Where to stay in Ecuador and Galapagos
Although tourism is relatively well established in Ecuador, there is a noticeably smaller range of accommodation here than in other countries in South America such as Peru. In Quito you can choose between a traditionally furnished colonial inn or a more standard hotel that has a swimming pool. In the highlands there are some lovely haciendas to choose from offering a delightful array of activities. The Amazon has a number of lodges of different standards all accessed by canoe with similar jungle excursions available at each. We will be able to advise you on what will suit your family (and budget).
What are hotels in Ecuador like?
In Quito you will have the usual offerings. However sometimes people like to be just outside the hustle and bustle of the city (making access to the airport, Otavalo and Cotopaxi National Park much easier) and there are a number of really fabulous lodges, all built in a natural setting, within a patch of rainforest, which offer superb alternatives to the city hotels. Once you head away from the Quito area into the interior you will find yourselves based in quaint colonial haciendas. These can be very comfortable and are usually in lovely settings with beautiful views over the Andean mountains and highland scenery. They may not be classed as 5* or offer swimming pools and all mod cons but they more than make up for this with charm and character.
One of our favourite hotels is the Hacienda Porvenir. Situated at over 3,500m, it is surrounded by volcanoes including the mighty Cotopaxi. This lovely hacienda is built from local material in the style traditional to the area and being a working farmhouse, is perfect for children to cut loose and run around – a real home from home atmosphere with lots of space! In addition to the gorgeous setting, the hacienda offers plenty of exciting activities – there is a fun high rope course, mountain biking, horse-riding, volcano trekking, children can milk the cows, make their own cheese, learn how to cook empanadas (delicious local pasties) or simply sit and enjoy the sun setting over snow-capped volcanoes whilst spotting owls swoop overhead.
What are the different types of accommodation in the Galapagos?
In the Galapagos, boats carry between 12 and 110 passengers and are divided into economy, tourist, first class, and luxury. The ships tend to travel between the islands at night so passengers are ready to explore first thing in the morning. Many people are averse to larger ships but in fact we find that these work much better for families in terms of facilities and child-friendly activities. There are plenty of open outdoor spaces so you are not worrying about the children bothering the honeymooners or the serious birdwatchers. They also offer more stability especially during the summer holidays when seas can be rougher.
Our favourite vessel is the Santa Cruz II. A sleek, modern ship, the Santa Cruz II offers all the facilities you would expect of a cruise ship – such as top class dining in both indoor and outdoor restaurants, a gym, hot tubs with seaviews, a sun deck, observation deck, large windows throughout, WiFi and a/c. There are 50 cabins, including many family and interconnecting cabins, which provide accommodation for a maximum of 90 passengers. Excellent sports equipment includes kayaks, snorkelling gear, wetsuits, glass-bottom boats and pangas (inflatable dinghies). Being a modern ship, it is extremely eco-friendly, an important point when visiting a natural paradise such as the Galapagos. Any concern about being herded into a large group for shore excursions should be put aside as groups have a strict maximum of 11 with a guide for each group. There are 7 naturalists on board as well as an Expedition Leader and Photo Specialist.
In addition, there are specific children’s activities such as the ‘Pirates Aboard’ programme, panga rides aimed for young adventurers, snorkelling lessons, bridge tours led by the Captain, family games and children’s meals (served at children’s meal times!)
Another option is to stay ashore in a hotel on one of the larger islands and take day trips to nearby islands although the range that can be visited is limited by distance. This is the ideal option for those who suffer from sea sickness or are keen to enjoy a wider variety of land-based activities than may be on offer as part of a cruise-based itinerary.
By far our favourite land-based option is the fabulous Galapagos Safari Camp. An African-style safari camp, nestled in the wild highlands of Santa Cruz Island (with easy access to Baltra airport) it offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean from its panoramic lodge. Just nine tents and a family suite provide the perfect base from which to visit the nearby Charles Darwin Research Station and, futher afield, the islands of Rabida, Santiago and Isabela. The camp is based on a 135 acre farm so children can roam freely, pick tropical fruit and cocoa beans, visit the nearby coffee plantation, clamber through lava tunnels and spot giant tortoise roaming in the adjacent National Tortoise Reserve.
This truly special place is simply perfect for families as it is a family-owned property offering itineraries and excursions for all ages with a specific children’s programme in place which includes an animal scavenger hunt, gentle bike rides (kids bikes available) ending at a beach, kayaking, surf lessons, fishing with local fishermen, Spanish lessons, cookery classes and art projects in the child-friendly surrounds of the camp.
As always, we will select hotels and cruise ships that will suit your family and fit your budget. Do ring us, or email to find out more about where to stay and we can put together an itinerary for you that is tailored to your family’s needs.
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.