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You and your kids will experience the rich culture of the Andes and the amazing natural history of the Galapagos on this thrilling Smithsonian Family Adventure. Your journey begins near Quito, where you can visit the Equator and learn about this invisible line’s fascinating “discovery” and its impact on world history. Then hike across Eucalyptus forests and pastures to Hacienda Zuleta – a working hacienda with about 300 cows and 100 horses that dates back to the seventeenth century. Explore the area’s scenic countryside, traversing rustic villages and lush hills and valleys the way hardy locals do every day. Learn about Andean indigenous culture from the women here who spend their time working on intricate traditional embroidery. Also included is the opportunity for your son or daughter to write to a pen pal ahead of time, and then meet his or her new friend in Ecuador.
Fly west for a five-day exploration of the Galapagos Islands, one of the planet’s most fascinating ecosystems. Teeming with wildlife—including blue-footed boobies, flightless cormorants, giant tortoises, and the only penguin species north of the Equator—the Galapagos Islands are protected both as a wildlife sanctuary and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Take a boat out of Puerto Villamil and navigate the lava formations and volcanic underground caves, tunnels and arches of Los Tuneles; this underwater world offers some of the best snorkeling you’ll find anywhere, with docile whitetip reef sharks and sea turtles. Meet protected giant tortoises up close and kayak through some wildlife-rich mangroves. This land-based approach to the Galapagos with hotel stays on the islands offers much greater opportunities to really explore the region’s unique flora and fauna in depth.
Included in this exceptional itinerary are several special opportunities for behind-the-scenes access and exclusive tours and activities, such as:
Visit Mitad del Mundo and Tour the Intiñan Museum. Families will take a visit to the Middle of the World, located at latitude 0.0.0 and learn from the experts about gravitational forces and astronomy at zero latitude. At the intimate, interactive Intiñan Museum, learn how ancient indigenous groups used the equator as a tool to manage agriculture and inspire religion.
Visit the first Astronomical Observatory in South America. Tour the Astronomical Observatory, built in 1873, and use the telescope with expert guidance. See how a seismograph and weather station work.
Become well-versed in astral archeology at Quitsato. Head to Quitsato, a sun dial located right on the equator line. An expert in astral archeology will show our families how to get oriented to the equator at different times of the day and during different seasons.
Actively explore Los Tuneles. Our boat excursion to Los Tuneles is an unforgettable experience. It is a remarkable lava formation made up of underwater arches and caves that came to be through the drastic contrast of temperatures when lava entered the ocean about a million years ago. This labyrinth or rocks and tunnels is alive with a thriving ecosystem; see Galapagos penguins, sea birds, eagle rays and sharks up close.
Navigate the seas using just a sextant and the position of the sun. Using information gathered throughout the trip, navigate from Puerto Ayora to Whale Bay the same way it was done by explorers long ago: using only a sextant and the position of the sun.
Final payment can be made by credit card. Exclusively on our Smithsonian Family Adventures, families are able to make their final payment by credit card.
|06/27 - 07/06||$5,990||$5,890||$5,890||$800|
|12/26 - 01/04||$6,140||$6,040||$6,090||$850|
|Call for Availability|
Single supplement: $2,000
Triple discount (child under 12 sharing with two adults): $100
Internal Air Discount for Children under 12: $150 in December and $100 in March & June
Welcome to Ecuador! Our Smithsonian Family Adventure through this treasured country is full of great opportunities to experience the rich culture of the Andean Highlands and the famous biological diversity of the Galapagos Islands.
- Straddle the equator at Mitad del Mundo
- Astronomical observatory
Within the stunning, rolling terrain of the Andean Highlands hide the ruins of lost civilizations, including the Cañari, a sophisticated society of astronomers who ruled the area for a thousand years before being conquered by the Incas. The Incas controlled the Andean Highlands for less than a century before the Spanish arrived in the 1530s.
- Quitsato sundial and its ancient cultural significance
- School visit
- Stargazing at Zuleta
- Treasure hunting by use of GPS
Prepare for an exciting day of travel. We fly to the famed Galapagos Islands. We land on Isabela Island, the largest island in the Galapagos—bigger than all of the rest combined.
- Abundant wildlife, like Galapagos penguins and sea lions
- Tortoise Breeding Center
- Sextant lesson
- Hike on Tintoreras, with marine iguanas and reef sharks
- Underwater volcanic caves and tunnels at Los Tuneles
We’ll fly from Isabela to Baltra and connect to the island of Santa Cruz, the second largest in the Galapagos and home to the bustling port city of Puerto Ayora.
- Meet giant tortoises up close
- Sea kayaking
- Explore a lava tunnel
- Sextant navigation
- Snorkeling at Whale Bay
- Bahia Ballena Beach
- See finches, warblers, frigate birds and blue-footed boobies
- Stingrays, Pacific green and leatherback sea turtles
Today we say goodbye to these enchanted isles and hello to mainland Ecuador once again!
- Farewell dinner
All great adventures must one day come to an end. You’ll be transferred to the international airport for your flight home.
The Hilton Colon Quito hotel is conveniently located just a 10 minute walk from Colonial Quito. Each of the hotel's rooms features city views, wireless internet, plasma TV, air conditioning, coffee maker and hair dryer. Other highlights of the hotel include restaurants, fitness center, spa and an outdoor, heated pool.
Hacienda Zuleta is located in the Andean cloud forest about two and a half hours northeast of Quito. The adobe hacienda is the centerpiece of a 4,000-acre farm and was built in 1691. The working farm includes a dairy, cheese factory, organic garden, tree nursery, trout farm, embroidery workshop, and condor-raising project. The grounds also feature pine and eucalyptus forests and high-altitude grasslands, pre-Inca archaeological sites amid magnificent volcano views, and over 80 horses.
The fifteen guest rooms are appointed with Spanish Colonial antique furniture, down comforters, and linens embroidered by local Indian women. Each room features a fireplace and beautiful garden views. The comfortable hacienda also has welcoming dining, living, and reading rooms for guests to share.
Iguana Crossing hotel is the newest addition to Isabela Island. It's located on the southern part of the island, with only National Park beyond it. The hotel is the only one on Isabela with an oceanfront swimming pool, and each of its rooms features great views of either the beachfront or Sierra Negra Volcano. Iguana Crossing also has central air conditioning, wireless internet, laundry facilities, rooftop Jacuzzi, and a restaurant and bar. Rooms here feature a flat screen TV, alarm clock with an iPod dock, hair dryer, safety deposit box, and tasteful, rustic design.
The Angermeyer Waterfront Inn offers top-notch comfort and all the necessary amenities amid constant reminders that you’re still in the Galapagos Islands, one of the most unique places in the world. The inn was built using lava rocks and drift wood for that authentic Galapagos feel, and each spacious room is equipped with cable television, air conditioning, and a private bathroom. Located just a 2-minute water taxi ride from the bustling Puerto Ayora, the property has its own dock and a waterfront restaurant prime for observing sea lions, sea turtles, and marine iguanas.
Why Ecuador and the Galapagos with Thomson and Smithsonian?