Ecuador and Galapagos Islands Family Adventure
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Explore the cultural and natural wonders of Ecuador on this family-friendly adventure that includes chocolate tasting in Quito, living like a chagra (Ecuadorian cowboy) at a hacienda in the Andean highlands around Mt. Cotopaxi, explorations of authentic Indian markets and a week of snorkeling, hiking and kayaking among the varied wildlife of the Galapagos Islands aboard the Eric & Letty motor yachts. Adults, children and teens of all ages will delight in learning about and observing the behaviors and unique adaptations of the island’s fearless fauna, from dancing blue-footed boobies to playful sea lions and lounging marine iguanas.

While exploring the Galapagos, your home base is one of two identical 20-passenger motor yachts, either the Eric or Letty. Snorkel and kayak gear is provided and each yacht boasts two expert on board naturalist guides for a 10:1 guest to guide ratio, ensuring highly personalized service and intimate visits on shore. Land-based explorations of the Galapagos Islands are also available upon request.

13-Day Ecuador and Galapagos Islands Family Adventure – Pricing Overview

Prices from $5875 per person based on four travelers in Iguana Deck cabins. Airfare, National Park Entrance Fees & Transit Card are additional. Children 11 and younger at time of sailing receive a $900 discount on the overall cost. Children 12-17 receive $525 off the published trip cost.

Youth discounts are applicable to Iguana Cabin bookings only. Select the Terms section in the left bar towards the bottom of the page for complete price details.

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Adventure Highlights

Stand at the equator with one foot in each hemisphere just outside of Quito

Sample Ecuador’s world-famous cacao and learn the secrets of local chocolate masters.

Visit an authentic Indian village market to see the true colors of and flavors of Ecuador.

Hike, horseback ride and bike from Hacienda Provenir, a working Andean ranch in the shadow of Mt. Cotopaxi.

On San Cristobal Island, scout for colonies of bird species including red frigates and blue-footed boobies.

Stroll along the white and black sand beaches or swim or kayak with sea lions in the Galapagos.

From April-December, observe the Waved Albatross mating ritual on Espanola.

Snorkel in a marine life-rich sunken crater among sea turtles, white-tipped reef sharks and eagle rays.

Hike among the Santa Cruz highlands to see the famous Galapagos tortoises.

Day 1 – Wednesday – Arrive Quito

Welcome to Ecuador! You’ll be met at the airport and escorted to La Casona de la Ronda, a beautiful boutique hotel located in the historical center of Quito.  After the check-in and some time to relax, begin your guided tour of Quito and its environs. Mitad del Mundo, a site located just 30 minutes north of Quito, is the monument that marks the equator at its closest point to the city. Archaeological evidence shows that both pre-Inca and Inca civilizations celebrated the equinox, the day the sun is directly over the equator.  Explore the Ethnographic Museum or the Initñam Museum, where you can stand in both hemispheres at the same time, before having lunch at a local restaurant.

For dessert, dive into the secrets and processes of cacao harvesting and chocolate making. Pacari creates some of the finest single-origin chocolates in the world and you’ll enjoy a tour and tasting at their new studio in Quito’s trendy, bohemian La Floresta neighborhood.  After learning about the history of Ecuadorian cacao, sample 10 varieties of Pacari chocolates and pick your favorite!  Return to your hotel in the late afternoon for time to relax before dinner on your own.

Overnight at La Casona de la Ronda.
Meals Included: Lunch

Day 2 – Thursday –  Indigenous Markets & Haciendas

One hour south of Quito lies Mt. Cotopaxi, the world’s highest active volcano.  Spend the day with your guide exploring in the shadow of this sacred mountain. Explore authentic Indian markets in the villages of Machachi, Saquisili, Pujili or Latacunga. These markets are as non-touristic as you can find in Ecuador today. They are important for the local indigenous people as the center of their social and economic worlds. Observe the bright, traditional dress of the various indigenous groups and sample local foods such as chocho, the bean-like seed of Andean lupine.

Pause for lunch at a rose plantation (Ecuador is the world’s third-largest exporter of cut flowers, 73% of which are roses) then continue on to Hacienda El Porvenir, just outside the border of Cotopaxi National Park.  Take the afternoon to explore the grounds, either with a guided hike, via mountain bike or on horseback. Dinner is included at the lodge and you’ll watch the stars come out around the mountain from your cozy suite room.

Overnight at Hacienda El Porvenir.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3 – Friday – Andean Highland Explorations

Design your day, choosing among the many different activities offered at Hacienda El Porvenir. Our recommendation: immerse yourself in the Chagra (Ecuadorian cowboy) lifestyle and explore the surrounding mountains on a guided horseback ride.  The hacienda has horses suited to all ability levels of riders and for the more advanced, few experiences can surpass cantering across the hills against the backdrop of snowy Mt. Cotopaxi! Guided trekking, mountain biking and zip lining is also available on the grounds. Work up an appetite today and enjoy traditional highland fare beneath the thatched roof of the dining hall.

Overnight at Hacienda El Porvenir.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4 – Saturday – Hiking Cotopaxi National Park

Venture into Cotopaxi National Park today to savor some scenic trekking through the landscapes surrounding the world’s highest active volcano. Visit the Cotopaxi Interpretation center to learn about the history of its major eruptions as well as the local flora and fauna. Later, you will go to Limpiopungo lake and enjoy a short and easy hike. Lunch is at Tambopaxi, a mountain refugee based in the northern side of the National Park. In the mid afternoon, continue on the Hacienda La Jimenita, a garden oasis just a short distance from Quito’s International Airport, granting you a bit more sleep before your flight to the Galapagos tomorrow.

Overnight at Hacienda La Jimenita.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch,

Day 5 – Sunday – Fly to the Galapagos

Early breakfast then transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands! Upon arrival on San Cristobal, you’ll be welcomed by crew members and escorted to the main dock, then board a zodiac to reach your yacht anchored in the bay. Meet your captain, naturalist guides and crew then following a delicious lunch, depart immediately for “Frigatebird Hill.”  This is one of two sites where you can spot nesting colonies of both species of Frigate birds (Great and Magnificent). Hike along a wooded trail offering beautiful island vistas as well as lava lizards, the medium ground finch and Chatham mockingbird. Return to the yacht with time to refresh before the Captain’s welcome party and dinner on board.

Overnight: Galapagos Motor Yacht Eric/Flamingo/Letty
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6 – Monday – San Cristobal Island

Morning arrival at Cerro Brujo, a breathtaking white coral beach that offers a wealth of options for exploration. Take a peaceful walk offering expansive views and excellent bird watching or board a zodiac to ride through a wave hewn cave known as The Cathedral. You can also opt to launch kayaks right from the beach to paddle among the marine life and take the plunge to swim with sea lions. During lunch, cruise toward Punta Pitt, a tuff formation and nesting site for hundreds of sea birds including all three types of boobies: Blue footed, Nazca and Red-footed boobies, both Frigate species, swallow-tailed gulls, Storm petrels, Shearwaters and Brown pelicans. While you can’t hike on Punta Pitt, we’ll snorkel around the formation, spotting sea lions and colorful fish such as the King Angel and Surgeon fish. In the afternoon we’ll cruise around Leon Dormido or “Kicker Rock”, for views of the vertical tuff cone formation that rises abruptly almost 500 feet out of the ocean. From the deck, spot Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies and Magnificent Frigate birds among the cliffs before dinner on board.

Overnight: Galapagos Motor Yacht Eric/Flamingo/Letty
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7 – Tuesday – Espanola Island 

Espanola or Hood Island boasts the highest rate of endemic species in all of the Galapagos Islands and we’ll meet the resident fauna immediately upon landing. Sea lions noisily greet us as we step on their beach and curious Hood mockingbirds peck at our shoelaces. From April to December, the waved albatross, found only on Espanola, perform their wild mating ritual. Depending on the time of year, we’ll witness colonies of blue-footed boobies engaged in “sky-pointing” to show off for potential mates while Nazca boobies busily care for their young. Stunning swallow-tailed gulls, the only nocturnal gulls in the world, are present but harder to see as they fish at night. We also find Darwin’s Finches, Galapagos Doves and Galapagos Hawks and a unique species of marine iguana identified by traces of red and green coloring. Near the famous ‘Blow Hole’ colorful sally light-foot crabs crawl along the shoreline, their red a stark contrast to the black volcanic rock. After lunch, explore Gardner Bay and walk along a seemingly endless stretch of white sandy beach where you’ll find large colonies of sea lions.  Swim with sea lions right from the beach, explore the bay and islets by kayak or just relax on the beach. There’s also an excellent snorkeling site off Gardner Islet with a colorful diversity of sea life near Tortuga Rock.  We return to the yacht for a briefing followed by dinner.

Overnight: Galapagos Motor Yacht Eric/Flamingo/Letty
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8 – Wednesday – Floreana Island 

One of the few populated islands in the Galapagos, Floreana Island story is one of stong characters, mystery and intrigue. Set foot on a green-sand beach to a chorus of barking sea lions, chattering penguins, herons and blue footed boobies.  Follow a trail to a brackish lagoon, home of the Bahama ducks, common stilts, Galapagos Flycatcher, Yellow warblers and the Greater Flamingos, the pinkest in the world! Passing through a rich variety of native foliage, the trail leads to a beach with powder soft sand where sea turtles come ashore to nest and sting rays swim in the shallow water. After the walk you can opt to snorkel at Devil’s Crown or Champion, a shallow sunken crater colonized by a brilliant array of colorful fish and corral, white-tipped sharks, sea turtles, spotted eagle rays and sea stars. Return to the yacht for lunch on the sundeck, then visit Post Office Bay, famous for the post barrel that was erected in the mid 18th Century by English whaling vessels. You are invited to leave a post card and to pick up any mail from your home area.  Late afternoon, embark on a Zodiac ride near Baroness Point to spot sea turtles and rays before dinner and socializing on the yacht.

Overnight: Galapagos Motor Yacht Eric/Flamingo/Letty
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9 – Thursday – Santa Cruz

After breakfast, travel up into the Santa Cruz highlands, observing the gradual change in scenery  as we wind our way through all seven vegetation zones found in the Galapagos. Here, we visit the tortoise reserve at “Las Primicias” one of the private farms in the highlands where we encounter giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Pause to explore the largest lava tubes found in the islands and visit Los Gemelos, Spanish for “The Twins”, a pair of large pit craters where we may see the red male vermilion flycatcher.

At the Charles Darwin Research Station, learn about the ongoing conservation efforts and tortoise breeding program. The program’s most famous resident, Lonesome George, died in 2012 but you can see Diego, “The Professor” who has been more successful at amorous pursuits with female tortises. After lunch and naturalist discussions on board, we’ll spend some time in the town of Puerto Ayora where guests can pick up postcards and souvenirs or opt forgo dinner on the boat this evening in favor of dining in town. (In this case dinner is at your own expense.)  A zodiac will come to town later in the evening for guests wishing to extend their time on land and experience a bit of Puerto Ayora’s nightlife.

Overnight: Galapagos Motor Yacht Eric/Flamingo/Letty
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (on board only)

Day 10 – Friday – Bartolome

Disembarking on Bartolome Island feels as though you are walking on the moon as this young volcanic island is inhospitable to most plants and animals. We hike for approximately 30 minutes to stairs leading to the summit of an extinct volcano, pausing along the way to marvel at formations like lava bombs, splatter cones and cinder cones. At the top of the stairs you are rewarded with a panoramic postcard view of the island, bay and famous “Pinnacle Rock”, an eroded tuff cone. Cool down with snorkeling or swimming in the crystal clear waters before lunch on board and a visit to Las Bachas.  Here we’ll find a long stretch of a soft white sand beach with interior lagoons where we find the Greater Flamingo. There is also a wonderful chance to snorkel here from the beach. At Sombrero Chino, a wet beach landing takes us past sea lion colonies to a hiking trail through a primeval landscape of volcanic rubble, punctuated by marine iguanas and pairs of oystercatchers. In the late afternoon, choose to snorkel at a site favored by penguins or relax on board before before your evening naturalist briefing and dinner.

Overnight: Galapagos Motor Yacht Eric/Flamingo/Letty
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11 – Saturday – South Plaza & North Seymour

Land on South Plaza and follow your guide along a trail through patches of Prickly Pear and the Galapagos Land Iguana feeding on the cactus leaves. Toward the end of the hill, we encounter a colony of bachelor sea lions where bulls go to recover from their wounds after battles lost over prime beach territory. We also find Swallow tailed gulls, Shearwaters and Red-billed tropicbirds who build their nests along the cliffs. After lunch, we have a dry landing at North Seymour, a small geological uplift. Another hike leads to the largest colony of Magnificent Frigate birds found in Galapagos. As we stroll along the beach, keep an eye out for Marine Iguanas and as sea lions body surf the northern swells. Return to the yacht for a festive evening with the Captain’s Farewell cocktail party and dinner as well as a special slide show presentation by your guides.

Overnight: Galapagos Motor Yacht Eric/Flamingo/Letty
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12 – Sunday – Return to Quito

After breakfast, bid farewell to the crew as you disembark to begin your journey home. Visit the Interpretation Center on San Cristobal Island for an overview of the natural and human history of the archipelago, recapping all that you have experienced and learned over the past week.   Then its time to head to the airport for your flight back to the mainland departing before noon.

Once in Quito your guide will take you to Casona la Ronda for your final overnight in Ecuador.

* It’s possible to fly back to the United States all in one day and eliminate another night in Quito if preferred. Ask your travel specialist for guidance in booking your international flights. 

Overnight: Casona la Ronda
Included Meals: Breakfast

Day 13 – Departure 

You’ll be escorted to the Quito Airport for your international departure today.

Included Meals: Breakfast

20151019_081821Hacienda El Porvenir:  Located at 11,800′ asl on the edge of Cotopaxi National Park, El Porvenir is a working farm and guesthouse ideally situated for exploring the high Andes.  Built in the traditional style of the area, the roof of the hacienda is constructed of thick straw sheaves plaster walls are layered with woven reeds. Large fireplaces are found throughout the hacienda and wood burning stoves warm the cozy suites, each with a view of Cotopaxi Volcano.  Guests can enjoy activities such as horseback riding, trekking, mountain biking and zip lining or observe the cowboys at work with the herd of bulls and milk cattle.

 

 

Letty Galapagos Yacht

Eric/Letty: The Eric/Letty are two identical expedition yachts specifically designed for Galapagos cruising. Built in 1994 and refurbished annually, these sister yachts accommodate just 20 guests each and feature three decks of ample staterooms with polished teak interiors trimmed with shiny brass fittings. Accommodations include ten double outside-facing cabins with a window or porthole view, one double bed or two twin lower beds, fully air-conditioned with private bathroom (hot and cold water showers), bio-degradable soap/shampoo dispensers, hair dryer, closet, drawers, intercom and separate climate controls for your comfort. There’s a dining room, well-stocked bar and conference area with a flat screen TV, library and panoramic picture windows. Or you can relax in a lounge chair on the sun deck, enjoying sea breezes and a sky full of stars.  We especially like this yacht for families due to its affordability, excellent naturalist guides and friendly staff.

 

Goofing off along the Inca Trail Trek

Goofing off along the Inca Trail Trek

A Pacific Northwest transplant, Kirsten found her way to Seattle from Pittsburgh in 2010 where she got her start in the travel industry by planning fly-fishing trips to Slovenia for an outdoors travel company. She spent several years designing and leading adventurous trips throughout Latin America before joining Evergreen Escapes as a guide in early 2014.  These days Kirsten now finds herself behind a desk more than in the field but spends her free time on climbing trips through the North Cascades, mountain biking, relishing in the joy of skiing– a new discovery in 2015 after an inexcusable lifetime of missing out – and introducing local youth to the great outdoors as a volunteer with the Seattle ICO Program. In 2017, Kirsten hits the road for a year of playing outside while living in a Sprinter Van with her boyfriend and his small dog, but will still manage Evergreen’s international programs in South America. For more information on this trip or to discuss other potential adventures in Latin America, contact Kirsten at kirsteng@evergreenescapes.com

Included            

* Accommodation in hotels

* All meals as per itinerary

* All means of transportation land and sea described on the itinerary

* Transfers and guided activities

*Round trip to flight to Galapagos   

 

Additional Costs

* Galapagos entrance fee and Transit Card ($120)

* Tips for guides and staff

* International airport tax

* Alcoholic bevereges

* Personal expenses

* Evacuation or medical expenses