Travelling to South America is doable with youngsters, when staying in a central location and taking day trips.
My young sons and I stayed in Cuzco, Peru and took excursions to must-see attractions nearby. My travel agent arranged for a packaged trip with hotels, meet & greet at airports, and a personal guide with a car.
My kids were too young to be on a group tour – yet we got a great price with these services bundled together.
One day we took the train to the astounding Machu Picchu and did a guided tour in a group once there. Consider going to this site near the beginning of the trip in case the kids get burned out on Inca ruins, plus it is at a lower altitude than Cuzco.
Having our guide with a car meant that the boys could linger playing with llamas and spend less time hearing detailed histories of Inca sites when tired. We could tell the guide just to hit the highlights when our energy was flagging.
One day we passed a lovely inn in the Urubamba Valley and our guide said we would have lunch there a bit later. If the kids are hungry, let your guide know. Ours took us to the town of Ollantaytambo with spectacular ruins. I cut it short, informing the guide that we three were hungry and needed to eat. Clarify what “a bit later” really means and explain when the optimal lunch time is for your family.
The outdoor markets are colourful, full of activity, and a fun way to soak up culture. The Pisac market is on the itineraries and is full of hand knitted wares, musicians and good food. The prices were almost double of the one on the outskirts of Cuzco. Kids can blow off energy running around and looking at the enticing goods.
The altitude of Cuzco is 3400 meters, so have an easy day upon arrival to acclimate. Drink plenty of cocoa leaf tea to help ward off altitude sickness. I took Diamox before and during the trip to prevent altitude sickness. Cuzco is a lovely city with colonial buildings and beautiful churches with ornate décor.
The main plaza is a lively place but use your intuition if a situation does not seem right. Local children surrounded one son and wanted to “borrow” his Gameboy. When I stepped in and confiscated it, the children dispersed quickly. My son later said he was afraid of them. There are a variety of restaurants and we enjoyed cheese fondue at a Swiss one.
Buenos Aires is a family-friendly city with a European feel and a good subway system.
We have been here several times over a four day period in November. That is a good month to go, which is their spring with the jacaranda trees covered in lavender blooms.
On the first trip we went to a gaucho ranch in the countryside with horses. They had an elaborate lunch with a cultural show which was fun.
Most hotels have day trips such as this one, so no need to plan ahead. We mostly went to the fabulous Botanical Garden which contains 5000 species of plants, fountains and greenhouses.
The big draw for us are the cats, who many were former pets. They are well taken care of and fed in this paradise. We saw some familiar faces with subsequent trips, and happily others had been adopted. They are friendly and sat on our laps. Take some cat food with you when visiting this lovely place.
Nearby in this Palermo district is the exquisite Japanese Garden. My boys enjoyed wandering around and stopping for a snack in the Japanese Tea house. On another day, we would walk to the zoo after the Botanical Garden.
Every day we went to the Galerias Pacifico shopping mall which was originally a Beaux Arts Building. The cupola has lovely frescos and this beautiful place has interesting shops and cafes. We got great food and especially enjoyed the lemon meringue pie and coffees. In the pedestrian only area outside of the Galerias Pacifico, there are people performing the classic Argentine tango.
Near our hotel was a McDonalds which served Argentine beef burgers which is easy on the budget. We stayed a short walk away in the Plaza San Martin area with a park. Skip the tiny San Martin subway station where we witnessed a mugging. Instead, walk the ten minutes and use the larger one near Galerias Pacifico. Buenos Aires is a shopper’s paradise with well-priced leather goods, tinwork (I bought picture frames) and other fun stuff for kids.
A friend took her sons on a week cruise around the Galapagos Islands and they were thrilled with all of the wildlife on this adventure.
Two acquaintances from Brazil, go back almost yearly and have talked about how much their kids enjoy that country.
South America has reasonably priced hotels and meals which is wonderful when one’s finances may be tight post-divorce.
Wendi Schuller is a published author who has conducted classes on various subjects. She draws upon her knowledge as a nurse, Neuro-Linguistic Programmer (NLP), and hypnotherapist, providing a blueprint to guide women through this difficult transition. Schuller hired an attorney for a court divorce, but decided to go the collaborative route instead and has worked with a mediator post-divorce.
Author of The Woman’s Holistic Guide to Divorce