Want to visit the Galapagos with your family but don’t want your little ones on a ship? For a cost-effective and more involving experience as a family why not do a “land-based” Galapagos adventure mixed with the best inland Ecuador has to offer?

If you are interested in this itinerary for a Family Holiday to the Galapagos, Ecuador please contact us.

Hanging out with Land Iguanas, Galapagos with Curious Travel

hanging out with Iguanas, Galapagos – Image by maridav

Day 1: Quito Arrival

When you arrive at Quito airport you will be met by your English speaking driver for your private transfer to your hotel in the old, beautiful, colonial area of Quito. We can help you choose any hotel that best suits your requirements including La Casona de la Ronda

Plaza de San Francisco in old town Quito with Curious Travel

Plaza de San Francisco in old town Quito – Image by f11photo

Day 2: Quito City tour with Chocolate Experience & Equatorial Line

Ecuador is filled with history, fascinating indigenous cultures, slow winding rivers and lush tropical forests, spectacular snowcapped volcanoes and some of the most exciting wildlife on earth.

The place to start is the ‘Mitad del Mundo’, (The Middle of the World) a site located just 45 minutes north of Quito, where a monument marks the equator at its closest point to the city. Archaeological evidence shows that both pre-Inca and Inca civilizations recognised and celebrated the equinox, the day the sun is directly over the equator.

In the morning we will make the 45-minute journey northwest to the equatorial line, where we will walk the rim of the extinct Pululahua volcanic crater. Later we will visit the “Ciudad Mitad del Mundo” a group of buildings designed to explain the significance of the site, as well as the Ethnographic or Initñam Museum, located right on the Equator. Here you will have the chance to plant your feet in two hemispheres at the same time!

If you are interested in this itinerary for a Family Holiday to the Galapagos, Ecuador please contact us.

Mitad del Mundo, Ecuador with Curious Travel

Middle of the World Monument – Image by Ecuadorpostales

Back in Quito, after lunch we will visit the city’s impressive colonial centre, the reason Quito was the first city to be named a world heritage site. First on the agenda is a walk through the main plaza, the ‘Plaza de la Independencia’, where you will see the Government Palace, the Cathedral, and some of the most important churches built around the XVI and XVII centuries, including the San Francisco Monastery, a building begun only 5 days after the founding of the city.

Now for our chocolate experience! Ecuador’s unique equatorial climate provides the perfect environment for growing the world’s finest cocoa – Cacao Arriba. Cocoa has been revered in Latin America for over 5,000 years. Spanish explorers loved it so much they called it the ‘Food of the Gods’.

Chocolate experience with Curious Travel

Chocolate Experience – Image by Rebecaz

The Republica del Cacao’s founders began their voyage over ten years ago when they set themselves an ambitious mission: to produce the most authentic and delicious chocolate while protecting and developing sustainable fine cocoa production. Our chocolate experience starts with a guided explaining the history of cocoa in Ecuador, followed by a chocolate tasting.

Day 3: Quito – Mindo Cloud Forest and Nature

Mindo has about 370 species of orchids in the reserve. Admire and enjoy the interactive butterfly garden where surrounded by hundreds of colourful butterflies, you will be able to observe the four stages of a butterfly’s life. While you are in the garden you will be able to feed one or more of the 25 different species of butterflies. Later visit a Garden of Orchids, where you will see about 35 to 60 species of orchids in bloom. At the end of the tour, you see Hummingbirds and other bird species.

Mindo Cloud Forest Reserve with Curious Travel

Andean emerald (Agyrtria franciae) hummingbirds at Mindo – Image by Angela N Perryman

El Monte Ecolodge is located just outside the town of Mindo which is recognized as a world class bird watching site by BirdLife International. On arrival, you will be welcomed by your hosts who will offer a short informal introduction to the lodge and its nearby garden. This is not simply a place to stay. The Lodge and its owners are dedicated to preserving and protecting the natural beauty of Mindo, one of the most biologically diverse and endangered Cloud Forests in the world.

Our local guide will take you on a 2-hour exploration along the Rio Mindo (River Mindo) and through the nearby forest, where they will help you to find exotic birds and explain about medicinal plants and their local uses. Night at El Monte Ecolodge.

If you are interested in this itinerary for a Family Holiday to the Galapagos, Ecuador please contact us.

Day 4: Mindo Cloud Forest Activities

A free day to explore on your own and take part in the range of activities available here.

At El Monte you can choose from a variety of things to do. You may decide to go on a nature walk from one hour to all day, where your native guide will point out many species of plants and help you spot birds and other wildlife. Another option is to visit the waterfall and swim in the refreshing waters of the Rio Nambillo, there is river tubing and zip line or you may also visit an Orchid Garden, or you might decide to just relax alongside the Rio Mindo in a hammock with a good book.

Tubing at El Monte Ecolodge with Curious Travel

Tubing at El Monte Ecolodge – Image owned by El Monte Ecolodge

Day 5: Mindo – Otavalo Market & Weaving Artisan Visit

Today you will head to the town of Otavalo. This is truly one of the most interesting towns in Ecuador, where the local Kichwa indigenous culture is not only plainly visible but in the ascendency

The town’s famous craft market is one of the most visited sites in Ecuador and with good reason. The market is filled with interesting colourful and sometimes rare objects and crafts. Do remember to bargain, but only if you´re interested! The market is held every day on one of the town squares at the foot of the majestic Mt. Imbabura. And to help you navigate the market, you will be given a short explanation of the market and provided with a map of the area.

Otavalo Market with Curious Travel

As part of our day at the market, we will visit the workshop of Master weaver Miguel Andrango, in the village of Agato. Miguel’s art has taken him abroad, mainly to exhibitions and fairs in the United States where the quality of his work is widely acknowledged. In the small store in the courtyard of his Tawantinsuyo workshop, the walls are covered with bright designs, most with an indigenous motif; the designs are based on Inca patterns but are the work of Miguel and his family. The workshop uses only pure wool and Alpaca; the weaver’s card and spin it themselves and then dye it with natural inks made from mosses (for yellow) or seeds such as ‘Achiote’(for red). Night at the Casa Mojanda (Casa Mojanda is an Andean farm and hotel, just outside of the town of Otavalo on the way to the Mojanda Lakes.)

If you are interested in this itinerary for a Family Holiday to the Galapagos, Ecuador please contact us.

Day 6: Explore Otavalo Area

Today you can choose from a number of activities possible from the hotel. Choose from visiting local villages and learning about the traditional weaving and woodwork and leather craft techniques, go on various birding and nature tours, horse riding and hiking options and visit San Pablo Lake. See more details of the activities here.

Traditional weaving in Ecuador with Curious Travel

Ladies weaving traditional Aymara Cloth – Image by Ruslana Iurchenko

“Excellent guided tours of the indigenous villages are available where you will learn not only about these fascinating artistic processes but also about village life itself and how these crafts form an integral part of village life and culture. You are welcome to buy directly from the artisans. For the interested traveller, we can arrange a visit to a local shaman, can participate in local rituals of healing and learn about the medicinal properties of local plants.”

Day 7: Otavalo – Quito – Galapagos

Private transportation with English speaking assistance from Otavalo to Quito´s airport to take a flight to San Cristobal Airport in the Galapagos islands and then transfer to your hotel. This afternoon will be at leisure to discover on your own the town and relax.

San Cristobal Town, Galapagos with Curious Travel

San Cristobal Town, Galapagos – Image by DFLC Print

Day 8: San Cristobal Island – La Galapaguera.

Located to the south-east of the island of San Cristóbal, La Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado is a tortoise reserve that was built to improve the status population of the island’s Giant Tortoise, “Geochelone chatamensis.” It is located within the area of Cerro Colorado, which is also one of the few places where it possible to see the Calandrinia galapagosa, a plant that is endemic to San Cristobal and is in danger of extinction. The rest of the day you can enjoy the beach!

Giant Tortoise, Galapagos with Curious Travel

Giant Tortoise, Galapagos – Image by IntoTheWorld

Cerro Brujo beach on San Cristobal Island

Cerro Brujo beach on San Cristobal Island – Image by mhgstan

If you are interested in this itinerary for a Family Holiday to the Galapagos, Ecuador please contact us.

Day 9: San Cristobal – Galapagos BirdLife, Land, and Marine Exploration

This morning we will walk to Cerro Las Tijeretas or Frigate Hill, which gets its name from the large number of Frigate Birds (Tijeretas) that live and nest here. On our walk along the lava rock trails, we will be able to see interesting endemic plants and the spectacular birdlife of the Galapagos. There are great views of the coastline and our first encounter with the underwater marine life at Darwin bay.

Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) Galapagos

Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) Galapagos – Image by buteo

We continue on to the striking Carola Beach where we can take another dip if we want. Here you will find sea turtles, sea lions, and marine iguanas.

Fur seals at Punta Carola beach with Curious Travel

Fur seals at Punta Carola beach – Image by Alberto Loyo

Next, you will continue on to Mann Beach where you can kayak (additional cost), providing a perfect end to a perfect active and relaxed day in these enchanted islands.

Mann Beach, Galapagos with Curious Travel

Sea Lions on Mann Beach, Galapagos – Image by Kanokratnok

If you are interested in this itinerary for a Family Holiday to the Galapagos, Ecuador please contact us.

Day 10: San Cristobal – Santa Cruz Island

Today you transfer to dock to take a public speedboat from San Cristobal Island to Santa Cruz island. The ride takes approx 2 hours. After arrival at the island, you can check into your hotel ready for your first activity.

Transfer to the Itabaca Channel to explore its spectacular turquoise waters. We will have a chance to kayak, snorkel and stand up paddleboard (SUP), as well as encountering some of the most famous Galapagos wildlife such as blue-footed boobies, sea lions, brown pelicans, a variety of herons and white-tipped reef sharks.

Blue Footed Boobies Mating Dance with Curious Travel

Blue Footed Boobies Mating Dance – Blue Orange Studio

There’s no better introduction to the Galapagos than to get on the water as soon as possible! We will glide through beautiful red mangrove forests and along lava rock cliffs on water so clear we can see the marine life in the shallows. Our ocean (sit on top) kayaks come in doubles or singles, and life jackets are provided. A support boat will escort us throughout our water activities to ensure safety and to provide water, snacks and towels between activities. This is an easy activity operated on a private basis that can be done with children even as young as babies.

Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos with Curious Travel

Azure blue waters of Santa Cruz Island – Image by Ppito00

From the Itabaca Channel we head up to the Santa Cruz highlands to a private reserve that borders the National Park, where we can see the famous Giant Tortoises roaming in the wild. We then return to your hotel to relax.  Ikala Galapagos Hotel.

If you are interested in this itinerary for a Family Holiday to the Galapagos, Ecuador please contact us.

Giant Tortoise in the Wild with Curious Travel

Giant Tortoise in the wild on Santa Cruz Island – Image by Don Mammoser

Day 11: Santa Cruz – El Garrapatero beach

After breakfast, you are driven to an off-the-beaten-path area of Santa Cruz Island, to get to the wonderful Garrapatero beach. On the way, we will stop to visit the lava tunnels. These tunnels were formed as the outer skin of molten lava solidified but the liquid magma inside continued flowing, leaving behind a series of empty tubes. Walk through these underground channels. Later you will continue on to Garrapatero Beach, once there we may see a few local families, but few, if any, tourists. Afternoon at leisure to explore the town on your own or enjoy the local beach.

Garrapatero Beach, Galapagos with Curious Travel

Garrapatero beach,  Santa Cruz island – Image by Ekaterina McClaud

Day 12: Santa Cruz

Today you have a free day to explore on your own. Some places we recommend to visit:

Charles Darwin Research Station

The Charles Darwin Research Center is the matrix of all the scientific researches in the Galapagos Islands. It is from these headquarters from where all the most sensitive conservation projects are being directed. The conservation and preservation of giant tortoises, marine iguanas among others are some of the examples of the Center’s work. We can walk along the core of the Research Center where we can find the corrals where the giant tortoises are being bred as well as the corrals where the land iguanas are being studied. The Research Center offers a brand new Interpretation Center with some of the most important samples of the Center Collection.

Tortuga Bay (Turtle Bay)

Walk to the beautiful beach Tortuga Bay where you can spot marine iguanas, go for a swim, snorkel or just relax on the sandy beach. Turtle Bay is a beautiful white sand beach, so named because it is a nesting site for the black turtle.

Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz, Galapagos with Curious Travel

Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz Island – Image by Chiyacat

Day 13: Galapagos – Guayaquil – Bucay

Today you will have private transportation with Spanish speaking assistance to Baltra´s airport for your flight to Guayaquil on mainland Ecuador. Arrival in Guayaquil where our guide will be waiting to transfer you to Bucay and to your hotel Hacienda La Danesa

Your host will greet you and give you a warm welcome to the farm and tell you about Hacienda La Danesa’s rich history. You will have time at leisure to explore the gardens and property, enjoy refreshing cold-infused drinks and a traditional snack.

If you are interested in this itinerary for a Family Holiday to the Galapagos, Ecuador please contact us.

Hacienda La Danesa, Ecuador with Curious Travel

Hacienda La Danesa Family Garden Cottage – Image property of Hacienda La Danesa

Cacao & Chocolate Experience

You can visit the Cacao plantations to learn the history and process of the cacao (Chocolate) in Ecuador surrounded by cacao trees. You can continue to visit the fermentation and drying process up until the final stage where the cacao beans are stored and ready to be sold. We will then continue to the workshop where our local chocolatier will show you how artisan chocolate is produced. We will cover the tempering and crystallization process up until the packaging. You will have the opportunity to make your own chocolate bar to take home!

From Farm to Table – Three Course Lunch

Hacienda La Danesa offers a truly unique gastronomic experience inspired in a Farm-to-Table ethos. It grows and produces most of the ingredients at the farm while buying the rest from the neighbouring communities. The chef will offer a three-course meal with a few options for the main course for you to choose from. Vegan/vegetarian options are available upon request.

Milking in the Gardens

Hacienda La Danesa produces around 1,200 litres of milk every day and had won for 20 years in a row the best dairy cattle in coastal Ecuador. One of our beloved cows will visit us in the gardens and share some of her milk with us. If you want a Café au Lait you will have to take the espresso straight to the cow’s udder for fresh warm milk!

Lazy River Tubing / Biking / Horseback Riding / In-Room Spa

At this time you may explore the property by bike, float down the lazy rivers surrounded by trees and birds, go horse riding or just sit back and relax with your favourite Ecuadorean wine or gin tonic.

You may well want to extend your stay here for more days! Let us know if you do!

Horse Riding at Hacienda La Danesa with Curious Travel

Horse Riding at Hacienda La Danesa – Image Owned by Hacienda La Danesa

Day 14: Bucay – Guayaquil

A free morning to enjoy Hacienda La Danesa and then transfer to Guayaquil for your international flight connection.

If you are interested in this itinerary for a Family Holiday to the Galapagos, Ecuador please contact us.

Do contact us for any kind of tailormade itinerary to Ecuador and the Galapagos including the best choice of Galapagos Cruises.

For other great Family Trips why not check out our example for a Costa Rica Family Holiday, or our Thailand Family Holiday idea and our article on 12 Great Family Travel destinations

If you are interested in the Galapagos why not read our article from renowned Travel writer, Stanley Stewart called, “Close Encounters on a Galapagos Cruise, Ecuador

Other things you might be curious about

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