Patagonia is a magical place to visit with your family. Full of breathtaking landscapes and fascinating wildlife, a trip to Patagonia is a vacation your kids will cherish. However, many tour operators pitch Patagonia to a more adult audience, emphasizing challenging treks and extreme weather. Therefore, it can be tricky to find an itinerary suitable for grown-ups and little ones alike. But never fear – we’ve got you covered. Here, we walk you through our one-week vacation family trip around Patagonia, along with a few logistical tips as well.
A few logistical pointers
Before running down our suggested itinerary, it’s useful to highlight a few important details about traveling around Patagonia with a family. Firstly, the received wisdom is that the Argentine side of Patagonia is more accessible with small children than the Chilean side. This is largely because Argentinian Patagonia is better connected by air – so if you want to maximize time on the ground and minimize moaning kids, Argentine Patagonia is the better option. However, if you’re traveling with teens, there’s no reason you can’t cross the border into Chile – it just requires some pretty epic bus rides (14–24 hours).
It’s worth bearing in mind that flying will make the trip a little more pricey. Furthermore, if you plan to hire a car, it’s important to know automatic transmissions are unusual in South America. Therefore, if you need an automatic, you’ll have to pay a premium. However, this isn’t to say car hire is crucial – there are plenty of guides operating day tours out of towns like El Calafate and Bariloche. However, most places will only take cash and ATMs are few and far between – so make sure you’re stocked up when you leave Buenos Aires.
Day 1: Buenos Aires
The first day of your one-week vacation family trip will begin in Buenos Aires. This is where the vast majority of international flights land into Argentina. We’d suggest spending a night in the Argentinian capital to soak up the sights, sounds and vibrant culture.
Day 2: Buenos Aires – El Calafate
El Calafate is an important Patagonian hub, as it’s very near to Los Glaciares National Park. You can fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate with Aerolineas Argentinas, which takes 2 hours and 55 minutes. Aside from its proximity to the national park, El Calafate is a pleasant tourist town with lots of amenities. Furthermore, if you’re with older kids who want to tackle the famed Torres del Paine W trek, now is the chance. Buses to Chile set off daily from El Calafate or you can fly on a nine-seat plane to Puerto Natales.
Day 3: Perito Moreno Glacier
The Perito Moreno glacier is absolutely unmissable. One of the few advancing glaciers in the world, the Perito Moreno glacier covers an incredible 100 square miles. Furthermore, the glacier towers 78 meters above Lago Argentino, regularly dropping great shards of ice into the water below. Although this might sound a bit scary, Perito Moreno is a fantastic glacier to visit with small children as it has a safe and dry viewing platform.
Day 4: El Calafate – El Chaltén
El Chaltén is a three-hour bus ride north of El Calafate, but it’s certainly worth it. In the shadow of the mighty Fitz Roy mountain, El Chaltén is a brilliant base for some extraordinary hikes. However, if you’re a little tired after the bus ride, there are plenty of places to drink delicious craft beer and eat Patagonian asado before setting off tomorrow.
Day 5 & 6: Hiking in El Chaltén
There are some extraordinary hikes around El Chaltén, from conquering Fitz Roy to the challenging Huemul Circuit. However, if you’re with small children, there are plenty of less demanding treks that kids can handle. For example, the Los Cóndores and Los Águilas trails are just 6 kilometers long and feature stunning panoramic views.
Day 7: El Chaltén – El Calafate – Buenos Aires
The final day of our one-week vacation family trip is quite travel heavy – but after a couple of days of excitement in El Chaltén, the kids will probably sleep the whole way! Buses from El Chaltén to El Calafate are very regular, with many services taking you directly to the airport. From here, you can return to Buenos Aires to spend one more night in Argentina or make your way home from this unforgettable trip.
Start planning your one-week vacation family trip
There’s a wealth of amazing experiences in Patagonia. Whether you’re traveling with small children, older kids or teenagers, there’s an itinerary for nature lovers of all ages. To find out more about Australis’s Chilean cruise routes, click here.