Places to visit in Ecuador and Galapagos
The trick with any family holiday to Ecuador and the Galapagos is not to fall into the trap of ticking off too much as the heat, humidity and altitude can take their toll. We also think it is worth including some time on the mainland as there are so many wonderful, child-friendly activities and sights to enjoy.
The Galapagos Islands
This truly unique archipelago consists of 19 islands spread over 17,000 square miles (so you can’t visit them all in one trip!) and is home to a mind-boggling array of wildlife. From its namesake giant tortoises to dancing blue-footed boobies and albatross to marine iguanas – miniature aquatic dragons – to cavorting sea lions, the uniquely trusting wildlife of the Galapagos will look you in the eye just an arm’s length away – connecting you to nature like nowhere else. The Islands’ creatures haven’t developed an ingrained or inherited trait of fearing Man. They don’t even surreptitiously shuffle sideways to get out of your way. In fact, exploring a visitor site on the Galapagos Islands you have to take care not to trip over a family of basking marine iguanas, step on a blue-footed booby’s nest or stumble over a sea lion.
Shaped by eruptions and lava flows the islands themselves are as varied as the unique animals that inhabit them. Kids will love exploring volcanic craters, fascinating lava flows, forests of bizarre cacti or fragrant palo santo trees, barren deserts and beaches in all sorts of colours: white, black, red, or gold. If you’ve seen one Galapagos island, you haven’t seen them all.
Without exaggeration, the Galapagos archipelago is a place like no other.
Ecuador’s capital city offers both colonial and modern parts – at a height of nearly 3,000m! Packed with historic plazas, churches and colonial buildings as well as shopping malls and more traditional markets, perhaps the best way to experience an overview of Quito would be to hop on the Teleferico (cable car) which offers the most incredible view of the city plus the dominant peak of Pichincha Volcano and even Cotopaxi in the distance.
Just outside the city lies the Middle of the World – site of the equator line. Children love standing in both Northern and Southern hemispheres and watching the famous ‘balance an egg on a nail’ trick.
About 90 minutes to the north of Quito lies the gorgeous colonial town of Otavalo. World-famous for its lively and colourful market, packed full of blankets, traditional wall hangings, alpaca-wool sweaters and scarves, this is the ideal place for kids to perfect their bartering skills.
Cotopaxi National Park
A stunning drive along the Panamericana Highway, appropriately known as ‘The Avenue of the Volcanoes,’ brings you to the world’s highest active volcano, Cotopaxi. At 5,897 metres Cotopaxi is beautiful, with a picture perfect snow-capped cone. Hike through the pine forest to the Limpiopungo Lagoon, located on the slopes of the volcano, keeping an eye out for the many herds of llamas that reside here.
Embark on an exciting canoe trip along the Napo River to your jungle lodge, deep in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon, home to toucans, colourful parrots, various kinds of monkeys, jaguars, capybaras and much more. Enjoy swims in the river, learn about the local Quichua culture and traditions such as the use of the “serbatana” (blowpipe) for hunting and take a fascinating guided walk where a native expert will reveal the medicinal secrets of the jungle. A magical place indeed – children will absolutely love it.
The adrenalin capital of Ecuador! Follow the famous ‘Route of the Waterfalls’ to the spectacular ‘Pailon de Diablo’ or ‘Devil’s Throat’, hop on a cable car, go bungee jumping, kayaking, white water rafting, mountain biking or hop on the famous swing at the ‘Casa de Arbol’ – also known as the ‘Swing at the End of the World’ – where thrill-seekers swing out into an abyss….
Quilotoa Crater Lake
One of the most spectacular spots in the Ecuadorian Andes, Quilotoa is a stunning lagoon at the top of the Quilotoa volcano. The water is a dramatic emerald green colour, which can change to blue or yellow according to the season. Enjoy a leisurely hike down to the lake and then hop on a donkey to take the strain out of the ascent. Don’t forget you are still at altitude.
The stunning Andean highlands are home to tiny farming communities, live volcanoes, snowy peaks, verdant hills and some gorgeous hacienda accommodation offering a variety of activities suitable for all ages. You can ride horses or mountain bikes through lush fields, take a cookery course (and eat the end results of course!), shop for colourful painted masks in the craft town of Tigua, stare up in awe at mighty Chimborazo, the highest volcano in Ecuador and meet the locals of Guamote and learn about traditional Andean highland life.
The picturesque city of Cuenca, although somewhat out on a limb in the south of the country, is worth a visit for its gorgeous 16th and 17th century Spanish colonial architecture. It is a charming place to wander through the cobblestone streets and soak up the cultural atmosphere. Home to the Panama Hat (who would have thought?!) it is also the stopping off point for El Cajas National Park with its fabulous network of trails criss-crossing a wilderness of lakes, cloud forest and paramo. Perfect for outdoor families. Travel on to the coastal city of Guayaquil with its international airport making the return journey home quite straightforward.
Call us and we will be happy to provide you with a free-of-charge no obligation itinerary and quotation designed for you.
Ecuador & Galapagos in pictures
Talk with our friendly team about your family travel needs.