- Take a stunning cable car ride up the flanks of a volcano for incredible views
- Let the kids get close to the Galápagos giant tortoises on a highlands farm
- Walk family-friendly trails on various islands as you look for exotic creatures
- Snorkel around Isla Santa Fe while meeting sea lions and spotted eagle rays
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito, Explore the City||Quito|
|Day 2||Ride the TelefériQo, Visit the Mitad del Muno Monument||Quito|
|Day 3||Fly to Isla Baltra, Transfer to Cruise Ship, Visit Isla Santa Cruz||Cruise Ship|
|Day 4||Explore El Barranco, Prince Philip's Steps & Darwin Bay on Isla Genovesa||Cruise Ship|
|Day 5||Explore Isla Plaza Sur & Isla Santa Fe||Cruise Ship|
|Day 6||Visit Bachas Beach, Transfer to Baltra Airport, Fly to Quito||Quito|
|Day 7||Depart Quito|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Explore the City
Welcome to the capital of Ecuador, Quito! Your driver will meet you and the kids at the airport for the 45-minute drive to your hotel in the city center. While en route, you'll receive a delightful overview of your trip's itinerary, setting the tone for a memorable family adventure. At your hotel, relax for a bit, hydrate, and take some time to acclimatize to one of the highest cities in the world at 9,350 feet (2,850 m) before exploring the city.
When you're ready to hit the streets, take the little ones for a run-around after the long flight in Carolina Park—a vast urban space in the city's center. It has different sections, such as an artificial lake, a running track, and even designated biking and skate areas. You can also stroll through Plaza Foch, a bustling hub for shopping, dining, and people-watching. Or, head over to another green space called Guangüiltagua Metropolitan Park, one of the largest urban parks in the Americas, and immerse yourselves in its lush greenery and tranquil surroundings.
In the late afternoon, walk around Quito's historic Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with stunning colonial architecture. It welcomes visitors with its vibrant nightlife, impressive restaurant scene, picturesque squares, like Plaza Grande, and market stands. Find a casual restaurant for dinner before settling in for the night.
Day 2: Ride the TelefériQo, Visit the Mitad del Mundo Monument
After a good night's rest and filling breakfast at your hotel, you and the family can hop on the cable car called TelefériQo, which brings you up to 13,123 feet (4,000 m) on the slopes of the Pichincha volcano, with a spectacular view over the city and the surrounding mountains. At the top, take a short walk to snap pictures from different viewpoints. Or go one step farther and give the kids something to tell their friends about by taking pictures of them on the world's highest swing! After an easy wander around (remember, the altitude may make some feel slightly breathless), head back down the volcano.
Then it's time for your next adventure! This afternoon is your chance to step foot in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres simultaneously with a visit to the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World). A French expedition determined the equator line there in 1736, only to find out that the actual equator is located around 656 feet (200 m) north of that line. Since the enormous monument had already been built, it remained in place as a fun tourist attraction. Take photos of the monument, visit the various exhibition halls, and enjoy jumping from one hemisphere to another.
While here, visit the Inti Ñan Museum, an interactive site where you can participate in amusing experiments and learn about ancient Ecuadorian culture before you head back to the city for the evening. Get a good night's rest in preparation for tomorrow's flight!
Day 3: Fly to Isla Baltra, Transfer to Cruise Ship, Visit Isla Santa Cruz
The day you've all been eagerly anticipating is finally here! At the appointed time, you and the family will transfer to the airport and catch a flight to the Galápagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago around 621 miles (1,000 km) off Ecuador's coast.
Upon arrival at the ecological airport on Isla Baltra, you'll first go through a procedure to ensure that no foreign plant or animal species are introduced to the islands and have your TCC (Transit Control Card) stamped. Your guide will meet you at the airport, assist you with the luggage and accompany you on the short bus ride. Then it's time to climb aboard the cruise vessel. After greeting the crew and the captain, your cabins will be assigned to you, and then you'll enjoy your first lunch on board.
Next, get ready to be dazzled by the unique wildlife, the crystal-clear waters, and the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Galápagos Islands. You'll first set sail to Isla Santa Cruz and make the drive into the highlands along a road that travels from the coast straight up to the dense humid forests. From here, take an easy 1.5-hour walk to admire different birds, such as tree and ground finches, vermillion flycatchers, paint-billed crakes, and yellow warblers. Next, journey to a reserve for Galápagos giant tortoises and get close to the gentle giants—an experience the kids will never forget!
Day 4: Explore El Barranco, Prince Philip's Steps & Darwin Bay on Isla Genovesa
Let the little ones sleep in as you watch the sunrise aboard your ship in the Pacific Ocean. After breakfast, you and the kids will head out on a full-day adventure on Isla Genovesa. First, you'll ride pangas (small fishing boats) to the far side of this volcanic island, keeping an eye out for red-billed tropicbirds overhead and spotting Galápagos fur seals along the shoreline. Then climb to the top of a rocky stairway, where Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, mockingbirds, and finches will meet you. Wind your way through a palo santo forest until you arrive at an expansive open lava field, where sharp-eyed kids might spot the area's short-eared owls.
Then have a hearty lunch back on board as you set sail to Darwin Bay. Here you can step onto a sandy beach and do some more exploring on a short, flat trail through sand and lava formations. Keep your cameras close―the surrounding mangrove and saltbush habitats are prime nesting grounds for great frigatebirds, easily identified by their bright red-throat pouches. If you're lucky, you might even spot the island's endemic lava gull—considered the rarest gull in the world.
Day 5: Explore Isla Plaza Sur & Isla Santa Fe
Today you'll have a full-day adventure visiting two islands on the archipelago, starting with Isla Plaza Sur. Tell the youngsters to keep their eyes peeled as sea lions, swallow-tailed gulls, and land iguanas are all present at the landing site. The small island is also covered with a carpet of a succulent studded with opuntia cacti, so there are plenty of photo opportunities.
At the cliff edge, your guide will help identify species flying past at eye level, including frigatebirds, flocks of Galápagos shearwaters, and colorful red-billed tropicbirds. Back at sea level, you'll encounter land iguanas, some of which have hybridized with their resident marine cousins.
After lunch aboard your ship, it's time to sail to Isla Santa Fe. Here you'll enjoy a family snorkel experience in the turquoise waters of the protected bay, where you'll dive in alongside sea lions, turtles, reef sharks, and spotted eagle rays. Take a break on a sandy beach, home to more playful sea lions, then take a leisurely walk past a forest of giant cacti, where you can search for Santa Fe land iguanas, Galápagos hawks, and endemic rice rats. After a fun-filled day, the kids are sure to sleep well when you return to your ship for the evening.
Day 6: Visit Bachas Beach, Transfer to Baltra Airport, Fly to Quito
It's your last day on the Galápagos! Before you depart in the afternoon, you'll have time to see more wildlife with a barefoot walk on the sandy Bachus Beach. Named for the wrecked World War II barges still visible in the sand, this visitor site offers excellent swimming, a lovely walk along the shore, and a visit to a lagoon behind the high tide line with wading birds, marine iguanas and sometimes even flamingoes. The two beaches are also favorite nesting sites for green turtles—task the kids with spotting their tractor-like tracks in the sand.
After this visit, your cruise ends, and you and the family will transfer to the airport on Isla Baltra. Once you board your flight back to Ecuador's mainland, sit back and enjoy the views. Upon arrival in Quito, you'll be transferred to your hotel for a good night's sleep.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 7: Depart Quito
It's time to depart Ecuador! But first, you'll have free time to explore Quito at your own pace—and let the kids stretch their legs before this afternoon's flight. Remember to consider the city's high altitude and move at a relaxed pace as you visit some sights you may have missed at the beginning of the trip. Perhaps start in the La Floresta neighborhood with plenty of street art, artsy cafés, lovely views, and a wide variety of restaurants and street food.
You can also hit some museums and cultural spots in the city, such as La Casa de La Cultura, MINDALAE Museum, or the Museum of Contemporary Art. Meanwhile, Itchimbía Park is a beautiful green space and home to the Crystal Palace, where different cultural and art exhibitions are in rotation, aside from offering fantastic city views.
As your time in Ecuador draws to a close, a friendly representative will be there to ease the transition and make your departure as smooth as possible. They'll fetch you from your accommodation and whisk you to the bustling Quito airport for your onward journey. Safe travels!