With year-round sunshine, beautiful beaches, and more natural wonders than you can shake a stick at, we think family holidays in South America are a great alternative to the more popular long-haul destinations!
So, if you’re bored of the typical all-inclusive package deals, it might be time to consider a wildlife adventure in the Pantanal, or a camping trip to Patagonia instead. And don’t let the longer flight put you off, as the seat-back entertainment systems mean there are now hundreds of films and games to keep the kids occupied!
And a week spent exploring ancient Inca ruins or snorkelling with shoals of tropical fish is bound to be more educational and exciting than spending a week in a resort… But if you still need persuading, take a look at our top destinations for family holidays to South America, for every type of child!
If your kids are mini David Attenboroughs in the making, the Galapagos Islands offer the perfect family holiday. From snorkelling to walking with giant tortoises, there are plenty of child-friendly activities, and if you don’t fancy spending all of your holiday on-board a yacht, there are island-hopping options available as well, so you can sleep on dry land.
To get to the Galapagos, you’ll have to pass through Ecuador anyway, so why not spend a couple of days in Quito and experience the Andean way of life. There are some great day trips from the city too, including the Cloud Forest, where the kids can look out for the endangered spectacled bear, the real-life Paddington!
Forget hiking the Inca Trail, there are hassle-free ways to visit Machu Picchu with the whole family. The Vistadome train is an exciting adventure for the kids, and if you get a private guide to show you round the site you can go at your own pace and tailor the tour to the little ones.
Cusco is a good base for your Inca-themed family holiday, and there are plenty of affordable hotels to choose from. The city itself is best explored on foot, and the market is a fun place for the younger ones to buy their souvenirs. Other activities in the area include rafting, cycling in the Sacred Valley, and of course learning all about the ancient Incas!
The thought of taking the little ones into the Amazon Rainforest might be daunting, but the Pantanal in Brazil is much more manageable, and offers the same great wildlife-spotting opportunities, specifically bird-watching. Plus, the wetlands are more open than the jungle, meaning it’s easier to spot the animals, such as the capybaras and giant otters that play on the riverbanks.
This is a great choice for an educational family holiday, and even the eco lodge accommodation offers the chance to learn about greener living. The fun activities such as horse riding, canoeing and nature trekking will be right up the kids’ street, and they’ll be learning without even realising it!
Despite its bad press over the years, Colombia is now a safe and family-friendly holiday destination. The beautiful port city of Cartagena is a good base for your trip, with plenty of day trips on offer, and the charming centre is contained within historical walls and is popular with tourists, so you’ll feel safe taking the kids out to dinner on an evening.
Northern Colombia benefits from a fabulous location on the Caribbean Coast, so why not take a boat to the nearby by Rosario Islands and snorkel the coral reefs, or head north to Tayrona National Park and discover some stunning, secluded beaches? The possibilities are endless when you consider family holidays in South America…
Outdoorsy families should look no further than Patagonia when planning their next adventure. The Southern Andes region in Chile and Argentina has plenty to offer those who like their holidays action-packed! From the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier to the grand wilderness of Torres del Paine National Park, there are countless great hikes to complete as well as more adrenaline-fueled activities, such as kayaking and climbing.
The accommodation ranges from quaint log cabins in the smaller villages to eco-friendly camping domes in the National Park, so there are some great options for families. Tours are a good idea for groups in Patagonia, as they take away any safety concerns you might have, and allow you to see the highlights of the region with a knowledgeable guide.
Brazil’s Northeast Coast
Although the excitement and energy of Rio is a great experience for adults, it might not be suitable for young families, which is why we think the Northeast coast of Brazil is the place to go for some quiet family time, off the beaten track. There are a number of great beach resorts, such as Praia do Forte, where the hotels are luxurious and the waters are calm and warm.
The northern cities are a great alternative to Rio as well, with Recife, Olinda and Salvador offering an authentic taste of Brazil without the hustle and bustle. Plus, with year-round sunshine, why not opt for a winter getaway instead?
Family Holidays in South America
Hopefully we’ve persuaded you to consider family holidays in South America! If you need any more information or inspiration, our country guide pages contain everything you need to plan your trip of a lifetime, and of course we’re always on hand to make some suggestions as well!