We asked a 7, 12, 17-year old, and two parents what their favorite family vacation was. Their unanimous answer: Chile! Santiago and the Atacama Desert in particular. Why? On a Chile family vacation there are sublime sand dunes to tumble down, horseback riding to hot springs, some of the clearest skies on the planet for stargazing (a major wow for New York City kids), and design-minded vineyards with suites that double as galleries. Family vacations get turned up a notch when you have a leading travel expert like Leslie Overton in the family! Leslie is Absolute Travel’s Executive Vice President and Family Travel Specialist. She’s been named Condé Nast Traveler’s Top Travel Specialist for Family Travel for the past seven years. Clearly, she knows how to do family vacation.
“Travel is a powerful tool to educate my children. Exploring the world gives my kids, my husband and I the unrivaled gifts of perspective, knowledge and compassion; gifts that stay with us long after unpacking. Chile was the perfect playground to find this,” says Leslie.
Here are the five reasons each family member says their Chile family vacation was their best trip yet.
“Exploring the art-centric Viña VIK”
Leslie gushes, “I would have stayed here forever!” After hearing about it, we would too! After years of searching for the perfect climate and soil, Alex and Carrie Vik finally discovered perfection in Chile’s Millahue Valley and founded VIK Millahue Chile, a holistic vineyard just two hours from the Santiago airport. The valley, which is known as the “Place of Gold” to the local people, boasts a stunning landscape encircled by sweeping views that stretch out to the Andes. Here, the relationship between man and nature, and the synergy that flows between the two, is a resounding paradigm that emanates throughout the property.
Perched on a hilltop at the VIK Lodge, Leslie and her family could marvel at the property’s 11,000 acres of vineyards, lakes, forests, and mountains from the comfort of a luxury family-friendly retreat. This is an excellent option for adults and children alike; the wide spectrum of activities from outdoor adventures to gastronomic indulgences kept the entire family intrigued and entertained.
Viña VIK offers sixteen guest suites and striking 360-degree views of the surrounding valleys.
“Wine Tasting with the Family.”
The perfect way to cap off a day of exploring Chile is a chilled glass of Chilean wine of course! Their first wine tasting on their Chile family vacation did not disappoint considering they started with Vik 2010, an elegant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.
“Running Down the Sand!”
When we asked Fergus what his favorite part of their Chile family vacation was, he didn’t have to think twice: “Running down the sand!” Who would have thought that the driest place on earth would be the perfect playground? Using the stunning Awasi Atacama as their base, they explored moon valley, geysers, salt marshes, lagoons and Atacama wildlife.
Awasi is located inside an ancient site surrounded by a historic wall, which for years housed shepherds and herders. The intimate property works in harmony with the local culture and environment, and the location is an excellent base for adventure activities, from four-wheeler drives with private guides to surfing the sand.
“Horseback Riding in Chile!”
As if exploring Atacama’s otherworldly terrain isn’t fun enough, horseback riding throughout the region makes it even better! Alongside a knowledgeable Awasi guide who brought the region to life with anecdotal stories and a background of the area, the family stopped by authentic local villages, slipped into the hot springs, and even walked on dormant volcanoes during their Chile family vacation.
“Stargazing into Distant Galaxies with the Best Telescope on Earth!”
The Atacama Desert proved not only to be one of the driest places on earth (and best places to frolic on dunes), but also one of the best places in the world to stargaze. With virtually no light pollution, very few clouds, and high altitude the region has nearly perfect conditions for stargazers. Astronomy tours are a fun activity for all ages. (You can even visit astronomical observation sites like the Paranal Observatory, home to the biggest telescope in the world!)
From Alto Atacama Ruby and the gang looked into faraway galaxies, particularly interesting for Ruby as she was able to experience her school studies in real life. Another plus to Alto Atacama? Since the property is on the outskirts of town, they were able to get to their activities quickly! Mountain biking and enjoying the local hot springs were a stone’s throw away.
Alto Atacama is one of Absolute Travel’s favorite properties, especially for a Chile family vacation. It sits in the valley of Chile’s Salt Mountains, nearby the Pucara de Quitor ruins. This eco-sensitive property melds perfectly with its surroundings, inviting the rugged beauty of the outdoors in. Whether you’re choosing to sit outside with a glass of wine or soak in one of the pools, Alto Atacama is a wonderful place to connect to the best of Chile.
Meet a family travel expert: Leslie Overton
Leslie’s kids have visited close to 20 countries with her! She’s traveled to Guatemala with her oldest daughter to meet Guatemalan teen groups and exchange stories about the similarities and differences of growing up in New York City and Guatemala. As a family they’ve learned how to make traditional black pottery with a women’s collective in Oaxaca, Mexico, climbed Machu Picchu, and practiced Capoeira on the beaches of Rio. They travel so much, ask her youngest daughter her favorite city and she’ll quickly respond, Dubai (she’s been xx times!). Leslie will be speaking at the Family Travel Association on October 23, 2016 about The Rise of Volunteer & Purpose/Impact Family Travel.
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