Explore two of the world's most diverse wildlife destinations in one trip! This 10-day itinerary will take your family through the wonders of the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest and the Galapágos Islands, with a couple of nights in high-altitude Quito to boot. You and the kids will get up close to macaws, giant tortoises, and sea lions in their natural habitats, experience both traditional life in the Amazon and Quito's city style, and learn about one of the frontiers of science and conservation research.


  • Hike through the Amazon rainforest and see colorful parrots up close
  • Experience the way of life of Amazon's Indigenous communities
  • Meet the wildlife of the Galápagos Islands and learn about the research there
  • Snorkel, hike, and swim in the unspoiled beauty of Isla Santa Cruz

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito Quito
Day 2 Fly to El Coca, Transfer to Yasuní National Park Yasuní National Park
Day 3 Parrot Clay Lick, Kichwa Community Visit & Rainforest Walk Yasuní National Park
Day 4 Wayusa Ritual, Fly to Quito & Mitad del Mundo Monument  Quito
Day 5 Fly to Isla San Cristóbal & Explore Isla San Cristóbal
Day 6 Isla San Cristóbal Beach Day Isla San Cristóbal
Day 7 Speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, Tortoise Reserve & Charles Darwin Station Isla Santa Cruz
Day 8 Explore an Uninhabited Island Isla Santa Cruz
Day 9 Cerro Mesa Reserve & Garrapatero Beach Isla Santa Cruz
Day 10 Ferry to Isla Baltra, Fly to Quito & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito

Make some new friends at Parque Metropolitano Guangüiltagua

Welcome to Quito, Ecuador! Your driver will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel in the city. Quito is one of the world's highest cities, nestled between the mountains at an elevation of 9,350 feet (2,850 m), so take some time to acclimatize, settle into your accommodation, and enjoy the breathtaking views. Once you and the kids are ready to start exploring, head to the top of Cruz Loma on the TelefériQo cable car for the best view of Quito's skyline. Have a go on the swing at the top for the perfect photo! 

Back down in town, go to the Parque Metropolitano Guangüiltagua, one of the largest urban parks in South America, and relax. The kids can stretch their legs, make the most of the playgrounds, and say hello to the park's resident llamas. The park is also a nature reserve and a great place for bird-watching (keep your eyes peeled for hummingbirds).

Stop off at Plaza Foch to refuel―Quito has a great culinary scene, with plenty of kid-friendly favorites like empanadas or llapingachos (cheese-stuffed griddled potato patties). For dessert, try some of the excellent local chocolate―Quito showcases Ecuador's popular natural resource to perfection with its multiple boutique chocolatiers. 

Day 2: Fly to El Coca, Transfer to Yasuní National Park

Yasuni National Park
Explore Yasuní National Park's excellent observation decks and trails 

Get the family up bright and early this morning and head to Quito Airport to board your morning flight to El Coca, your family's springboard into the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest. One of the planet's most biologically diverse areas, exploring the Amazon will be an adventure to remember. Your driver will meet you at the airport and take you to your ecolodge accommodations at the Napo Cultural Center, which lies in the Indigenous territory of the Kichwa Añangu community. Enjoy a traditional welcome and then settle into your comfortable rooms, complete with rainforest views.

The afternoon's first activity will be an easy hike along the Playas trail. Savor the experience of seeing Amazon wildlife for the first time as your kids enjoy the excitement of exploring a real jungle. Next up, take the kids kayaking along the vast Río Napo. Enjoy the colorful sunset view before taking a relaxing paddle back to the center. Refresh yourselves in your cabin and then linger over a delicious dinner before you and the kids fall asleep to the sounds of the rainforest around you. 

Day 3: Parrot Clay Lick, Kichwa Community Visit & Rainforest Walk 

Visit the Parrot Clay Lick & Kichwa Community, Hike through the Rainforest
The kids will love getting up close to colorful macaw parrots at the clay lick

Rise and shine early for your first excursion―after breakfast, your family will be heading out for an easy one-hour rainforest walk to a parrot clay lick. As the birds nourish themselves on minerals and water, you'll be able to observe them at close range. Spot 11 different species of parrots and parakeets, and, if you're lucky, even monkeys, tapirs, and peccaries. Afterward, you'll hike onward to the Añangu community, where a local family will share their daily activities with you―a great opportunity for your kids to experience a different way of life firsthand.

Next, you'll head to a second parrot clay lick for a little more bird-watching before heading back to the Napo Cultural Center for lunch with Kichwa community members. This afternoon you and the kids will take a canoe trip to the Napo Wildlife Center. Keep your eyes peeled for fish, caimans, giant otters, and turtles. Once there, enjoy the forest trails, canopy observation towers, and traditional Kichwa dancing demonstrations before heading back to your accommodation for a delicious traditional dinner and relaxing evening. 

Day 4: Wayusa Ritual, Fly to Quito & Mitad del Mundo Monument

Quito's quaint streets are ripe for exploration

Start your day like a local―with a 4:30 am wayusa ritual! Sharing this energizing herbal tea is the traditional Kichwa way to ease into the day's activities and provides a time to gather, sing, share oral history, and allow the wisest elders to interpret last night's dreams. This ritual has been a part of Amazonian culture for over 2,000 years; each family has a tree from which they harvest the leaves. Once you and the kids have shared in this memorable experience, you'll eat breakfast and catch a speedboat back to El Coca, where you'll catch your flight to Quito. 

Your driver will meet you at the airport and transport you to your accommodation in the city. Take a break and have some lunch before heading out to the equatorial monument, the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World), with your guide. Take some classic family photos with one foot in each hemisphere and explore the area a little.

As well as the original monument, you can visit the modern GPS-determined location of the equator, 787 feet (240 m) to the north. There are plenty of other attractions―multiple museums, beer and chocolate exhibits, an old train station, and a small chapel. You and the kids can happily while a few hours away here before heading back into central Quito for a tasty dinner. 

Plan your trip to Ecuador
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Fly to Isla San Cristóbal & Explore

sea lion
Meet the friendly sea lions at Playa La Lobería 

Today you and the kids are heading to a dream destination for any wildlife lover―the Galápagos Islands. Arrive at the airport in plenty of time to purchase your transit control card, and then relax and enjoy your three-hour flight west to Isla San Cristóbal, the easternmost island in the archipelago and the perfect base for exploration. Get your bearings at the Interpretation Center, where you can learn about the local wildlife and conservation efforts, as well as the region's history, then head out to explore the fantastic scenery around you.  

A great place to start is Las Tijeratas. Not only will you get great views from the hilltop―if you're there at the right time of year, you may even see some whales―but you'll be close to the nesting sites of the local frigatebirds (tijeretas). Finish the afternoon relaxing at Playa La Lobería. There's plenty of space for the kids to play in the sand and surf, but the most exciting part is the wildlife―this area is home to many sea lions and marine iguanas, so budding wildlife enthusiasts and nature photographers will be entertained for hours. 

Day 6:  Isla San Cristóbal Beach Day

San Cristobal
Relax today on Isla San Cristóbal

Slow the pace a little for the kids today with a beach day on the island. As well as La Lobería, Playa Carola, and Playa Mann are both beautiful, safe beaches to play, paddle, and swim. Sunbathe and swim with the sea lions, or, for a little more adventure, head out snorkeling. Get the kids to spot the different species of seabird, as well as the colorful fish and sea stars. For history buffs, Naufragio (Wreck) Bay is worth a stop―it's here that Charles Darwin landed and compiled the data that would become "On the Origin of Species." 

For a more active outing, take an excursion to Punta Pitt. After a boat ride, a short hike will take you up to a lookout with panoramic ocean views. Along the walk, you'll have excellent chances to bird-watch, with large numbers of Nazca, red- and blue-footed boobies all making their homes here. You should also find plenty of iguanas and sea lions too. Round your day off with a seaside stroll and leisurely dinner before relaxing in your accommodation for the evening. 

Day 7: Speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, Tortoise Reserve & Charles Darwin Station

Visit Highlands Tortoise Reserve & Charles Darwin Research Station
Nurture your family's young scientific minds at the Charles Darwin Research Station

Start your day early with a speedboat trip to Isla Santa Cruz, the central island of the Galápagos, and your family's base for the next few nights. Your driver will meet you at the port, but it's not yet time to head to your accommodation―first, you'll stop at the Highlands Tortoise Reserve, where you and the kids can see plenty of giant tortoises up close in their natural habitat. These impressive creatures can weigh up to 661 lbs (300 kg) and live up to 200 years. The reserve also has other points of excitement for little ones, with lava tunnels to explore, birds to spot, and stunning views.

Afterward, your driver will take you to your hotel in the island's main town of Puerto Ayora. Take a lunch break, then continue to your next wildlife adventure, the Charles Darwin Research Station. The center is world famous for its tortoise breeding programs and is a meeting point for scientists the world over to study water quality, animal protection, and the effects of tourism on nature. Take a guided tour to get the best understanding of the exciting work that goes on here. Youngsters will love seeing how baby tortoises are hatched and nurtured until they can be returned to the wild and inspired by researchers' efforts to understand and contribute to the preservation of this part of the world. 

Day 8: Explore an Uninhabited Island

Isla Bartolomé
Let the kids spend the day exploring an uninhabited island

Time for the explorers in your family to come to the fore! Today you and the kids will set sail for a day trip to an uninhabited island here in the Galápagos―either Santa Fé, Plaza Sur, Bartolomé, or Seymour Norte (strict control over entry by the National Park authorities keeps these islands in their untouched state). Enjoy your refreshing morning journey over clear turquoise waters, and as you hike through the islands, keep your eye out for wildlife such as giant tortoises, iguanas, and blue-footed boobies. A guide will help you find all the most picturesque spots.

Lunch will be a delicious and relaxing affair back on board, then spend the afternoon enjoying the environment according to your family's preference―relax on the beach, head out swimming, or explore on foot and see who can take the best wildlife (or family!) photographs. As the day draws to a close, head out on the water again and sail back to Puerto Ayora for a delicious dinner and leisurely evening on the island. Get a good night's rest, ready for your wildlife adventures tomorrow.

Day 9: Cerro Mesa Reserve & Garrapatero Beach

Garrapatero Beach
Spot the marine iguanas at Playa Garrapatero 

Today, your family will explore two of the most beautiful spots on Isla Santa Cruz. After a leisurely breakfast, you'll head into the highlands to the Cerro Mesa Ecological Reserve. Located on the crater of a dormant volcano, the reserve is situated on the island's highest point―you and the kids will be rewarded with spectacular views out over the vegetation and coastline of Isla Santa Cruz and even out to the surrounding islands. A local family started the reserve with the aim of providing a safe home for the giant tortoises that you'll see rambling on or near the paths as you explore.

Afterward, head down the road to Playa Garrapatero, a secluded piece of coast that's a favorite with the locals. The calm waters are great for swimming with the kids or head out snorkeling or kayaking. If you're lucky, you'll see a few tortoises and sea lions swimming right beside you! There's plenty of other wildlife to be seen, of course―and, if you take your kids exploring in the nearby mangroves and freshwater lagoon, even flamingoes and Bahama ducks. Head back into town and spend the rest of your day relaxing and exploring Puerto Ayora.

Day 10: Ferry to Isla Baltra, Fly to Quito & Depart

Puerto Ayora
Take the kids for a stroll through colorful Puerto Ayora

Sadly, it's time to say goodbye to the Galápagos Islands today, but if time allows, take the kids for a last stroll through Puerto Ayora. Indulge in a little souvenir shopping, or swing by the fish market and observe the action―the sea lions and birdlife waiting for scraps is one of the island's most popular and entertaining attractions!

At the designated time, your driver will meet you and your hotel and take you to meet the narrow Itabaca Channel, which you'll cross by ferry to reach neighboring Isla Baltra. From the ferry terminal, it's an easy shuttle ride to the airport to catch your flight back to Quito and on to your family's next adventure. Safe travels! 

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Map of Ecuador Family Wildlife Adventure: Amazon Rainforest & Galápagos Islands  - 10 Days
Map of Ecuador Family Wildlife Adventure: Amazon Rainforest & Galápagos Islands - 10 Days