The lunar landscapes of Chile's Atacama Desert take center stage on this weeklong family adventure. Start with a tour of Santiago, then climb the hilltop neighborhoods of Valparaíso by vintage funicular. Fly north to reach the otherworldly expanses of the Atacama Desert, where a kid-friendly itinerary of excitement and exploration awaits—from stargazing with high-powered telescopes to diving into buoyant salt pools, watching powerful geysers erupt, and deciphering ancient rock art.


  • Sample Chilean snacks and treats in the markets of Santiago
  • Take family-friendly tours and excursions in the remote, moon-like Atacama Desert
  • Float in the hidden turquoise salt lagoons of Baltinache
  • Spot constellations and shooting stars under some of the clearest skies on Earth

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Santiago, Afternoon City Tour Santiago
Day 2 Day Trip to Viña del Mar & Valparaíso Santiago
Day 3 Fly to Calama, Transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, Stargazing Tour San Pedro de Atacama
Day 4 Visit the Hidden Lagoons of Baltinache, Waterfalls Trek San Pedro de Atacama
Day 5 Tatio Geysers Adventure, Valley of the Moon Tour San Pedro de Atacama
Day 6 Explore Yerbas Buenas & Rainbow Valley, Fly to Santiago Santiago
Day 7 Depart Santiago  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago, Afternoon City Tour

Get a bird's-eye view of Santiago from Cerro Santa Lucia

Welcome to Chile's vibrant capital, Santiago! Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by your driver and transferred to your hotel in the city center. After a long flight, you and the kids will probably want to relax and unwind for a while before heading out on this afternoon's 3.5-hour city tour and experiencing the pulse of this lively Latin American metropolis.

Meet your private tour guide at the prearranged destination, and start by wandering the aisles of Santiago's labyrinthine Mercado Central. Enjoy becoming part of bustling market life as you engage with vendors and shoppers and delicious tidbits along the way. Dare the kids to try charqui de caballo (dried horse meat) or chunchules con harina tostada (intestines with toasted wheat flour), or keep things tamer with fresh-squeezed fruit juices and tasty tamales.

Continue visiting Santiago's major historic sites, such as the Plaza de Armas and the Catedral Metropolitana, before enjoying panoramic vistas from Cerro Santa Lucía or Cerro San Cristóbal. Take in the sprawling cityscape and spot landmarks like the Gran Torre Santiago (also known as the Costanera Center), the tallest building in Latin America. Spend the evening enjoying dinner in one of Santiago's many family-friendly restaurants before getting an early night at the hotel.

Day 2: Day Trip to Viña del Mar & Valparaíso

Catch a funicular up to the diverse hilltop neighborhoods in Valparaíso 

Today, leave the capital on a day trip to central Chile's Pacific coast, where you'll visit two neighboring cities: Viña del Mar and Valparaíso. First, arrive in Viña del Mar, an upscale coastal resort city teeming with shopping complexes, commercial high-rises, boutiques, and well-manicured gardens. Teens will love moseying around in the wide array of shops this town has to offer, after which you can indulge in a seaside lunch at one of the many upscale restaurants on the shore.

Next, visit the port city of Valparaíso. This colorful metropolis is the artistic and bohemian soul of the country, filled with street art, music, and poetry. Have fun climbing the steep hills in old-fashioned funiculars to the lively neighborhoods of Cerro Alegre, Cerro Concepción, and Cerro Florida, and take family photos against a sweeping backdrop of colorful houses and the Pacific. For history and art-loving families, La Sebastiana Museum promises to be a captivating insight into the life of the famed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Following the exploration, return to your hotel in Santiago.

Day 3: Fly to Calama, Transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, Stargazing Tour

Learn to recognize the constellations during a stargazing tour

Today, step foot on what feels like another planet! Do some last-minute exploring of the capital city before catching a two-hour 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 startling 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). 

As evening falls, start tonight's excursion with a brief lesson on astronomy so that you and the kids know what to look out for in the night skies. Your guide will then drive you to the Altiplano, which 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. Learn how to identify constellations with the help of your guide, and take turns using high-powered telescopes and binoculars to spot an array of celestial objects, including planets, binary stars, and spherical clusters.

Day 4: Visit the Hidden Lagoons of Baltinache, Waterfalls Trek

Float in the hidden salt lagoons of Baltinache 

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.

More watery encounters await this afternoon as you take part in a 4.5-hour adventure to a series of waterfalls deep in the Atacama Desert. Embark on an easy, one-hour trek through canyons, cactus valleys, and along the Río Vilama before you reach three waterfalls. Cool off from the hike as the little ones splash around underneath a 26-foot-tall (8 m) waterfall before heading back to San Pedro de Atacama and watching the sunset.

Day 5: Tatio Geysers Adventure, Valley of the Moon Tour

Wait for the geysers to spurt steam into the air!

It's an early start this morning as you rouse the kids and bundle them up in warm clothes for the 1.5-hour trip to the famed 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) into the air. Anticipate the next eruption with countdown guessing games and savor a scenic picnic breakfast. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for wandering llamas and flamingoes on the way back!

Have a late lunch back at San Pedro de Atacama before setting off on a family-friendly tour of El Valle de Luna. The kids will love playing explorer as they spot geological wonders such as the unique salt caves and stone formations carved out by salt and wind over millions of years in the Cordillera del Sal. Finish the tour by watching the sunset over the Atacama, painting the mountains in shades of red while the mighty Licancabur volcano looms overhead. 

Day 6: Explore Yerbas Buenas & Rainbow Valley, Fly to Santiago

Time travel to 500 CE at the Yerbas Buenas rock carvings

Meet your guide at the hotel for another half-day excursion in this vast desert region of Chile. First, visit Yerbas Buenas, an area of great historical relevance due to its age-old rock art. Curious young minds will love investigating these mysterious rock carvings made by the Atacameno people from around 500 CE (see how many llamas and alpacas they can find!) and imagine what it was like to survive in such a harsh, high-altitude environment thousands of years ago.

Your family will feel like you've entered an edited photograph later on at the Valle del Arcoíris (Rainbow Valley), named for its multicolored rock hues that go from red to yellow. Combined with the white salt flats in the foreground and the blue sky behind, this natural wonder serves as a scenic ending to your adventures in the Atacama Desert. At the end of the outing, you'll continue on to Calama for your two-hour flight to Santiago, where you'll spend your last night in Chile.

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Day 7: Depart Santiago

Spend one more morning enjoying Santiago before your flight home
Enjoy your last Chilean breakfast and spend the morning strolling the cobblestone streets of the trendy Barrio Bellavista, where you can buy some last-minute gifts. When it's time to leave, meet your driver and head to the airport. Buen viaje!

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Map of Family Adventure in Chile's Atacama Desert - 7 Days
Map of Family Adventure in Chile's Atacama Desert - 7 Days