South America – Where to Stay and What to Do
Note: This page is part of my Top Spots recommendations. It’s organized alphabetically by country and then by city, but it’s purposely not indexed since I want to inspire browsing, and help you to discover places you may not have thought of as kid-friendly. If you attempt to book one of these activities, restaurants or hotels and it’s not in business anymore, or you don’t find it to be kid-friendly, please let me know!
Iguazu Falls, Argentina
- Destination: Iguazu Falls is easily seen in two days and the airport is close to the falls, so it’s an easy place to add onto most South American itineraries. My 6-year-old and I had a great time taking the train to Devil’s Throat, exploring all of the walkways in the park, and getting soaked at Salto Bossetti. And the butterflies, birds and wildlife are amazing.
- Hotel: This is not a good hotel – by far the worst on this entire list – but stay at the Melia Iguazu (formerly the Sheraton Iguazu Resort). It’s inside the park so you have full access to the falls before and after normal ticket holders can be there. Location is everything.
San Martín de los Andes, Patagonia, Argentina
- Tour Company: Andestrack Expediciones. I did an excellent 4-day multi-sport trip with them and wouldn’t hesitate to bring my kids next time. They should be able to design any type of trip you’re looking for. My blog post is here.
Manaus and the Amazon Rainforest, Brazil
- Destination: The Amazon is amazing! One of my favorite places, and great for families. My blog post is here.
- Tour Company: Book through Our Whole Village. They handled every detail of our trip flawlessly.
- Boat on the Rio Negro: The Jacaré Açu, booked through Our Whole Village. Get some friends together and charter it for a week!
- Hotel in Manaus: Casa Teatro. It’s perfect-located, inexpensive, and has rooms that sleep up to six.
- Restaurant in Manaus: Caxiri. Get the tambaqui – the best fish I’ve ever had. Everything else was excellent too.
- Restaurant in Novo Airão: Flor do Luar. Our kids played for hours in the water while we had drinks, and then lunch was amazing. A perfect atmosphere.
- Hotel in Novo Airão: Mirante do Gavião. A stunning property on the Rio Negro. The food is excellent too.
Atacama Desert, Chile
- Hotel and Destination: We stayed four nights at Tierra Atacama. We’re not desert people, but we really enjoyed the hotel and excursions, and late afternoons by the pool are perfect. The location in San Pedro de Atacama is excellent. My blog post is here.
Patagonia (Torres del Paine), Chile
- Hotel and Destination: Tierra Patagonia is amazing. We loved the hotel, the setting, the excursions (everything is included) and the overall kid-friendly vibe. Would love to return. My blog post is here.
Easter Island, Chile
- Destination: This is a great place to take kids who enjoy and appreciate history and vanishing cultures. Plus it’s a Polynesian island! My blog post is here.
- Hotel: We stayed at the Taura’a Hotel in Hanga Roa and loved it. It’s not fancy, but the owners are great, the breakfast is excellent and it’s just a short walk into town. We also did our island tours through the hotel and really enjoyed them.
- Restaurant: We didn’t have a bad meal, but Te Moana was the best. It’s a great setting for watching the sunset, and there’s even a playground right next door.
- Destination: We really enjoyed two nights in Cartagena. Great atmosphere in the old town, and excellent restaurants.
- Hotel: Casa Pestagua Hotel Boutique was great – perfect location and excellent breakfasts.
Ecuador and the Galapagos
- Destination: We loved everything about Ecuador, from Quito to the Galapagos to the cloud forest. My blog post on Quito and the Galapagos is here.
- Tour Company: Metropolitan Touring is amazing. They handled everything for us, including our Galapagos ship, hotels and transfers.
- Hotel: In Quito, stay at Casa Gangotena. Perfectly-located with colonial charm and excellent service.
- Hotel: Mashpi Lodge is a 3-4 hour drive from Quito, but don’t let that put you off. It’s one of our favorite hotels anywhere. Amazing excursions, and the cloud forest setting is extraordinary. My post is here.