafts

Peruvians express their unique culture through a variety of forms including literature, art, crafts, clothing, dance, and the pageantry of their festivals. For thousands of years, arts and crafts have remained an integral part of local culture, and traditions stretching back to Pre-Incan times still get passed down today.

family trip to Peru
© The Jetsetting Family

You’ll see a wide variety of local craftspeople working in wood and other materials to create beautiful sculptures and carvings. For example, in Ayacucho, local artisans are known for their elaborate household shrines containing depictions of everyday life and religious scenes. These portable boxes are known as retablos.

Keep your eyes open for fine, handcrafted silver and gold jewelry. You’ll find everything from dramatic silver rings to delicate gold filigree. Pottery inspired by ancient Moche and Nazca patterns represent yet another intricate expression of Peruvian culture.

There’s also wool spinning, a time-honored artisanal craft passed down among indigenous women. Based in Native American traditions stretching into the distant past, today’s craftswomen still rely on llama, alpaca, and sheep wool to make their brightly colored textiles.

family trip to Peru
© The Jetsetting Family

On the human made Uros Islands floating atop Lake Titicaca, local artisans weave totora reeds to build entire islands. Each island can last up to 30 years but requires constant maintenance, one of the many daily chores of the Uros people. Besides weaving their island homes, locals prove skilled craftspeople who sell their wares to visitors to the floating islands.

Celebrating Life: Peruvian Music, Dance, and Sports

Although you’re probably familiar with the world-famous sounds of Andean music and the haunting melodies of panpipes and flutes, there’s a lot more to musical life in Peru. Locals also enjoy música criolla or canción criolla found along the coast.

Featuring the joint influences of Spanish and African rhythms, the most famous dance of this genre remains the marinera, a handkerchief-wielding courtship performance accompanied by guitar and cajón, a box-shaped percussion instrument.

Another type of music that’s earned an increasing audience over the years is a style of Peruvian cumbia known as chicha. Named for the popular fermented corn drink, it emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, a cool blending of Andean, Afro-Peruvian, and rock-inspired beats.

When it comes to dancing, variety remains the spice of life for Peruvians. In fact, the country boasts more than 300 different folkloric dances. The most popular of these remains the huayno. A lively celebration of life renowned for its colorful costumes and vigorous foot-stomping.

family trip to Peru
© Jiri Vondrous | Dreamstime.com

Finally, Peruvians, like other Latin Americans, remain riveted to soccer (fútbol). Their national sport, every school-aged kid learns how to play fútbol. Peru’s two major teams are Alianza Lima and Universitario de Deportes. Both have dominated the sport for decades, gaining a wide fandom across the nation.

A Family Trip to Peru

Peruvian culture proves just as marvelous as its varied landscapes. From the brightly colored wool of weavers in the Sacred Valley to the Afro-Peruvian beats of chicha music, locals find many ways to express their vibrant culture. But the core of Peru remains the love of family, making it an excellent location for a kid-friendly vacation.

Ready to learn more about Peru travel? Check out our ultimate family travel guide to Peru. Then, join us on an 11-Day Peru Family Adventure, an immersive, authentic way to experience the “Land of the Incas” with children.

At Our Whole Village, we craft transformational trips for curious families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its people, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we curate for curious families just like yours.

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