Gateway to Adventure – Coyhaique With Kids New for 2024

The town of Coyhaique is one of the larger towns on the Carretera Austral, and no matter how you are exploring this beautiful route through Chilean Patagonia, the odds are you will pass through it at some point. The town itself, beyond the unbelievable amount of graffiti, is rather nondescript. For most visitors, it is a useful place to stock up on supplies and enjoy a good meal before heading back into the wild, but if you are visiting Coyhaique with kids, there are several great national parks close by with child-friendly walks.  

A family photo at the viewing point overlooking Lago El Toro at Monumento Natural Dos Lagunas
Kirsty and the girls at Lago El Toro in Monumento Natural Dos Lagunas

Our Map Of Things To Do In Coyhaique With Kids

Getting To Coyhaique

When heading south on Route 7 from Puyuhuapi until you reach Mirador Laguna Los Quetros, the route is a mixture of uneven gravel roads and intermittent concrete patches. Notably, it encompasses one of the steepest and windiest sections of track we have driven so far. However, once you navigate through the section we affectionately dubbed the “car sick pass”, the road transforms into a smooth asphalt surface, extending all the way to Coyhaique.

Route 7, when travelling north from Rio Tranquilo, encompasses rough gravel for approximately the initial half of the 200 km journey, with the latter part being paved all the way to Coyhaique. This route also treated us to some of the most breathtaking views witnessed during our entire trip. It made us realise that Carretera Austral deserves its reputation!

A view of the river from Ruta 40 on the way to explore Coyhaique with kids.

If you are coming by bus, then Coyhaique is a regional hub. The Terminal de Omnibus is just outside of town, and plenty of taxis and Ubers are available to take you to your accommodation if you don’t want to walk.

If you are flying into or from Coyhaique, the nearest airport is Balmaceda, about an hour’s drive South of the town. From here, there are direct flights to the most important destinations on Patagonia’s Chilean side, including Purto Montt and Punta Arenas. 

There are several car hire agencies in town and at the airport.

Where To Stay And Eat In Coyhaique With Kids

Everything you need in Coyhaique is in the town centre, and we recommend finding accommodation within walking distance. The suburbs are sprawling and, frankly, look rough.

The centre, called Plaza de Armas, is set around a pentagonal network of streets with plenty of outdoor shops, restaurants, supermarkets, a great chocolatier and the first Patagonia store we found in Patagonia!

People enjoying Plaza de Armas in the centre of Coyhaique.
Plaza de Armas is the heart of Coyhaique.

For food, the highlight for us was Plaza Confluencia, a bar and restaurant with a great selection of local beers, amazing empanadas and delicious ice cream. 

Accommodation in the town is relatively cheap by Chilean standards. We stayed in an apartment we found on Airbnb, but there are plenty of hostels and hotels to choose from.

Things to Do In Coyhaique With Kids

As mentioned above, there is not much to do in the town beyond shopping and eating. If you are staying for a couple of days, there are some local diversions and two nearby National Parks that arewell worth a visit.

Monumento Natural Dos Lagunas

This hidden gem about 25 minutes outside Coyhaique is perfect for an afternoon escape from the town. This comparatively small park feels a little overlooked in an area filled with national reserves and incredible beauty.

The park has several relatively short and gentle paths that you can happily explore over a few hours or even make an entire day out of. There are toilets onsite and many picnic areas, but nowhere to get any food or water, so be sure to take plenty with you. The weather at this altitude is changeable, so bring some layers. It was the wind that was especially sharp.

Georgia enjoying the wind at a view point overlooking Lago El Toro in Monumento Natural Dos Lagunas
Georgia embracing the wind!

Also, the mosquitos were out in force in places, so bring some repellant.

Before reaching Monumento Natural Dos Lagunas, you must book tickets through the ASP Portal. You cannot get tickets at the park entrance. If you don’t book before arrival, there is no phone signal or WiFi anywhere near the park to get online, and you will have to drive back almost to Coyhaique before you can connect. 

Tickets for adults are CLP$ 8000, and kids under 12 are free.

We struggled to find any maps online of the main trails before we arrived, so we have recreated them as best we can from memory below for you.

We tackled two short walks. The first was a simple “there and back” walk that takes you along the side of Laguna El Toro, which took us about half an hour to complete:

One highlight of this walk is the Puma Cave you pass on the way, which Eva enjoyed exploring!

Eva exploring an old puma cave in Monumento Natural Dos Lagunas
Eva sprouting from the rocks!

The second, slightly more challenging walk, takes in Laguna Escondia and took us 1 hr 30 mins, but there are detours if you want to make this longer:

There are several more trails in the park that we did not get a chance to explore; if you do, please let us know, as we would love to include them!

A woodland trail in Monumento Natural Dos Lagunas
The woodland in Monumento Natural Dos Lagunas feels primaeval.

Reserva Nacional Coyhaique

The star of the local show, Coyhaique National Reserve, is a 10-minute drive from town, albeit up an especially rough gravel road. As with Monumento Natural Dos Lagunas, you have to book your tickets online, although there is phone signal here, so you can do it when you arrive if you forget.

Georgia and Eva on a wooden bridge crossing a stream at  Reserva Nacional Coyhaique
Heading deeper into the woods.

While there are a lot of trails in the park, you have to leave your vehicle at the main entrance car park, which limits what you can tackle with kids. Also, there are clean toilets available in the main car park.

We had a great walk through woodland up the Los Leneros and Los Carreros trails to Laguna Verde. The trail starts relatively flat and soon builds into a gentle, consistent climb to the lake. There are viewpoints along the way and some picnic tables under log cabin shelters at the lake, perfect for lunch!

A wooden picnic shelter at Reserva Nacional Coyhaique
You can escape the sun but not the mosquitos!

There is also a museum and water wheel on the trail at about the halfway point. Unfortunately, they were closed and felt somewhat abandoned and neglected when we walked past. The path is well-shaded from the sun, but insect repellant is a must, especially near the lake.

While not the most stunning walk, it is a local, kid-friendly hike. The walk was just over 8km, which made the excellent local beer and empanadas in town aftertaste all the better!

La Taberna D’olbek

One for the parents!

There are some great breweries in Patagonia, and this taberna has a bit of a cult following among beer lovers.

Slightly out of town, it combines a great atmosphere with a selection of its own beers and delicious, if simple, food offerings. Although the beers claim to be Belgian-inspired, we found them to be somewhat sweeter than their European counterparts, but none the worse for this. 

Well worth a walk-up and an Uber home!

Take a Day Trip To The Marble Caves

A kayak next to the beautiful Cappilas de Marmol on Lago General Carrera
The water really is that colour, no photoshop!

If you are not heading through Puerto Rio Tranquil on your onward journey, you can book a day trip from Coyhaique to visit the incredible marble caves. The journey to the caves is long, with many tours picking up at 5 am and not returning until late evening. Most of the day is spent driving. That said, the caves are worth a visit and rank alongside Giants Causeway and the Mid-Atlantic Rift in Iceland as one of nature’s masterpieces. You can read our full post on this fantastic place here.

You can book these tours online, but we would not recommend them as often they are through pointless intermediaries like Viator or GetYourGuide, who add a huge markup and no value. Next to the official tourist information in the town centre were two companies offering the tour with whom you can book directly at a much better rate.

The stunning Catedral de Marmol on Lago General Carrera

One final alternative to consider is that because most tour companies do not offer a discount for kids, hiring a car to drive yourself may be cheaper than paying for a tour for everyone. 

Have We Missed Anything To Do In In Coyhaique With Kids?

Our visit to Coyhaique was an excellent opportunity to rest, recharge, and explore the local area before heading deeper into Patagonia with our kids. If you think we need to include anything or any of the information here needs to be updated, please let us know in the comments below.

The Spencer Family

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About the authors

Our lives have been intertwined with a passion for exploration and a shared love for travel. Our adventures began long before we met, as we individually embarked on daring expeditions across the globe. Our paths finally converged, and we soon realized that our adventures were much more meaningful when shared!

After a brief hiatus to start a family, we eagerly embarked on a new chapter of our travel saga. Determined to instil in Georgia and Eva the values of discovery and open-mindedness, our goal is to embark on exciting escapades and explore breathtaking landscapes, bustling cities, and remote corners of the world. From hiking through mist-laden forests to snorkelling in turquoise seas, every adventure is an opportunity to create lasting memories as a family.

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