Chile’s Patagonia: a perfect vacation destination for the entire family

As spring in South America approaches, many families are beginning to plan vacations, and Patagonia is a marvelous destination choice, with its natural maritime splendor and scenic landscapes.

A playground for the entire family, Patagonia provides a relaxing escape for adults and an idyllic vacation experience that children will remember throughout their lives.

Consider the following points of interest in southern Chile as you envision your future Patagonian adventure.

Punta Arenas

Begin your trip by flying, driving, or taking a bus to Punta Arenas, a central point of departure for key attractions in southern Patagonia. From here, you can experience the city’s seaside charm, before embarking to numerous parks and wildlife reserves.

Consider staying in the highly recommended Hotel Ilaia, which promises sweet dreams, comfortable family suites, yoga classes and delicious breakfasts. Or choose the rustic and lovely cabañas of La Casa Escondida lodge.

In and around Punta Arenas, you will find a virtually unlimited number of delightful family activities along the shores of the Strait of Magellan. Give children a chance to board replicas of real historic ships at the Nao Victoria Museo, and connect with science and nature through the Whalesound ecotourism project.

Travel to the Otway Sound and Penguin Reserve, 70 km north of Punta Arenas, and you won’t be able to stop smiling while observing adorable penguin colonies. Further appreciate Patagonia’s beauty in Reserva Nacional Magallenes, a wilderness reserve located a short fifteen-minute drive west of town.

Torres del Paine

No trip to southern Patagonia would be complete without a visit to legendary Torres del Paine National Park, 312 km north of Punta Arenas, where you can spend days exploring majestic mountains, a glacial lake and attractive hiking trails.

Camping in the park is possible in specified areas, but campfires are prohibited. Numerous hotels and hostels are located in the area, providing travelers with a comfortable place to rest after discovering the great outdoors through horseback riding, kayaking, backpacking or fishing.

Tierra del Fuego

Cross the Strait of Magellan from Punta Arenas to the quaint Chilean town of Porvenir on Tierra del Fuego island. Ferries are operated by transporter company Austral Broom. Crossing the Strait takes 140 minutes and costs CLP 34.900 per vehicle or CLP 5.500 each for passengers on foot. Enjoy Porvenir for the day, or remain on the island for an extended time to fully appreciate Tierra del Fuego’s majesty.

An alternative (and less expensive) ferry crossing allows travelers to access the island from the north side by automobile. Head north from Punta Arenas on Route 9, then take Route 255 to Punta Delgada, where the ferry crossing takes 20 minutes and costs CLP 14.000 for one vehicle. Ferries operate on a regular schedule throughout the day, from 8:30 am to 11:45 pm.

By Gretchen Stahlman, written for Chile.Travel
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