Family travel through Latin America

With more and more families looking to travel to South America, we asked Sarah White from Journey Latin America for her views and experiences of leading family tours to this fascinating continent. 

(c) Journey Latin AmericaWhilst we’re the first to recognise the appeal of Latin America, what makes it a great choice for family travel?

The diversity of the landscapes, experiences and cultures appeal to all ages and interests. 

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And is it a safe place to travel to with children?

The main tourist routes are accessible and safe to travel with children.  There are some areas far from the beaten track that may prove less easy to access, but safety is not a problem.   

From your experience, which are the favoured destinations for family travel and why do you think this is?

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In recent years,
 I have seen increasing numbers of families travelling to Machu Picchu in Peru and going hiking in Torres del Paine in southern Chile, and even as far as Easter Island.  Diving in Belize is a popular alternative, and the markets of Guatemala can be combined with family Spanish lessons too.

Whilst there are some amazing beaches throughout South America, I’d be looking for an experience I couldn’t get elsewhere if I took my family there – can you give me an insight into the best on offer .... for culture, for adventure and for wildlife.
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For culture and museums I think it is hard to beat Buenos Aires; for adventure the white water, hikes, lakes and canopy rides of southern Chile are a must, or the mountains and ruins of Peru; and for wildlife, the Pantanal in Brazil or Torres del Paine in southern Chile guarantee spectacular sightings.

Do you think the “adults” in a family party have to compromise on their trip if they travel with little ones?

I think this is a matter of personal choice.  There will always be some element of compromise when travelling with children regardless of the destination.

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How young is too young, and why?

I think under 5´s will simply not get as much out of a long haul trip to merit the cost of getting them there.  However, I have seen people hiking 7 day circuits with babies in carry sacks, so again, I would say it is a matter of personal choice.

If I’m looking for some inspiration on where to go with an inquisitive five year old in tow, where would you suggest and why?

(c) Journey Latin AmericaAside from the options listed above, the nature that can be found on the Peninsula Valdes in Argentina is outstanding.  Southern Right Whales, elephant seals, even the occasional orca!  This can also be combined with the fantastic dinosaur museum in Trelew (also the nearest airport) which will be sure to be a hit with a five year old.  You just have to choose the correct season to see the whales - August to late November.

(c) Journey Latin AmericaAnd for older (teenage) children with low boredm thresholds and a growing intolerance of their parents!?

Cusco and Machu Picchu offer something for everyone in a safe environment.  You could let the children wander the main area of Cusco safely and allow them time to be alone.

We often find that parents and their children take very different things out of a trip – in your experience of running family trips, what are the highlights as far as the kids are concerned, and how does this differ from their parents?

In my experience, children will remember the smallest things such as the colour of the tree frogs or the local food they were convinced to eat.  The parents usualy bring back the bigger picture encompassing everything about their trip.

They say the view is very different through the eyes of your children: what sort of reaction do you get from adults who’ve visited South America before, and then return with their children?

(c) Journey Latin AmericaThese adults are usually so happy to be back in South America that they will bore their children silly with stories of "when we were here backpacking...."!  The experience with children is vastly different, but they are generally extremely pleased to have been able to share an important travelling experience from the past of their own with their offspring.  I hear from families that it makes them feel more connected somehow.

So, we’re sold – what time of year is best?

That totally depends on the destination you choose.  Contact Journey Latin America with a country in mind and we can indicate which is the best time of year to visit.

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And lastly, any chance of catching a glimpse of Paddington Bear on any of your Peru trips?!

Possibly, but only if you bring marmalade!


Visit the Journey Latin America website for more information on their tailor made and group family tours.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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