Visiting Ecuador and Galapagos

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Been to Galapagos?

Sept 2015

If you've recently been to the Galapagos would you share your lessons learned, thoughts and recommendations? Best cruise ship? Travelling with 5 adults next year. doris

I've only been to the Galapagos once, so I can't tell you the best cruise ship. I can tell you that we were very happy with ours, the Legend. I'm not sure that there are any bad choices; everyone I know that's gone has had a great time. One tip: stay as long as you can, see as much as you can. We could only manage a five-day cruise and I would have loved to stay longer. I also recommend a few days in Quito and the Amazon, as long as you're in the neighborhood. Ecuador is a wonderful place to visit. Ann

My two teens and I went to the Galapagos and highlands of Ecuador two years ago with Thomson Family Adventures on a teen oriented trip. It was the experience of a lifetime! We were on a small luxury yacht with five families. Snorkeling, hiking, some mild caving at Post Office Bay, rock climbing and joining a festival in the highlands. Really delightful. They do adult arrangements as well. They are in Watertown, MA. Kathryn L

I went to the eastern Galapagos islands this past May with Wilderness Travel. It was a great trip and I would recommend WT. We went on a small trip, max 16 passengers. Everyone on the trip was able to participate in all activities. Ecuador tightly regulates access to the Galapagos, limiting the number of people who can be on an island at any given time. Visitors are required to stay on marked trails, no wandering about on your own. Plan to arrive a day early in case you experience delays getting to Quito or Guayaquil. 7 people missed our ship departure due to delayed flights and our ship was not able to pick them up until the 3d day of the trip. the trips will not wait for latecomers. All luggage from our SFO flight missed the connecting flight and it took half a day to recover it from the airport. no problem, we were there a day early. Galapagos is not a strenuous trip but land excursions require the ability to get it and out of zodiaks, some landings are into the ocean, others have slippery rocks. there is walking on uneven and rocky trails. the ships crew are very helpful and ensure that everyone gets about safely, however it helps if you are reasonably agile. our trip had a passenger who was not highly mobile and expected that the animals would be waiting on the beach when the zodiak arrived. this is not a reasonable expectation. the wildlife was amazing and it was everywhere, take a good camera. all trips are required to have a certified Galapagos guide/naturalist on board, our guide was excellent. one final point, bottled water is a must in ecuador and the galapagos. but don't forget to bring immodium. loved the galapagos

Ecuador/Galapagos with Young Children

Jan 2011

We are planning a trip to Ecuador this spring to visit friends who are living there temporarily. We'd like to incorporate a trip the Galapagos, but are wondering if that's just a crazy idea, considering we have a 2-yo, 6- yo, and 9-yo. What is the least expensive way to do this? Is it a waste of money to bring a 2-yo the Galapagos? Is it safe? And other advice about traveling to South America with young children? Thank you! Excited, but Nervous

I lived in Ecuador 10 yrs ago and traveled to the Galapagos while there. This was before I had kids so maybe someone has a better perspective with kids but this is what I have to share about it.

The general way you see the Galapagos is by doing boat tours. The boat tours are all by days and you sleep on the boat. While this may be fun for the 6 and 9 yr old, may be tough with the 2 yr old. Can the older ones swim? I would definitely be nervous about all the water and boats with kids that can't swim (but maybe that's just me)

You can stay on an island and forego the boat tour but the whole point of going is to see all the neat animals, birds, etc which you basically only see on these tiny, uninhabited islands via boat tours. Maybe it\xc3\xa2\xe2\x82\xac\xe2\x84\xa2s possible to just do a daily boat tour and forego the overnight but the basic thing is to see anything worthwhile, you need to do be on a boat so if you are adventurous with your three kids, then it may work for you!

Also, 10 yrs ago the entrance fee to the Galapagos for all foreigners was $100/per person. It probably has gone up, but maybe not. So just getting into the islands will be a bit pricey for your family of 5.

Ecuador is a FANTASTIC country that I am dying to take my kids to as I still have many friends there! And word of caution- no matter how awesome much of the street food looks, I caution against trying it (except maybe the corn- pretty safe -just don't put the creamy sauce on it). I was sick on and off for an entire yr with parasites there (and I was careful). Have a great trip! Big Fan of Ecuador

Your two younger children are too young to be able to take part in many activities in the Galapagos. Your money would be better spent on other vacations at that age that teach adaptibility, ability to eat new foods, and good swimming lessons and practice with a mask, snorkel and flippers. I took my daughter to Tanzania at age 6 and she still talks about it, but she tired and was asleep on our game drives by 2 or 3p. I have put off our adventures to the Galapagos and Great Barrier Reef until she is comfortable snorkeling. We tried in Cabo and she still wasn't ready. Mom and Dad should feel confident in their children's skills so that they can enjoy themselves, too. When you are ready, Inca Floats in Emeryville is excellent for the smaller boat experience. Thomson Safaris has a specialty in family trips. Austin Lehman runs awesome family trips. We went to Yellowstone with them when the kids were 8 and 12. We were with 4 other families (mostly with boys) and the kids had a ball. The parents even got to have a grown up dinner with wine while the guides entertained the children! cocosar

Galapagos tour for parents' 40th anniversary

June 2007

My parents are planning a trip for their 40th anniversary for my siblings (single in their early 30's), myself, and my 8 year old son. We're all very active and love nature, and thought that a trip to the Galapagos would fit the bill as a once-in-a-lifetime type of trip. As I've been put in charge of research and planning, I'm looking for any experiences or recommendations with particular travel companies, cruise operators, etc. There are only 6-8 of us total, so I'm thinking it would make sense for us to join an existing trip rather than charter our own. Any recommendations are much appreciated! Tara

We recently toured the Galapagos on the M/V Legend. Our trip was arranged through Tara Tours in the Mission and they went through Klein Tours. It was a FANTASTIC trip and I highly recommend it. The M/V Legend is a larger ship, but I think that's nice because you can relax in your own little corner or socialize if you want to. I chose it because I was pregnant on the trip and they have a doctor on board. The people on the ship were of all ages and the staff was extremely organized, friendly, safe, funny, helpful, knowledgeable, you name it! I know that this trip is a huge expense and you want it to be the best. I do not hesitate in recommending this tour. Nancy W

I asked a friend of mine who recently returned from a family trip to the Galapagos and this is what she wrote (with her permission to share):

My family took an unforgettably fabulous trip to the Galapagos this February. There were 7 of us - my mother, brother & sister-in-law and myself, plus my brother's kids (7 & 10) and my daughter (9). We spent several days in and around Quito, then did an 8-day cruise of the Galapagos Islands. We opted for a large cruise (our boat accommodated 100) rather than the smaller ships (16-30 passengers) because we felt it would be more comfortable for my mother and the children, and because the larger ships can go farther and see more of the islands. We booked our trip through EcoVoyager, out of Miami (with whom we had some communication problems - the travel agent often didn't return our calls/e-mails or answer our questions before the trip, and there was some mix-up with payments being received so they wanted to charge us twice for something, but otherwise the trip went smoothly and their staff in Ecuador was very helpful), and the cruise itself was with Klein Tours. The boat was great - a pool (the kids loved this!!), very nice rooms, excellent food, and - most importantly - we loved our naturalist/guide, Jorge, who was great with the kids and from whom we learned so much about the islands, and the rest of the cruise staff was also fabulous.

I recommend spending several days in and around Quito - we had a fabulous time touring the old city of Quito and taking a tram up to a nearby volcano, and visitng a cloud forest bird sanctuary, a butterfly farm, an orchid grower (did you know there was an orchid that smells just like chocolate!?) and visiting the market town of Otavalo (I have recommendations for an outstanding tour of Otavalo if you go there). There are also some tours that will take you to the rainforest as well as the Galapagos.

Some basic recommendations - have good hats, good cameras, sun-protective clothing. If you don't speak any Spanish, I recommend trying to learn some - this was especially fun for my daughter. She was less interested in the books about the Galapagos, Darwin & evolution but there are plenty of good ones for kids to learn something in advance.

There are also some amazing DVDs you can get from Netflix on Ecuador and the Galapagos. The children all kept journals of their trip and they are wonderful to read. All the children did slide shows for their classes when they returned - it was a very educational trip. Karen G