- Learn about Chile's cuisine and culture with a family food tour
- Paddle through the reflective chambers of the Marble Caves
- Strap on some crampons and trek the icy fields of the Exploradores Glacier
- Kayak alongside seabirds and dolphins in Agua Fresca Bay
- Hike to the incredible granite peaks and endless views of Torres del Paine
|Day 1||Arrive in Santiago, Family Foodie Tour||Santiago|
|Day 2||Fly to Balmaceda, Transfer to Puerto Río Tranquilo||Puerto Río Tranquilo|
|Day 3||Marble Caves Kayaking Excursion||Puerto Río Tranquilo|
|Day 4||Ice Hiking at Exploradores Glacier||Puerto Río Tranquilo|
|Day 5||Lago General Carrera: Countryside & Culture||Puerto Río Tranquilo|
|Day 6||Fly to Puerto Varas, Tour the Villages of Lago Llanquihue||Puerto Varas|
|Day 7||Rafting Adventure on the Río Petrohué||Puerto Varas|
|Day 8||Family Trek in Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park||Puerto Varas|
|Day 9||Fly to Punta Arenas, Discover the Nao Victoria Museum||Punta Arenas|
|Day 10||Meet the Penguins of Isla Magdalena||Punta Arenas|
|Day 11||Kayak Tour in Agua Fresca Bay, Bus to Puerto Natales, Ice Bar Visit||Puerto Natales|
|Day 12||Hike Through the Wonders of Torres del Paine National Park||Puerto Natales|
|Day 13||Day Tour of Mirador Base Torres||Puerto Natales|
|Day 14||Depart Puerto Natales|
Day 1: Arrive in Santiago, Family Foodie Tour
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. After settling in, there's no better way to immerse yourselves in Chilean culture this afternoon than by exploring the local food scene.
With an expert guide by your side, your family will take a culinary tour of Santiago's traditional food markets. Start at La Vega, a historic market that has long been the meeting place for local farmers to sell their wares. A wide variety of products are sold, including a wealth of fresh produce from the Chilean Central Valley. Try some delicious fruit and fruit juices, and learn more about local agriculture from your guide and the vendors.
Continue to Mercado Central, declared one of the top 10 food markets in the world by National Geographic. Originally opened in 1872, the market is known for its fresh seafood and bustling food stands. You'll have the opportunity to try local street foods such as empanadas, sopaipillas (fried pastries), mote con huesillo (juice with dried peaches), and more. Your guide will share the history behind each dish, and adults in the family will be able to sample a selection of Chilean wines or a local favorite, the pisco sour. Once everyone has fully sated their hunger, head back to your hotel and relax.
Day 2: Fly to Balmaceda, Transfer to Puerto Río Tranquilo
It's time to pack up and catch a 2.5-hour flight to Balmaceda, where a driver will be waiting to transfer you three hours south to the town of Puerto Río Tranquilo. Located in the Aysén region of Chilean Patagonia, this charming village sits on the shores of Lago General Carrera and serves as the gateway to Laguna San Rafael National Park and the famous Marble Caves.
Upon arrival, you can relax at your hotel or let the kids stretch their legs with a walk around town. You'll find several restaurants to choose from, and even a craft brewery if the adults want to try some local beers! There are also some small shops where your family can grab snacks, before ending with a stroll around the beautiful shores of Lago General Carrera as the perfect close to the long day.
Day 3: Marble Caves Kayaking Excursion
Explore the famed Marble Caves of Río Tranquilo today, meeting with your guides in the morning and making the drive to Bahía Mansa, where your adventure begins! After going over the equipment and receiving a safety briefing, your family will begin paddling along the lake and to what's known as the Chapel Sector, which takes you into the caves.
Years of erosion from the lake's glacial waters have worn down the cave's limestone walls, creating what is truly a work of art in nature. Your guides will discuss the geology and history of the region as you traverse the turquoise waters, taking in the light-reflecting pools and swirling patterns of the cave walls. After cruising around the caves for a couple of hours, you'll kayak back to Bahía Mansa and your driver will take you back to town.
Day 4: Ice Hiking at Exploradores Glacier
A bucket-list adventure is in store at Exploradores Glacier, where you'll enjoy a full-day, guided family hike that takes you through ice tunnels, caves, and glacier lagoons. Meet your guides and drive out to the glacier trail, which is located about 32 miles (52 km) from town. The scenic trip takes you past some of the region's most beautiful lakes and waterfalls, including Lago Tranquilo, the waterfalls of Cascada la Nutria, and Lago Bayo.
Once you arrive at the trailhead, you'll don your hiking gear and receive a safety briefing. Everyone will also have a chance to practice walking around in crampons, which adults and kids alike might find a bit challenging. After your practice session, you'll begin your hike, which takes you into the forest and across ice moraines with stones and sand. Eventually, you'll reach the glacier itself—this is where those crampons will come in handy!
Your family will travel across the glacier, exploring the various caves and tunnels created by the slowly shifting ice. Your guide will share insight and information about the glacier's history and how it continues to evolve over time, and older kids can even try out some ice climbing. Have a quick snack, then retrace your steps back to the beginning of the trail. Families should keep in mind that this hike is fairly demanding, and does require at least a moderate level of fitness, which makes it best suited for adventurous older kids and teens.
Day 5: Lago General Carrera: Countryside & Culture
Today's scenic tour introduces you to Lago General Carrera, South America's second-largest lake. You'll spend the day exploring the lake basin and points of interest, accompanied by an expert guide who'll take you to some of the top sights around the lake. You'll be picked up from your hotel by your guide in the morning, heading out to sights that include the Leones area, the impressive El Desagüe Bridge, and the nearby lookout point of Lago Negro.
After taking advantage of the photo ops and views around Lago Negro, head to El Maqui Falls, stopping to see where the rivers Baker and Neff meet along the way. Before you return to town, you'll stop in Puerto Guadal, a small village that sits on the shores of the lake, where you'll have lunch. The town is known for its honey production, as well as its recreational fishing, and you and the kids can meet the locals, purchase some honey, and learn more about the local culture. Your guide will then return you to your hotel in Río Tranquilo.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Fly to Puerto Varas, Tour the Villages of Lago Llanquihue
Your family is off to the Patagonian Lake District and the town of Puerto Varas, a small village that sits on the banks of Lago Llanquihue near the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. You'll take a quick, one-hour flight to the city of Puerto Montt, where a driver will collect you and transport you to Puerto Varas, a drive of just under 30 minutes. Once you've settled at your hotel, you'll meet up with a local guide for a tour of the area's picturesque lakeside towns.
Your first stop is the community of Llanquihue, which sits on the lake's western shore at the entry of the Río Maullín. From here, continue down the Camino del Lago (Lake Road), to the town of Frutillar. As evidenced by the traditional Bavarian-style wooden buildings, the town was originally the home of German settlers, and you and the kids can learn more about it with a visit to their German Colonial Museum. You'll also walk along the lake to the Teatro del Lago (Lake Theater), where regular performances and events are held.
End your tour at Puerto Octay, the first departure port of agricultural products to Osorno. Walk along charming streets and to the colorful main square as your guide shares more information about the history of German settlers in the area. Afterward, your guide will drive you back to your Puerto Varas hotel, where you can relax for the rest of the evening.
Day 7: Rafting Adventure on the Río Petrohué
Get ready for a wild ride down the Río Petrohué, which stretches for 22 miles (35 km) along the Patagonian Lake District and originates at the Petrohué Waterfalls. The river is a blend of calmer waters and Class III rapids, making for an exhilarating day trip that offers gorgeous views alongside the rush of conquering the rapids.
Your guides will pick you up in the morning, and you'll head to their base in Ensenada. Here, your family will get a safety and equipment briefing from your guides, as well as learn basic paddling techniques before starting your rafting adventure. During this five-hour river journey, you'll pass by the lush forests and peaceful scenery of the region, and the kids should keep their eyes peeled for birds and wildlife. Relax with a snack on the riverbank after your ride, then return to Puerto Varas.
Day 8: Family Trek in Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park
See active volcanoes and glacier lakes on a guided tour of the incredible Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. Encompassing 977 square miles (2,530 sq km), the park includes the turquoise waters of Lago Todos los Santos and is surrounded by the Puntiagudo, Tronador, and Osorno volcanoes. You'll head out in the morning with your guides, starting on the southern shores of Llanquihue to learn more about the region's agriculture and its history. From here, you'll drive into the park, making your first stop at the imposing Petrohué Waterfalls and their crashing blue waters.
Visit Lago Todos los Santos and its surrounding beaches, eventually making your way to Ensenada, which sits right at the foot of the 8,700-foot (2,652 m) stratovolcano known as Osorno. The volcano's nearly perfect conical symmetry combined with its scenic location above the lakes makes it one of Chile's most well-known landmarks, and while it hasn't erupted in many years, it's still considered one of the most active.
Have lunch in Ensenada, then you and the kids can take an easy family hike to a ski resort that sits on the volcano. This moderate trek is considered accessible for all ages and skill levels, with lush landscapes, views of the RÍo Petrohué Valley, and a gorgeous display of the lake's turquoise waters. After you hike back down, your guide will return you to your hotel.
Day 9: Fly to Punta Arenas, Discover the Nao Victoria Museum
Your journey south continues today as you head for the city of Punta Arenas. After checkout from your hotel this morning, a private transfer will take you to the airport to catch your two-hour flight. 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 breathtaking views and natural beauty, this is also a fairly sophisticated city, with interesting architecture, museums, and historic sites.
Once you've gotten settled at your accommodations, start exploring some of that history with a visit to the Nao Victoria Museum. Located just a short taxi ride from the city center, the museum features an incredible display of hand-built replicas of the ships used by Patagonian explorers. See Magellan's Nao Victoria, the first ship to circumnavigate the Earth, as well as Darwin's HMS Beagle. The kids can let their imaginations run wild, imagining the lives of these seafaring adventurers, while the adults learn more about the ships and how they were built.
Day 10: Meet the Penguins of Isla Magdalena
All aboard for a visit with penguins today! You'll meet your guides at the pier, setting 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, as well as 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!
During your stroll, you'll also see birds such as black-browed albatrosses, skuas, terns, and Dominican gulls, and there's a 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 black and white Commerson's dolphins or sei whales!
Day 11: Kayak Tour in Agua Fresca Bay, Bus to Puerto Natales, Ice Bar Visit
Spend your last morning in Punta Arenas cruising along the pristine waters of Agua Fresca Bay via kayak tour. Your guides will collect you from your hotel in the morning, and you'll drive to the Hostería Agua Fresca, where you'll be given a safety briefing and outfitted with the proper equipment before paddling out into the bay and the Strait of Magellan. Take in the incredible views across the water, while the kids spot soaring seabirds such as gulls, ducks, and caiquenes (if you're very lucky, you might even glimpse the occasional curious dolphin).
You'll tour along the waters for about an hour, then return to the hostería for a quick snack before heading back to Punta Arenas. This afternoon, you'll check out of your hotel and hop a bus to the city of Puerto Natales, a southern Patagonia port town that sits on the Señoret Channel at the edge of Torres del Paine National Park. Enjoy the scenic three-hour drive, then settle in at your hotel and relax, or step out for a family stroll along the town's waterfront, where you'll be treated to gorgeous views of the Seno Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound).
Later tonight, see what it might be like to 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 where the walls and seats are made of ice, 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 (nonalcoholic options are available for the kids) while taking fun photos of the ice creations.
Day 12: Hike Through the Wonders of Torres del Paine National Park
Don your hiking shoes today as you prepare for a family adventure into Torres del Paine National Park. Encompassing more than 700 square miles (1,800 sq km), the park is known for its endless hiking trails, icy glaciers, and rugged mountains. You'll meet your guides in the morning and start with a visit to Paine Waterfall, whose turquoise waters come from the Río Paine. From here, you'll hike the Mirador Cuernos, named for the surrounding horn-shaped mountains, with possible sightings of condors and grazing sheep to keep the kids entertained along the way.
Visit the Lago Nordenskjöld viewpoint and Laguna Amarga, as well as the magnificent cascade of Salto Grande, then break for lunch at Hosteria Pehoe, a small inn that offers spectacular views of Lago Pehoé. After lunch and before returning to Puerto Natales, your family will have the option to take another trek to Mirador Condor, a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) out-and-back hike with panoramas of the lake and surrounding lagoons.
Day 13: Day Tour of Mirador Base Torres
Today's excursion takes you back into Torres del Paine National Park, where you'll visit the Porteria Amarga sector and hike to the Mirador Base Torres del Paine. Considered most suitable for athletic families with older kids, this isn't a beginner's trail, so parents should keep that in mind while planning. But the Base Torres is also one of the park's most popular hikes, and the views of the three granite peaks against the aqua lake waters make for an incredibly rewarding day trip!
After an early pick-up from your hotel and a two-hour drive to the park, your guides will outfit your family with trekking poles and provide details on the hike. You'll make your way to the Hostería Las Torres sector, a four-hour journey that crosses the Ascensio Valley and cuts through a native lenga forest—offering glimpses of the peak of Almirante Nieto at various points. From here, you'll climb a steep, rocky glacier moraine, eventually reaching the Base Torres viewpoint.
Spend some time relaxing here, taking advantage of the incredible views and photo ops, then have lunch before walking down to the lake and the small beach surrounding it. Afterward, you'll begin your descent back to where your vehicle awaits to take you back to Puerto Natales. Relax at your hotel after the long day, or make the most of your final evening in Patagonia with dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 14: Depart Puerto Natales
Your adventurous two-week family adventure in Patagonia comes to an end today. After you check out from your Puerto Natales hotel, a private driver will transport you to the airport, where you'll catch a flight back to Santiago and then home. Safe travels!
More Great Patagonia Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Patagonia? Check out these other Patagonia itineraries, explore different ways to spend two weeks in Patagonia with your family, or discover the best time to visit Patagonia.