A FAMILY VACATION OF A LIFETIME
A Wildlife Wonderland for Children
The Galapagos Islands are a remarkable place for young minds and experiential learning. At Galapagos Safari Camp we have always felt that children are particularly susceptible to the powers and lessons of these islands. Sit a few yards from a marine iguana and adaptive natural selection comes to sea-salt-snorting life; watch a hungry sea lion pup calling for its mother on a beach and the survival of the fittest is brought undeniably home; enjoy breakfast on our veranda with darting Darwin’s finches and his research suddenly seems more tangible.
For curious young spirits, the Galapagos are a true, living, breathing biology lesson.
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KEEP EVERYONE HAPPY
Tips For Your Family Vacation
To help you plan your Galapagos family vacation, we have listed some important points to consider below. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of our family travel consultants. We have over a decade of experience in creating bespoke Family Safaris in the Galapagos and understand the importance of keeping every member of the family happy and engaged.
Planning A Galapagos Family Vacation: Asking the right questions
When planning a family holiday to the Galapagos, parents may want to consider these questions:
Many Galapagos tours have fixed schedules which cannot be adapted to different age groups. At Galapagos Safari Camp, our itineraries are flexible and can be fully customized so that every member of the family is kept fully engaged.
Many Galapagos tours and cruises have fixed departure dates which may not always align with yours. At Galapagos Safari Camp, we plan your Safari around your vacation dates, and not the other way round.
As every parent knows, kids can have a lot of energy. Sometimes too much! If you are sharing a boat with strangers or joining group tours, it can be stressful keeping those energy (and noise) levels down.
At Galapagos Safari Camp our Safaris can be fully private, or semi-private (meaning you share boat trips with other guests but have private tours on land). This gives young children the opportunity to let off steam without the risk of upsetting other guests. We also have a Kids’ Club in the camp where little kids can get creative, giving parents a chance to unwind by the pool or with a book in a hammock at the end of the day.
At Galapagos Safari Camp everything we do has been designed with purpose and intent. Not only do we strive to make our Family Safaris educational but we also strive to enrich the lives of our guests – big or small – so that they can learn something new about the world they live in as well as something new about themselves and others.
Modeled on a luxury African Safari Lodge, Galapagos Safari Camp has been designed to respect the National Park and the natural world while at the same time delivering a high level of comfort and service.
This will very much depend on the age of your children, whether they are prone to seasickness and how well they behave in confined areas! You can read our tips on family cruise vs family-friendly hotel here.
How to make the most of your Galapagos Family Vacation?
There are plenty of wildlife experiences to be had on Santa Cruz Island itself. Up in the highlands, where our camp is based, is a large giant tortoise reserves, one of the best places to see these iconic Galapagos creatures in the wild. On the coast there are a number of white sand bays and secluded lagoons – great spots for viewing marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies and flamingos. The fish market in Puerto Ayora is particularly popular with sea lions, pelicans and frigate birds, all elbowing their way in to the counters to pilfer what they can from the vendors. In Galapagos Safari Camp itself it’s not uncommon to see giant tortoises grazing under your tent, Darwin’s finches hopping across your breakfast table and mockingbirds foraging on your tent’s balcony at dawn. In recent months we’ve even had a Galapagos barn owl take up residence behind our Family Suite.
Santa Cruz also boasts a network of underground lava tunnels which are fun for kids to explore as well as ‘Los Gemelos‘ – twin craters that were created when empty magma chambers collapsed in on themselves. The island is also home to one of the most spectacular beaches in the world (according to TripAdvisor’s Top Beaches of the World), Tortuga Bay.
Not surprisingly the waters surrounding the island are also rich in marine life. Our Fishing Experience can take families to one of the island’s many secluded coves that are only accessible by boat. Here you may see green turtles, reef sharks and a variety of rays.
Our days trips by boat can take visitors to a number of nearby islands including North Seymour (good for spotting blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, land iguanas and sea lions), Santa Fe (good for spotting land iguanas, sea lions and hawks), Bartolome (good for geology, lava lizards and penguin sightings) and South Plaza (good for sea lions, land iguanas and both nazca and blue-footed boobies).
The boat trips often include snorkeling trips and if you’re very lucky you may even be trailed by a pod of playful dolphins!
Children of all ages love our Galapagos experiential fishing trip, which is both an exciting wildlife experience and cultural exchange opportunity for visitors.
Galapagos Safari Camp is involved in a program with the National Park Service that engages local fisherman in tourism activities. The aim of the initiative is to provide local fisherman with a sustainable alternative to commercial fishing (which was banned in 1998).
If your kids are lucky, they may even catch your lunch. How does a tuna sashimi picnic sound?
The fishing trip also includes snorkeling and time to kick back on a secluded beach.
We work with some of the best guides in the islands and pride ourselves on carefully pairing the right ones with our guests. We know it often takes a special person to engage a child on a guided tour and at Galapagos Safari Camp, we know who those people are … and who they aren’t!
Having the time to reflect and relax is a key ingredient to every successful family vacation, and that holds particularly true in the Galapagos where the days can be full.
Depending on the dates you visit, the islands can also be hot, and the Ecuadorian sun is intense, which can be draining both for young children and for adults. Consider your time and energy, and make decisions based on family input. Slow-paced naturalist walks through the highlands, reading/picnicking/napping on the beach, strolling through Puerto Ayora and relaxing by the pool are just some of the ways you can soak up local flavor while enjoying a leisurely trip.
At Galapagos Safari Camp we also have a Kid’s Club which gives parents the opportunity to rest and unwind at the end of the day – an essential component of any holiday!
The Galapagos Islands are without a doubt Ecuador’s most popular destination. However what many visitors don’t realize is that there is so much more to explore on mainland Ecuador, including the Andes, Amazon, Cloud Forest and historical, UNESCO-protected cities.
Galapagos with kids:
Seven life-changing lessons
As a parent, there is nothing more thrilling than watching your children see something for the first time in the Galapagos Islands. The fearless, wonderstruck look on their faces when they first encounter a marine iguana or snorkel with a penguin is something to treasure.
There’s so much that kids can learn on a Family Galapagos Safari, not only about the natural world, but about how they, as people, relate to it. Here, we list seven life-changing lessons for kids in the Galapagos Islands.
Nothing compares to the wonder of the close contact with wildlife that your children will experience on their Galapagos Family Safari holiday.
Unlike wildlife safaris in many other parts of the world, where animals must be watched in silence, and from afar, the animals in the Galapagos can be observed up close, and even by the most vocal of children! Here aspiring Dr Dolittles can have a heart-to-heart with a marine iguana or a giant tortoise without parents having to worry about their safety. The animals of the Galapagos show no fear of humans, and providing children keep a reasonable distance (the Natural Park stipulates 6 feet / 2 meters, which can sometimes be challenging when the animals themselves can be as equally curious!), there is very little for parents to fear.
Each night at Galapagos Safari Camp, the canvas of our Safari Tents is all that stands between kids and the wild. As the camp’s founder (and parent of two), Stephanie Bonham-Carter puts in, “Sleeping under canvas is so very different to having four walls and a roof over you. You are sheltered, yet you are exposed. However you are comfortable, and you are protected. And that’s Appropriate Luxury.”
At the camp children also have the opportunity to pick oranges from the trees, dig yucca from the soil, milk a cow or harvest cacao in the plantation seeded by Stephanie and Michael, and their children. These hands-on, experiential encounters open children’s eyes to the idea that humans too belong to the natural world.
There’s little connectivity at Galapagos Safari Camp, or across the Galapagos Islands as a whole, which means that everyone, parents and kids alike, gets a necessary break from technology during their Galapagos family vacation. Rather than freaking out, children quickly adapt to their digital detox, learning that the world beyond their screens is infinitely more absorbing, thrilling and liberating. Away from their devices, children have the chance to be more mindful and present, each experience infinitely more valuable than any possession.
As Ann Abel observes in Forbes, “What used to be a liability has become the ultimate luxury: a chance to shut out all the endless digital noise and truly connect with our planet, our loved ones and ourselves.”
As tomorrow’s leaders, it’s essential that our children learn about the importance of conservation and to respect all living beings as equals. In the Galapagos, the environment is so pristine and beautifully cared-for that any speck of litter stands out like a flashing light. Children automatically follow the example of guides picking up bits of plastic to leave landscapes spotless. Surrounded by people who are passionate about protecting the environment, children develop the confidence to speak up for what they believe in, and to share their knowledge with their peers.
Away from the confines of the classroom, children will witness “cause and effect”. How, for example, the introduction of invasive species by humans can affect an eco-system; how climate change and rising sea temperatures is affecting the wildlife in the Galapagos; and how, if we’re not careful, we may end up observing more animals such as Lonesome George – the last Pinta Island tortoise to walk the planet – through glass cabinets.
Trying new things and facing fears is inevitable on a Galapagos Family Safari. Whether it’s boarding a boat for the first time, riding a bike downhill or plunging into the deep blue and catching the silhouette of a green turtle gliding past you, the realization that apprehension and dread can quickly turn into exhilaration and joy makes children more comfortable with taking risks, and less fearful of the unknown – something that will help carry them through life.
…and there’s no such thing as a silly question! The experienced guides who work with Galapagos Safari Camp are brilliant at engaging with kids, delighted to discuss why blue-footed boobies have blue feet, why some birds can’t fly and for how long marine iguanas can hold their breath.
Our Family Safari is an odyssey of oddities where the curious are rewarded. After all, this is the place that inspired the Theory of Evolution. Anything that is a mystery leads to questions, and questions lead to discovery. Even Charles Darwin must have begun his investigations with a resounding, “but why?”.
Picture the scene: you’ve been out on the boat for hours and haven’t seen any wildlife in a while, despite the possibility of turtles, whale sharks, even orcas. Other travelers around you have cut their losses and have closed their eyes to doze. But suddenly you see it: just below the surface, a manta ray, the width of a king size bed skimming along, then summersaulting out of the water into the air, again and again as if performing a dance. The other travelers snooze on. With eyes wide open and a splash of patience, the most astounding Galapagos experiences await. You’ll see!
Galapagos With Kids TV
Children can learn more about the Galapagos and its extraordinary wildlife by following our YouTube Playlist for Galapagos With Kids. Click on the menu icon in the top right corner of the video below to view all the videos in the playlist.