Soaring mountains, incredible wildlife and beaches, historical remains, the greatest natural and manmade wonders in the world, and spectacular cultural highlights from food to art, South America is a perfect destination for families looking for a mix of nature, culture, and relaxation. Additionally, South American culture is famous for being very family oriented so all children are more than welcome in each country. Here are some ideas for the best vacations in South America with family:
There are multiple things to do with kids in Peru. The ancient city of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes is high on many adult travelers’ bucket lists, but it’s an easily attainable adventure trip for families too, and might well feel like an Indiana Jones adventure. Visiting this mysterious place is a remarkable, educational experience for everyone. It can be reached by a mild to strenuous hike, but for little ones, the well-established train and bus route up into the misty green mountains solves the problem of getting there.
In fact, the Inca Rail is especially great for kids, and if you choose the luxury option you’ll receive a full meal on the scenic glass roof ride. Upon arrival, you’ll encounter incredible views, the sacred Temple of the Sun, and a few llamas. Hiring a private guide will add dimension to the ruins and help your children to picture the civilization that once existed here. Although it’s easy to reach the entrance to Machu Picchu, once you arrive there’s a lot of walking and climbing; because of this, the trip is best for kids who don’t need a stroller and have some stamina, ages 6 and up. Both Machu Picchu and the neighboring city of Cusco are at high altitudes (8,000 to 11,000 feet), so make sure to keep your family hydrated and plan on slowly acclimatizing to the area. With a little guidance, planning and patience the entire family can get the most out of their trip to Peru.
One of the best things to do in Colombia is to visit the coffee region, which is a short flight from the capital city of Bogota. This area of Colombia offers finca farmhouse accommodations, where you can enjoy the serenity combined with outdoor activities such as swimming, hiking, horseback riding, visiting coffee plantations, or even zip-lining among the coffee trees. While you’re in the region, visit the National Coffee Park in the Quindio department, which offers many family-friendly attractions including coffee boat rides, coffee trains, carousels, and aquatic mountains. The whole family can enjoy ecological walks and picnics here. Also, check out the Botanical Garden and Butterfly Farm. Your kids will love running around the gardens of exotic flowers and trees, complete with more than 50 species of butterflies.
Argentina is an easy first trip to South America, as it feels more familiar than some of its neighboring countries. From the Patagonian steppe, with its age-old gaucho customs, to the surging waters of Iguazu Falls, to the cultural hub of Buenos Aires where you can embrace the essence of the Argentine lifestyle through the taste, sounds, and rhythm of the city, there’s something for everyone in the family. Buenos Aires is known for being the most “European” city in South America. Argentina is a great travel destination for families, with fabulous parks located throughout the city and Parque de la Costa, which is the largest amusement park in South America, You can opt for a day trip from here to see a gaucho (cowboy) ranch, or you may like to stay on an estancia, with plentiful outdoor activities for kids.
Traveling through Argentina is an adventure-filled experience that will deepen your family’s appreciation of natural beauty. If you want to visit Iguazu Falls, you’re in for a treat as it’s a perfect place to take kids; they will love the boat ride under the falls and seeing various tropical birds and wildlife. You may also wish to explore the Puerto Madryn area, deep south in Argentine Patagonia, where you can see penguins, sea lions and spot whales.
Ecuador is a natural paradise filled with animal and plant species found nowhere else on the planet. Kids will be astonished by the gigantic tortoises, blue-footed boobies, and playful sea lions that fill the equatorial waters of the Galápagos. In fact, the Galapagos is one of the best family destinations in South America. It’s an educational destination too, as your kids will be able to learn about the wildlife and fragile ecosystem while seeing it all up close and creating memories that will last forever. A cruise is the most popular option for visiting the islands and most cruise companies offer kid-friendly amenities and special excursions designed for youngsters, such as expedition hikes, and kayaking or snorkeling to see some marine iguanas or the Galapagos penguins.
Chilean Patagonia is considered to be heaven on earth for the active family. Jaw-dropping mountain vistas, colossal glaciers and hiking trails make this region a favorite in South America. Walk beside Perito Moreno Glacier and take a boat cruise along its three-mile-long, 200-ft-high face. Hike or horse ride in the Patagonian Andes and take in the spectacular scenery of Fitz Roy and Chalten. Torres del Paine National Park is easily accessed by car and there are many trails to hike as well as horseback riding and other activities available. Camping is also easy and it’s a great place to experience the wildlife of Chile. You’re most likely to fly in and out of Santiago, which is one of the most kid-friendly cities in South America, with many children’s museums and parks, such as Parque Quinta Normal and the Railway Museum, as well as many activities like zip-lining and horseback riding available for older kids.
If you want to experience the Amazon without heading to Brazil, Bolivia is the perfect option. By visiting the Pampas, located at the edge of the Amazon, it’s easy to spot wildlife, from alligators to capybara.
Considered one of the safest spots for families in South America, Uruguay has a coastline that stretches for 410 miles, filled with beautiful beaches. In Montevideo, your kids will especially be excited to see La Mano, the massive hand sculpture that reaches up out of the white sand at Playa Brava.
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