South America is a continent of unmatched diversity. Across its vast landscapes, travelers can take in the lush rain forest of the Amazon, the spectacular ruins of the Incas and the dizzying peaks of the Andes. Even alongside the wonders of the wider landmass, Chile is blessed with incredible experiences suitable for adventurers of any age. With a little help from our friends, we offer these 5 things to do in Chile on a family vacation.
5 Things to Do in Chile on Family Vacation
I traveled to South America for the first time in 2006 for a travel writer’s conference in Chile. So many travelers are drawn to this country that stretches 2,700 miles along the southwestern coast of South America. Beautiful. Rugged. Cultural. Diverse. So much to love from its stunning landscapes to its tasty wine and its embracing communities — and a whole lot more in between. This country is also equally intriguing to all ages. Go ahead and take the family with these 5 things to do in Chile.
1. Things to do in Santiago, Chile
Welcome to this modern metropolis with all the amenities you’d imagine from a 21st-century city. What Santiago delivers is an incredible panoramic view of the snow-capped Andes. If you can drag your eyes from the horizon, the nation’s capital has an abundance of beauty woven through its own streets. From the grandeur of its architecture to the leafy boulevards below, this city is pure pleasure to explore.
When you’ve had your fill of exploring, you’ll find many destinations within the city limits that are perfect for family time. Fantisilandia as the name suggests – is a gloriously fun amusement park, while Cerro San Cristobal is a slower-paced green space which still packs in a zoo, landscaped gardens and two public swimming pools.
2. Total eclipse in the Elqui Valley
The Elqui Valley (valle de Elqui, La Seren)is a picturesque place that’s actually better known for very different views – of the night sky. Its elevation and weather have made it home to a string of observatories, and this year in particular, they’ll be home to an incredible sight. Because, on July 2, they’ll be one of a few places across the globe where a total eclipse can be witnessed.
For those dreaming of experiencing this rare celestial marvel in perfect conditions, some operators are offering tours which will even include lectures from an astronomer. Star-gazers will even be able to toast the spectacle with complimentary glasses of wine from the valley’s excellent wineries.
3. Visit Northern Patagonia
Those wanting a rather more rugged landscape should head north, where the whole family can get close to nature at this far-flung area. The Parque Nacional Patagonia, for instance, contains forests, lakes, lagoons and mountains. Among the wildlife you can see here are flamingo, guanaco (a local variant of the llama), viscacha (which look like rabbits, but are actually a type of chinchilla) and even pumas.
Meanwhile, Valle de la Luna (or, the Valley of the Moon) is an otherworldly landscape with white salt-flats, strange wind-and-water-carved rock formations and a wealth of caverns.
4. Valparaiso, Chile
Located conveniently close to Santiago, Valparaiso presents an entirely different type of South American urban center. The former home of Chile’s national poet, Pablo Neruda, the port city is a wonderful – but not at all consistent – collision of styles and colors.
Visit the Parque Cultural de Valparaíso for art, dance and theater, the Museo Marítimo Nacional for a look back at the region’s history, or feast in one of the many excellent seafood spots.
5. Easter Island
A stretch this – but Easter Island is officially a Chilean territory despite being almost 2,500 miles (4,000 km) off the coast. But it’s also closer to Chile than anywhere else – so if you’re in the area, it’s a rare chance to see for yourself one of the great enigmas of global archaeology.
From the famed stone heads to Ranu Kau, a breath- taking crater lake, it’s an unforgettable destination. And go in the last two weeks of February to take part in Tapati Rapa Nui – a yearly island-wide festival of physical feats, body-painting and traditional dance on a grand scale.
So…now are you ready for your next Chile family vacation? Have you already taken the family? What things to do in Chile did we miss? Share with us in the comments below.