- Meet friendly alpacas and learn about wool harvesting at a working alpaca farm
- Traverse the hilly, art-filled neighborhoods of Valparaíso via funicular
- Spot sea lions and dolphins on a cruise past the Balmaceda Glacier
- Ride horses through the lush landscapes of a protected Patagonian estancia
- Hike along the pristine shores of Lago Sarmiento in Torres del Paine National Park
|Day 1||Arrive in Santiago, Explore||Santiago|
|Day 2||Guided Family City Tour, Dinner at Giratorio Restaurant||Santiago|
|Day 3||Viña San Esteban Vineyard Visit, Quintessence Alpaca Farm||Santiago|
|Day 4||Bus to Valparaíso, Self-Guided Tour of the City||Valparaíso|
|Day 5||Free Day in Valparaíso||Valparaíso|
|Day 6||Fly to Punta Arenas, Explore||Punta Arenas|
|Day 7||Isla Magdalena Penguin Encounter||Punta Arenas|
|Day 8||Guided Walk in Magallanes National Reserve||Punta Arenas|
|Day 9||Bus to Puerto Natales, Free Afternoon to Explore||Puerto Natales|
|Day 10||Boat Tour to Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers||Puerto Natales|
|Day 11||Family Fun in Puerto Natales: Glaciers & Ice Bar||Puerto Natales|
|Day 12||Hiking & Horses at Estancia Bahía Esperanza Reserve||Puerto Natales|
|Day 13||Family Hike in Torres del Paine National Park, Fly to Santiago||Santiago|
|Day 14||Depart Santiago|
Day 1: Arrive in Santiago, Explore
Welcome to Chile! Your flight arrives in Santiago, the country's capital and largest city. Your driver will meet you at the airport and transport you to your hotel to rest and regroup. After the long flight, the kids are probably going to need to burn some energy, so start your exploration of the city with a self-guided walking tour.
Begin with a stroll to the Plaza de Armas, home to the impressive Catedral Metropolitana, a neoclassical church with large twin bell towers. Sample local street food, listen to music, and let the kids enjoy performers and other entertainment before continuing on to Cerro San Cristóbal, where you can take the Teleférico (aerial tramway) from the base of the hill to a sanctuary at the top, taking in the incredible panoramic views of the city before riding the funicular back down. You'll also have the option of visiting the Santiago Zoo, or the kids can take advantage of the local swimming pool.
Not far from San Cristóbal is Cerro Santa Lucia, a park that sits atop a 226-foot (69 m) hill. The hill, a remnant from a 15 million-year-old volcano, was once the favored lookout spot for conquistadores during their conquest of Chile. It was turned into a park in the late 1800s and now consists of multiple staircases that offer panoramic views of the city. All that walking is sure to spark everyone's appetites, so finish the day at Mercado Central, a vibrant market known for its fresh seafood and bustling food stands. Try local street foods such as empanadas or sopaipillas (fried pastries) before returning to your hotel.
Day 2: Guided Family City Tour, Dinner at Giratorio Restaurant
See more of Santiago on a guided city tour. Meet with your local guide and walk along downtown's main road, Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, where you'll see the Presidential Palace and its neoclassical architecture as well as the Huerfanos and Ahumada pedestrian areas. Pass by the Plaza de Armas, home of Santiago City Hall and other government buildings, and if you didn't visit Cerro Santa Lucia yesterday, your guide will take you there today. Its role in the foundation of the city makes it one of the most important local sights.
Continue to Forestal Park, an urban oasis with plenty of green space for the kids to play. If you happen to arrive on a weekend, you'll have the added entertainment of performers and food vendors. This is also where you'll find the National Museum of Fine Arts—young creatives will be fascinated with the collections found here. Walk through the Lastarria neighborhood, then cross the Río Mapocho to get to Bellavista, a lively district with restaurants and shopping. See the neighborhoods of Providencia, Las Condes, and Vitacura, stopping for snacks or souvenirs before returning to your hotel.
Tonight, have dinner at Giratorio, a 360-degree rotating restaurant that offers unbelievable views of the entire city. Kids and adults alike will be amazed as the dining room makes its slow, circular rotation, giving your family various perspectives of the city as you dine. The menu features both national and international cuisine, including steaks, seafood, and local wines.
Day 3: Viña San Esteban Vineyard Visit, Quintessence Alpaca Farm
Today's tour takes your family out of the city and to the vineyard of Viña San Esteban, otherwise known as In Situ. Founded in the 1970s, they produce some of the region's top wines. Your driver will collect you in the morning from your hotel, and you'll make the one-hour drive into the Aconcagua Valley.
Your expert guides will meet you and take you through the vineyards, where you and the kids can see the grapes, learn about the growing process, and tour the cellars where the grapes become wine. End with a tasting of three different wines for the adults, accompanied by fruit juices for the kids and snacks of nuts and cheeses. The tour also offers the option of a picnic lunch with sandwiches, desserts, and beverages, giving you the opportunity to relax at the vineyard with a meal before continuing on.
After the vineyard tour, you'll head to Quintessence Alpaca Farm, where alpacas are raised, and their shearling fibers are used to create beautiful woven goods. You and the kids will meet the friendly alpacas and see how the alpaca fibers are harvested and turned into quality yarns. Learn about the different natural colors of the alpacas and how the farm works to preserve them with special breeding programs. You'll also have a chance to shop an exclusive collection of alpaca-made products, which make for unique and unusual souvenirs to take home! Return to Santiago and see more of the city on your own tonight.
Day 4: Bus to Valparaíso, Self-Guided Tour of the City
After hotel check-out, your family will head to the bus station for a two-hour scenic trip to the colorful metropolis of Valparaíso. Considered the artistic and bohemian soul of the country, the city is filled with street art, music, and poetry. It's also known for its funiculars or ascensors, which carry travelers up and down the steep neighborhood hills. Once you've settled into your accommodations, take the family to see the local sights around town.
Start at the plazas of Sotomayor and Aníbal Pinto, then head to the Reina Victoria ascensor—sure to be the highlight of the day for the little ones! The funicular stretches from Avenida Elias to Paseo Dimalow, and you can ride it to the top of the hill, and then walk through the neighborhoods of Cerro Alegre, Cerro Concepción, and Cerro Florida. You can also ride the Concepcion, the city's oldest funicular, down the hills for a slightly different look at the landscapes.
Afterward, head to the district of Cerro Bellavista, a haven for artists and writers with colorful homes and tons of street art. Walk through the quaint and quiet streets, letting the kids enjoy the art that seems to be on every corner and wall. You can also visit La Sebastiana, one of three homes once owned by the famed poet Pablo Neruda that are all now museums. The museum features information on Neruda and his life, with descriptive texts mounted on the walls and audio guides available in several languages. Enjoy dinner at a local café or restaurant before returning to your hotel.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Free Day in Valparaíso
Enjoy some downtime in Valparaíso, relaxing at your hotel with a leisurely breakfast and perhaps taking the kids out for a morning stroll. If you want to see more of the city's historical and cultural sights, head back to Plaza Sotomayor and spend some time at the various points of interest you'll find here.
This popular square sits right in the middle of the city's historic district, and you can take the kids to see the Chilean Navy Headquarters, as well as a monument dedicated to the Battle of Iquique. Stop by the National Council of Culture and the Arts, then make your way to the lively Estacion Puerto, where the kids can watch the commuter trains arrive and depart from other Chilean cities.If you want to see the city from a different perspective, walk to the pier at Mulle Prat and take a boat tour. The Port of Valparaíso was once a major hub for ships coming through the Straits of Magellan, and it remains a busy place with cruise ships and smaller boat tours available. Hop on board and cruise around the harbor, surrounded by glorious views of the city and surrounding countryside. The kids are likely to spot seabirds circling overhead, as well as the occasional lounging sea lion.
Day 6: Fly to Punta Arenas, Explore
Your driver will pick you up from your hotel in Valparaíso this morning and transport your family to the airport to catch the 3.5-hour flight south to Punta Arenas. Located on the Brunswick Peninsula, Punta Arenas is considered a major Patagonian transport hub and is often a stop for visitors traveling to Antarctica. Surrounded by panoramic views and natural beauty, this is also a fairly sophisticated city with stunning architecture, museums, and historic sites. Upon arrival, a private transfer will take you to your hotel for check-in, then your family can take a self-guided walking tour of the city.
Stroll along the Plaza de Armas, a central plaza with quaint pathways for the kids to run and play. See the neoclassical mansions surrounding the plaza, and if you and the little ones are interested, you can tour the Palacio Sara Braun, one such mansion that showcases the opulence of that era. Afterward, walk down to the waterfront, a recently revitalized area that has wide boardwalks and fun sculptures. End with a stop at the Mirador Cerro de la Cruz, a city overlook with views that go all the way out to the Strait of Magellan.
Day 7: Isla Magdalena Penguin Encounter
All aboard for a visit with penguins! Meet your guides at the pier and set sail for Isla Magdalena, a 1.5-hour cruise from Punta Arenas. This small island serves as a sanctuary to a large colony of Magellanic penguins and a host of other wildlife. Your family will arrive at the island, and after your guide shares a quick briefing on safe interactions with the penguins, you'll set out on a one-hour walk. Don't be surprised if these curious creatures waddle along beside you, as they're quite used to visitors.
Along the way, you'll also see birds such as black-browed albatross, skuas, terns, and Dominican gulls, and there's a scenic lighthouse on the island that you and the kids can visit. On the ride back to town, make sure the kids keep an eye out for the small black and white Commerson's dolphins or sei whales that frequent these waters.
Day 8: Guided Walk in Magallanes National Reserve
Step into the wilds of Magallanes National Reserve today with a guided walking tour. The reserve encompasses more than 33,000 acres (13,356 ha) and is a protected area for native lengas and Nothofagus trees. There are more than 37 miles (60 km) of trails, with varied vegetation and diverse wildlife.
Along with an expert guide, your family will hike the Las Lengas trail, a 2.2-mile (3.6 km) loop, a fairly flat and easy trail that is suitable for all ages, although it can be windy, so make sure everyone dresses appropriately! Along the way, you'll learn about the flora and fauna of the region, and the kids might catch glimpses of wildlife such as gray foxes, chinchillas, or the occasional puma!
Day 9: Bus to Puerto Natales, Free Afternoon to Explore
Your next destination is the southern port town of Puerto Natales, the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. In the morning, you'll head to the bus station for the three-hour journey. Upon arrival and check-in at your hotel, the rest of the day is yours. You can start your exploration of the city with a walk along the waterfront, where you'll be treated to views of Seno Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound). Watch the boats come in and out, and the kids may see wildlife like sea lions or even dolphins.
Puerto Natales is also home to several species of birds, and any birders in the family are sure to be entranced by sightings of Andean condors, swans, and flamingoes. Visit the Museum of Patagonia for exhibits on the region's geology, flora and fauna, and Indigenous people, or head just outside town to Puerto Bories, a former industrial complex that has been transformed into a cultural center that showcases the town's history and heritage. Later tonight, check out the area's famous seafood at a local restaurant.
Day 10: Boat Tour to Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers
Get up close and personal with glaciers and wildlife on today's adventurous cruise. You'll board your boat in the morning, entering the Señoret Channel and heading toward Isla Guanaco and the Estancia la Península. Don't be surprised if you and the kids see dolphins swimming alongside the boat!
You'll pass along sheer cliffs where a population of cormorants nest, then make your way to the island of Punta de Lobos, home to a large colony of sea lions. While visitors aren't allowed on the island, your boat captain will stop and allow everyone to enjoy watching these funny creatures at play.
Continue to Mount Balmaceda, where you'll see incredible views of its glacier, disembarking in Puerto Toro. You'll then take an easy trek along the shore of Laguna de Los Témpanos, hiking through a native forest of coigües, ñirres, and Ciruelillo bushes and ending at Serrano Glacier. Enjoy the incredible contrast between the blue sky and the immense glacier, and take advantage of some family photo ops before heading back to the boat and returning to Puerto Natales.
Day 11: Family Fun in Puerto Natales: Glaciers & Ice Bars
Spend today seeing more of Puerto Natales on your own. If the kids are itching to get back on the water, you can take a guided tour to Torres del Paine National Park's Grey Glacier. Lago Grey fronts this massive body of ice and is nearly 4 miles (6 km) wide, with an impressive height that fluctuates between 100-130 feet (30-40 m). After meeting with your guides in the morning, you'll drive into the park, and your family will board the Grey III catamaran and head across the lake to the glacier.
Along the way, you're likely to pass by floating icebergs on the lake. You'll notice that the ice is often different colors depending on the light, with varying shades of blue that are affected by how the ice is compacted and the amount of sediment it contains. Eventually, you'll approach the glacier wall, taking in the majestic beauty of this ice giant rising from the lake. You'll spend some time viewing the glacier, and your guides will share information about the geology and history of the area. The kids might even see some calving ice crashing into the lake!
Later tonight, your family can see what it might be like to actually go inside a glacier at the Go Bar de Hielo, Chilean Patagonia's first ice bar. This family-friendly space replicates a glacier ice cave, with a cold room with ice walls and seats, mood lighting, music, and beverages for both adults and kids. Don "cold suits" to stay warm in the bar, and try some of their specialty drinks (non-alcoholic options are available for the kids) while taking fun photos of the ice creations.
Day 12: Hiking & Horses at Estancia Bahía Esperanza Reserve
Spend today at Estancia Bahía Esperanza, a ranch that is part of a more than 5,000-acre (2,200 ha) reserve located on the Antonio Varas Peninsula. While the peninsula is connected to the continent by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, it's only accessible by sea, making it an exclusive and somewhat off-the-beaten-path place to discover. Meet with your guides and board a boat that takes you across the Seno Última Esperanza, then disembark to explore the reserve.
The park sits almost perfectly in the transition area between the Patagonian fjords' rainy climate and the continent's dry climate, which brings many migratory and resident birds to the area. There are more than 30 different species of birdlife here, and the climate also keeps the reserve lush and green, with upward of 13 different identifiable trees and shrubs.
Your family will have the option to hike around on your own, with several choices in trails of varying distances and degrees of difficulty, or you can take part in a horseback riding tour that takes you along several trails. There are also mountain bike or e-bike rentals and tours available if you prefer. Let the kids explore the diverse geography, hike or bike up to the Seno Última Esperanza monument, and see the blue waters of Laguna Junquillos. Enjoy a picnic lunch prior to returning to Puerto Natales.
Day 13: Family Hike in Torres del Paine National Park, Fly to Santiago
The day starts early as your guides collect you from your hotel and take you out for a full-day family trek in Torres del Paine National Park. The park, which encompasses more than 700 square miles (1,800 sq km), is known for its endless hiking trails, pristine blue glaciers, and soaring mountains. Your hike starts at the park's Lago Sarmiento gate, taking you along a gentle incline that offers expansive views of the lake and eventually arriving at a rocky eave where you can see a series of cave paintings that date back more than 6,000 years.
This region was once frequented by what is thought to be some of the first people of Patagonia, and your guide will share information about the history of the area before you continue to Laguna Blanquillos, a nesting and feeding place for different species of endemic birds of Patagonia. Here, the kids can spot ducks, caiquenes, and the elegant black-necked swans that call this region home, all surrounded by views of the Paine mountain range.
Walk another two hours to the park's main access gate, Laguna Amarga, then your guide will drive you to a little-known sector of the Río Paine and a dramatic waterfall. Enjoy a box lunch here, then finish the tour with a visit to Cañadón Macho, where your family can see large groups of guanacos (llama-like camelids) feeding, as well as ñandus (large flightless birds that are cousins to the ostrich), condors, and gray foxes. Later today, your driver will transport you to the airport, where you'll catch your flight back to Santiago and spend the final night of your trip in the city.
Day 14: Depart Santiago
Your family adventure in Chile comes to an end today. Tire out the kids before the flight with one last walk up to the viewpoints of Cerro San Cristóbal or Cerro Santa Lucía before meeting your driver and catching your flight back home. Safe travels!
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