Family Safaris Engaging Family Adventures on Land and Sea
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6 DAYS / 5 NIGHTS

Family Safaris

We designed our Family Safari over land and sea to enable your family to have fun together, to connect with each other, and to fall in love with the extraordinary natural world of the Galapagos. One lesson these islands have taught us, as parents, is the importance of seizing each day and creating long-lasting memories with the people we love the most.

Our small size and experience in family travel (we raised our children here over many years) means we understand what it takes to craft age-appropriate experiences that are engaging, educational and above all, fun! Our flexible schedules, private land tours and tailor-made itineraries give families the freedom to explore the Galápagos Islands at their own pace, and according to their own needs and interests.

During school holidays, younger children can enjoy our Kid’s Club with a series of creative activities at the end of each day.

We know that the Galápagos Islands are a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for most families. We take this responsibility seriously and are passionate about getting it right. When was the last time your family saw something for the first time? Carpe Diem!

Highlights

Sample Itinerary: In Brief

Our Family Safari combines private wildlife tours on Santa Cruz Island with either private or semi-private day cruises to uninhabited, neighbouring islands. Remember the following is a sample only. More days can be added, depending on your availability.

  • Type of activity:
  •  LAND SAFARI
  •  SEA SAFARI
  • DAY 1SANTA CRUZ ISLAND: THE HIGHLANDS AND THE GIANT TORTOISE
  • DAY 2SANTA CRUZ ISLAND: THE EAST
  • DAY 3BOAT TRIP: EXPLORE AN UNINHABITED ISLAND
  • DAY 4BOAT TRIP: FISHING ADVENTURE
  • DAY 5SANTA CRUZ ISLAND: SOUTH (DARWIN & BEACH)
  • DAY 6SUNRISE WALK AND DEPARTURE
  • DAY 6+…OR EXTEND YOUR TRIP TO ISABELA ISLAND
    See our Isabela Island Extensions

More privacy?

We are happy to organize:
– Fully-Private Safari: chartered boat and private guide throughout.
– Semi-Private Safari: private tours on Santa Cruz with shared boat excursions.

Sample Family Safari: Full Itinerary

Designed with our years of experience living, travelling and hosting family friends and their children in the Galapagos Islands, our Family Safaris are a combination of wildlife tours and activities on Santa Cruz Island, and day excursions by boat to beautiful, uninhabited neighbouring islands. We craft tailor-made, life-changing itineraries that accommodate the needs and interests of all family members, from toddlers, tweens and teens, to parents and grandparents.

Craft your very own Galapagos family adventure!

The following is a sample itinerary. Please contact one of our Safari Designers for more information on the tours, activities and experiences we offer, and to discuss how these can be adapted to best suit the needs and interests of your children and family members.

  • Type of activity:
  •  LAND SAFARI
  •  SEA SAFARI
  • DAY 1 SANTA CRUZ ISLAND: THE HIGHLANDS AND THE GIANT TORTOISE Welcome to the Galapagos! After leaving the VIP airport lounge you will meet your English-speaking naturalist guide who will be with your family for the duration of your stay with us (according to the level of privacy chosen).

    To maximize your first day in the Galapagos Islands, you will be taken to a number of visiting sites on the way to Galapagos Safari Camp. On the short drive from the airport to the ferry terminal on Baltra Island, who in the family will be the first to spot a land iguana?

    After crossing the narrow corridor of water that separates Baltra Island from Santa Cruz, you continue by car to the highlands of Santa Cruz, stopping at Los Gemelos (The Twin Craters); two colossal, volcanic sinkholes. On a gentle hike around the rim, your guide will point out the birds of the endemic Scalesia forest such as Galapagos doves and Darwin’s finches.

    From Los Gemelos you continue to a reserve for giant tortoises. Your tour of the reserve will follow a gentle circuit trail where you get within meters of these iconic Galapagos creatures.

    The tortoise reserve also contains a network of underground lava tubes, formed centuries ago when lava flows cooled at the edges but kept flowing in the middle, leaving cave-like tunnels in their wake. To fully appreciate the uniqueness of the Galapagos Islands, and its wildlife, it’s important to first understand the archipelago’s geology and volcanic history. Keep a look out too for short-eared owls, as they are occasionally spotted in the trees.

    End the day at Galapagos Safari Camp, where children can explore our 50-hectare farm on foot or bike, pick tropical fruit, harvest cacao or enjoy a dip in our little pool. Parents may prefer to order a cocktail on our observation deck and watch the sun set over the National Park and distant islands in the Pacific Ocean.
  • DAY 2 SANTA CRUZ ISLAND: THE EAST This morning we drive to the enormous Cerro Mesa crater for a short walk in the wetlands. The Cerro Mesa reserve is home to a wonderful variety of birds and the occasional bathing tortoise. Your tour will end at a viewpoint, where, on a clear day, you can survey the lush landscape of Santa Cruz Island as well as some of its neighbouring islands.

    Afterwards we jump on our bikes for a downhill ride to Garrapatero, a white-sanded beach that is set far away from the cruise ship crowds, making it an idea spot for a picnic. Kayaking can also be arranged here and is a fun way for families to explore the coastal mangroves, and their wildlife.

    Set just behind the beach is a small lagoon where flamingos are occasionally spotted.

    On the way back to camp, you can visit an organic coffee plantation where children have the chance to pick coffee beans (if the season allows) and learn about responsible small-scale family in the Galapagos.

    In the evening, back at the Camp, parents can relax while the children take a private art class with a local artist.
  • DAY 3 AT SEA: EXPLORE AN UNINHABITED ISLAND Today you will enjoy a day cruise by motor boat to one of the neighbouring, uninhabited islands close to our island of Santa Cruz: North Seymour, Bartolomé, Plazas or Santa Fe. Please see the tab labelled SEA for more details on these islands.

    Each of the islands’ tours include a guided walk and a guided snorkel in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

    Lunch is served onboard the boat (food is not permitted in the National Park).

    These boat tours are usually arranged as shared excursions (shared boat and shared guide). However, we can also arrange for your private guide to accompany you on. If you would like a 100% private tour, we can also charter a boat for your family.

    At the end of the day you return to Galapagos Safari Camp in time for an evening stroll, family bike ride or a dip in the pool, followed by a sunset drink and dinner.

     We design our Family Safaris according to the best experiences possible at any given time of year and around yacht operations. We will confirm the islands you will visit once you get in touch.
  • DAY 4 AT SEA: FAMILY FISHING ADVENTURE Our private fishing experience is both a wildlife adventure and cultural exchange opportunity, making it a a firm favourite among families.

    The fishermen have very safe, modern speedboats, which you will charter for the day. With your guide acting as translator, the fishermen share anecdotes from a lifetime at sea, and the children learn local fishing tricks. If you're lucky you may even catch a tuna, and the fisherman can prepare sashimi for your lunch.

    The day also includes a guided snorkelling trip and some time to explore a secluded bay. Here, you can stroll along a deserted beach, or snorkel in the bay's clear, turquoise waters.

    If you prefer to limit fishing and enhance the snorkelling or beach experience, your guide is there to adapt the day to your preferences.

    For more information on this day, please see the tab labelled 'FISHING'.

    Back at the Camp in the afternoon, there’s time to go for a walk, enjoy the pool and relax before dinner.

  • DAY 5 SANTA CRUZ ISLAND: CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION AND BAY TOUR After a leisurely breakfast, we visit the famous Charles Darwin Research Station and the Tortoise Breeding Centre to learn about conservation efforts and scientific research on the islands.

    The children will have an up-close experience with the tortoises that are the islands' namesake. Parents can enjoy free time to wander around Puerto Ayora, while your guide takes the children to a local playground or on a tour of the local fish market on the waterfront.

    After lunch, walk or take a speedboat to Tortuga Bay, a white sandy beach with basking marine iguanas, and shallow turquoise waters teeming with white-tip reef sharks and fish. Or you can join a snorkeling boat that will take you to frolic with sea lions.
  • DAY 6 RELAX BEFORE MORNING DEPARTURE Enjoy the serene nature and peace of the Camp this morning. Relax, walk, swim or enjoy the sunrise from our viewpoint before departure to the airport and your next destination. (Here’s where you’ll wish you had extended your journey!).

    Please remember that this is just a sample based on some of the options available. Get in touch so we can craft your perfect journey with us!
  • DAY 6+ ...OR EXTEND YOUR TRIP TO ISABELA ISLAND
    See our Isabela Island Extensions

Land Safaris on Santa Cruz Island

Land Adventures on Santa Cruz Island

In addition to day boat trips to neighbouring islands, our Family Safaris include a number of land safaris on Santa Cruz Island itself.

As one of the most diverse islands in the Galapagos archipelago, Santa Cruz has a variety of ecosystems; from the forested highlands where our camp is based, to the dry, arid coastline, and the transitional zone between the two. These different landscapes offer a multitude of ways to explore the island’s wildlife and geology, making it fun, and above all, easy for families to explore these Galapagos wonders.

Our Family Safaris offer a wide range of land-based experiences, including:

THE LAND OF GIANTS – THE TORTOISE RESERVE

LAND OF GIANTS

Close to our camp is a large nature reserve that is home to hundreds of giant tortoises. This highland sanctuary is one of the best places in the Galapagos Islands to see these iconic reptiles in the wild. There are also a number of underground lava tunnels here that are fun for children to explore. If your family vacation is celebrating a special event or milestone, we can also organize a surprise tea party in the lava tunnel.

Land Adventures on Santa Cruz Island

 

THE LAND OF GIANTS – LONESOME GEORGE

Our Family Safaris also offer an opportunity to visit the late Lonesome George, the legendary giant tortoise whom David Attenborough once described as ‘a very important animal. Probably more than any single creature’. The preserved body of this Pinta tortoise – the last of its species – can now be found on display in the Charles Darwin Research Station. It serves as a reminder, particularly to the next generation of leaders, that we must do everything we can to protect endangered species from extinction.

Another top spot for observing giant tortoises is in our camp. They are often seen (or heard) munching leaves under the tents or ambling down one of the camp’s paths.

 

BEACH TIME

Land Adventures on Santa Cruz Island

One of the best beaches in the Galapagos (some say in the world) is on Santa Cruz. Tortuga Bay can’t be accessed on a cruise ship, and is one of the most popular land excursions on our Family Safari. White sands, peppered with marine iguanas, stretch for hundreds of meters, making it an ideal playground for children of all ages. We can also arrange a surfing lesson here for adults and/or children. It is not uncommon to see a marine iguana, or sometimes even a sea lion surfing the wave alongside you. At the far end of the beach, is a sheltered cove where we can also arrange kayaking.

Another beach that families enjoy is Garrapatero. Behind this beach sits a lagoon where flamingos are often spotted.

 

HIKING & BIKING

Land Adventures on Santa Cruz Island

At our camp, families can borrow bikes to explore the quiet lanes of the forested highlands, stopping to admire colourful birds and lumbering tortoises.

 

PUERTO AYORA

Land Adventures on Santa Cruz Island

Older kids may appreciate a trip into Puerto Ayora, where they can wander its laid-back streets, art galleries and souvenir shops. The fish market is also popular with all ages (and animals!)

 

BACK AT CAMP: KIDS CLUB

Land Adventures on Santa Cruz Island

When traveling with children, we believe it’s important to factor in some down time, particularly for younger kids. At our camp, we have a Kids Club (open during school holiday periods) where children can get creative, allowing parents to have some time for themselves. Activities designed to unleash excess energy include treasure hunts, cooking classes and bouncing on our giant trampoline.

 

BACK AT CAMP: PRIVATE ART CLASS

Land Adventures on Santa Cruz Island

We can also offer art classes for all members of the family. These are led by a British artist who has lived on Santa Cruz for more than 30 years. A firm believer of living in the present, she encourages her students to rely on their memories, as opposed to their devices, for capturing moments and putting them to paper.

 

POOL

Land Adventures on Santa Cruz Island

We also have (an intentionally small) pool for cooling off after a day of adventure.

Sea Safaris for Families

Family Sea Trip

INTO THE WILD: GALAPAGOS FAMILY VACATIONS BY LAND AND SEA

Our Family Safari typically includes two days at sea – one day exploring an uninhabited island and one day’s Fishing Adventure. As with all our Safaris however, they can be customized according to your needs, preferences and number of days you have available.

On our day sea trips we visit the islands of North Seymour, Bartolomé, South Plaza or Santa Fe (one island per day). On all our island excursions, your visit includes a guided tour along a designated trail and a snorkeling, or swimming experience.

 

BARTOLOMÉ

Family Sea Trip

Navigation time: 2 hours, each way
Walking difficulty: Moderate-Hard

In Bartolome, the walk is a fairly steep climb, up wooden walkways and steps, to the viewpoint at the apex of the island. On the way up, your guide will make a number of stops to point out the islands’ flora and fauna. The view from the top, overlooking the famous Pinnacle Rock and surrounding islands is spectacular, and worth the effort.

After lunch (served on board your boat), there is time for you to snorkel around the coastline, near the base of Pinnacle Rock.  These waters are often frequented by Galapagos penguins, and swimming alongside one of these friendly little water birds is an undisputable highlight for most kids.

NORTH SEYMOUR

Family Sea Trip

Navigation time: 30 minutes – 1 hour, each way
Walking difficulty: Easy

North Seymour is one of the closest islands to Santa Cruz, making it an easy day trip for families. Despite its small size, the island is brimming with wildlife, including frigatebirds, blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, land iguanas and sea lions.

The circuit walk first heads inland on a little path, before turning towards the coast and then back towards the boat. Your guide will stop frequently along the way to discuss the various wildlife.

This day trip also includes a visit to the beautiful white sands of Bachas beach on Santa Cruz, which is only accessible by boat. Here families will get an opportunity to snorkel in the calm waters of its bay.

SOUTH PLAZA

Family Sea Trip

Navigation time: 1 hour each way
Walking difficulty: Easy

Upon arriving at South Plaza, you and your family may have to make your way around a large colony of sea lions on the stone jetty. From here, you will walk among prickly cactus and carpets of bright red plants. Watch out for the land iguanas, marine iguanas, and if you are exceptionally lucky, the exclusive hybrid iguana – a cross between land and marine, only ever found on this island.

After lunch you can snorkel in a nearby cove where you may encounter sea lions, turtles and lots of colorful fish.

SANTA FE

Family Sea Trip

Navigation time: 1.5 hours each way
Walking difficulty: Easy

Again, you may be greeted by a large colony of sea lions as you are transferred by dingy from your boat to the beach. After spending some time observing these playful Galapagos mammals you will be guided inland, along a little path, with giant Opuntia cacti towering above you. Again, look out for the land iguanas – a particular species that is endemic to the island of Santa Fe itself. You may also spot Galapagos hawks, the islands’ top predator.

After lunch on the boat you will be invited to snorkel in the bay of Santa Fe, where you will likely be checked out by curious sea lions, and all sorts of other marine wonders.

A Family Fishing Adventure

Fishing Like a Local

GONE FISHING

Experience a day with local artisan fishermen on the seas around Santa Cruz Island. Our fishing experience has become a firm favourite with families, as it combines wildlife experiences and cultural exchanges, as well as swimming, snorkelling and visiting secluded beaches.

We charter very safe and modern speedboats from local fishermen, who share their anecdotes from a lifetime at sea, and their skills and tricks with the children — your guide acting as translator all the time.

After boarding the boat, the captain and crew navigate to a spot where the best fishing can be enjoyed (times vary).

Lunch is served on-board the boat as no food is allowed in the Galapagos National Park. Depending on your catch, the fishermen are happy to prepare sashimi for your lunch, if you like. Alternatively, you can take the days’ catch back to the camp and discuss the preparation with our chefs. They will be happy to indulge you!

After fishing, you’ll land on a deserted beach and may snorkel in a spot known only to locals. If you prefer to limit fishing and enhance the snorkelling or beach experience, your guide is there to adapt the day to your preferences.

 

Ocean Adventure

RESPONSIBLE FISHING

This program is part of an initiative with the Galapagos National Park aimed at giving fishermen an alternative means to support themselves while reducing the strain caused on the islands’ marine ecosystems by overfishing. It can be enjoyed by guests young and old, no matter if they’re seasoned fishermen or complete novices. The important thing is to be sharing time and experiences on the seas and making new friends in the process.

 

 We design our Safaris according to your interests and needs; the best experiences possible at any given time of year; yacht operations; and the rules of the Galapagos National Park.

Included:

  • English-speaking naturalist guide
  • Accommodation
  • All meals: our chef has a substantial repertoire of kid-friendly meals and we prepare plenty of healthy snacks for each day’s outings
  • Airport VIP services
  • Transfers & ground transportation
  • Boat excursion with snorkelling on a shared basis (additional option to take a private guide or to charter the boat for a fully private experience)
  • Wetsuits and snorkelling equipment
  • Chartered fishing experience
  • Activities and visits detailed in the itinerary

Not Included:

  • Flights (all flights from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands can be arranged upon request)
  • Galapagos National Park entrance fee (US $100 per adult/$50 per child under 12; subject to change)
  • Visitor transit card (US $20 per person; subject to change)
  • Beverages
  • Laundry service
  • Insurance (please check your travel insurance is valid in your country of origin prior to your journey)
  • Gratuities

Personalize your journey!

We’re flexible and we love to personalize. How about..?

Talks with Galapagos experts, fishing trips with locals, tea inside a lava tunnel…

…picnic in the wilds, art classes, surf classes, ceviche-making and more!

 

PLAN YOUR SAFARI

VOICES OF GALAPAGOS

Our Experts Say

Stephanie Bonham-Carter
Stephanie Bonham-Carter
Founder

“Santa Cruz is among the most diverse islands in the Galapagos. We love combining explorations of the forested highlands with time at the beaches.”

Michael Mesdag
Michael Mesdag
Founder

“I’m particularly fond of the fishing trips we’ve created with local fishermen. They’re an authentic way to explore the Galapagos and are always a lot of fun.”

A few of our

Guest Reviews

5 star ratingAn Amazing Place! It’s hard to explain the magic of Galapagos Safari Camp. It was truly a special place and you feel it... read more

Krysten W
8/20/2022

5 star ratingThe most wonderful place to stay in paradise! We stayed here for 4 nights at the beginning of our honeymoon. It was beyond everything we could have hoped... read more

harriet f
5/10/2019

5 star ratingSurpassed our expectations! I can't praise Sebastien and the team at GSC highly enough for looking after us during our 6 night stay... read more

Alice B
3/20/2019