Home > Blog > Out & About > South America > Argentina > Patagonia with Kids: Glaciers, Penguins and Zodiaks, Oh My!

Patagonia with Kids: Glaciers, Penguins and Zodiaks, Oh My!

In 2010, my husband and I stepped off the proverbial career-tracked train and traveled with our then one-year-old for six months. We spent two of those months in South America, specifically, in Peru (visiting family), Argentina (drinking wine and checking out some great cities and towns) and Chile (cruising through Patagonia and drinking more wine).

We had an amazing time in all three countries and I love giving unsolicited advice and recommendations on where to go and what to do, especially on the wine front. (I’m not a lush. We just really love wine!)

Despite drinking great wine and visiting some awesome wineries, however, our favorite part of the trip, hands down, was the small ship cruise we took in Patagonia.

Our ship was the smaller one on the right. It held approximately 200 passengers and was able to navigate the smaller fjords and inlets that the bigger cruise ships couldn't.
Our ship was the smaller one on the right. It held approximately 200 passengers and was able to navigate the smaller fjords and inlets that the bigger cruise ships couldn’t.

In general, we aren’t cruise people. We know some who are and who love it but we prefer to just land ourselves in a town or city and then wander; get to know the local culture; eat, drink, get lost…. But, the only way to get to Cape Horn, Patagonia, is by cruise ship.

Given that we didn’t know much about, nor have a huge appetite for, cruising, we did a lot of research to make sure we were on a ship that suited our interests. Cruceros Australis hit the mark.

Cape Horn, Patagonia
Cape Horn, Patagonia

First of all, they were completely unfazed by the fact that we had a one-year-old in tow. This, despite the fact that we had to be the only nut jobs who have not only taken their one-year-old on this particular itinerary but included her in all of the off-boat activities (via bouncy zodiac), as well.

Riding the zodiac in Patagonia.
Riding the zodiac in Patagonia.

Second, they were super accommodating, from making special kid friendly (yet, still delicious and healthy) meals to helping us fit her into a life jacket for the zodiac excursions. Third, and un-kid related, because the ship was smaller than most other cruise ships, we were able to navigate smaller channels and therefore have a truly unique experience.

“Suiting up” for a ride on the zodiaks. Note that this lifejacket was clearly not previously used. Who takes a one-year-old on a zodiak???

We started our 4-day excursion in Ushuaia, Argentina – the southernmost city in the world, the day the 2010 earthquake rocked Chile.

Ushuaia, Argentina - The Southernmost City in the World!
Ushuaia, Argentina – The Southernmost City in the World!

The calm waters we cut through on our way out of port soon gave way to crazy swells that were so huge not only did about 90% of the boat’s passengers (plus several seasoned crew members) become seasick but crew members were taking personal video of the swells that were crashing as high as the third deck on our boat.

Calm waters on departure.
Calm waters on departure.

Due to the choppiness of the water, unfortunately, we were unable to disembark on Cape Horn, as they usually do on this particular itinerary. We did, however, get pretty close to the island on the ship. Plus, we have a very cool, very large, full page customs stamp, complete with Penguins, in our passports to show that we entered Chile from Argentine through these waters.

Wild Seas. This picture doesn't even come close to reflecting the true size and chop of the waves.
Wild Seas. This picture doesn’t even come close to reflecting the true size and chop of the waves.

After Cape Horn, we headed back toward the fjords that were closer inland and afforded protection from the surging sea. With calmer waters, we were able to disembark. First up was a small, no-longer-inhabited island (the native population having been killed off long ago by smallpox brought over by Europeans), which we reached by zodiac.

Hiking in Patagonia.
Hiking in Patagonia.

A hike to the top in the drizzling rain revealed some spectacular views and wildlife. By time we hiked back down, the skies had cleared and the crew were at water’s edge with cocktails on the rocks (glacial ice, of course) awaiting us.

While the island was no longer inhabited by humans, it was home to a large number of animals, including this portly beaver.
While the island was no longer inhabited by humans, it was home to a large number of animals, including this portly beaver.

Next up, we took the zodiaks out again for a closer inspection of the area’s many glaciers. The glaciers were stunning! The blue looked like someone had dropped in food coloring along the way.

Patagonia Glaciers - OWV

Patagonia Glaciers - OWV

The glaciers continue to move, melt and break off.
The glaciers continue to move, melt and break off.
Ice melt.
Ice melt.

Finally, we visited Magdalena island, to where the Magellan penguins migrate every year to mate. They were cute, they were friendly, and they stank to high heaven! Penguins as far as the eye could see – it was a sight to behold and one we likely won’t experience again.

Magellan penguins, as far as the eye can see.
Magellan penguins, as far as the eye can see.

Penguins (7)

Ready for his (or her?) photo shoot.
Ready for his (or her?) photo shoot.
Up close and personal.
Up close and personal.
Magellan penguins on Magdalena Island, Chile.
Magellan penguins on Magdalena Island, Chile.

It was a trip of a lifetime and one we will never forget!

The end of the day at the end of an unforgettable trip.
The end of the day at the end of an unforgettable trip.

* This post was also shared on Walking on Travels , where you can find more inspiring travel posts and tips.

You may also like...

(3) Comments

  1. Keryn from Walking On Travels

    This is totally one of my dream trips that I hope to do with my boys one day. What an incredible opportunity!

    1. Kara Suro

      It really was amazing! I hope you guys get to do the trip someday.

  2. Mary {The World Is A Book}

    I love this, Kara! We used to cruise a lot and this was high on my bucket list. I’m so glad to know it was family-friendly too. What a great experience for all of you. Those glaciers are sunning and those penguins just melt my heart! How awesome that you got to be that close to them. The picture of you two by the penguins is priceless!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.