Ecuador (Galapagos)

Ecuador: Highlands & Galapagos (Santa Cruz Island)

  • Overview
    Starts at



    9 days


    Level 2


    8 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners

    Leave the crowds of visitors and well-worn paths behind and actively explore the Galapagos Islands with Santa Cruz as your base. This trip is for the adventurous family that is eager to trade the confines of a cruise ship for quaint bed and breakfasts in order to discover the flora and fauna of the Galapagos in a unique and active way!

    Recommended Age: 8+

    Experience the Islands and the Highlands

    Ecuador is a fascinating country that has many personalities and experiences. Explore the Galapagos Islands and its amazing wildlife and get a glimpse into life in the Andean Highlands.

    Kayak San Pablo Lake

    Kayak across San Pablo Lake, surrounded by beautiful hills and mountains, only taking breaks when you feel like going for a swim!

    Hike North Seymour Island

    Hike a trail along the rocky coast of North Seymour Island inland to look for the largest bird breeding colonies in the Galapagos!

    Explore Bartolome Island

    Explore the volcanic landscape and lava tube formations of Bartolome Island and look for the island’s locals from Galapagos penguins swimming in tropical waters to green sea turtles, sea lions, and Galapagos sharks!

    Go to a Giant Tortoise Farm

    Meet the most famous face of the Galapagos Islands, the giant tortoise, and learn about the efforts at hand to protect this incredible animal.

  • Itinerary

    Day 1

    Fly to Quito, Ecuador

    Days 2-4

    Santa Cruz Island

    Visit Daphne Island and Borrero Beach by speedboat

    See the Galapagos from the unique perspective of a local fisherman! First visit Daphne Major, a volcanic island just north of Santa Cruz and made up of volcanic ash and devoid of trees. Though easily accessible to most visitors, the National Park service has highly restricted visits to Daphne Island and it is primarily used for scientific research. A 25-minute boat ride brings us to a beautiful beach home to Galapagos martins, blue-footed boobies, masked boobies, short-eared owls, red-billed tropicbirds and magnificent frigate birds. Snorkeling is superb here among sea turtles, manta rays and other fish.

    Visit Giant Tortoise Farm

    Private farms on Santa Cruz Island conserve endemic vegetation for the habitat of these magnificent creatures. As we follow the trail, winding through this landscape, we will have plenty of chances to marvel at the Giant Tortoise in its entire splendor.

    Visit North Seymour Island

    North Seymour Island is a spectacular place to hike, swim and even snorkel. No matter how we explore we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled to see Swallow Tailed gulls and Yellow Warblers, as well as Lava Lizards and the Galapagos snake going about their daily lives!

    Explore Bartolome Island

    We’ll explore volcanic craters and lava tubes that will give us the feeling of walking on the moon! We’ll also have to keep our eyes open for Galapagos penguins swimming in tropical waters, green sea turtles, sea lions, and Galapagos sharks.

    Dinner with a Local Fisherman

    We’ll travel up the road to meet a local fisherman who is a favorite with our families. Enjoy hearty conversation and an exquisite dinner as he and his family hosts us this evening.

    Days 5-6


    Sun Dial in the Middle of the World

    From Quito we’ll head north, to one of the most fertile valleys in the region, to visit a sundial located precisely on the equator. Here, we will meet our astral-archeological expert, who will provide us with an expert’s explanation of why Ecuador has 12 hours of daylight throughout the year. He’ll also teach us how to orientate ourselves from the equator line at different times of the day in different seasons.  You learn something new every day!

    Days 6-8

    Andean Highlands

    Ucsha School Visit

    Head to the little town of Ucsha to visit a local school where your family can spend some time with local kids and teachers and, time permitting, help with their daily activities.

    Find a Hidden Treasure with GPS

    After your kids have learned how to use a handheld GPS device, we will put their new skills to work as we set out on a hike in search of a buried treasure.

    Active Morning Option – Kayaking

    San Pablo Lake is one of the most scenic areas in the province of Imbabura. During a two-mile kayak across the lake, enjoy the great views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

    Cultural Morning Option - Huarmi Maqui

    The village of Peguche is home to the Huarmi Maqui organization, a cooperative of women that an indigenous leader has organized to support the education and health of the members’ children. Here we will have the opportunity to see some locally made handicrafts and typical Andean products such as corn, peas, beans, potatoes, and more.

    Otavalo Market

    You cannot leave Ecuador without visiting Latin America’s second largest indigenous market! At Poncho Plaza we’ll be able to shop for many things. Otavaleños are most famous for their weavings including sweaters, blankets, gloves and ponchos. You’ll also find Panama hats and colorfully embroidered blouses and shirts. Good-natured bargaining is expected here!

    Day 8


    Farewell Dinner

    We’ll say goodbye to our fellow travelers over a farewell dinner as we share our favorite moments of the adventure.

    Day 9

    Depart / Arrive home

  • Dates & Prices

    2018 Dates


    Adult $7090PP
    Teen $7090PP
    Child $7040PP
    Internal Air $750

  • Hotels

    Wyndham Grand Condor

    Featuring free Wi-Fi and a restaurant, Wyndham Quito Airport offers accommodations in Tababela, just 12 miles from Quito. The hotel has a terrace and fitness center, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant or a drink at the bar.

    Finch Bay Eco Hotel

    The Finch Bay Eco Hotel features 21 garden view rooms and 6 ocean view suites, all with private bathrooms and air conditioning. Enjoy an outdoor pool, restaurant & lounge, and wi-fi internet. In addition, it is the only beachfront hotel in the town of Puerto Ayora.

    Hacienda Cusin

    Hacienda Cusin is a restored 17th-century Andean estate about 90 minutes north of Quito. The hotel features 43 beautiful, individually decorated rooms, each with a mountain-view and most of which have a beamed ceiling and a functional fireplace. The beautiful gardens surrounding the hotel contain countless species of flowers, bushes, and trees, and attract over 50 species of birds. Other highlights include animals, horseback riding, a game room, massages, mountain biking, an internet café, laundry service and a fully-staffed kitchen with a great menu.

    Thomson Family Adventures will attempt to adhere to this itinerary and its hotels as much as possible. However, certain conditions (political, climatic, environmental, cultural, or availability) may necessitate changes in the accommodations.

  • Why Thomson

    Smart Traveler Advantages

    Book your trip 9 months in advance and get access to all of the advantages that come with being a smart traveler from free flight insurance and trip cancellation to a brand new GoPro.

    Friends Across Borders

    Your child will have a cultural connection like no other by meeting kids the same age from the country you’re traveling by playing games, throwing a Frisbee, kicking a ball around, or just chatting. Ask us about our pen pal program.

    Guaranteed Departures

    No matter what happens, once your family books a trip you’re going.


    Be accompanied for your entire trip by an expert local in-country guide who will know all of the ins and outs of the adventure and destination.

    Small Groups

    With a small group you’ll have plenty of time for spontaneity and to develop a connection with your fellow travelers and guide.

    Travel Insurance

    Every Thomson Family Adventures trip comes with travel insurance for your entire family at no extra cost.