Interested in visiting Patagonia with kids? Imagine a land of snow-clad granite peaks, turquoise lakes, lush forests, massive glaciers, and exotic wildlife. If you’ve ever longed to visit some of the most pristine wilderness settings in the world and come face-to-face with sublime landscapes that will make you feel completely insignificant, then the Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chilean Patagonia is for you.
The rugged beauty of this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve rivals any destination in the world with its sharp rock pinnacles, massive glaciers, intensely blue lakes, and exotic wildlife. When it comes to things to do in Chile, Patagonia offers almost endless chances for adventure. But traveling with kids requires choosing activities the whole family will enjoy.
What to See in the Torres del Paine
An eastern spur of the Andes, the Paine Massif (a.k.a. the Cordillera del Paine) dominates the Torres del Paine National Park, boasting three granite peaks with their high point, Cerro Paine Grande, looming 9,462 feet (2884 meters) above sea level. Rising dramatically from the Patagonian steppe, the spires and mountains of the Massif are punctuated by four valleys:
- Valle del Francés (French Valley)
- Valle Bader
- Valle Ascencio
- Valle del Silencio (Silence Valley)
The area also showcases scenic rivers such as the Paine, icy glaciers, and pristine lakes. Belonging to the Southern Patagonia Ice Field, some of the park’s most well-known lakes include the glacially-fed Grey, the hydrothermally active Sarmiento (with its telltale calcium deposits along the shoreline), and Lake Nordenskjöld whose outfall feeds the impressive Salto Grande waterfall.
The western edge of the Nordenskjöld provides abundant habitat for area wildlife including the graceful, four-foot-tall guanaco, a wild grazing camelid whose domesticated descendants are llamas. Although guanacos remain the most common mammals you’ll see in the park, it also boasts:
- South American gray foxes
- south Andean deer (or Chilean huemul)
- 15 birds of prey (including Andean condors and black-chested buzzard-eagles)
- Chilean flamingos
- Darwin’s rheas
- black-necked swans
- and more
The Torres del Paine is widely known for its awe-inspiring glaciers, which include the Grey, Pingo, and Tyndall all belonging to the Southern Patagonia Ice Field. Located between Chile and Argentina, the Southern Patagonian Ice Field holds the record as the second largest contiguous extrapolar ice field in the world. The area stretches approximately 220 miles (350 kilometers) and covers 4,773 square miles (12,363 km2). The ice field supplies dozens of glaciers in the area.
What to Do in the Torres del Paine
The Torres del Paine’s “W” circuit refers to the W-shaped system of park trails providing access to three iconic destinations: the French Valley, the Base of the Towers, and the Grey Glaciers. The entire circuit requires at least five days to hike and is not for the faint of heart. While some of these hikes would prove accessible for preteens and teenagers, a better choice for kids is the half-day trek to Hunter’s Trail, featuring sweeping landscapes, wildlife viewing (including pumas), and 8,000-year-old cave paintings.
Another accessible hike for kids, Mirador Cuernos takes you to the Salto Grande, the prime waterfall attraction in the park. The power of the waterfall comes from Lake Nordenskjöld’s immense powder-blue waters funneled through a narrow chute, creating an unforgettable natural feature. A gorgeous hike with stunning views, it remains easy on little one’s legs.
Horseback riding represents another exhilarating way to see the park, and it comes with the flexibility of choosing rides of various lengths from 1.5 hours to four hours. You’ll ride through lichen forests and catch gorgeous views of the park’s vistas. Wildlife abounds, so get ready to scope out guanacos, rheas, and maybe even pumas. Horseback riding is also a fun way to learn more about the culture of Chilean cowboys or baqueanos.
Visiting Patagonia with Kids
Interested in learning more about visiting Patagonia with kids? Check out our eleven-day Patagonia Family Adventure. This family-focused tour will introduce you to the rich cultural heritage of Chile. From winemaking in Valparaiso to exploring Patagonia, this tour marks the ultimate family holiday to Chile with kids.
At Our Whole Village, we create tours designed for families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its peoples, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we handcraft for families just like yours.