Immerse your family in the wonders of Patagonia on this adventurous itinerary that spans two weeks and two countries. Start in the Chilean town of Punta Arenas with penguin and dolphin-spotting excursions, then it's on to Puerto Natales for calving glaciers, horseback rides at a working estancia, and a trek through Torres del Paine National Park. Hop over to Argentina to see the icy walls of Perito Moreno Glacier, and end in Ushuaia with hiking and wildlife-spotting in Tierra del Fuego National Park.


  • Walk with friendly penguins on Isla Magdalena
  • Live the gaúcho life for a day on a real Patagonian ranch
  • Hike to the "end of the world" in Tierra del Fuego National Park
  • See the massive glacier walls and calving ice of Perito Moreno Glacier 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Punta Arenas (Chile), Self-Guided City Tour Punta Arenas
Day 2 Visit the Penguins of Isla Magdalena, Dolphin Watching Tour Punta Arenas
Day 3 Transfer to Puerto Natales, Explore Puerto Natales
Day 4 Bernardo O'Higgins National Park Glacier Excursion Puerto Natales
Day 5 Patagonian Estancia Tour: Horses & Hiking Puerto Natales
Day 6 Transfer to Torres del Paine National Park, Guided Family Hike Torres del Paine
Day 7 Grey Glacier Boat Tour, Return to Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 8 Bus to El Calafate (Argentina), Family Walk Around Town El Calafate
Day 9 Day Tour of Los Glaciares National Park El Calafate
Day 10 Fly to Ushuaia, Explore Ushuaia
Day 11 Meet the Penguins of Isla Martillo, Hiking in Puerto Almanza Ushuaia
Day 12 Half-Day Hike in Tierra del Fuego National Park Ushuaia
Day 13 Carbajal Valley 4WD Tour Ushuaia
Day 14 Depart Ushuaia  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Punta Arenas (Chile), Self-Guided City Tour

Explore the colorful streets of Punta Arenas

Welcome to Patagonia! Your flight lands in Santiago, Chile, where you'll catch a local connecting flight to the city of Punta Arenas. Upon arrival, you'll be met by your driver and transferred to your hotel. Once the family has had a chance to rest and regroup, it's time to start your adventures with a self-guided city tour! Punta Arenas is considered a major Patagonia 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.

Start with a walk around the Plaza de Armas, a central plaza with quaint pathways for the kids to stretch their legs after the long flight. See the neoclassical mansions surrounding the plaza, and you can also 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.

If the kids still need to burn some energy, head just a short distance out of the city to visit the Reserva Nacional Magallanes. This 33,000-acre (13,354 ha) forested reserve (known locally as Parque Japonés) features a very walkable nature trail lined with lenga and coigue trees, making for a great end to the day for the nature lovers in the family. Tonight, visit a local restaurant and sample some of Puerto Arena's amazing seafood, such as chupe de centolla (souffle of king crab), oysters, scallops, and fresh fish.

Day 2: Visit the Penguins of Isla Magdalena, Dolphin Watching Tour

You'll find South America's largest colony of Magellanic penguins on 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. Along the way, you'll stop by Isla Marta, which sits in the middle of the strait and is home to a colony of Patagonian sea lions, as well as various nesting seabirds.

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 dolphins or sei whales!

If dolphins are on everyone's must-see list, you also have the option of a dolphin-watching tour! You'll be picked up from your hotel and make the drive to Agua Fresca Bay, where you'll board a Zodiac boat and set off along the coast to visit a colony of Peale's dolphins. Always curious, the dolphins tend to reveal themselves quickly, interested in the sounds and movement of approaching boats. Your guides will share information about the dolphins' behaviors, and you're also likely to see birds and other marine life. 

Day 3: Transfer to Puerto Natales, Explore

Stretch your legs with a family stroll along the waterfront of Puerto Natales

Your next destination is Puerto Natales, a southern Patagonia port town that sits on the Señoret Channel and is considered the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. Your driver will collect you from your hotel in the morning, and you'll make the scenic three-hour drive. After hotel check-in, you'll have time to get out and see some of the sights around town. 

Start with an afternoon stroll along the town's waterfront, where you'll be treated to gorgeous views of the Seno Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound), and the kids might see wildlife like sea lions or even dolphins. Puerto Natales is also home to several species of birds, and any budding birders are sure to be entranced by sightings of Andean condors, swans, or flamingoes. Visit the Museum of Patagonia and see exhibits on the region's geology, flora and fauna, and Indigenous people, or head just outside town to Puerto Bories, a cultural center that showcases the town's history and heritage. 

Day 4: Bernardo O'Higgins National Park Glacier Excursion

See the incredible glaciers of Bernardo O'Higgins National Park

Today you'll get back on the water for a family excursion to Bernardo O'Higgins National Park. Board your boat in the morning, heading out to the Seno Última Esperanza, enjoying incredible views of blue glaciers, crashing waterfalls, and towering cliffs along the way. The kids should also keep their eyes peeled for condors, as they're often seen circling overhead. 

As you approach the park, you'll see views of Mount Balmaceda, where the glaciers are located, and see the Frigorífico Bories monument, founded in 1913 by the Sociedad Explotadora de Tierra del Fuego. Disembark here for an easy trek along the shore of Laguna de Los Témpanos, which takes you through a native forest of coigües, ñirres, and ciruelillo bushes. Enjoy the incredible contrast between the blue sky and the immense glacier, and take advantage of family photo ops before heading back to the boat. Before returning to the pier, you'll stop at nearby Estancia Perales for some delicious Patagonian barbecue.

Day 5: Patagonian Estancia Tour: Horses & Hiking

Go horseback riding at an authentic Patagonian estancia

Learn more about Patagonian culture with a private tour of Estancia La Peninsula, a local working ranch. You'll meet your guides and take a 30-minute boat ride through the fjords, arriving at the ranch in time for welcome pastries and hot beverages. 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 the hills and forests. 

Watch the ranchers at work, do a meet and greet with the animals that live there, and talk to the locals about their history, traditions, and culture. Additionally, there are more than 30 different species of birds, so be sure to have your cameras ready! End the day with a traditional barbecue, followed by a sheep shearing demonstration and wool classification. Afterward, you'll return by boat to Puerto Natales, where the rest of your evening is free. 

Day 6: Transfer to Torres del Paine National Park, Guided Family Hike

Go on a family hike through the spectacular landscapes of Torres del Paine National Park

Today starts early as your guides collect you from your hotel and take you out for a 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. You'll start by visiting the Milodón Cave, a natural monument located about 15 miles (25 km) from town that features a series of three caves where a prehistoric giant sloth was found.

Continue into the park to the Lago Grey sector, where you'll walk along the lakeshore, taking in the astounding sight of glacier ice floating nearby, and on to a viewpoint that offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The hike is considered moderately challenging, and while there are no age restrictions for kids, you may want to bring a pack or carrier for the littlest ones. It can also get windy by the lake, so make sure everyone is dressed for the weather!

After hiking the lake, you'll break for lunch, then drive to the Salto Grande sector of the park. Visit Paine Waterfall, a beautiful area with turquoise waters that come from the Río Paine, and hike to the Lago Nordenskjöld viewpoint and Laguna Amarga. While out on the trails, tell the kids to look for wildlife—it's not uncommon to see deer, guanacos (a type of wild llama), foxes, and skunks. Afterward, you'll be transported to a hotel in the park, where you'll overnight.

Day 7: Grey Glacier Boat Tour, Return to Puerto Natales

See the massive ice walls of Grey Glacier today on a fun boat tour

Get a closer look at Torres del Paine National Park's Grey Glacier today, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and located in the western sector of the park. 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! 

Upon your return to shore, your guides will take the family on a short hike across the wind-swept beach and through the forest, then you'll head back to Puerto Natales for the night. Rest up at your hotel tonight in anticipation of continuing your journey tomorrow. 

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Day 8: Bus to El Calafate (Argentina), Family Walk Around Town

See the sights around El Calafate

Hop across the border to Argentine Patagonia today to reach El Calafate, a small community that sits at the edge of Los Glaciares National Park and the massive Perito Moreno Glacier. Your family will head to the bus station in the morning and board a comfortable bus for the five-hour ride. Upon arrival, get settled at your hotel and then head out to explore!

Start with a visit to the Los Glaciares National Park Administration Building, where you'll find educational displays about the glacier's namesake, Argentine explorer Perito Moreno, as well as the glacier itself. There are beautiful gardens here that the kids can run around and play in, with interpretive trails and examples of the equipment used by the workers.

If your family would like to get some advance information on the region's glaciers, stop by the Glaciarium. This multimedia center has an ice museum, various interactive displays, and educational information regarding glaciers. It even has a bar made of ice, where you and the kids can order adult and kid-friendly beverages! El Calafate is also home to several chocolatiers, so stop by some to let the kids sample and buy locally-made sweet treats. After sunset, walk along the city's main street, Avenida del Libertador, and take your pick of the many restaurants and cafés for dinner. 

Day 9: Day Tour of Los Glaciares National Park

This full-day excursion gets you up close to Perito Moreno Glacier on a series of kid-friendly boardwalks

See the immense glaciers that make up Los Glaciares National Park today. You'll start in the morning, driving by Lago Argentino to get to the entrance of the park. Upon entering, you'll catch your first glimpse of Perito Moreno. This expansive glacier flows down from the Andes out over the turquoise waters of Lago Argentino, ending abruptly in a great wall that curves around the lake.

The day includes a walk along the catwalks around the glacier, where you and the kids can easily see it from various angles. Keep your camera ready to go because it's not uncommon to see chunks of ice breaking off and crashing into the water below! Your family will also have the option of taking a boat tour, where you'll get a chance to see the glacier from a different perspective. See the immense wall directly in front of you, and get the added thrill of those calving pieces of ice landing not far from the boat. After discovering the glacier and walking the trails, you'll head back to El Calafate for the evening. 

Day 10: Fly to Ushuaia, Explore

Explore the quaint village of Ushuaia 

Today's travels take you to the quaint town of Ushuaia. At the appointed time, a driver will transport you to the airport for your flight—a quick hop of an hour and 15 minutes. The Yamanas people originally settled this small town that sits on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, nicknamed the "End of the World" because of its remote location on the tip of South America. 

After you check in at your hotel, the rest of the day is yours. If you want to see the town at your own pace, the kids might enjoy a visit to the Thematic Gallery of the Historia Fueguina, where more than 120 character life-size figures take you through the history of the region. Or you can unearth the story of the scariest and most dangerous criminals at the Prison Museum

Outdoor adventurers in the family might like to spend the afternoon hiking at Laguna Esmeralda, a 5.4-mile (8.8 km) out-and-back trail that's located just outside the city center and takes you through a lenga forest and along a river, ending at the gorgeous blue-green waters of the lake. You can also hike up to the Martial Glacier, a fairly easy trek that rewards you with panoramic views of Ushuaia and the surrounding mountains. Tonight, be sure to check out the local gastronomy, as Ushuaia is known for its fresh seafood.

Day 11: Meet the Penguins of Isla Martillo, Hiking in Puerto Almanza

Meet more adorable penguins today with a visit to the rookery at Isla Martillo

Animal lovers will be thrilled to meet local wildlife at a Magellanic penguin rookery today. You'll travel via bus to Estancia Harberton, located about an hour's drive from Ushuaia. The farm was the first in the area, founded in 1886 by the Anglican missionary Thomas Bridges. From here, you'll board a boat and take a 15-minute ride to Isla Martillo. The island, which is on the Beagle Channel, is part of the estancia and is one of only three Magellanic penguin rookeries in Tierra del Fuego. 

After you disembark, your guide will take you on a "walk with the penguins," sure to be the highlight of the day for the kids! See the penguins and their young in their natural habitat while your guide shares information on the birds and their nesting areas. Families should keep in mind that visitors are not allowed to approach or feed the penguins, and silence is encouraged in order to prevent any disturbance to the bird's nesting habits or daily activities. 

Before your return to town, you'll have a chance to visit Puerto Almanza, a small village on the northern shore of the Beagle Channel. Hike along the Río Lasifashaj, crossing meadows where the first ranchers grew their herds for wool production and immersing yourselves in the peaceful landscapes. See the waterfall on the river and the wind-flattened flag trees, returning to Ushuaia just at sunset. 

Day 12: Half-Day Hike in Tierra del Fuego National Park

Enjoy the great outdoors on a hike through Tierra del Fuego National Park

Your family adventure continues with a morning hike in Tierra del Fuego National Park. The park encompasses more than 240 square miles (629 sq km) and was nicknamed the "Land of Fires" by early explorers. Here you'll find dramatic natural landscapes that include Andean-Patagonian forests, mountains that rise from the sea, and lakes that seem to go on forever. You'll be picked up from your hotel after breakfast and make the short drive to the park entrance.

Meet your guides and start the 4-mile (6.4 km) hike along a coastal path, which provides open views of the lakes, sea, and mountains. Arrive at Lago Acigami, also known as Lago Roca, which sits near the border of the Río Lapataia. The kids might also be lucky enough to catch glimpses of wildlife, such as red foxes and giant woodpeckers. 

Afterward, head to the Alakush Visitor Center, where you can see exhibits that showcase the local flora and fauna, as well as information on the different settlers, which include the Yamanas and Fuegian pioneers. You'll have time to relax here, and the kids can enjoy some hot cocoa and snacks before continuing on. Make your way along more of the interconnecting trials, then finish at the glacier lake of Acigami and Lapataia Bay. Here you'll also find what is known as the last post office in the Americas, where the kids can send postcards to family and friends from the end of the world! 

Day 13: Carbajal Valley 4WD Tour

The kids might catch glimpses of Patagonian foxes and other wildlife while touring the Carbajal Valley

Go off-road today with an excursion into the incredible Carbajal Valley by 4WD vehicle. The 12-mile (20 km) glacier-carved valley sits between the Alvear and Vinciguerra mountain ranges, with mirror-like lakes, lush forests, and plenty of wildlife.

Your guides will collect your family from your hotel in the morning, traveling along the picturesque Route 3 and to your first stop, a viewpoint of the entire valley that showcases the influence of glacial movement on the landscape. From here, continue to the legendary Andean mountain pass of Paso Garibaldi, home to a panoramic postcard of lakes and mountains. Here's where the 4WD comes in handy as you descend through the Fuegian forest via the simple logging roads that were carved by the region's first lumberjacks—a somewhat wild but fun ride!

Stop at Lago Escondido and take a break with some maté, a traditional drink, and snacks for the kids, then finish at Lago Fagnano, where you can see the Magallanes Fault, a continental tectonic fault line that helped to form prehistoric South America. Before returning to Ushuaia, you'll visit a small village on the shores of Escondido, where you'll enjoy a homemade lunch, and the kids can play by the lake's edge.

Day 14: Depart Ushuaia

Farewell to Ushuaia and Patagonia!

Sadly, it's time to say farewell to Patagonia. Your driver will transport you to the airport in Ushuaia this morning, where you'll catch your flight home or to your next destination. Safe travels! 

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Map of Ultimate Family Tour of Patagonia: Punta Arenas to Ushuaia - 14 Days
Map of Ultimate Family Tour of Patagonia: Punta Arenas to Ushuaia - 14 Days