Explore moonscapes in northern Chile and icy landscapes in the south during this 10-day family adventure. Learn about the stars as you gaze up at the Atacama Deserts' clear night skies, and pack your swimsuits to splash in high-altitude lagoons and salt pools. Then it's off to Chile's southern tip and the wilds of Patagonia, where you'll walk among the country's largest penguin colony, hike the trails of Torres del Paine National Park, and sail along the towering walls of an ancient glacier.


  • Watch pillars of steam shoot into the air at the Tatio Geysers
  • Explore shimmering salt flats and desert lagoons in the Atacama Desert
  • Get up close to penguins in Chile's largest colony on Isla Magdalena
  • Marvel at the colors, sounds, and sheer size of Grey Glacier on a boat tour

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Santiago, Explore Santiago
Day 2 Fly to Calama, Transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, Stargazing Tour San Pedro de Atacama
Day 3 Visit the Baltinache Lagoons, Valley of the Moon Tour San Pedro de Atacama
Day 4 Tour the Tatio Geysers, Waterfalls Trek San Pedro de Atacama
Day 5 Free Day in San Pedro de Atacama San Pedro de Atacama
Day 6 Fly to Punta Arenas & Patagonia Punta Arenas
Day 7 Visit the Penguin Colony of Isla Magdalena  Puerto Natales
Day 8 Full-Day Adventure in Torres del Paine National Park Puerto Natales
Day 9 Take a Boat Trip to Grey Glacier Puerto Natales
Day 10 Lago Sarmiento Hike, Fly to Santiago & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago, Explore

Take in panoramic city views (and tire the kids out after the flight) with a climb up Cerro Santa Lucia

Welcome to Chile's vibrant capital, Santiago! A driver will be ready to greet your family at the airport and take you to your hotel. You can spend the rest of the afternoon resting up after your journey or take a self-guided walk to get a first look at this vibrant South American capital.

A great spot to start is at Cerro Santa Lucía, where the kids can stretch their legs after the long flight, and you can take panoramic photos of the city. Or, fit in some history and visit the National History Museum at the Palacio de la Real Audiencia. Here curious young minds can learn about the origins of the universe as well as see life-size versions of strange animal species that once roamed the country thousands of years ago!

Day 2: Fly to Calama, Transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, Stargazing Tour

Learn about the stars under some of the clearest skies on Earth in Chile's Altiplano

Today, step foot on what feels like another planet! Wake up at a leisurely hour, pack your bags, and do some last-minute exploring of the capital city before taking a flight to the city of Calama in the far north of the country. A driver will meet you for the 1.5-hour drive through dramatic scenery to the remote outpost of San Pedro de Atacama, the launching point for adventures into the Atacama Desert. This high-altitude desert features endless salt flats, towering Andean peaks, and the volcanic Domeyko Cordillera, where red-hued mountains form the base of El Valle de la Luna (The Valley of the Moon). 

Wrap up warm this evening and begin your stargazing excursion with a child-friendly astronomy lesson. Head out to the Altiplano, a plateau surrounded by volcanoes that stretches into Bolivia—in some places, the Altiplano reaches 12,000 feet (3,660 m) above sea level, making it an ideal place for stargazing. Even with the naked eye, the stars here are more vivid than anything you're likely to have experienced before, but you'll also be using high-powered telescopes and binoculars to spot an array of celestial objects, including planets, binary stars and spherical clusters.

Day 3: Visit the Baltinache Lagoons, Valley of the Moon Tour

Feel like you're on another planet during the Valley of the Moon tour

Pack your swimsuits and travel through arid, otherworldly landscapes today on a visit to the Lagunas Escondidas de Baltinache (Hidden Lagoons of Baltinache) that dot the sugar-white terrain of Atacama's Cordillera del Sal (Salt Mountain Range). Not only are these bright, turquoise lagoons visually striking, but you can swim in them too! Feel the strange sensation of bobbing up and down in these salt-laden lagoons, something the kids will be sure to love.

After lunch, you'll continue into the Valley of the Moon to visit the Cordillera del Sal's unique salt caves and stone formations, such as the Three Marias, which have been carved out by salt and wind over millions of years. Have fun with the kids guessing what the rock shapes remind you of before watching the sunset over the Atacama, painting the mountains in shades of red while the mighty Licancabur volcano looms overhead. Head back to your lodgings and get an early night before another day exploring the desert's natural wonders tomorrow!

Day 4: Tour the Tatio Geysers, Waterfalls Trek

Build up anticipation as you wait for a geyser to shoot up steam!

Tempt the kids out of bed before first light this morning with the promise of waterfalls and geysers blasting steam into the air! Join your driver for the 1.5-hour trip to the Tatio Geysers, watching the sunrise over the Atacama Desert as you go. Set at an altitude of 14,173 feet (4,320 m), the Tatio Geysers are some of the highest in the world and spurt pillars of steam up to 30 feet (10 m) high. Build up the anticipation as you wait for the geysers to suddenly erupt—something that never fails to take onlookers by surprise! Point out wildlife like llamas and flamingoes to the children on the way back to San Pedro.

After a hearty brunch, take part in a trekking adventure this afternoon of approximately one hour to reach hidden waterfalls in the midst of the vast Atacama Desert. Enjoy a family geography lesson on the way, where you'll learn about the interesting flora and fauna native to these canyons as you walk through a cactus valley and along the Río Vilama. Once you reach your destination, the kids will love cooling off and splashing around in the spray of the three cascades, the tallest of which reaches 26 feet (8 m) high. Afterward, you'll loop back to the beginning of your trek and make your way back to the hotel for a well-earned rest.

Day 5: Free Day in San Pedro de Atacama

Explore the atmospheric desert town of San Pedro de Atacama

Go at your own pace today and explore San Pedro de Atacama at your leisure. Take a family stroll around this tiny town, known for its abundance of adobe homes and rich Indigenous influence. Just strolling the dusty streets, you'll get a sense of the pre-Hispanic Atacameño culture that once thrived here. Today you'll find many souvenir shops selling basketwork, ceramic pottery, and artisan crafts, where the kids might enjoy picking out their own unique gifts and keepsakes.

Other options for the day include visiting the Church of San Pedro de Atacama, a little whitewashed chapel in the center of town that boasts a lot of history and takes the title of the nation's second-oldest church (built in 1540). Inside you'll find a three-tiered Baroque altar, which is the only one of its kind in Chile. The kids might prefer the Meteorite Museum, where they can see and even touch real meteorites, learning about the origins of the solar system as they go. Spend the rest of the day reading, dining out in restaurants that cater to every taste, or relaxing with a siesta!

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Day 6: Fly to Punta Arenas & Patagonia

Travel to Punta Arenas, your gateway to southern Patagonia

Equip the kids with iPads and games today, and make sure you've got a good book, as you'll be going all the way from the north of Chile to the south. First, your driver will take you to Calama, where you'll board a 6.5-hour flight to Punta Arenas, the southernmost point of Chilean Patagonia and the launching point for a slew of family-friendly Patagonian adventures.

Upon arrival, a driver will be ready to meet you and take you to your accommodation. Wander around the colorful town this evening and dine at one of its many restaurants before resting from the day's journey back at the hotel. 

Day 7: Visit the Penguin Colony of Isla Magdalena, Transfer to Puerto Natales

Get up close to adorable penguins on Isla Magdalena 

The animal lovers in your family will be thrilled with today's half-day tour, as you get up close to the curious residents of Chile's largest penguin colony. A driver will take you to a pier on the Strait of Magellan, where you'll board a vessel that takes you 16 miles (26 m) northeast to the famed Isla Magdalena. Once you've arrived, spend an hour wandering around the island and meeting the island's most famous inhabitants—a Magellanic penguin colony that can reach up to 170,000 strong! Before you go, don't miss grabbing a family photo op at the island's old lighthouse that offers sweeping views of the Strait of Magellan. 

Arrive back at Punta Arenas at around midday and enjoy a relaxed lunch before packing your bags and boarding a bus for the three-hour journey southeast to Puerto Natales. Set on the shores of the Seno Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound), this town serves as the gateway to Patagonia's magnificent Torres del Paine National Park. Check in at your hotel and have a wander around the town before hitting the sack after another busy day!

Day 8: Full-Day Adventure in Torres del Paine National Park

Venture into the famous Torres del Paine for a day of mountains, wildlife, and waterfalls

Discover all of the hidden wonders in Torres del Paine National Park today on a full-day guided excursion into its wilderness. Drive 15 miles (24 km) north with your guide to the Cueva del Milodón—the largest cave in an underground network. Learn about the differences between stalactites and stalagmites and find out just how big a giant prehistoric sloth—called a mylodon—would have been with a life-size replica. The kids are bound to want selfies with this one!

Continue your journey and become entranced with spooky local legends about the Silla del Diablo (Devil's Chair)—a rock formation shaped like a seat. Reach Lago Grey, rimmed with mountains, and stretch your legs on a stroll to the Lago Grey viewpoint. Stop for a picnic lunch prepared by your guide, and continue to the turquoise Salto Grande waterfall and the impressive Lago Nordenskjöld viewpoint. Wind your way along a scenic route that takes you past the Laguna Amarga (Bitter Lagoon) and gradually return to Puerto Natales for the night.

Day 9: Take a Boat Trip to Grey Glacier

Marvel at the sounds and sights of the Grey Glacier

Rise early and activate your sea legs as you board a small ship that will take you on a three-hour journey along Lago Grey to reach one of the park's most spectacular glaciers. Point out the floating icebergs to the kids while feeling the fresh Patagonian wind on your face, and bring the little ones' geography lessons to life as you slice past forests, mountains made of igneous rock, and snowy peaks. If you're lucky, you might hear the mighty crash as pieces of ice detach from the glacier and fall into the water.

After one hour of sailing, be dazzled by close-up views of the 98-foot (30 m) walls of the Grey Glacier. Admire all the colors and shapes that make up this ice mass, as well as the mysterious cracking sounds that come from the inside. Slowly tour back to your starting point, from where you'll be driven to Puerto Natales. Enjoy your last evening feasting on Chilean food before getting some shut-eye in your comfortable hotel.

Day 10: Lago Sarmiento Hike, Fly to Santiago & Depart

Stretch your legs with a final hike to Laguna Amarga

If you're lucky enough to have an evening flight back home today, then don't miss tiring the kids out first with the 4-mile (6 km) hike from Lago Sarmiento to Laguna Amarga. Depending on your family members' ages, go all the way to the lagoon and back or hike for an hour to a series of 6,000-year-old cave paintings made by the first settlers of Patagonia. If you decide to carry on into the wilderness toward the lagoon, then look out for endemic birds, such as caiquénes (upland geese) and black-necked swans. Keep your eyes peeled for other interesting species, such as gray foxes, black-chested eagles, and fuzzy guanacos. 

Head back to Puerto Natales and say a fond farewell to Chile as your driver takes you to the airport. Entertain yourselves on the journey back by looking over photos of your Chilean adventure and reminiscing about all the incredible things you've seen. !Hasta la vista! 

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Map of Active Family Fun in the Atacama Desert & Chilean Patagonia - 10 Days
Map of Active Family Fun in the Atacama Desert & Chilean Patagonia - 10 Days