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Trekking in Chile: Hiking with Kids

What do you do if you’re a hiking addict, travelling the world to see out the best treks on every continent and then it happens... the children come along and life will never be the same again! But you don’t have to put your passions and pastimes on hold just because the rest of your life has turned upside down. In fact, why not share the things you enjoy with little ones while you’ve got the chance? So if you never got around to taking that hiking vacation in Chile before the kids came along, it’s not too late to do it now they’re here!


Why hike with kids in Chile?

  • Trekking can be a great way to boost self-esteem in older children. They’ll learn that it’s important not to give up when they get a little out of puff and that with a bit of extra effort they can reach their goals.
  • finishing the hikeTaking a hiking vacation in Chile is the perfect excuse to spend some quality time with family away from the distractions of everyday life. When it’s just you and the kids on the hiking trail, you either talk to each other or you don’t talk at all!
  • It’s all too easy for kids to get stuck inside and not take enough exercise, so here’s your chance to set the right example and instill healthy outdoors habits from an early age.
  • In a world where there’s so much environmental destruction, taking your kids out into nature can help them understand the importance of protecting the planet, and what we stand to lose if we don’t act now.
  • Chile has a wealth of intriguing animals, birds and plants that your kids have more than likely never seen before. Awaken their curiosity and help them take their first steps in learning about the earth’s biodiversity.
  • Give your kids a break from the constant connectedness of the Internet, computer games and television shows by introducing them to the wonders of the real world.

How to hike with kids in Chile?

  • Give even the littlest of kids a small backpack to carry, even if it only has a pair of gloves in it, so that they feel involved and that they have an important role to play throughout the hike.
  • kids hiking smallBringing lots of snacks and water is one of the most important things to remember when hiking with kids. Allow them to snack regularly, even before they’re hungry, to keep energy levels and enjoyment levels high.
  • Get your kids involved in the planning stages. Let them trace the route on a map of Chile and help with planning what to pack for the hike.
  • Slather your kids in sunscreen before you head out on a hike. The sun in Chile is particularly strong - even on overcast days - so it’s important to cover up and protect their skin.
  • With very small children, especially reluctant hikers, it can help to change the way you talk about your Chile hiking tour. Don’t call it “hiking” or “trekking”, call it “exploring” or “going on adventure”, and just see the difference it makes.
  • Let your kids set the pace. Hiking groups always go at the pace of the slowest trekker and it makes sense that your slowest trekker in this case is probably the smallest.
  • Let them get distracted by things that interest them at the side of the trail. It may be slow going but at least they’ll be engaged in their surroundings. Otherwise, they’ll just get bored and that’s going to make your hike feel even longer!
  • Buy a cheap disposable camera to bring on your Chile hike so the kids can document their adventure and then make a scrapbook of their travels once they’re home again.
  • tired hikersFor the little ones, download our printer-friendly Patagonia scavenger hunt to get them involved with everything going on around them and keep them from getting bored.
  • Invest in good hiking gear for the kids too. It can be tempting to cut corners on hiking clothes for children, after all, they seem to need a new pair of shoes every week as it is. But a comfortable kid is a happy kid and you can’t expect them to enjoy the trek if they’re cold and their feet hurt.
  • Take a magnifying glass or pair of binoculars for curious kids to get up close and personal with interesting plants and insects and to observe distant birds.

Where to hike with kids in Chile?

Babies and Toddlers
For very small babies and tots, it’s going to be tough for even the most enthusiastic hikers to get very far in Chile’s great wilds. Round cerro san cristobalthe clock feeding and nappy changes just don’t mix well with being miles from nowhere on foot.
Yet there are hiking opportunities even within some of Chile’s most well-known cities. A stroll up Santiago’s San Cristobal Hill, for example, with a quick whirl round the botanical gardens near to the summit will be more than enough for many small infants and their parents. Or check out one of Santiago’s many parks for a gentle ramble with plenty of great picnic spots.
Once the children are slightly older and able to walk for a couple of hours on their own, you can start thinking about day-hikes out in the mountains around Santiago and there are some fantastic trails to choose from. The Andes mountains dominate the Santiago skyline and getting to the trailhead is as easy as taking a bus or a taxi.
The Cajón del Maipo has any number of manageable routes for kids that are starting to thrive on the hiking trail. Or check out Parque Natural Aguas de Ramón, which has three trails of varying difficulty with a picturesque waterfall for those who make it to the very end.
torres del paine national parkTeens
In some ways, when children hit their teens it can be harder than ever to keep them engaged and interested in spending time outdoors with the family. Yet even the sulkiest of teens would be hard pressed not to be bowled over by the spectacular scenery of Chilean Patagonia, or the smoking volcanoes of the Lake District (although they might still hide their excitement pretty effectively!)
If you happen to have a particular keen budding outdoorsman on your hands you might even want to try a multi-day trek like the iconic Torres del Paine W Trek. It’s an adventure they’ll never forget!
If you’re considering a vacation in Chile with your kids, take a look at more of our tips here!