- Discover Quito's historical highlights and family-friendly parks
- Learn the secrets of Ecuadorian cuisine from a professional chef
- Swing from a treehouse at the "edge of the world" in Baños
- Swim with sea lions on Isla Lobos in the Galápagos
- Kayak the crystal-clear waters of Tortuga Bay
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito & Explore||Quito|
|Day 2||Tour of Quito, Family Cooking Class & Mitad del Mundo||Quito|
|Day 3||Transfer to Baños de Agua Santa||Baños|
|Day 4||Laguna Quilotoa Kayaking & Alpaca Encounter, Transfer to Quito||Quito|
|Day 5||Fly to Isla San Cristóbal & Explore the Island||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 6||Isla Lobos Wildlife Encounter||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 7||Speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, Tortoise Reserve & Charles Darwin Station||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 8||Tortuga Bay Kayaking, Tour of Isla Santa Cruz||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 9||Twin Craters Tour, Ferry to Isla Baltra & Fly to Quito||Quito|
|Day 10||Depart Quito|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito & Explore
Welcome to Quito, Ecuador! A private driver will meet your family at the airport and take you to your hotel. Take in the views of the Andes mountains while your driver gives you an overview of your itinerary and a few insights into the city. At an elevation of 9,350 feet (2,850 m), Quito is one of the highest cities in the world—get ready for some breathtaking views! Once you've settled in, use the rest of the day to take the kids out exploring.
An ideal place to start is Plaza Foch, a bustling hub for shopping, dining, and people-watching. Head over to Parque Metropolitano Guangüiltagua, one of the largest urban parks on the continent, and relax in the peaceful surroundings while the kids let off some steam after your flight. For an even more spectacular view, hop on the TelefériQo cable car and journey to the top of Cruz Loma to see Quito's skyline from a dizzying height—hop on the swing there for the perfect photo.
Day 2: Tour of Quito, Family Cooking Class & Mitad del Mundo
Take a guided tour of Quito's UNESCO-listed historic center today, and immerse your family in the heritage and culture of this fascinating city. Starting in the heart of the Old Town at Plaza Grande, you'll visit two beautifully ornate churches, La Compañía de Jesús and La Basílica del Voto, before strolling down Quito's oldest street, La Ronda. As you walk, your guide will explain the history behind what you're seeing—Quito has been settled in some form for thousands of years, so there's plenty to learn.
Next, your guide will take you to meet a local chef, where, with a little instruction, your family will cook a traditional Ecuadorian lunch. Using seasonal, natural ingredients, create an entree and a main course to enjoy—child-safe utensils are used so even the youngest family members can get involved. Afterward, head toward the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) monument and snap some perfect family equatorial photos with a foot in each hemisphere!
Day 3: Transfer to Baños de Agua Santa
This morning you'll bid Quito farewell for now and join your driver for the transfer 3.5 hours south to Baños de Agua Santa, a mountain city famous for its beautiful waterfalls and the perfect place to relax and reconnect with nature. Your first stop will be the Pailón del Diablo (Devil's Cauldron). After a short hike, you and the kids will be amazed by the 262-foot (80 m) cascade tumbling down the rocky face. If your family loves exploring nature, continue driving the valley route to see a total of seven beautiful waterfalls.
Next on your agenda, you'll visit the most famous treehouse in the world, the Casa del Árbol. This quaint-looking treehouse is home to the Swing at the End of the World, popular with all ages as the perfect setting for a dramatic photograph. Enjoy the views of Baños from the mountain's edge as you and the kids swing your hearts out—just make sure someone remembers to take the photos! Afterward, your driver will take you to your accommodation in Baños. Head out to one of the great eateries there for dinner before relaxing for the evening.
Day 4: Laguna Quilotoa Kayaking & Alpaca Encounter, Transfer to Quito
Nestled high in the Andes south of Quito lies the bright blue-green crater lake of Quilotoa, your family's main stop-off as you head back to Quito today. Leaving bright and early, you and your guide will detour to several small villages and local markets on the way, a great chance to pick up some souvenirs and soak up the atmosphere of rural, alpine Ecuador.
Once you arrive, you and the kids can choose either to walk the crater's rim or to hike 45 minutes down to the lagoon, where you can go for a stroll, relax on the beach, or take a kayak out on the water. If the return journey up looks a bit on the strenuous side, feel free to hire a mule or two to give you a lift! At the top, you'll have the chance to meet a few friendly alpacas—be sure to grab a few cute photos of the kids. Afterward, head to your accommodation in Quito.
Day 5: Fly to Isla San Cristóbal & Explore the Island
Get the kids up bright and early—you're flying out to the Galápagos Islands today! Your private driver will take you to the airport in plenty of time to purchase your transit control card. Catch an easy three-hour flight to Isla San Cristóbal, the easternmost island in the archipelago, and your family's home for the next few nights. An ideal entry point to the Galápagos Islands, there is plenty to do on the island once you've settled into your accommodation.
The Interpretation Center is the perfect place to get an overview of the history and ecology of the islands, then head out to see some of the stars of the Galápagos wildlife scene at Las Tijeretas. Home to a large colony of frigatebirds, you'll also see many other marine bird species and get fantastic views out over Naufragio (Shipwreck) Bay and Kicker Rock. If you're lucky, you may even spot some whales! Finish the day on a high note with a trip to the beach at La Lobería, where you and the kids can see sea lions and marine iguanas up close.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Isla Lobos Wildlife Encounter
Set sail for Isla Lobos (Sea Lion Island) this morning—just a few miles from San Cristóbal, you can expect a curious and friendly wildlife welcome to this well-named island. Cruising around the island will give you great views, but for a closer look at the brightly-colored fish and playful sea lions, jump into the water and go snorkeling. With just a little luck, you might also see rays and turtles, and you'll probably find that a few of the sea lions swim along with you—likely to be a trip highlight for the kids!
Enjoy a delicious picnic lunch and then relax on the white sands and let the kids spot colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs, frigatebirds, and iguanas, or take a short hike over the island to spot other species. This is another great opportunity for budding nature photographers. Afterward, sail off into the sunset back to your hotel for a leisurely evening.
Day 7: Speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, Tortoise Reserve & Charles Darwin Station
This morning you and the kids will leave San Cristóbal behind as you take the public speedboat for a 2.5-hour trip to Isla Santa Cruz, another hub for sightseeing and research. Your first stop-off here will be at a highland farm, where the little ones have the chance to get up close to giant tortoises in their natural habitat—especially at the mud pools, where they love to cool down. Afterward, your driver will take you to your hotel in the island's main town of Puerto Ayora.
Once you've checked in and relaxed over lunch, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. This center attracts scientists from all over the world for projects such as water analysis, animal protection, and studying the effects of tourism on the environment here. Nearby you'll find the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center—the kids will love seeing how baby tortoises are hatched and cared for until they can safely be returned to the wild. You'll be fascinated as you compare the different tortoise species and see how each has evolved to match the terrain of their respective islands.
Day 8: Tortuga Bay Kayaking, Tour of Isla Santa Cruz
Start the day off right with an easy 45-minute hike through gorgeous scenery from Puerto Ayora to the world-famous Tortuga Bay. There'll be plenty of wildlife spotting along the way, so hold your cameras at the ready. Once you and the kids reach the bay, jump in some kayaks and set off to explore the crystal-clear waters. Keep your eyes peeled for marine iguanas, marine birds, and abundantly varied scenery—you'll pass mangrove and cacti forests and salt lagoons.
After kayaking, spend some time soaking up the sun on the beach, taking in the stunning views, and relaxing to the soothing sounds of the birds and waves. Picnic in paradise with the kids before taking a boat ride to La Lobería, named after its magnificent colony of sea lions. Throw on some snorkeling gear and watch the display of tropical fish and sea lions performing their underwater ballet.
Your next stop is Shark Channel, where you'll see harmless whitetip sharks, as well as friendly blue-footed boobies. Pass through the Canal del Amor, a wonderful place to spot sea turtles and a diverse range of tropical fish. Take a short walk and see marine iguanas in their natural habitat. Lastly, stop off at Las Grietas, two colossal cliffs brimming with freshwater on the surface and saltwater beneath, and take a few minutes to savor the extraordinary view. From here, you'll head back to Puerto Ayora.
Day 9: Twin Craters Tour, Ferry to Isla Baltra & Fly to Quito
This morning head out on the shuttle toward Isla Baltra and hop off at Los Gemelos, the twin volcanic craters on either side of the road. Any budding geologists and nature fans in the family will be happy with this stop-off! Take in the sight of the striking formations, and hike through the lush vegetation surrounding them, keeping an eye out for finches, mockingbirds, lizards, iguanas, and sea lions. If you managed a prompt start, so much the better—the area is typically quiet early in the morning, perfect for some quality bird-watching.
Once you've worked up an appetite, head back to Puerto Ayora for lunch and indulge in a little shopping and exploring there. At the appointed hour, your driver will meet you at your hotel and take your family to the narrow Itabaca Channel, where you'll catch the ferry to neighboring Isla Baltra. Sit back and enjoy the ocean views. From the terminal, it's just a quick shuttle ride to the airport to catch your flight back to Quito.
Day 10: Depart Quito
It's time to say goodbye to Ecuador and continue on to your family's next adventure. If time allows, head out for breakfast in town, and pick up a few souvenirs (Ejido Park is great for handcrafted items), then head to the Botanic Gardens and playground to let the kids run around a bit before you travel. Your driver will meet you back at the hotel and take you to the airport for your onward flight. Safe travels!
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