Wildlife & Nature
Galapagos Family holiday
Follow in the footsteps of Darwin on this family holiday, to see close up the unique wildlife of the Galapagos and visit Colonial Quito on mainland Ecuador. The haunting beauty of these barren volcanic islands and the extraordinary tameness of their animal population, create a uniquely memorable experience for all the family it is rather like a real life wildlife park with no fences. Starting and ending with the capital, Quito, you have a little time to explore the colonial heart of the city. Then you head far out into the islands visiting Isabella and Santa Cruz and enjoy the varied wildlife experiences each island has to offer from giant tortoises to colourful fish and playful sealions.
Fly to Quito.
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Ecuador.
Your adventure starts with an arrival transfer at Quito airport. Please ensure you attend the important first meeting that will take place on day 1 at 4 pm. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details ready.
Sitting at an altitude of 2,850 m under the gaze of Volcan Pichincha, Quito is one of the most attractive cities in South America. Long and incredibly thin, the city stretches along a central valley formed by the east and west ranges of the Andes. Although compact, Quito's Old Town is full of historic buildings - there are more than 30 churches to explore, not to mention the fascinating museums.
As this trip spends very little time in Quito, you recommend you spend a few extra days before or after your trip to experience all the city has to offer.
Quito is a cultured city with a wonderous Old Town, a dynamic nightlife and atmospheric streets showcasing Ecuadorian life in all its splendour.
La Compania de Jesus is considered by many the most beautiful in the Americas; it's certainly one of the most ornate. It's claimed that seven tonnes of gold leaf cover the interior whilst the exterior is decorated with statues, busts, sculpted heads and a jungle of carved leaves.
Take a walk down the famous Calle La Ronda, Quito's oldest street. La Ronda is a peek into the colonial past of the city. This quaint street offers the city's best in one place.
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. You understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly
Cafe Cultura Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Early in the morning you are transferred to Quito airport for your flight to Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos (approx 3.5 hrs). Departure time will be between 8.20am and 10.30am depending on flight schedule time.
The Galapagos National Institute has introduced a Transit Control Card. This card has a cost of US$10 and it must be purchased by every person travelling to the Galapagos Islands after checking in at Quito airport.
Your flight stops once in Guayaquil to pick up more passengers (approx 3.5 hours total). Upon arrival you need to go through immigration and pay the Galapagos National Park entrance fee of US$100 in cash (small bills please).
You land at about midday and transfer from the airport to the port of Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) for lunch (not included).
After lunch you travel by speed boat for approx. 2.5-3hr speed boat to Isabella Island. Between the months of June and September the ocean can be rough making this boat trip bumpy (or very bumpy). If you plan to take seasickness medications, this will be a good time to start with it.
Upon arrival to Isabela Island you need to pay the USD5 dock fee collected by the Galapagos National Park. As per all the random and mandatory fees charged by the Galapagos National Park, these fees can change at no notice.
After a brief rest at the hotel, you head to Flamingo Lagoon, the largest coastal lagoon found in the Galapagos and one of the main reproductive sites for the grand majority of flamingos. If you are up for a walk, ask your guide to point you in the direction of a walking track that takes you back to town.
To facilitate a smoother running of the trip, dinner is included on day 2 and dinner and lunch is included on day 3. For the other meals you will be free to eat at some of the local restaurants available in the island.
On day 3 after breakfast you visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center followed by lunch in a restuarant.
In the afternoon you travel by speedboat to Tintoreras Island - a deep crevice with clear and calm waters frequented by Tintoreras (white-tip sharks) as well as penguins, sea lions and marine iguanas. Enjoy swimming or snorkelling before returning to your hotel. The snorkelling site will be chosen depending on the swimming and snorkeling ability of members of the group.
You have built in some free time in Isabella Island for mus, dads or proficient child swimmers to go snorkeling on different spots or go
Day 4 for is free for families to take on different optional activities. For the younger ones there is the option of going snorkeling or swimming at Concha Perla where you may observe colourful fish, sea urchins, starfish, sea lions and if you are lucky even sea turtles.
Alternatively you can go for a (long) walk or (easy) bike ride to the "Muro de las Lagrimas" (Wall of Tears). From 1946 to 1959, the Ecuadorian government designated Isabela Island as a penal colony. Prisoners were obligated to build a wall with enormous blocks of lava. Due to the arduous labour and harsh conditions in which the prisoners lived, this site is known as “Muro de las Lagrimas”.
The more energetic can opt for a climb up to Sierra Negra Volcano. You will travel by minivan for 45mins to the base of Sierra Negra Volcano where you start hiking. With more than 9km in diameter and 91m deep this is the second largest volcano crater in the world. The hike itself can take up to 5-6 hours return including stops. The walk is relatively easy, however the first section (approx. 1hr) can get muddy during the rainy months (June to September). Check with your local guide for a report of this section the day before. If the forecast is wet and slippery, you may want to rent gum boots from your hotel.
Casa Marita Hotel or similar (3 nts) - Beachside (Bx3, Lx1, Dx2)
After breakfast, you take a speedboat to Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) and are transferred to your hotel. Drop off your bags, grab your camera and head off to the Charles Darwin Research Station. The station's visitor centre and museum are essential stops for anyone interested in the archipelago's natural and human history, and keen to learn more about conservation efforts to preserve the unique ecosystems of the Galapagos. It also offers a great chance for close-up encounters with giant tortoises, and you can see many newborn and young giant turtles - part of the breeding program to reintroduce them to their natural habitat.
After lunch you continue exploring Santa Cruz Island on a walk to Tortuga Bay, a picturesque beach located approximately 1hr walk (each way) from town - water and snacks are not available in Tortuga Bay so be prepared.
Day 6 is free for your family to continue explore Santa Cruz island.
You can opt to take on a vehicle based tour to the highland and see the Giant Tortoises in their natural habitat.
Silberstein Hotel or similar (2 nts) - Swimming pool - (Bx2)
Transfer to the airport in time for your flight to Quito. You can expect to arrive at your hotel by 3-4pm.
Cafe Cultura Hotel or similar (1 nt) (B)
Your trip ends today as you transfer to the airport for your overnight flight home. (B)
A trip to the Galapagos islands is one of the most unforgettable experiences you are ever likely to have as a family holiday. Kids will love getting up close to the animals, and do remember they are not tame although they may appear so. You can see tightly packed marine iguanas, marvel at the size of giant tortoises and watch blue-footed boobies dance whilst the pterodactyl-like frigate birds soar overhead. This trip is a land based program which allows families more space and freedom to relax, explore the islands and enjoy the beaches too.
Swim with the animals
The Galapagos Islands offer a unique wildlife experience on land and in the water and are simply a nature lover’s paradise. The animals have no fear of humans - you can swim with penguins and turtles as friendly sea lions twist and turn around you, their inquisitive pups frolicking in the surf. Don your mask and snorkel and look at the pretty underwater world of brightly coloured fish.
Our Galapagos Family Adventure trip is just one of our many Americas Family tours. To find out more visit our Americas holidays page.