When I first started researching what we could do in Patagonia with a 4 year old and a 4 month old in tow, we found very little information. Minimal information existed on blogs and web sites and forums were mostly filled with responses like “whats the point of traveling with kids anyway” and “traveling with kids is dangerous and bad.” You can probably guess that I choose to ignore those sorts of opinions.
So armed with little to no information… we went to Patagonia anyway. We spent time in five Patagonian destinations on both the Argentinian and Chilean side. In each and every place we found PLENTY of things to do with kids. In general, we spent one week in each place (with the exception of El Calafate), and we had no shortage of things to fill our days with.
So hopefully the next person trying to plan a trip to Patagonia with kids will be able to wade past all the negative comments and find this blog post instead!
Argentinian Patagonia with Kids
We spent 6 nights in Bariloche, 7 nights in El Chalten, and 2 nights in El Calafate. The below will offer a summary of our travel with kids experience as well as link to more in depth blog posts which we wrote about each destination.
Bariloche with Kids
Bariloche was our first introduction to Patagonia. Located in the Argentinian lakes district, this city is full of craft beer and chocolate shops (the latter probably being of more interest to the kiddos). Bariloche is characterized by its many blue lakes surrounded by mountains. The area is full of great hikes, but there are only two which are particularly suitable for (young) children. However kids will love the water activities like playing on the beach, kayaking and swimming.
Bariloche was our least favourite Patagonian destination.
Read more about Bariloche here.
El Chalten with Kids
Bariloche was our least favourite Patagonian destination, but El Chalten was our favourite. We spent 7 nights here and we could have easily spent more. El Chalten is a hiking destination. There honestly isn’t much more on offer than hiking for kids. The other activities like rafting, mountain biking, and glacier hiking all restrict (young) children from joining for safety reasons. Luckily, there were four really great short hikes which we were able to do with our kids, plus an excursion to see a glacier by boat.
Our four year old completed all four hikes with ease. All the hikes ranged from 8 – 12 km’s and we completed them all in 3 hours or less. The baby was carried in a front facing baby carrier.
Read about family friendly hikes in El Chalten here.
Read about visiting a glacier from El Chalten here.
El Calafate with Kids
If you are traveling by plane, then El Calafate will be where you transit in and out of when visiting El Chalten. While I found El Calafate to have less on offer than El Chalten, the town is definitely worth a couple nights. We spent two nights in El Calafate so that we could visit the Glacierium (glacier museum) and of course, the world famous, Perito Moreno glacier.
A visit to Perito Moreno glacier is a must for traveling families. All the boardwalks are very child friendly, and our four year old LOVED watching the ice burgs crack off the face of the glacier and fall into the freezing water below.
Read more about the glaciers of Argentina here.
Chilean Patagonia with Kids
We visited Chilean Patagonia after Argentinian Patagonia via the bus connection between El Calafate and Puerto Natales. We spent 6 nights in Puerto Natales (and 1 night in Punto Arenas before our flight), and 3 nights (5 days as we arrived by overnight buses) in Pucon.
Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine with Kids
Puerto Natales was the place we agonized about whether it would be suitable for kids the most. We were hoping to do the W trek, but in the end we decided to skip the trek and just do a variety of day walks instead. This was probably a good decision as it was very windy and rainy during our visit, and being forced to hike from hut to hut in the weather would not have been pleasant. Not pleasant, but not impossible.
Instead of doing the W, we spent several days completing day hikes in the park (your ticket allows you three days of access), as well as spending some time visiting other attractions in the near by region.
Read more about hiking with kids in Torres del Paine here.
Pucon with Kids
Pucon is known as the adventure capital of Chile and its major drawcard is hiking the active Villarrica volcano. An activity which is definitely not kid friendly. But despite that we managed to fill our 5 days in Pucon with tons of kid friendly activities (including one down time day when hubby was off hiking the aforementioned volcano).
Pucon is definitely the most chilled of the Patagonian destinations, and there is plenty to do which does not involve hiking (although there is definitely an opportunity for hiking as well).
Read more about Pucon with kids here.