Ecuador: Galapagos Islands & Inca Ruins

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Your family will experience the rich culture of the Andes and the amazing natural history of the Galapagos on this truly incredible family vacation.

Our journey begins in the rolling highlands of the Ecuadorian Andes. We visit with villagers and artisans, learning about their ancient culture and shopping for crafts in colorful markets, and go on a beautiful hike with spectacular views of the valley.

Then we head west into the Pacific for our nature cruise among the Galapagos Islands, one of the planet's most fascinating ecosystems. Each day we disembark on a different island to explore, swim and view the almost tame wildlife. We offer two cruises, including a four-night cruise for those times of the year when families have longer vacations.

If you have an extra week of vacation time to take advantage of while you’re in South America, go on our Peru extension. A family adventure that includes the Galapagos Islands AND Machu Picchu can’t be beat.

2014 Dates
Dates 10 or more
travelers
6 to 9
travelers
2 to 5
travelers
Internal
Air
Special
Features
12/21 - 12/29 $5,890 $6,090 $6,390 $850

M/V Legend
Junior Suite

12/21 - 12/29 $5,490 $5,690 $5,990 $850

M/V Legend
Standard Plus
 

12/25 - 01/02 $5,490 $5,690 $5,990 $850

M/V Legend
Standard Plus

12/25 - 01/02 $5,890 $6,090 $6,390 $850

M/V Legend
Junior Suite

12/25 - 01/03 Sold Out

M/V Santa Cruz
Main Deck
10 Days

12/26 - 01/02 $5,290 $5,490 $5,790 $850

M/V Legend

Standard Plus

12/26 - 01/02 $5,690 $5,890 $6,190 $850

M/V Legend

Junior Suite

2015 Dates
Dates 10 or more
travelers
6 to 9
travelers
2 to 5
travelers
Internal Air Special
features
03/21 - 03/29 $5,290 $5,590 $5,890 $700

*EBD

04/11 - 04/19 $5,290 $5,590 $5,890 $700

*EBD

06/13 - 06/21 $5,290 $5,590 $5,890 $700
06/28 - 07/07 $5,890 $6,240 $6,590 $700
07/25 - 08/02 $5,290 $5,590 $5,890 $700
12/20 - 12/28 $5,590 $5,940 $6,290 $700
12/23 - 01/01 $6,390 $6,740 $7,090 $700
12/26 - 01/03 $5,590 $5,940 $6,290 $700
12/30 - 01/08 $6,390 $6,740 $7,090 $700

* EBD (Early Booking Discount)Book this adventure before September 30th, 2014, receive a $300 discount per party for groups of 2 -5, $700 per party for 6-9; $1500 per party for 10 or more.

Our 9 day itineraries have 3 nights on the Galapagos Islands, and 10 day itineraries have 4.

Child Discount (<12): $450 in December 2014; $100-$300, depending on departure date, in 2015 

Triples may be available on request

Alumni Discount: if you are a returning Thomson guest, please subtract $500 per family from these prices

Price includes: All entrance and park fees, accommodations based on two to a room, land transportation, private bi-lingual guide while on the mainland and a Galapagos National Park guide on the cruise, area specialists, most meals, bottled water & snacks in the vehicle, Comprehensive Travel Insurance.

 

Prices are based on the number of people in your party.

Don't see your travel dates?

Call us, we can personalize any trip to meet your travel needs! 

Extensions

This trip is great in combination with one of our Peru adventures. International air to/from Lima and Quito not included.

Every journey is unique!

The exact order of locations and activities varies from departure date to departure date, due to Galapagos National Park regulations and boat itinerary schedules. See the dates at the bottom for a breakdown of which dates follow which itineraries.

Andean Highlands / Cuenca (2 or 3 nights)

Ancient Cañari and Inca ruins dot the landscape of rolling green pastures and valleys, glacial lakes, and mountains. And right in the heart of this Andean highland region sits the charming city of Cuenca, a colonial jewel featuring cobblestone streets, craft markets, and Spanish churches.

 

  • El Cajas National Park hike
  • Cojitambo Mountain activities and ruins
  • Rock climbing
  • Friends Across Borders Meeting (pen pals)
  • Cuenca walking tour
  • Ceramics workshop
  • Pumpapungo Inca ruins
Galapagos (3 or 4 nights)

In this biological dream world, sea lions play in the water and lounge on the rocks; blue-footed boobies perform bizarre mating rituals; and giant tortoises and prehistoric-looking iguanas slowly make their way through sand, grass, and sea. As you and your family explore these enchanting volcanic isles, you’ll be swimming, snorkeling, hiking and exploring an amazing array of physical environments rich in unique wildlife. 

Guayaquil (2 nights – 1 full day)
Guayaquil provides an entirely distinct – but equally Ecuadorian – experience from the Galapagos or the Andean highlands. Busy and tropical, the place is characterized by palm trees and plantain vendors, colorful architecture and a bustling boardwalk.
 
  • Walk and boat through a tropical mangrove reserve

 

Date/Itinerary Breakdown

Here is the breakdown for which spots are visited on which dates. Specific information about islands in the Galapagos is listed below. 

 

M/V Legend:

  • Feb. 15-23, 2014 (9 days) – Guayaquil, Santa Cruz, Santiago, Bartolomé, North Seymour, Cuenca (2 nights) 

  • Mar. 15-23, 2014 (9 days) – Guayaquil, Santa Cruz, Santiago, Bartolomé, North Seymour, Cuenca (2 nights)

  • Mar. 23 - Apr. 1, 2014 (10 days) – Guayaquil, Cuenca (3 nights), San Cristobal, Española, Floreana, Santa Cruz, Daphne Island 

  • Mar. 29 - Apr. 6, 2014 (9 days) – Guayaquil, Santa Cruz, Santiago, Bartolomé, North Seymour, Cuenca (2 nights) 

  • Apr. 12-20, 2014 (9 days) – Guayaquil, Santa Cruz, Santiago, Bartolomé, North Seymour, Cuenca (2 nights)

M/V Santa Cruz:

  • Jun. 20-29, 2014 (10 days) – Guayaquil, San Cristobal, Santa Fe, South Plaza Island, Santa Cruz, Española, Cuenca (3 nights) 

  • Jul. 4-13, 2014 (10 days) – Guayaquil, San Cristobal, Santa Fe, South Plaza Island, Santa Cruz, Española, Cuenca (3 nights) 

  • Dec. 25 - Jan. 3, 2014 (10 days) – Guayaquil, Cuenca (3 nights), Santa Cruz, Santiago, Rábida, Bartolomé, Genovesa, San Cristobal

Hilton Colon Guayaquil
The Hilton Colon Guayaquil Hotel is conveniently located a 5 minute drive from the airport. Each of the hotel's 294 rooms features broadband and wireless internet, plasma TV, air conditioning, coffee maker and hair dryer. Other highlights of the hotel include 5 restaurants, fitness center, spa and an outdoor pool.
Hosteria Uzhupud

The Hosteria Uzhupud is a charming hotel set in the midst of a working hacienda estate, about a 40 minute drive outside of Cuenca. A popular weekending spot amongst the locals, Hosteria Uzhupud boasts an outdoor pool, tennis and volleyball courts, steam baths, and a sauna. Other amenities include cable TV, room service, and internet access.

M/V Galapagos Legend

The M/V Galapagos Legend offers 4 decks and 58 cabins for not more than 100 passengers. Fully renovated in 2011, there is a pool and solarium, jogging track and game room. All cabins have air conditioning, private bath, and lower beds. Prices are based on Standard Plus cabins.

M/V Santa Cruz

The 222-foot-long M/V Santa Cruz has 47 cabins, each with a private bathroom and shower and a porthole or window offering views of the surrounding ocean. The boat has air-conditioning, a sun deck, a restaurant and bar, and it even contains a glass-bottom boat perfect for snorkeling excursions. Prices are based on Main Deck cabins.

Why Ecuador and the Galapagos?

Galapagos Islands geography
When you think of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands surely come to mind. Stunning beauty and an abundance of wildlife are the trademarks of these volcanic islands. For years to come, you and your children will reminisce about all of the wonderful species you saw on these islands – many of which are found nowhere else on earth.
Galapagos Islands wildlife
The Galapagos Islands are home to more than 25,000 species of plants, 6,000 species of butterflies and 1,600 species of birds. On Santa Cruz Island, enormous tortoises find refuge at the Charles Darwin Research Station. Tiny Rabida Island is home to pelicans, pink flamingos and pintail ducks in its shallow salt water lagoons and red sand beaches. On San Cristobal, the incredible wildlife includes iguanas and the rare Chatham mockingbird. Walking on lovely, remote Española Island, your family may encounter sea lions, blue-footed boobies or sea turtles as you stroll past lava cliffs where sea water jets high in the air.
Darwin’s Theory
Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands in 1835 on his return to England after repatriating the Fuegians. He collected various birds, which he took back to John Gould, a famous ornithologist, in England. While Darwin initially thought the birds were not closely related, Gould concluded that the birds were in fact, "a series of ground Finches which are so peculiar" as to form "an entirely new group, containing 12 species." This story made the newspapers and formed the basis for Darwin’s groundbreaking theory.
Culture and history of the Andean Highlands
Famous for the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador’s Andean Highlands are often overlooked. With a history dating as far back as 3,500 B.C. and a stunning landscape, the area north of Quito is a hidden gem. From the rolling highlands and snow capped peaks of the Ecuadorian Andes to the villages where locals are happy to share their ancient culture and traditions, to an indigenous Latin American market where local artisans sell Panama hats, colorful handmade weavings and sweaters, the highlands are not to be missed.
Seclusion
We take family vacations to get away from the daily grind of our normal lives and just be with our families. The Galápagos Islands offer the perfect opportunity to leave it all behind and enjoy each other’s company. Many of the islands you’ll visit are virtually uninhabited by humans, because they are protected lands of delicate ecological splendor, so you will be far away from any kind of hustle and bustle.

Why Ecuador and the Galapagos with Thomson?

Perfect combination of Galapagos and Andean Highlands
  Our adventure offers you the best of all worlds. In the Andean Highlands you'll spend time in Cuenca, where you’ll tour the colonial sites of the city and stay at Hosteria Uzhupud.  Set on the grounds of an old hacienda,  your home base will offer opportunities for games, swimming and relaxing. Our families return raving about how unexpectedly wonderful their time in the Andean Highlands was. Next we head west into the Pacific for our three or four night nature cruise among the Galapagos Islands. Our ship holds only 100 passengers, so you have plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the passage. Experienced naturalists will take you on shore to seek out, and learn about, the wildlife on these volcanic islands. You will visit San Cristobal and Espanola islands, where you will enjoy exploring, swimming and interacting with wildlife that is unfazed by your presence. And three or four nights in the Galapagos is perfect for most families; enough time to see the highlights and the vast array of wildlife, but not so much time that kids start to get bored.
Staying at Hosteria Uzhupud
This old hacienda has been family-owned since the end of the colonial era in Ecuador. The grounds here feature various playing fields, beautiful gardens, a pool, and an outdoor dining area. You'll have plenty of opportunities to play or relax here while taking in the amazing scenery. You can even head out through the grounds on horseback if you're feeling adventurous!
Extra special treatment on board the Galapagos Explorer II!
On board the Galapagos Explorer II, the wonderful crew gives you VIP treatment. The cruise ship is 293 feet long and holds only 100 passengers, so families have plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the journey. Our experienced naturalists lead two onshore expeditions each day, to help you seek out wildlife and learn about the fascinating natural history of these volcanic islands. When not snorkeling or discovering the islands on foot, you can enjoy all the amenities this first class ship has to offer — a Jacuzzi, solarium, reading room, internet access and comfortable air-conditioned cabins.
Friends Across Borders meeting
Thomson families love this program! Children traveling with us can choose to exchange letters with a local child of a similar age before leaving on their adventure. In Ecuador, your child will get to meet his or her pen pal through a fun activity like soccer or hacky sack. It’s amazing how much kids learn about one another — and the appreciation they gain for one another’s culture — when they meet through this eye-opening program.
Perfect place for a Family Reunion
When was the last time your extended family got together? A Thomson trip is the perfect way for your entire family – near and far – to spend time with relatives that you might not see as often as you would like. Pick a destination and a date, and we’ll do the rest! Let Thomson help you plan the perfect family reunion amidst the beauty and splendor of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
Rock climbing at Cojitambo Mountain
While in the Andean highlands, our expert mountaineers (yes, we even have expert mountaineers!) will show you the ropes and help you learn how to rock climb at Cojitambo – a mountain sacred to the area’s Cañari people. Rock climbing is phenomenal exercise, a rewarding challenge, and an excellent way to experience the region’s scenery.