Experience 10 days of adrenaline-filled fun as you explore northern Chilean Patagonia with your active tweens and teens. Start in the capital of Santiago with a flavorful food tour, then it's off to Puerto Río Tranquilo for a kayaking expedition through the Marble Caves and a trek across the blue ice of Exploradores Glacier. Head to the Lake District next to relax on the shores of Lago Llanquihue, raft the Class III rapids of the Río Petrohué and hike the snowcapped (and still-active) Osorno volcano.


  • Learn about Chile's cuisine and culture with a family food tour of local markets
  • Kayak through the mystical, blue-swirled walls of the Marble Caves
  • Strap on some crampons and trek along the icy fields of the Exploradores Glacier
  • Conquer the fast-moving waters of the Río Petrohué on a wild river rafting ride

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
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 Kayak Adventure Puerto Río Tranquilo
Day 4 Ice Hiking at Exploradores Glacier Puerto Río Tranquilo
Day 5 Guided Exploration of Lago General Carrera  Puerto Río Tranquilo
Day 6 Fly to Puerto Varas, Tour the Towns of Lago Llanquihue  Puerto Varas
Day 7 Río Petrohué Rafting Excursion Puerto Varas
Day 8 Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park: Waterfalls, Lakes & Volcanoes Puerto Varas
Day 9 Family Kayaking Tour of Lago Llanquihue  Puerto Varas
Day 10 Free Morning in Puerto Varas & Depart   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago, Family Foodie Tour

Enjoy a family foodie tour of Santiago's local markets

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 likely to be quite hungry, and there's no better way to immerse yourselves in Chilean culture 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 Chile's 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

A wooden church in the small Patagonian town of Puerto Río Tranquilo

Spend your morning at Bicentenario Park, one of Santiago's largest green spaces. Sitting along the shores of the Río Mapocho, the park covers more than 66 acres (27 ha), with lagoons, walking paths, kid zones, and gardens. Visit Laguna de las Aves, where you and the kids can see swans, ducks, and flamingoes and can even purchase food to feed them. Stroll the peaceful grounds, take in the beauty of the river, or just relax on a bench and people-watch. Afterward, stop by Casacostanera shopping mall, where you can pick up some souvenirs or grab a coffee. 

Later on, 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 stretch your legs with an evening walk around the lake after the long day. 

Day 3: Marble Caves Kayak Adventure

Let your teens navigate the mystical Marble Caves by kayak

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 for the evening. 

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Day 4: Ice Hiking at Exploradores Glacier

Learn to use crampons and try out some ice climbing at Exploradores Glacier

A bucket-list adventure is in store today at Exploradores Glacier, where you'll enjoy a full-day guided family hike that takes you through ice tunnels, caves, and pristine 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: Guided Exploration of Lago General Carrera 

Explore the beauty of Lago General Carrera on today's guided tour

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 and driven to the shore, where you'll visit 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 of 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. 

Day 6: Fly Puerto Varas, Tour the Towns of Lago Llanquihue 

Welcome to picturesque Puerto Varas in Chilean Patagonia's Lake District

Your family is off to the Patagonian Lake District today with a quick one-hour flight to Puerto Varas, a small town that sits on the banks of Lago Llanquihue near the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to your hotel to get settled before meeting your 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: Río Petrohué Rafting Excursion

Take a wild whitewater rafting trip down the Río Petrohué

An adrenaline-filled day awaits as you 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: Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park: Waterfalls, Lakes & Volcanoes

Visit the wonders of Lago Todos Los Santos and Osorno on today's active excursion

Get up close and personal with an active volcano today! 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 to Vicente Pérez Rosales National 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, and then you and the kids can take an easy 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: Family Kayaking Tour of Lago Llanquihue

Kayak the peaceful waters of Lago Llanquihue

See Lago Llanquihue and the surrounding countryside from a different vantage point today with a guided kayak tour. You'll meet your guide in town and drive to the lakeshore, where, after a safety and equipment briefing, your family will head out for a relaxing two-hour paddle. Enjoy a peaceful cruise along the glass-like waters, taking in the scenery and abundance of birds and other wildlife and taking advantage of what are sure to be some amazing photo ops. 

Day 10: Free Morning in Puerto Varas & Depart 

Enjoy your final hours on the shores of Lago Llanquihue

Make the most of your last morning in Chile with a visit to the beaches around Lago Llanquihue. The lake water is very calm and not too deep, which makes it the perfect swimming spot for kids of all ages. Spend some time at Playa Los Cisnes, which is located just a short distance from town and has a boardwalk, fun wooden art pieces in and around the water, and views of the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. You can also visit Playa Puerto Chico, a lovely pebbled beach that has restaurants and other amenities nearby. 

If your family isn't in the mood for the beach, explore more of Puerto Varas itself, visiting the many shops and restaurants, as well as the historic Museo Pablo Fierro, a whimsical and eccentric gallery created by artist Pablo Fierro. The museum is a fun visual for the kids and offers exhibits that showcase the history of the colonization of the region. Outdoor enthusiasts in the group might also like to visit Cerro Philippi, a park with walking and biking trails that offers panoramic views of the town and surrounding countryside. 

Later today, your driver will transport you to the airport, where you'll catch a flight back to Santiago and then home. Safe travels! 

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Map of Outdoor Family Adventure in Northern Chilean Patagonia - 10 Days
Map of Outdoor Family Adventure in Northern Chilean Patagonia - 10 Days