Ecuador: Galapagos Islands
Fly in/out: Quito Ecuador (UIO)
Recommended ages: 5 and up for designated family trips
Ball Park Price: $4,500/person for five travellers (airfare not included)
Best Season: January-June for best snorkeling
Time: CST in Quito
DAY TWO: Take a Quito city tour arranged through Journey International. Visit the old colonial center of Independence Square, the elegant cathedrals of San Francisco, La Compañía, and San Agustín, Quito’s oldest monastery. Climb the bell tower of La Compania. Relax and eat at the hotel.
DAY THREE: Transfer to the airport and take the flight to Galapagos Islands. Board the Eric Yacht, and begin the 8 day, 7 night trip “Galapagos Adventure with Teens.”
DAY FOUR: Visit the northeast tip of San Cristobal, Punta Pitt, a tuff formation that serves as a nesting site for many sea birds including all three types of the Booby species (a seabird).
DAY FIVE: Take a dry landing on Punta Suarez, Espanola to see the greatest number of endemic species in all of Galapagos.
DAY SIX: Explore Punta Cormorant, Floreana, one of the few populated islands in the Galapagos. Visit Post Office Bay, a famous site in the Galapagos. You can leave a outbound postcard(s) here and pick up any mail bound for your hometown to hand-deliver when you get back.
DAY SEVEN: On Santa Cruz, work with Galapagos high school students on their volunteer project through Ecology Project International (EPI).
DAY EIGHT: Visit Bartolome, famous for it’s Pinnacle Rock, the most famous landmark of the Galapagos.
DAY NINE: See South Plaza, (Spanish: Isla Plaza Sur) a small island famous for its extraordinary flora.
DAY TEN: Say goodbye and disembark the ship in San Cristobal and transfer back to Quito. Check back in at Le Parc Hotel.
DAY ELEVEN: Depart for home.
- We booked our trip through Journeys International on board the Eric Yacht for the “Galapago Adventure with Teens.” The Eric Yacht is operated by Ecoventuras.
- The Eric Yacht was perfect for our family. It had just 20 passengers and small groups of ten guests per naturalist guide to ensure up-close wildlife encounters. The cabins were pristine throughout the trip and menus provided gourmet style meals for every family member including a kids menu.
- The agenda on most days included a daily morning guided hike with trained naturalists providing the right level of education to keep the kids intrigued. Most afternoons we had options of swimming, snorkeling or kayaking with sea turtles, penguins, sea lions and sea rays. This daily routine was the right balance to avoid “too much togetherness” which we were worried about initially by taking a 8 day cruise.
- From studying evolution, treasured ecosystems and marine wildlife, our family received an education of a lifetime.
- Taking early morning hikes in lava fields and encounter prehistoric reptiles such as the Galapagos tortoise and iguanas. Bird watching takes on whole new meaning when viewing the dances of the blue-footed boobies, Galapagos Penguins and Albatrosses.
- The wetland excursions include snorkeling, swimming and kayaking with schools of spotted eagle rays and sea lions gliding beneath.
Places to stay
- In central Quito, Le Parc Hotel was a modern and luxurious boutique hotel. They managed to book to adjacent rooms by request.
- Alternatively, J.W. Marriott in Quito features a nice pool and American style accommodations.
- The Eric Yacht operated by Ecoventura featured pristine rooms, beautiful decks and a fabulous staff.
The dining room and meals aboard the M/Y Eric Yacht were spectacular. Having kids menus as an option on the family trips were an added bonus.
- When booking your family excursion, ask about discounts for kids under age 17. Many tour companies offer a minimum of two discounts for families. We enjoyed booking through Journeys International because they took care of everything throughout the entire vacation.
- It was nice to get adjusted to the change in altitude and explore Quito. It’s recommended by the tour companies to arrive 2 days prior to departure in case of missed connections.
- We especially liked the “Adventure Galapagos with Teens” tour. So many of the activities were tailored age-appropriate learning and activities.
- Even though wetsuits are provided, bring your own if you have high quality ones. The best snorkeling excursions are often in colder waters.
- We had a double room and a triple for the kids. This was the most cost-effective option for a family of 5.
- The first and second day on the boat were our longest excursions at sea. Bring your own anti-nausea medicine. Dramamine non-drowsy worked great for our kids.
- All cabins on boats are tiny so pack light as possible to allow room for the suitcases.
- Bring layers if you take any day trips to a higher altitude in Quito. Temperature definitely drops at night.
- With the opening of the New Quito International Airport being about an hour from the city of Quito, some may opt to fly into Guayaquil International Airport although with less frequent direct flights.
- A valid passport, with at least six months remaining before expiration, is required to enter Ecuador.
- Watch on National Geographic On Demand, Galapagos Island Documentary.
- Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and study with your kids the history of the unique biology and ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands with any one of these wonderful books.