From the colorful wildlife of the Amazon rainforest to the underwater playground of the Galapagos, this family-friendly journey around Ecuador offers adventure and education for all ages. Start in Quito, where you'll take a hands-on cooking class and set foot on both halves of the equator at Mitad del Mundo. Then delve into the Amazon rainforest, spotting exotic insects on a nighttime jungle tour and canoeing to a parrot habitat — bring your binoculars for the best views! Finish the itinerary in the Galapagos Islands with several days of wildlife viewing, snorkeling, and so much more. Keep your eyes open for giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies!


  • Participate in a cooking class and learn how to prepare Ecuadorian dishes
  • Stand on both hemispheres at the same time at Mitad del Mundo
  • Spot monkeys hopping from tree to tree in the Amazon rainforest
  • Swing high over the clouds at the Casa del Árbol
  • Canoe to a unique parrot habitat in the jungle
  • Swim and snorkel with playful sea lions in the Galapagos

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito Quito
Day 2 Tour Quito & Mitad del Mundo  Quito
Day 3 Discover the Rainforest Tena
Day 4 Visit Anaconda Island & AmaZoonico Tena
Day 5 Canoe to Parrot Clay Lick & Visit Pailón del Diablo Waterfall Baños
Day 6 Swing in the Clouds at Casa del Árbol Quito
Day 7 Discover the Highlands of Santa Cruz Puerto Ayora
Day 8 Canoe on Tortuga Bay Puerto Ayora
Day 9 Hike to the Top of Frigate Hill San Cristobal Island
Day 10 Explore Isla Lobos & Relax on the Beach San Cristobal Island
Day 11 Depart Islands - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito

View of Quito and the Cotopaxi Volcano
View of Quito and the Cotopaxi Volcano
Welcome to Ecuador! Standing at an altitude of 9,350 feet (2,850 m), Quito welcomes visitors with its picturesque plazas situated between mountain peaks. Spend your first day in the country exploring the capital and sampling Ecuadorian cuisine. Quito has an abundance of marketplaces, shamanistic healers, and fourth-generation hat makers, not to mention impressive architecture — the city's entire downtown is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
If the weather is favorable, one activity that's fun for the whole family is riding the TelefériQo cable car up to Pichincha Volcano. Trails here lead through the páramo, or typical Andean vegetation, up to the summit. From there, enjoy panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Later, ride back down to the base station to find a small amusement park. Return to the city center for dinner and to get some rest at your hotel.

Day 2: Tour Quito & Mitad del Mundo 

Equatorial Monument Mitad del Mundo
The Mitad del Mundo monument

Today, your guide will take you on a walking tour through the colonial center of Quito. You will visit the Plaza Grande and the beautiful churches La Compañía and La Basílica. Walk down the oldest street of Quito, La Ronda. Afterward, you will visit the equatorial monument Mitad del Mundo, where French scientists determined the position of the equator's line many years ago. Fun for the whole family awaits at the interactive Inti Ñan Museum, where kids can try hands-on experiments — have you ever tried to balance an egg on a nail? — and learn about ancient Ecuadorian culture. 

In the afternoon, you'll attend a family-friendly cooking class with a local chef. Head to the local market to shop for fresh ingredients, marveling at the variety of exotic fruits on offer. Enjoy some hands-on culinary experiences and taste your creations at the end. Stop for dinner in a traditional restaurant, then stay overnight at your hotel in Quito.

Day 3: Discover the Rainforest

Transfer Quito - Tena & first rainforest activities
Wildlife-spotting on a night walk
In the morning, you will leave Quito and head into the lush green Amazon rainforest basin. The journey takes you through beautiful landscapes dotted with volcanoes into a diverse ecosystem with vibrant flora and fauna. The experience is wonderful for kids — seeing wildlife in its natural habitat is far superior to any zoo. Environmental education is interesting and fun for all ages, as you'll discover during rainforest walks and canoe rides in the next few days.

From the Arajuno Bridge, you will take a motorized canoe upriver through the tropical forest to the rainforest lodge. On the boat trip, appreciate the magic and beauty of the Amazon as you travel along a river that zigzags through the jungle like a giant snake. Arrive at the lodge and learn about your scheduled activities while snacking on tropical fruits. Have lunch and enjoy some free time at the lodge before setting out on a spectacular night walk. A flashlight and camera are the most important tools on this nighttime excursion, allowing guests to hear and capture the nocturnal sounds of fishing bats, owls, some insects, tarantulas, toads, frogs, and possibly snakes. If the sky is clear, you'll see a large number of stars.
Plan your trip to Ecuador
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 4: Visit Anaconda Island & AmaZoonico

Squirrel monkeys in the Amazon
Squirrel monkeys in the Amazon
Canoe to Anaconda Island today to observe prehistoric birds, woolly monkeys, and squirrel monkeys, to name just a few. You will visit a family in one of the indigenous communities to learn about their way of life. You'll also find out about medicinal plants and the traditional way of hunting with blowguns and handmade traps. After lunch, head to AmaZoonico, a rescue center that protects a number of different animals, some in danger of extinction. 

Day 5: Canoe to Parrot Clay Lick & Visit Pailón del Diablo Waterfall

A red parrot flying near the clay lick

Early in the morning, enjoy a short canoe ride upriver to visit a parrot clay lick. In this unique place, parrots and parakeets meet to obtain the minerals that will help them digest the fruits or seeds they consume. Hundreds of parrots and parakeets approach the treetops and go down to the clay wall to eat this mineral-rich soil. Bring binoculars to enjoy this magnificent spectacle. Continue the journey towards Baños, one of Ecuador's outdoor hotspots. On the way, visit the Pailón del Diablo waterfall. Admire the majesty of the cascades before traveling onward to Baños. Check into your hotel and get some rest before tomorrow's adventure.

Day 6: Swing in the Clouds at Casa del Árbol

Swing at the end of the world in Baños, Ecuador
Swing at the end of the world in Baños, Ecuador

Enjoy the day in Baños! Try zip-lining or canyoning, relax in the hot springs, swing high above the clouds at the Casa del Árbol — an activity that's hugely popular with kids —and enjoy a cup of coffee at Café del Cielo as you take in great views of Baños and the surrounding mountains. In the afternoon, you will return to Quito for an overnight stay.

Day 7: Discover the Highlands of Santa Cruz

Exploring Santa Cruz Island
Welcome to the Galapagos Islands! You'll fly to Santa Cruz Island today and start exploring. On a guided hike around the highlands, you'll see lava tunnels and the so-called "twin craters," home to a great variety of bird species. Enjoy lunch at a local farm in the highlands, then continue to the port in Puerto Ayora to check into your hotel.

Day 8: Canoe on Tortuga Bay

Marine iguanas at Tortuga Bay
Marine iguanas at Tortuga Bay
There is much more to explore on Santa Cruz Island. Today you will head to Tortuga Bay, said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the archipelago. Sunbathe and swim, snorkel at Las Grietas, and keep your eyes open for marine iguanas and Darwin Finches. It's possible to rent kayaks or canoes here, a wonderful activity for families. If you'd rather stay on dry land, rent some bicycles and explore the highlands on your own. 

Day 9: Hike to the Top of Frigate Hill

Frigate birds nesting on Tijeretas Hill
Frigate birds nesting on Tijeretas Hill
Take the public speedboat from Santa Cruz Island to San Cristobal Island today. First, you will visit the Interpretation Center to learn from a seasoned naturalist guide about the archipelago. Later, you will take a short hike through the brush forest on your way to Frigate Hill, a lovely viewpoint on the island where frigate birds nest. Afterward, you will have a chance to go snorkeling in search of lazy sea lions, graceful sea turtles, and colorful fish.

Day 10: Explore Isla Lobos & Relax on the Beach

Sleeping sea lion
Sleeping sea lion
Go on a morning excursion to Isla Lobos ("Sea Lion Island"). This appropriately named island is full of noisy, frolicking, jolly sea lions. The island also offers excellent snorkeling opportunities and the chance to see blue-footed and Nazca boobies. Check out one or two of the beautiful beaches on San Cristobal during your free afternoon on the island for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. If you are looking for something more active, go surfing or kayaking, rent scooters, or try SUP (Stand Up Paddling). Kids can sign up for a painting class with a local artist, sketching sea lions, blue-footed boobies, giant tortoises, and more. Playa Mann is the ideal spot to catch the sunset on the last night of the trip.

Day 11: Depart Islands - End of Trip

Beautiful sunset in the Galapagos
Beautiful sunset in the Galapagos

The trip ends today. Make the connection to the airport terminal in time for your flight back to the mainland. Safe travels!

More Great Galapagos Islands Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Galapagos? Check out these other Galapagos Islands itineraries, with island-hopping cruises, land-based trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.