Bored of culture-less package beach vacations to the Caribbean, Spain and a host of other countries, as travelling evolves, families are increasingly looking for more adventurous, interesting fun-filled holidays. South America has numerous destinations perfect for family vacations - here’s some of the best ideas…..
What makes a perfect family vacation? Essentially an itinerary needs to based around activities that both kids and parents will enjoy. Beaches are almost always a winner, as is anything to do with wildlife, adventurous activities like rafting and kayaking, or anything “out of this world” like exploring ancient temple sites. Kids generally love all such activities, along with the parents. So where is best for such family vacations to South America?
Firstly, get over the opinion you may or may not have about Latin / South America being a “dangerous” continent. It’s not. You may have heard about having to lock your car doors everywhere you drive in Mexico City, or Rio de Janeiro’s favela based drugs gangs, civil war strife in Colombia, or people being accosted by dodgy taxi drivers. It’s all an exaggeration. A few parts of South America aren’t particuraly safe - you don’t need to go near them on a family vacation. Here’s those ideas.
Mexico instantly springs to mind as one of the best family vacation destinations in South America. Firstly, there’s fantastic beaches and luxurious resorts (the best in all South America) on both the Pacific and Caribbean (Maya Riviera) coast. Add to this a host of atmospheric and mysterious Mayan and Aztec ruins at sites such as Chitzen Itza, Tulum and Palenque and both kids and parents will be amazed. There’s also whale watching tours available in Baja California on the Pacific Coast in the early parts of the year. Mexico’s colonial cities such as Oaxaca and Merida will interest older children, or you could consider somemore adventure orientated activities such as kayaking and rafting in Chiapas province in Southern Mexico.
Chitzen Itza in Mexico (on a busy day - the summer solstice)
Brazil is also ideal for family vacations to South America. The children (hopefully) won’t mind the mosquito bites they’ll get in the Amazon rainforest as they’ll be so enthralled by the amazing natural surroundings and animals. Better still for animal and wildlife viewing, is the Pantanal wetlands, one of South America’s top wildlife destinations. Add to this the amazing beaches, and luxury family friendly beach resorts along Brazil’s coastline, and it all makes for a great family trip perfectly combining wildlife, adventure and beaches.
Costa Rica offers a similar family vacation experience to that of Brazil, and for many it’s a family’s top choice for a vacation to South America. It’s a small country, so huge distances of travel and long flights are not really involved, and the tourist infrastucure is highly developed. There’s luxury rainforest lodges all over Costa Rica, plus some great wildlife viewing at Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast. Erupting volcanoes (perfectly safe to visit) such as that of Arenal volcano will amaze the children, and there’s excellent family friendly resorts along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, at laid back luxury resorts such as that of Manuel Antonio. There’s also lots of possibilities for adventure type activities such as rafting and kayaking.
Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands also offer great family holidays. On the mainland of Ecuador itself, there’s some excellent luxury rainforest lodges, an interesting train journeys through the “Avenue of the Volcanoes”. The real highlight of a family vacation will be th Galapagos Islands, where fearless wildlife can be viewed at extremely close quarters. If you travelling with children, book one of the larger cruise ships, or a smaller boat that has stabilizers, as the kids will be lessprone to sea sickness.
I’d say that Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands are the best destinations for family vacations to South America. Each offer a very well balanced holiday, involving beaches and adventure / wildlife tours. But there’s other option that might suit families. Belize is also a great option for combining rainforest tours with beaches (& snorkelling with sharks / scuba diving - all very safe). Peru has the potential for a great family vacation - there’s rainforest lodges, mysterious sites such as the Nazca lines, and Inca temples to explore, but younger children will invaribaly find such a cultural trip a little boring. Those interested entirely in outdoor activities such as trekking, rafting and horseback riding, could consider Southern Chile and Southern Argentina - the climate is less hot and humid (in the summer months) than everywhere else in South America and the landscape some of the most scenic. If you want to go to a beach at the end of a family vacation to either Argentina or Chile, catch a flight to Florianopolis in Southern Brazil as this is by far the best option.