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Chile family holidays travel guide

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Cerro Castillo trek Aysen, Patagonia, Chile

 

Chile is a thin long country stretching around 4,300 Km and only 360 Km at its widest point.  It is a country of incredible contrasting nature from desert to glaciers and from some of the highest mountains in the Americas to the sea.

As such, for adults and children alike, its main attractions are incredible nature and adventure interspersed with some culture. Bear in mind the best time to travel is between October and April which is spring/summer/autumn.

More remote areas may be weak on connectivity so don’t rely on wifi connection or TV being readily available. This is also a destination for active children as distances can be great and days long.

 

Here are some destinations with tips and destinations which might be of interest for families travelling with kids:

 

San Pedro de Atacama:

 

The nearest airport is Calama which is a 90 minute drive from San Pedro de Atacama.

The town is at 2,400 metres above sea level situated in an oasis in the heart of the Atacama desert.

Although there are no specific activities geared for children, consider taking a private tour and the following might be appropriate for your kids:

 

Valley of the Moon: This is located less than a 20 minute drive from San Pedro and so the walks are short and feasible even if you have to carry a child part of the way.

Valle de La Luna panorama, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Valley of the Moon

 

Tatio Gesyers: This involves a very early start (approx 4 am) and the drive may take up to 3 hours going up to 4,300 metres above sea level. The likelihood is that the children will sleep on the drive there. Once at the Geysers it will be very cold but the thermal field will be a hive of activity. The drive back in daylight will be warmer and with stops en route offering opportunities to spot guanacos, llamas and vicuñas.

Tatio Geysers, Atacama, Chile

Tatio Geyser Field

 

Purtiama Hot Springs: A series of natural hot water pools less than an hour’s drive from San Pedro.

Termas de Puritama, Atacama, Chile

Puritama Hot Springs

 

Laguna Chaxa, Atacama Salt flats: Flamingo time – in this Atacama salt flat lake you should be able to spot the 3 species of flamingos to be found here;  James, Chilean and Andean.

 

 

 

Santiago and surroundings:

 

Santiago is Chile’s capital, a bustling city of over 6 million people and more than likely your gateway to the country.

 

Metropolitan Park: The metropolitan park covers a large area of central Santiago dominated by San Cristobal hill which is topped by a statue of the Virgin Mary. This can be reached by a funicular which leaves from Bellavista district and there is also a cable car which goes from the summit into Pedro de Valdivia Norte. There are two public swimming pools in the park, walking trails and options for cycling.

Bike Riding, Cerro San Cristóbal, Santiago, Chile

Bike ride Parque Metropolitano

 

Valparaiso and Viña del Mar: On the coast, a 90 minute drive from Santiago are the cities of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar. A nice day out from Santiago and activity options include boat tours of Valparaiso Bay, funicular rides exploring Valparaiso and Viña del Mar which has beach options although not apt for bathing. A fresh seafood lunch goes down a treat.

Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso

 

Cajon del Maipo: This is gorge just south of the city and you can be in the heart of it. There is spectacular mountain scenery. For the more active there are options of hiking trails, hot springs, canopy and rafting. There are many places to stop for lunch with pool facilities – usually natural spring water so the temperature might be quite invigorating!

 

Dinosaur prints: A four hour drive South of Santiago and nestling into the Andes are the Termas del Flaco hotsprings. Nearby there are footprint fossils that are said to be more than 120 million years old. These footprints are a National Paleontological Monument. Accessible only from December through to April and the final stretch is along a bumpy dirt road.

 

 

Pucon, Green Patagonia:

 

Pucon lies on the shore of Lake Villarica under the shadow of the Villarrica Volcano and surrounded by spectacular nature and less than a 90 minute drive from Temuco airport.

The town of Pucon itself is a popular summer destination for Chileans and so there are several child friendly attractions:

Villarica-volcano-Pucon-Chile

Villarica Volcano

 

Parque Aventura Pony Club / Adventure Park: This park is focused on activities for children between the ages of two and 12 accompanied by their parents and includes pony rides, mini canopy, trampolines, children’s paint ball and more.

 

Bosque Encantado /Enchanted wood: Set in woodland you will find wood lined trails through the wood where you will come across representations of mythological and fantasy creatures. This is a fun walk in the woods.  

 

Playa Grande Beach: This is a central black sand beach with wide expanses for swimming and sunbathing.

 

La Poza Pier: At the end of Avenida Libertador Bernando O’Higgins you will find a wharf called Muelle Municipal La Poza. From here there is the opportunity to take boat rides on the lake.

 

Hot Springs: There are many hotsprings with first class facilities within an hour’s drive from Pucon. These include the Termas de Huife and the Termas Geometricas.

Termas Geométricas, Pucon, Patagonia, Chile

Geometricas hot springs

 

Others: For older children there are more adventurous options such as white water rafting, canopy, horse rides, volcano climbing or simply exploring the national parks and the incredible Monkey Puzzle trees.

Salto del Claro waterfall, Pucon, Patagonia, Chile

Salto Claro waterfall

 

 

Patagonia: Aysen, Magallanes and the Torres del Paine:

 

Wild and spectacular scenery. The great outdoors. Nature at its finest. This is what your children will experience visiting this part of the world.

 

The Terra Luna Lodge near Lake General Carrera is a four hour drive south from Balamaceda airport. Activities can include boat trips, trekking, jet boat, horse riding, canopy and mountain bike.

Fixed programmes start from 4 days/3 nights.

Los Leones glacier, Tierra Luna, Aysen, Chile

Los Leones Glacier, Terra Luna

 

Patagonia Camp: A short drive from the Torres del Paine National Park is Patagonia Camp. Accommodation is in very comfortable yurts and all inclusive programmes include excursions of differing degrees of difficulty per activity whether on foot, by vehicle on horseback or a combination. These can be chosen according to your kids abilities.

Trek between Sarmiento and Amarga entrances, Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

Torres del Paine

 

Magdalena Island: A popular day trip from Punta Arenas is an excursion to the Magdalena Island Penguin Colony. It is home to 350,000 Magellanic penguins and can be visited from mid November through to mid march.

 

 

Chile with kids:

 

Chile is a destination that can certainly be visited with kids. Best with children who like the great outdoors, have a sense of adventure and can be without wifi and gadgets for periods of time.

As this is the Southern Hemisphere and the best time to travel is from October through to April it won’t suit Northern Hemisphere summer holidays.

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