Galapagos for Families

Travel Idea:

Galapagos for Families

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Length of trip:

11 days

Approximate price of this trip per person:

from $ 2010 to $ 4095

Best travel dates to go:

Any time.


Detailed Description of this trip:

There is no place on earth more wondrous than the Galapagos Islands for nature loving families! Your family will be thrilled to encounter marine and land iguanas, colorful birds, lizards, marine turtles, tortoises, sea lions, colorful fish, and a dazzling array of coral. Baby seals may come up to nibble on your shoes, and frigate birds will delight you with their bright red breasts and loud calls. In addition to scheduled nature hikes and snorkeling excursions, you can make use of the library and show-and-touch teaching aids anytime to lead your young naturalists into the amazement of natural science. The first-class motor-yachts, M/Y Eric, Flamingo I, and Letty, were custom-designed for Galapagos excursions. Two experienced English-speaking naturalist guides attend to the details of your Galapagos cruise. Each naturalist takes a group of no more than 10 passengers on all shore excursions and shares extensive insights into the Islands’ diverse wildlife. Small wooden boats, locally called pangas, ferry passengers to shore for Island visits. These week-long, comprehensive itineraries visit the islands’ most spectacular sites to witness the unique plants and animals that have made these islands famous. Built in 1991 and refurbished every year, each 20-passenger yacht features ten double outside facing cabins located on three decks with polished teak wood interiors, window view or portholes. All of the yachts are fully air-conditioned and have private bath facilities. Snorkeling equipment, wet suits, and sea kayaks are available at no additional cost.



Trip Itinerary:

  • Day 1 - Quito

    Quito or Guayaquil.

    Arrive in either Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador, where you will be met and transferred to your local hotel*. Quito is located in a huge valley of the Andes Mountains at an altitude of 9,455 feet; it’s a great place to extend your stay to explore the city or the surrounding volcanic mountain range. Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city, and with its low elevation and more coastal location it is an ideal point from which to fly to Galapagos.

    Hotel

    Stay overnight at the Swissotel in Quito or the Hotel Oro Verde in Guayaquil, for two nights. (*Hotel/city tour package is not included in cruise rate.)

  • Day 2 - Quito

    Quito or Guayaquil.
    Quito city tour:
    Sightseeing

    Quito city tour: Stroll down cobble stone streets and through flowering plazas. Visit the old colonial center of Independence Square, the elegant cathedrals of San Francisco, La Compañía and San Agustín, Quito’s oldest monastery.

    Sightseeing

    Drive through the residential section and past the Legislative Palace (Congress). Panecillo Hill overlooks the city and snow-capped mountains.

    Relaxation

    The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure to explore or relax. Meals: Breakfast.

    Guayaquil city tour:
    Sightseeing

    Our first stop is Malecon 2000, an 80-million-dollar riverside complex built along a twomile stretch of the Guayas River. The waterfront boardwalk features a myriad of restaurants, cafes and shops, and museums with art exhibitions as well as free weekend jazz and classical music concerts.

    Sightseeing

    Drive through the colorful streets of one of Ecuador’s most important port cities, Guayaquil. Visit the Public Market, the waterfront and the docks, and Simon Bolivar Park, which is famous for its tree iguanas. Also, admire the watchtower, La Rotonda, Old Santa Ana Fort, and Las Penas, a charming colonial section of town that is occupied by artists.

    Relaxation

    The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure to explore or relax. Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 3 - San Cristobal

    San Cristobal/Playa Ochoa/Leon Dormido.
    Commercial Flight

    You will be transferred to the airport where you will collect your tickets for your flight to the Galapagos.

    Upon arrival to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Island, the crew is waiting at the airport to escort you to your anchored yacht.

    River or Barge Cruise

    After the welcome briefing and safety drill, set sail for Playa Ochoa, where you have a chance to snorkel and at the same time swim with a small colony of sea lions.

    Sightseeing

    Behind the beach, there is a tidal lagoon where birds can be spotted, including the rare Chatham mockingbird. At sunset, cruise around Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido), a vertical tuff cone formation that abruptly juts up almost 500 feet out of the ocean. On the cliffs, you will find blue-footed boobies, Nazca, or masked, boobies, and magnificent frigate birds. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 4 - At Sea

    Darwin Bay/Tower.
    Sightseeing

    Spend the entire day on Tower (Genovesa) Island, considered to be one of the most spectacular islands in Galapagos for bird species.

    Sightseeing

    This morning, there will be a dry landing at Prince Philip’s Steps. Red-footed boobies nest here in Palo Santo trees and Nazca (formerly masked) boobies nest near the trail. In an open lava field, you will find storm petrels in large numbers. If you are lucky, you will see the elusive short-eared owl.

    Kayaking

    After lunch, sea kayaks are available to paddle along the shoreline. Look for the beautiful red-billed tropic bird, which can usually be seen in a crevice. A snorkeling opportunity is offered along the inner rim of the volcanic crater.

    Beach

    Later, land on Darwin Bay, a coral sand beach where swallow-tailed and lava gulls gather near the tide pools.

    Adventure

    Enter a forest of Optuntia cactus and mangroves where colonies of great frigate birds nest. The males inflate their red-throated pouches to attract females as they fly overhead. The trail leads through a rich intertidal zone where you will find a wide diversity of animal life. If you wish, enjoy another swim with sea lions. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

  • Day 5 - At Sea

    Bachas Beach/North Seymour.
    Beach

    This morning, visit Las Bachas, which is the Spanish translation for “barges.” Here, you will find soft, white-sand beaches and interior lagoons, where you can find the greater flamingo.

    Snorkeling

    There is also a wonderful chance to snorkel here from the beach. A floating pier, a remnant of the U.S. presence from World War II is also found here.

    River or Barge Cruise

    This afternoon, you will disembark on North Seymour, a small geological uplift.

    Beach

    After a dry landing, follow a trail that leads to swallow-tailed gulls, blue-footed boobies, and the endemic land iguanas. Visit the largest colony of magnificent frigate birds found in the Galapagos. As you stroll along the beach, sea lions swim on the ocean swells. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

  • Day 6 - At Sea

    Isabela/Fernandina.
    Sightseeing

    This morning, enjoy a visit to Tagus Cove, located on the western island of Isabela. Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos, was formed when six volcanoes flowed together.

    Sightseeing

    On your walk, discover a salt-water lagoon and enjoy a scenic overlook with a spectacular view of the ocean, lava fields, and volcanic formations. Graffiti dating back to the 1800s is written on the rocky cliffs.

    Kayaking

    Explore the cove in pangas, or sea kayaks, to find Galapagos penguins, boobies, pelicans, and other seabirds.

    Adventure

    After lunch, cross the Bolivar Canal, and be on the look out for whales and dolphins riding the bow wave.

    Sightseeing

    Later, disembark at Punta Espinoza, Fernandina, the youngest and most pristine island found in the Galapagos. Hundreds of marine iguanas, the largest colony in Galapagos, bask in the sun along the rugged shoreline. Observe sea lion harems with resident bulls carefully guarding their territory. Flightless cormorants build their nest on the point, and Galapagos hawks fly overhead. Recent lava flows formed by an active volcano stretch their way around the coast.

    Snorkeling

    Take advantage of snorkeling here as it provides opportunities to see many sea turtles. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

  • Day 7 - At Sea

    Santiago/Bartolome.
    Sightseeing

    This morning, stroll along the shore at Puerto Egas, Santiago looking for octopus, starfish, and other sea life caught in the tide pools. At low tide, catch a glimpse of marine iguanas as they feed on exposed green algae. Watch for great blue herons, lava herons, American oystercatchers, and yellow-crowned night herons.

    Sightseeing

    Your walk ends at the grottos, deep pools of clear water where you can encounter fur sea lions, which were once on the verge of extinction.

    Snorkeling

    Before returning to the yacht, there is a snorkeling opportunity to view a wide variety of tropical fish.

    Sightseeing

    On Bartolome, it may seem like you are walking on the moon. This young island is inhospitable to most plants and animals. After a dry landing, climb 30 minutes up wooden stairs leading to the summit of a once active volcano. Along the way, pause to marvel at lava bombs, spatter cones, and cinder cones.

    Sightseeing

    From the top of the wooden stairs, you can gaze out across the island for a panoramic view of the island and "Pinnacle Rock," an eroded tuff cone. Down below, crystal clear water is an invitation to snorkel with schools of tropical fish and Galapagos penguins. On the other side of the island, encounter sea turtles and white-tipped sharks. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

  • Day 8 - At Sea

    Darwin Station/Santa Cruz Highlands.
    Sightseeing

    Friday is feeding day at the tortoise corals at the Charles Darwin Research Station. Today, visit all three tortoise corals and the breeding center with new hatchlings and miniature tortoises not yet ready to be repatriated. Scientists from all over the globe work at the station and conduct biological research, ranging from anatomy to zoology.

    Sightseeing

    Also, visit the Van Straelen Hall where there are exhibits and a short video presentation. Visitors can now see the pen of Lonesome George, the last surviving member of the Pinta Island subspecies.

    Bus

    After lunch on board, travel by bus to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island.

    Sightseeing

    The scenery gradually changes as you wind your way through all seven vegetation zones found in the Galapagos. From June to January, you can find giant tortoises on a private farm in the highlands.

    Sightseeing

    Enjoy a visit to Los Gemelos, or “The Twins,” a pair of large pit craters where you find the bright red male vermilion flycatcher. Stop at "the tunnels,” the largest lava tubes found in the Galapagos.

    Shopping

    Stroll through the town of Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the Galapagos with a population of 15,000. Buy souvenirs, mail postcards, or kick back at an Internet cafe in the social heart of the Galapagos Islands. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

  • Day 9 - At Sea

    Gardner Bay/Punta Suarez, Espanola.
    Beach

    This morning, step onto Gardner Bay, Espanola (Hood). Walk along seemingly endless stretches of sandy beaches, where you will find large colonies of sea lions.

    Sightseeing

    There is no trail to follow, so this is a chance to explore. Here, you may find a Galapagos hawk, Darwin’s finches, or a Hood mockingbird. Swim with sea lions or enjoy an excellent snorkeling site off Gardner Islet. Encounter a colorful diversity of sea life near Gardner Islet and Tortuga Rock and view caves covered with invertebrates.

    Sightseeing

    This afternoon, disembark at Punta Suarez, Espanola, where you will witness the highest rate of endemic species in the Galapagos while hiking a sometimes challenging trail over small boulders. Sea lions noisily greet you as you land on their beach, and curious Hood mockingbirds peck at your shoelaces. From April to November, the waved albatross, found only on Espanola, perform their wild mating ritual. See colonies of blue-footed boobies engage in “sky-pointing” to show off for potential mates, and watch Nazca, or masked boobies busily care for their young.

    Sightseeing

    Catch a glimpse of stunning swallow-tailed gulls, the only nocturnal gulls in the world. Look for red-billed tropic birds taking shelter under the cliffs. Here, you can also find Darwin’s finches, Galapagos doves, and Galapagos hawks. Observe a unique species of marine iguana, which can be identified by its traces of red and green colorings. Colorful sally light-foot crabs crawl along the shoreline near to the famous "blow hole.”

    River or Barge Cruise

    This is the scene most people envision when they decide to visit Galapagos, and it is a glorious finale to your Galapagos cruise. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

  • Day 10 - San Cristobal

    Interpretation Center/San Cristobal/Quit.
    Sightseeing

    This morning, drop anchor in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal. Visit the Interpretation Center, which was opened in 1999. Here, you will gain a more complete understanding of the natural and human history of the Galapagos Islands.

    Commercial Flight

    Afterwards, head straight to the airport for your flight back to the mainland.

    Hotel

    You will be met and transferred to your hotel. Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 11 - Quito

    Quito or Guayaquil/Onward.

    You will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. Meals: Breakfast.

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