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Chile July 2019 - Family of 5 - could we do it justice?

Newcastle upon...
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8 posts
3 reviews
Chile July 2019 - Family of 5 - could we do it justice?

Good evening,

We are a family of 5 (boys will be 18, 16 and 12) from the UK and are planning a big 3 week trip for July 2019 (probably from 12th onwards). This will potentially be our last major summer holiday as a family as the eldest will be off to university shortly thereafter. We would like to do something memorable together.

We are active and love the outdoors and Chile seems to tick many of the right boxes for us but July obviously isn't the best time to go. I have spent quite a bit of time on the forum reading July reports but am struggling to work out just how much we could do in the time that we will have.

Would any of you in the know be willing to suggest an itinerary for 3 weeks in July/early August? We are keen hikers and love the natural world. Atacama works at that time of year but would the Northern Lake District work too? And would the Elqui valley be worth a visit. Is there anything that I am missing?

Any ideas gratefully received.

Thank you very much,

Sally

10 replies to this topic
Santiago, Chile
Destination Expert
for Chile, Santiago
Level Contributor
7,067 posts
15 reviews
1. Re: Chile July 2019 - Family of 5 - could we do it justice?

The Elqui Valley is worth a visit. You do not mention Valparaiso which I would recommend even though it is not for hiking. The Lake District will probably be wet. One place good for hiking and close to Santiago is the Cajon del Maipo.

Clitheroe, United...
Level Contributor
31 posts
31 reviews
2. Re: Chile July 2019 - Family of 5 - could we do it justice?

Hi Sally, I've been watching your post as we're thinking of doing a similar thing - "kids" all about a year older than yours and we're thinking of 4 weeks in August but pretty similar. Really disappointed you didn't get more replies - Trip Advisor Forums are usually really helpful :-(

Anyway, I'm clearly not an expert and have just been doing the same as you (reading posts on here, looking at guide books, research, etc) but, for what it's worth, here's what I'm thinking:

- We've got to fly into Santiago so will start with a few days there

- Because there's five of us, we don't want to take loads of internal flights, which adds to the cost, but at the same time doing at least one leg by air seems to make sense

- So, after Santiago, fly north, pick up a hire car and go to San Pedro de Atacama for a few days

- Then work our way back down to Santiago via:

(a) the coast (I'm thinking Bahia Inglesa) for a few days of chilling - I know it will be winter so no swimming or sunbathing etc but we're happy with a few walks on cold windy beaches (we go to Scotland at lot!) and I'm really thinking this will just be a bit of down time; and

(b) the Elqui Valley (general area sounds interesting and a night tour at an observatory could be great, cloud-permitting!)

(c) Valparaiso

I'm thinking we could do that in about two weeks (maybe slightly longer, depending on how much we drive each day and therefore how much we stop in between the main stops) so maybe you could then go hiking in Cajon del Maipo as the other poster suggested? (I'm hoping with four weeks we'll have time to get down to the Lake District but I haven't researched south of Santiago yet or how we'd do it!)

Obvious disadvantages are: (1) a one way drop off charge for the hire car as I'd be planning on either dropping it back at Santiago or somewhere further south if we get to the Lake District and then hop back to Santiago before flying home - not yet researched the relative costs of the one way charge v costs of more internal flights; and (2) no Torres del Paine - which sounds amazing but I don't think we'd get the benefit of it in winter (looking at other posts only the expensive hotels seem to be open in the winter which would be too much for five of us - somewhere to go back to when they've all left home!).

No idea if this is decent advice or helpful at all but thought I'd at least share my thoughts as no one else had (apart from Toid).

Santiago, Chile
Destination Expert
for Chile
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11,531 posts
30 reviews
3. Re: Chile July 2019 - Family of 5 - could we do it justice?

Most are delighted to add some advice but asking for a three week itinerary in winter puts a lot of people off. The lake district in winter is usually cold and wet and the views disappear in the clouds. So it is a possibility if you keep your eye on the weather and decide once here. There are extremely comfortable buses doing overnight to places like Pucon. The buses have different classes of comfort and all the fares will be cheaper in winter.

The visitors who visit in winter, mostly from Brazil or Argentina, are usually after the skiing. There are resorts right outside Santiago and right down to the south. If skiing were an option instead of hiking, then that is easy in winter. Otherwise, visitors go north. Chile is like California but upside down: the weather will be warmer and drier the further north you go.

Most car rental companies operate regionally and long distance one way drop offs can be brutally expensive, especially at a time of year with lower visitor numbers. Do have a look at distances and drive times when planning.

Consider Easter Island. Flights can be expensive but it will be low season. If part of your international ticket it can be quite affordable.

Vancouver, Canada
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28 posts
56 reviews
4. Re: Chile July 2019 - Family of 5 - could we do it justice?

Our family of four (kids 11 & 14) will be visiting this August. Our plan is to fly in to SCL, drive to Nevados de Chillan for skiing (4 nights), drive back to Santiago (2 nights including Valparaiso) and then fly to the Atacama Desert for 3 nights. I'm happy to let you know how it all works out. :)

Santiago, Chile
Destination Expert
for Chile
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11,531 posts
30 reviews
5. Re: Chile July 2019 - Family of 5 - could we do it justice?

That sounds like a good winter itinerary. If the kids weren't along I would suggest also stopping in the Colchagua valley for some wine tasting.

Newcastle upon...
Level Contributor
8 posts
3 reviews
6. Re: Chile July 2019 - Family of 5 - could we do it justice?

Thank you all for your comments. I'm grateful for your help and a steer towards further research.

Sally

Santiago, Chile
Level Contributor
207 posts
25 reviews
7. Re: Chile July 2019 - Family of 5 - could we do it justice?

For July, think 8-12 days of rain a month in the Lake District, 4-7 in Santiago, 2 in La Serena, and none in Atacama. August would be 10-25% less than July. That said, few things inspire me as much as a clear day on a volcano after a storm in southern Chile....

Unless you are skiers, the south is a gamble. A nice time could be had around Santiago, with day trips or overnighters. Cajon del Maipo for big snowy mountains (no snow on the valley bottom) and a low altitude walk, coastal walks and beaches from Maintencillo north to Los Molles, a drive to Portillo or Valle Nevado ski areas for the day (you can rent snowshoes and go for a walk, probably La Parva is best for this), a horseback ride in the foothills of the Andes, and more. Rent a car and play it by ear with the weather.

Consider taking in more of the north. Arica-Parinacota is very special, with warm(er) weather, and everything from big beaches, archaeology, quaint villages, to Altiplano treks, hot springs, salt flats, wildlife, volcanoes, and so on. Perhaps you could buy a ticket Stgo-Calama-Arica-Santiago and rent a car in Calama and Arica.

Airbnb, tripadvisor (booking.com), and other websites are FULL of lodging options for a family, and July and August are low season. Take note that July 13-29 is school winter holidays, so that period is NOT low season, especially in the more touristic places outside of Santiago (beaches, ski areas).

Good luck!

Santiago, Chile
Level Contributor
110 posts
1 review
8. Re: Chile July 2019 - Family of 5 - could we do it justice?

I can't recommend the Elqui Valley enough - I just went last month and was stunned by how much there is to do. If you are seriously considering it, please reach out to me with questions because I have so many recommendations. I also posted about our experience on the blog here: biancarods.com/home-3/la-serena-and-pisco-el…

If your family likes to ski, there are tons of ski operators in the area who will take you to the nearby ski resorts. Valle Nevado is the fanciest, and slightly more expensive than the other ones. I just went for the first time - biancarods.com/home-3/skiing-at-valle-nevado - it was a long but do-able day trip.

If you're wine drinkers, visit Concha y Toro - can be done in half a day.

Visit Cajon del Maipo, an hour outside Santiago for endless hiking. I'd recommend going with a tour - biancarods.com/home-3/2018/5/22/santiago-wee…

You can also visit Pucon but it will be difficult to get around due to the snow, so I'd stick to the center of Santiago, and the north. It'll be sunny and snow-less, for the most part.

Any questions, please let me know! There is tons to do, and varying information online. Happy to help.

windsor
Level Contributor
56 posts
45 reviews
9. Re: Chile July 2019 - Family of 5 - could we do it justice?

We have just had 2 weeks in Chile with our 19 year old son. Started off with 2 days in Santiago and enjoyed a funicular ride up to serro San cristobal for our first views of the Andes. Then we had 3 nights in Valparaiso and vina Del Mar. My son loved it there for its cool vibe. We especially enjoyed the free walking tours for tips which were fun and informative. We then flew up to the Atacama for 5 nights but could easily have had a few more days. There were so many different activities and bikes to do around San Pedro we loved it there. Last 2 days spent chilling in Santiago and doing museum visits. Good luck with planning your trip with your family.

Level Contributor
22 posts
1 review
10. Re: Chile July 2019 - Family of 5 - could we do it justice?

Hi Sally,

Any chance you could get to Chile a bit earlier? A total Solar eclipse will be happening in the Elqui Valley on July 02!

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