From the top of Colombia to the bottom of Argentina, follow ROAM families on expeditions to popular and off-the-beaten track destinations.
By Maryann Jones Thompson
Intrepid families flock to South America for its wide variety of fascinating cultures, creatures, and landscapes. While the highest hurdle to heading south used to be an expensive flight, today it is a Covid question mark.
As of November 2021, new cases are dropping across the continent because vaccinations have had a massive impact. Argentina, Brazil and other countries have administered at least one dose to more than 60 percent of the eligible population. Even hard-hit Ecuador vaccinated 9 million people in 100 days! (Click here to see the CDC’s latest virus-related travel advisories for each nation.)
Bottom line: We’re free to dream about South America again! With children now able to receive the vaccine, families might be able to head south as soon as 2022. Most nations are welcoming vaccinated travelers (see current travel advisories and rules by searching the U.S. State Department site.) And with many of these countries highly dependent on tourism, the locals will likely be very happy to see travelers again.
ROAM families have tripped up, down and around the continent — hiking, boating, biking, dancing, kayaking, 4WDing, and horseback riding (like our family did near Cotopaxi – unforgettable!) Check our list of trip reports below for some South American inspiration — because “someday” might be as “soon”!
Family Vacation Ideas for South America
“We didn’t know if we should be excited or afraid, but even the kids knew he was serious. We threw caution to the wind, jumped back in the car and headed for the glacier.” Follow in this family’s footsteps and explore Patagonia, Argentina for glaciers, hiking and more!
With world-class heroes, cuisine, architecture, and art, Argentina’s capital charms kids and parents alike. Buenos Aires is difficult to characterize and impossible to forget. Serving as Sarah and her family’s home base for a two-month sabbatical in Argentina, they spent three autumn weeks of March and April in this incredible city – and really only scratched the surface: the architecture, gorgeous parks, complicated – often violent – history, endless and incredible street art, world-class cuisine, dulce de leche, Malbecs and helado.
What if there was an idyllic country in South America specially designed for traveling with kids? A place capable of taking families to remote places ladled with dinosaur bones and preserved footprints? A relatively unknown country recognized from outer space as the “the World’s Mirror,” named for the planet’s largest salt flats that are so magnificent they can be seen beyond the atmosphere? Well, there is: Bolivia!
Southern Brazil is an amazing choice for families looking for an epic road trip, immersion into nature, plus a mix of village and city cultures. The Frias’ journey included islands and beaches, waterfalls and grasslands, rivers and caves, and so much more in the Brazilian states of Santa Catarina, Paraná, and Matto Gross do Sul.
During their time in Hornopirén, this family of 4 had the opportunity to explore amazing landscapes, and strengthen their tenacity. They met inspiring people from all over the world, sharing good food and stories by the fire and in the rain. This was not a tourist vacation, but a human and wilderness experience that grew their family in immeasurable ways.
Discover a rebirth of people, plazas, and playas in what used to be known as one of South America’s most dangerous countries. Megan and her family got it all in Colombia – from coffee picking and fishing in the Andes to wandering 500-year-old colonial streets to trekking through rainforest to tropical isles with fifty-shades-of-blue water.
Ecuador’s isles are a bucket list trip for families – learn how to make the best of a trip with kids. Even though it’s been years since Maryann’s family visited Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, it’s a trip they will never forget. Yes, they saw the boobies, tortoises, iguanas, penguins, and other creatures unique to Darwin’s famed isles – and they were stunning!
Traveling to the world’s largest natural forest, the Amazon rainforest is a bucket list dream of many. We’ve heard it for decades: go before it’s gone. For nearly half a century the statistics have continued a daunting downward trend, proving that the ominous warnings might actually be true. Make your trip to this astounding place before it goes.
Ecuador is not a country to visit if you’re after resorts and theme parks. But for Nicola’s purposes—letting her kids experience other cultures coupled with a chance to see the rare animals of the Galapagos—Ecuador was a fantastic family vacation destination. They explored a very small area of mainland Ecuador in the two weeks they were there, but explored it deeply—taking buses, living in hostels and shopping in markets among indigenous Andean people.
It’s never cheap to visit the Galapagos – but follow these money-saving tips and your family will experience the best of Ecuador’s amazing isles for the least cost possible.
After a rough journey, Christine and her family reached a gorge deeper than the Grand Canyon – and spent the next week following Incan trails in search of Andean villages, hot springs and endangered condors.
What is it about getting off the beaten track with your daughter that makes the bonding experience so unforgettable? An immersive experience in Cusco and Machu Picchu delivers far more than snapshots. Sharing a journey to Peru with her six-year-old and a group of other mom-daughter travelers, there were so many highlights for Karin – trekking to Machu Picchu, seeing llamas, eating chocolate, and meeting Peruvian female role models.
Experienced 4WDers tackle the ultimate South American route passing Lake Sibinacocha, Mt. Ausangate, and its 20,000+ foot neighbors to meet locals in a remote Andean village, vicuña, and llama along the way.
Machu Picchu is one of the new seven wonders of the world, and is well worth a spot on anyone’s bucket list. But how to get there? Sure, you can take a train. But if you’re like us, and believe that the journey is sometimes its own reward, then you very well may be considering the four-day hike up the Classic Inca Trail. But can your kids handle the hike, the food—the bathrooms? We spoke to Matt Waugh, a longtime travel pro who works for Apus Peru, an adventure travel outfit specializing in Peru, including the Classic Inca Trail trek and alternative Machu Picchu treks.
Dream of leaving the hustle and bustle behind? Stephanie Frias and her family had been on the road for more than two years back in 2019. Here’s their list of tips for overlanding (long term travel through one great big road trip, typically enhanced by slow travel goals that involve camping, hosteling, offroading, highway driving, and exploring both popular places and off-grid destinations) success.
Maryann Jones Thompson – November 2021
After a thousand years in publishing as a business journalist, ghostwriter, content strategist and market researcher, Maryann brings her experience traveling as a backpacker, businessperson, expat and mom to writing and editing for ROAM.
© ROAM Family Travel 2021 – All rights reserved
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