What Makes Camping with Kids in South America Different from U.S. CampingMari Hernandez-Tuten
I didn’t grow up camping; it wasn’t something our little Latina familia did. I’m not sure if it was cultural or if my parents just preferred other forms of entertainment for us. However, I did marry into camping. (Some people marry into money. I married into camping.)
One of our wedding gifts from my lovely in-laws was a small enclosed trailer packed with camping supplies! They’re what I call a hardcore camping family. If it was up to my father-in-law, the whole family would camp for every single holiday, including New Year’s Eve.
So it won’t come as a surprise to you that there was some camping on the beach involved during my honeymoon. I loved it, especially since it was intermingled with fancy hotels and fun excursions. I’ve had the pleasure of camping all over the U.S. — in Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Iowa, and Washington. I wish that I could tell you that we go “glamping,” but unfortunately that’s not in our budget, so we have stuck to the traditional form of good ol’ camping.
I’ve also done international camping and hiking in Central America and that was some seriously rugged camping. Most recently we’ve added South America to our camping excursions and they have been, by far, some of our most adventurous experiences. And before South America scares you parents off I want you to know most of these trips have included our kids, both in and outside of the U.S. There are many kid friendly places to camp in Ecuador, South America. There are also many n0t so kid-friendly places to camp that you probably want to stay away from. I mention below the places we have camped at in Ecuador, South America.
So what makes camping with kids in South America different from all of our prior camping trips in the U.S.?
Camping with Kids in South America 1 of 8
Camping in South America can be quite the adventurous and fun experience for your familia, no matter the choice of lodging tent or cabin. Follow along to see where you can find some family-friendly hiking and camping areas for your familia!
Llama, llamas with their mamas. 2 of 8
Who needs raccoons and squirrels when you can wake up to over 25 llamas grazing around your campsite? For the most part, they usually just mind their own business, though we did have a couple searching for some food in our shelter. I especially loved watching the baby llamas with their mamas!
El Boliche National Recreational Park, near Cotopaxi, consists of 227 ha and is home to flowering plants, llamas, hawks, and more. Camping cost $3 pp, there are also cabins for $5 pp, and half-off the price for children. You can get there by train (from Quito to Boliche), private car, or bus; the cheapest being the bus or your own car. The train ride cost $25 pp round trip.
Snow around the corner without the storm. 3 of 8
The snow-capped mountain that towered over our campsite were right around the corner, but we didn't have any snowy weather conditions at our campground! We drove up to the volcano parking area and got out for some snow fight fun! Then you can have a picnic lunch at the foot of the volcano near the lagoon with much more pleasant weather conditions.
Cotopaxi National Park has no entrance fee! You can get there by bus or private car. Bus rides from Quito are about $1 pp.
Unique Flora and Fauna — Protected by the UN 4 of 8
This spectacular view is of the largest waterfall in Ecuador, San Rafael located at the foot of the Reventador Volcano where the Andes and Amazon regions meet. This lush rain forest site is protected by the United Nations for its unique flora and fauna. This hike is kid-friendly and tent camping is do-able, but make sure to bring some bug spray.
San Rafael Waterfall has no entrance fee. Please note that if hiking this with children you want to start at the entrance of the waterfall, you do not want to hike up from Rio Blanco to the peak of the Volcano. (That would take you around six to eight hours according to the Viva! Travel Guides Ecuador Climbing and Hiking Guide by Rob Rachowiecki and Mark Thurber.)
The high-altitude makes you feel old 5 of 8
No matter how young or old you are, hiking at this altitude pretty much has you inching your way up to the top. This is the farthest that non-experienced hikers are allowed to go without a guide, and the highest you want to go with children. My four-year-old hiked this with us five years ago — you can read about hiking the Cotopaxi Volcano with kids, here.
Your good luck charm 6 of 8
The largest canid in Ecuador is a cross between a fox and a wolf called the Lobo de Paramo or Wolf Moor. Due to the silly superstitions, people believe that its tail and other body parts bring good luck, which makes it a vulnerable animal.
Amazon Wilderness 7 of 8
There is so much beauty to be found in this part of South America. Ecuador has the Andes mountains and the Amazon jungle, among other places like the Cloud forest. Here we were hiking at Amazoonico when we came across this friendly little guy. Amazon camping is not for just anyone. I prefer cabins for this type of outdoor experience, especially since I have little kids and don't want to be covered in mosquito bites.
Amazoonico is a kid-friendly hike with lots of jungle animals to be enjoyed without the fear of getting attacked. "It's an animal rehabilitation center, located in the middle of a protected jungle preserve and makes huge efforts to shelter a number of different animals, some in danger of extinction," according to Viva! Travel Guides.
Infamous Peacock Bass 8 of 8
The beautiful Peacock Bass can be found here in the rivers of the Amazon jungle for the hardcore fishermen, but if you're looking for a more family friendly fishing experience you will find well-stocked rainbow trouts ponds throughout the Andes and Rainforest regions. We quickly discovered El Paraiso del Pescador in one of our outdoor experiences here in Ecuador, tons of well-stocked trout ponds for easy fishing and I so mean some seriously easy fishing. My two-year-old caught a fish the instant he placed his bamboo rod in the water. There are areas for those of you who are into sport fishing, but these trout ponds are every kid's dream.
You want to look for signs that say "Pesca Deportiva" located along the main highways heading out of the big city of Quito. The one we frequented is El Paraiso del Pescador.
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