- Tour the highlights of historic Santiago de Chile
- Kayak through the beautiful landscape of Reloncaví Fjord
- Make friends with a cute colony of Magellanic penguins
- Hike through the stunning Torres del Paine National Park
- Sail to the Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers
|Day 1||Arrive in Santiago, Tour the Highlights||Santiago|
|Day 2||Fly to Puerto Varas, Tour of Puerto Montt & Puerto Varas||Puerto Varas|
|Day 3||Day Trip to Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park||Puerto Varas|
|Day 4||Reloncaví Fjord Kayaking||Puerto Varas|
|Day 5||Fly to Punta Arenas||Punta Arenas|
|Day 6||Isla Magdalena Penguin Colony, Bus to Puerto Natales||Puerto Natales|
|Day 7||Explore Torres del Paine National Park||Puerto Natales|
|Day 8||Boat Trip to Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers||Puerto Natales|
|Day 9||Hike from Lago Sarmiento to Laguna Amarga||Puerto Natales|
|Day 10||Fly to Santiago, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Santiago, Tour the Highlights
Welcome to Santiago, Chile's vibrant capital! Your driver will meet you at the airport and transport you to your central city accommodation. Once you've settled in, head out and get a feel for this lively Latin American metropolis. A great place to take the city's pulse is the Mercado Central (Central Market). Have a bit of extra fun by taking a guided tour—your guide will help you and the kids navigate the maze-like streets and negotiate with the vendors to get the finest local treats at the best price.Afterward, visit the Plaza de Armas, Santiago's historic town square. The whole family will enjoy the lively atmosphere, with abundant live music and street food. Make some time for the Catedral Metropolitana, the impressive neoclassical church dominating the western side of the plaza. Then make your way up to the hills of Santa Lucía or San Cristóbal for panoramic views. Get the kids to spot the Gran Torre Santiago (also known as the Costanera Center), the tallest building in Latin America, before grabbing some dinner in one of the excellent restaurants nearby and heading back to the hotel.
Day 2: Fly to Puerto Varas, Tour of Puerto Montt & Puerto Varas
Rise early for your family's two-hour flight to Puerto Montt in Chile's Lake District. On arrival, your driver will take you to your accommodation in Puerto Varas, on the shores of Lago Llanquihue. Settle in, then take the kids out exploring on a guided tour. You'll spot a fascinating mix of German colonial architecture and Indigenous Mapuche culture as you stroll the flower-lined streets against the beautiful backdrop of the Osorno volcano. Highlights include the Old Town, where you'll find the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a replica of a German Black Forest church.
Day 3: Day Trip to Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park
Take your intrepid little explorers into the exciting Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park for the day. Depending on the ages and fitness levels of the family, this park offers good car access to many of its sights, making it particularly suitable for smaller legs. Start at the Osorno Mountain Ski Center, 4,068 feet (1,240 m) above sea level, and linger over the views of the Calbuco volcano, Lago Llanquihue, and the Pacific Ocean. Take the lift even farther up to the glacier for the ultimate family photos.
Continue to Petrohué and take an easy 30-minute walk with the kids through the native forest around the Saltos del Río Petrohué, one of Chile's most beautiful spots. You and the kids will be awed by the spectacular turquoise waters thundering through the centuries-old crystallized lava rock formations. Next up is Lago Todos Los Santos—take the family on a boat ride on the calm water, surrounded by majestic forests, mountains, and volcanoes. When you're ready, your driver will take you back to Puerto Varas, where a delicious dinner at one of the many authentic local restaurants awaits.
Day 4: Reloncaví Fjord Kayaking
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
This morning head out bright and early to the town of Ensenada, on the shore of Lago Llanquihue—the perfect base for a kayaking adventure. Pick up your gear and start your trip off with a technique and safety briefing. You'll have the choice of single or tandem kayaks, perfect if you have younger children. Your tour begins with some practice paddling in shallow waters before you and the kids head to the small village of Ralún and on through the Reloncaví Fjord. Then, it'll be time for lunch. Enjoy a traditional farm-style meal with locals before heading out for a short, scenic walk.
Get back out on the water, and paddle the fjord at a leisurely pace. Surrounded by lush landscape and snowcapped volcanoes, you and the kids will have plenty of scope to spot birds, from pelicans to cormorants, as well as sea lions and penguins—this area is a haven for wildlife. The kids will be delighted to be accompanied by dolphins as they make their way through the fjord. Your trip ends at the village of Cochamó, a scenic spot between the Andes and the Pacific. Catch a bus back to Puerto Varas, arriving just in time for a well-deserved dinner.
Day 5: Fly to Punta Arenas
Take a two-hour flight deep into Chilean Patagonia today to reach Punta Arenas. On arrival, head to your hotel and settle in before you and the kids step out to explore the area. Punta Arenas' location on the Strait of Magellan, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific, makes it the perfect base for explorers heading into the surrounding wilderness or even to Antarctica. While the latter isn't on the cards for your family today, you'll find hints of the city's intrepid maritime past scattered throughout its streets.
Head to the main square to see the monument to Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (ensure your return to Punta Arenas by touching the lucky toe!) and read his story. A short stroll away, you'll find the Museo Regional de Magallanes, a mansion that has been converted into a museum giving a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the wealthy in early Patagonia. Alternatively, take the kids a short way out of town to the Nao Victoria Museo, where they can scamper around a life-size replica of Magellan's ship, as well as three other replicas of historic vessels.
Day 6: Isla Magdalena Penguin Colony, Bus to Puerto Natales
Today's escapade is a fun boat trip across the Strait of Magellan to Isla Magdalena. After 1.5 hours, you'll be at your destination: Los Pingüinos Natural Monument, Chile's largest penguin colony. With up to 170,000 fluffy inhabitants, this small island is certainly a busy one! Take the kids up to the picturesque old lighthouse in the company of their new penguin friends and be rewarded with sweeping views out over the strait. Enjoy discovering the area's natural beauty with the kids beside the historic waters mapped by Magellan and made famous by Charles Darwin.
Day 7: Explore Torres del Paine National Park
Pull on your walking shoes this morning and get ready to discover the extraordinary Torres del Paine National Park for yourselves! First up, though, it's a stop-off at the fascinating Cueva del Milodón, the largest of a cave network and famously home to a life-size replica of a mylodon (well-preserved remains of the giant prehistoric sloth were discovered here in 1895). You'll also pass by the distinctive Silla del Diablo (Devil's Chair) rock formation, the subject of plenty of local lore.As you head along the road, get the kids to keep their eyes peeled for the Cuernos del Paine (Paine Horns), the peaks that gift the park its distinctive skyline. Arriving at Lago Grey, you'll have time for a pleasant walk along its shores and a picnic in the park. After lunch, continue to the Salto Grande waterfall and the Lago Nordenskjöld viewpoint for panoramic vistas. Follow the route to Laguna Armarga, enjoying the scenery along the way. When you're all hiked out, head back to Puerto Natales—be sure to stop off at the Lago Sarmiento viewpoint on the way for today's last glimpse of this beautiful region.
Day 8: Boat Trip to Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers
Put your sea legs to work today as you swap your hiking boots for a boat trip to Balmaceda Glacier in Bernardo O'Higgins National Park. Take the full-day trip, which follows the Seno Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound) all the way from Puerto Natales to the glaciers. You and the kids will have plenty of chances to take fantastic photos; the sound is lined with extensive native forests of coihue, canelo, and lenga beech trees, and you're also likely to spot sea lions along the way.
Once you reach the Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers, you'll disembark the boat and enjoy these enormous ice structures from the land. A short walk takes you to a nearby estancia (ranch), where a traditional Patagonian asado (barbecue) awaits you and your hungry kids. Enjoy the region's famous lamb and beef dishes, and, if you have time, take a look around—the estancia is known as one of Patagonia's most beautiful and is still fully operational. Afterward, your driver will transport you back to Puerto Natales.
Day 9: Hike from Lago Sarmiento to Laguna Amarga
It's back to Torres del Paine today to explore some of the lesser-known parts of the park. This time you'll enter near Lago Sarmiento and take an easy hourlong hike to view 6,000-year-old old cave paintings made by Patagonia's first settlers. This trail is also great for spotting wildlife—as you pass by Laguna Blanquillos, you'll be close to nesting sites for many native birds, including upland geese and black-necked swans. Encourage the kids to walk quietly and see what they can discover.
Continue walking to the Laguna Amarga gate, the park's main access. From here, you'll drive to Paine Waterfall, a scenic backdrop to a well-deserved picnic break! You'll have a fantastic view of the park's three granite torres (towers). After your break, you'll head out hiking again toward the Cañadón Macho. Nature photographers, keep your cameras at the ready—guanacos, gray foxes, black-chested eagles, and even pumas are on the list of animals you're likely to see. With their 10-foot (3 m) wingspan, you can't miss Andean condors as they fly overhead—this is the perfect place to see these rare birds. As the afternoon draws to a close, your driver will transport you back to Puerto Natales.