- Explore delicious Ecuadorian cuisine with a family cooking class
- Stand in both hemispheres at the same time in the "Middle of the World"
- Cruise the shorelines of Isla San Cristóbal via standup paddleboard
- Swim and snorkel with tropical fish, turtles, and even sharks on an island boat tour
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito, Explore||Quito|
|Day 2||Quito City Tour, Family Cooking Class||Quito|
|Day 3||Mitad del Mundo, Temple of the Sun, Learn to Salsa||Quito|
|Day 4||Fly to Isla San Cristóbal & the Galápagos Islands||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 5||Sea Lions of Isla Lobos, Standup Paddleboarding Tour, Kids Painting Class||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 6||Free Day on Isla San Cristóbal: Swim, Snorkel & Hike||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 7||Galapaguera Tortoise Reserve, El Junco Lagoon & Puerto Chino Beach||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 8||360-Degree Tour: Beaches & Wildlife||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 9||Fly to Quito, Family Chocolate Tasting||Quito|
|Day 10||Yaku Water Museum Tour, Depart Quito|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Explore
Welcome to Ecuador, the gateway to the Galápagos Islands! Your flight lands in the capital city of Quito, located in the foothills of the Andes and home to a rich cultural history. Upon arrival, your driver will collect you from the airport, and after you and the kids have a chance to rest and regroup, you're free to explore a bit on your own.
If the youngsters are looking to burn some energy after the long plane ride, head over to Parque La Carolina, one of Quito's largest parks. Here, you'll find 165 acres (66 ha) of green space, with lakes, fountains, children's play areas, and plenty of food vendors if you'd like to grab a bite. The park also has a children's library and a defunct Ecuadorian Air Force plane-turned museum! While you're here, be sure to stop in at the on-site botanical gardens, where a network of paths takes you through the gardens, and greenhouses with a huge variety of beautiful orchids are on display.
Afterward, head over to the Vivarium, a research and education center that is home to more than 40 different species of reptiles and amphibians. See the exhibits that offer information on the various snakes, lizards, turtles, and other creatures here, with live demonstrations and closer views of Ecuador's local wildlife.
Day 2: Quito City Tour, Family Cooking Class
This morning, explore Quito via a private tour and see why its historic center was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Your guide will collect your family from your hotel, and you'll make your way to landmarks like the Baroque La Compañía de Jesús and the soaring La Basílica del Voto, the largest neo-Gothic church in the Americas.
Take a walk down La Ronda, a street located just south of the historic district and one of the oldest streets in the city. Here, you'll find quaint, lantern-lit walkways, open courtyards, art galleries, shops, and restaurants. End your tour at Panecillo Hill, where your family can climb up to see skyline views of the city. Keep in mind that in addition to having plenty of culture and beauty, Quito also has quite the altitude, sitting 9,350 feet (2,850 m) above sea level, so make sure you and the kids take time to acclimate during your tour.
Later this afternoon, take a deep dive into the local traditions and the amazing gastronomy of the region with a family cooking class. Step into the kitchen of a local chef and learn to prepare some typical Ecuadorian dishes, including empanadas and guaguas de pan (sweet rolls filled with chocolate or jam). During the class, your instructors will also share stories about the history behind each recipe. There's a special menu for younger family members, and at the end of the class, you'll sit down with your fellow chefs and enjoy the meal you created.
Day 3: Mitad del Mundo, Temple of the Sun, Learn to Salsa
Have you always wanted to stand in both the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres at the same time? Today's your opportunity as you visit the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) monument. In 1736, a French expedition determined that this spot was the location of the equator. The true equator line was about 650 feet (200 m) north of that line, but by the time the mistake was discovered, the huge monument had already been built! Despite the slightly "off" location, this remains a popular attraction, with several exhibition halls and lots of fun photo ops for you and the kids.
Right next door to Mitad del Mundo, you'll also find the Intiñan Museum, which actually sits closer to the real equator line. Learn about ancient Ecuadorian culture while the kids enjoy participating in fun activities such as walking the equatorial line with their eyes closed or balancing an egg on a nail. And later, you can stop by the Temple of the Sun Museum, located directly on the equator and founded by painter and sculptor Ortega Maila. The museum merges the reverence of spirituality alongside local culture with exhibits and a gallery of Maila's work.
Back in Quito this evening, groove to some Ecuadorian dance vibes with a family salsa class! You'll work with a professional instructor to learn the basic steps and turns, all set to vibrant and lively salsa beats. Your teacher will share some of the history behind the movement and music of salsa and how it ties into South American culture. The kids will be able to practice their new moves, and afterward, you can grab dinner at a local restaurant before heading back to your hotel.
Day 4: Fly to Isla San Cristóbal & the Galápagos Islands
It's off to the Galápagos island of San Cristóbal today! At the appointed time, your driver will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the airport, where you'll catch a 3.5-hour flight. Upon arrival, your private transfer will collect you, and after you check in at your hotel, the rest of the day is yours.
Start your exploration of the Galápagos' natural wonders with a visit to the island's Interpretation Center. The museum here showcases the islands' volcanic origins, climate, different animal species that live here, and the human history of how the islands were discovered and colonized. From here, you can take an easy hike up Las Tijeretas Hill, named for the frigatebirds that nest in the area. The male birds are known for their bright red chests, making them easy for the kids to spot as you hike. End your day with some relaxed snorkeling along the island's shores, where you're likely to spot turtles, colorful fish, and sea lions.
Day 5: Sea Lions of Isla Lobos, Standup Paddleboarding Tour, Kids' Painting Class
Your morning starts with a visit to Isla Lobos, or "Sea Lion Island." Just like the name says, Isla Lobos is rife with noisy, frolicking sea lions, sure to amuse and entertain the kids. You'll take a boat ride to the island and have a chance to see not only sea lions but also birds like blue-footed and Nazca boobies. You'll also have the opportunity to do some snorkeling around the island and get up close and personal with tropical fish, seahorses, and turtles.
Afterward, let the kids expend some energy with a standup paddleboarding tour. After a briefing on safety and equipment, you'll head out to some of the island's beaches, cruising through crystal-clear waters while enjoying the fascinating coastline of Isla San Cristóbal. Do keep in mind that this tour is best suited for older children if they want to paddle on their own, although if your child is four years old or older, they can join you on your board and ride along.
Budding artists in the family will also enjoy a painting class later this afternoon. Meet up with a local artist and paint different Galápagos animals, learning about the animals' habits and history as you go. Paint pictures of blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and giant tortoises—there are really no limits on creativity here! And at the end of the night, you'll have your own hand-painted souvenir to take home with you.
Day 6: Free Day on Isla San Cristóbal: Swim, Snorkel & Hike
Enjoy a free day on Isla San Cristóbal, exploring more of the region's natural beauty and wildlife and visiting some of the stunning local beaches. Visit Playa Carola, a white-sand beach with clear, calm waters. There are plenty of colorful fish and marine life here, making it a perfect spot for little ones to learn to snorkel. Nearby, you'll find a small forest where the kids can run and play.
For even more wildlife viewing, head to Playa Mann. This beach is surrounded by cliffs, with shallow waters that are home to fish and sea turtles. This is also a great bird-watching area, as you're likely to see seabirds nesting on the cliffs or diving for a meal in the waters. And if your family wants something more physical, continue to Punta Pitt, where a one-hour hike takes you to a lookout point with breathtaking views of the bay. The kids will want to keep an eye out for lava lizards lounging on the rocks or bright-colored finches flitting around the trees. Afterward, head down to the beach for a dip.
Later, spend some time on the white coral-sand beaches of Cerro Brujo (Witch's Hill). The beach is part of a volcanic cone and was one of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin during his historical journey on the HMS Beagle. The area is home to Galápagos sea lions, marine iguanas, and blue-footed boobies. It also has some of the island's best snorkeling, with rays, turtles, fish, and sponge coral on display. End the day with a stroll along the island's beachfront promenade, watching fishermen unload their catch of the day and maybe purchasing a few souvenirs or treats for the kids from local vendors.
Day 7: Galapaguera Tortoise Reserve, El Junco Lagoon & Puerto Chino Beach
Today the kids get to meet some of the archipelago's most iconic residents with a visit to the Galapaguera Tortoise Reserve, a breeding, conservation, and education center dedicated to protecting and growing the island's tortoise population. Learn about the work done here and how it helps in the preservation of the species, and walk through the trails and wooded areas to see the tortoises up close. The kids may even get a chance to see the egg hatchery, where the eggs are collected and kept safe until they hatch.
After your walk with the turtles, head to El Junco Lagoon, a crater lake that's also the only freshwater lake in the Galápagos. See pintail ducks and frigatebirds as you walk along the shores, and take in the greenery of the junco plants that grow around the lagoon and for which it's named. Finish at beautiful Puerto Chino Beach, a white-sand beach with turquoise waters located on the southeastern part of the island. The turquoise waters here make for a nice snorkeling spot, and your family is also likely to spot sea lions and blue-footed boobies along the shore.
Day 8: 360-Degree Tour: Beaches & Wildlife
Make the most of your family's last day on Isla San Cristóbal with a guided tour. You'll meet with your guide at the pier, and after getting outfitted with the proper equipment, you'll board a boat and head out. Your skipper will take you to Leon Dormido or Kicker Rock, a large rock formation just off the coast that earns its nickname from its shoe-like shape. Drop anchor and take some time to snorkel and swim, potentially accompanied by sea turtles, rays, or even harmless whitetip reef sharks!
From here, continue to Cerro Brujo, where you'll take a break at the beautiful Bahía Sardina Beach. Let the kids run and play along the shore for a bit, then visit Punta Pitt, where your guide will show you how the locals fish and let you and the kids try reeling one in on your own. Enjoy a hot lunch on board, then close the tour on the white sands of Rosa Blanca Beach, where you can relax and swim before heading back to the pier.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 9: Fly to Quito, Family Chocolate Tasting
It's time to say your goodbyes to the Galápagos this morning as your driver takes you to the airport for your flight back to Quito. After being transferred to your hotel, step out for an event that the kids will absolutely love—a chocolate tasting!
Chocolate has long been a rich part of Ecuador's history, going back thousands of years to cacao plants in the Amazon. You'll have the opportunity to taste some of that history, visiting a local chocolatier and sampling various chocolates, as well as delicious cups of hot cocoa. This evening, you'll have time to stroll the city on your own, hitting up nearby markets or boutiques for souvenirs.
Day 10: Yaku Water Museum Tour, Depart Quito
Spend your final morning in Ecuador at the Yaku Water Museum, an interactive educational center where your family can learn about the Andes' water cycle, its history, and how water is transported around the city. There are several floors of exhibits, with age-specific activities, a play area, and an outdoor splash pad where the little ones can beat the heat in the refreshing fountains.
Later today, it's time for you and the family to say farewell to Ecuador. At the appointed hour, your driver will pick you up and transfer you to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!