How to do Patagonia with Kids

Calafate in Patagonia, ArgentinaEl Calafate in Patagonia, Argentina
Courtesy Myer Henderson of Say Hueque Tours in Argentina & Chile

Feeling adventurous? Take the kids to see El Calafate in Patagonia, Argentina.

Traveling with children can be demanding, but with the right amount of preparation, it is enjoyable and can build lifelong family memories. The most important decision when planning a vacation with your children is picking the right destination. If you actually want to bond as a family, don't leave your kids with babysitters or in a resort club. There's no better place to share quality time together, while learning and getting fresh air, than Patagonia. During hikes and walks in the great outdoors, parents and children can spot wildlife while being active and surrounded by unrivaled mountainous beauty.

Patagonia covers a vast amount of land in South America and is approximately the size of France and Spain combined. It is important to pick a destination with lots of highlights to prevent your kids from getting bored. Two of the best options for family vacations to Patagonia are Torres del Paine National Park and Los Glaciares National Park.

Torres del Paine National Park is in southern Chile, with Los Glaciares National Park just across the border in Argentina—both parks boast mountains, lakes, forests, and glaciers. A few of the highlights include Glacier Perito Moreno and Monte Fitz Roy, as well as small, charming Patagonian towns like Puerto Natales, Punta Arenas, El Calafate, and El Chaltén. Within the towns are monuments and museums, plazas, good restaurants, and beautiful viewpoints. If that's not enough to get your children excited about a Patagonia vacation, tell them about the options to explore ranches, to go horseback riding and fishing, and to see wildlife while romping around mountain ranges on the tip of the earth. For older children, mountaineering is also an option, with comfortable refuges located conveniently inside the parks.

There are so many possibilities for incredible sights and activities in Patagonia. Before you go, watch Ice Age as a family to get excited about seeing the fjords and glaciers come to life. In addition to learning about science through hands-on-activities, children can spot wildlife they have probably never seen before. This area is rich in guanaco, cougar, gray fox, condors, and eagles. Hiking provides an excellent opportunity to learn about flora, fauna, and other natural beauty.

Certainly, not everything goes to plan when traveling with kids. It is advisable not to commit to a rigid schedule when traveling with young ones. It's better to have a loose program with clear day-to-day activities, but with enough flexibility to adapt to the mood of your family on a given day. There is plenty to do in Patagonia so families can easily develop a schedule that works for them.

Another important consideration when traveling with kids is the choice of family-friendly accommodations. The place where you choose to stay should have communal areas where families are welcome to relax and play a game after a long day in the wilderness. It doesn't have to be Disneyland or Sandals, but try to avoid places with candlelit tables for two in the hotel restaurant. It will make you and the kids more comfortable.

Patagonia is truly magical and unlike anywhere else in the world. Don't miss out—or let your kids miss out—on the family adventure of a lifetime. With a little foresight, Patagonia is an enjoyable destination for adults and children alike.

This article was written by Melissa Reichwage, who currently lives in Colombia and has traveled extensively throughout North and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Australia. With a Master's in Public Health, focusing on Global Health and Development, she continues to explore and learn about solutions available to overcome the pressing issues of our time. She wrote this article on behalf of South American Vacations, specialists in travel throughout the continent.

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