Believe it or not, South America can most certainly serve as your home away from home on your next family vacation! The previously held myth that South America might not be the best place to travel with young children has quickly been dispelled over the past couple of years – and for a good reason! Activities, experiences, important life lessons, and lasting memories abound in South America for children of all ages.
And there is nothing we love more than working with families to design ideal and exciting getaways. You can spot exciting wildlife in the Amazon or The Galapagos, horseback ride with real-life cowboys in Argentina, ski the slopes of Patagonia, commune with pristine nature, connect with local communities, or bike through larger-than-life Andean landscapes, just to name a few of the incredible possibilities!
In honor of International Day of Families this year, we would like to share the following four considerations to get the most out of your family travel adventure to South America. From family-friendly accommodation to guides who work well with children and a plethora of interactive activities, these details will take your trip from “something you do as a family on vacation” to “the memory you will relive together over your entire lifetimes!”
1. Accommodation for the whole family
Quite a few hotels in Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Bolivia naturally understand the importance of families sharing the same space when they have some downtime away from exciting tours and excursions. Because, after all, family is an essential cultural cornerstone throughout South America!
Of course, connecting or adjacent rooms are almost always an option, but some of the best South American family lodgings can be found in family casitas (quaint houses or cabins) or family apartments within three to five-star properties.
For instance, an excellent option for a family stay is Sol & Luna in the Sacred Valley town of Urubamba in Peru. Sol & Luna is a luxurious Relais & Chateaux property that simultaneously puts family first. Their superior family casitas are designed for families of four, with a king bed on the first floor and a magical winding staircase to the second-floor loft with two full-size beds. They also have Peruvian Paso horses on their property, which are super friendly, and guests are welcome to visit the stables during their stay.
Another fabulous property that accommodates families in the Sacred Valley is El Albergue in the sleepy town of Ollantaytambo. El Albergue is right next to the train station to Machu Picchu. They have an exceptional room category called the El Albergue Casita. This roomy home-away-from-home includes two bedrooms, a bathroom, a small private kitchen and dining area, and a breathtaking terrace surrounded by their bountiful organic gardens!
2. The perfect guide
When it comes to booking a trip to South America with children, we recommend considering primarily private guided service. And this isn’t a challenge when booking with Kuoda because we only work in private service – except for all-inclusive jungle lodge programs or Galapagos cruises, in which you will embark on excursions in small groups. We also have a team of diverse and dynamic guides – many of whom are amazing with kids!
Considering this person will be responsible for bringing each destination to life, they need to be great storytellers and naturally engage with curious children as young as three or four and with classically cynical teenagers alike. Your guide’s goal should be that every single family member becomes enchanted, in one way or another, with the radically diverse scenery, wildlife, cuisine, and culture within South America.
3. Family-friendly activities
The sheer number of family-friendly activities that South American destinations offer is astonishing. For those who love to cook with their kids, you can make your own super-creative chocolates from scratch in Cusco or learn about an 8,000-year-old Andean barbeque technique called Pachamanca, burying veggies and a variety of meats deep into an underground oven and piling hot stones on top.
Or, if you bond with your kids over interacting with wildlife, learning about new animals, and even interacting with them from a respectful distance, then the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador or the Amazon rainforest in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, or Bolivia should be on your bucket list!
Another fun aspect of traveling as a family in South America is that adventure activities aren’t just tailored to adults. For instance, several white-water rafting spots are perfect for children as young as ten and stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Piuray, approved for children as young as three! Avid skiers can also hit the slopes in July or August in Patagonia (Austral winter), in the family-friendly ski resorts of Portillo or Valle Nevado in Chile, or Cerro Catedral in Bariloche, Argentina.
4. Staying active
It goes without saying that one of the trickiest aspects of traveling with the entire family is fidgety boredom. That’s why we recommend and make sure to pack every day with different activities to avoid staying in the same place for too long.
You can pair distinct activities in the same day within one excursion, such as kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding on a pristine Andean lake in the morning and enjoying a scenic horseback ride in the afternoon – and these are interchangeable with countless other half-day activity options in the Sacred Valley. Or you can pair two or three or more destinations/countries within the same itinerary.
You can venture to Ecuador and Peru in a 12 to 14-day trip, Chile and Argentina in a 7 to 10-day trip, or Peru and Bolivia in a 12 to 13- day trip. Or for summer vacations of 3-4 weeks, you also easily visit up to three different countries! But suppose you only have 8-9 days to travel, during the winter holiday break, for instance. In that case, you can pair the Amazon jungle with Machu Picchu in Peru!
We wish all of you and yours the very best International Day of Families! And we hope with this essential guide to family travel in South America, you feel inspired to consider Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, or Argentina for your next family adventure! Contact us today to learn more about getting the planning started and building your ideal family vacation.