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Galapagos Islands Cruise & Andean Highlands

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Experience the rich culture of the Andes and the amazing natural history of the Galapagos on this truly incredible family vacation. From ancient archeological sites of the Cañari and the Inca, to modern villages where locals are happy to share their traditions, to the outstanding wildlife of the Galapagos, you and your family will be immersed in the storied cultural heritage and incredible natural history that is waiting to be discovered in Ecuador.

2017 Dates
Dates Adult/Teen Children
(under 12)
Internal Air* Special
12/24 - 01/02 Sold Out

M/V Tip Top IV

*Internal Air: $750 per adult / $600 per child under 12

Upper Deck cabins available for $400 more per person

Groups: Traveling in a party of six or more friends or family members? Call us about our large group discounts.

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

Price includes: 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.



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

Don't see your travel dates? Call us, we can personalize any trip to meet your travel needs! 


Day 1: Depart Home / Arrive Guayaquil

Welcome to Ecuador, Spend a day relaxing before heading out to cruise the Galapagos Islands!

Days 2-5: Cruise the Galapagos Islands / Visit the Darwin Research Center / Hike Santa Fe Island

Fly to the Galapagos Islands to board your first-class cruise ship and let the real adventure begin. 

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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.

Days 6-8: Friends Across Borders Meeting / Explore Cojitambo Ruins / Tour Cuenca

After an exceptional time cruising around the Galapagos, get ready to explore ancient Incan ruins on mainland Ecuador in Cuenca.  

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This small city is a beautiful cultural gem in the middle of the Andean highlands. Explore the mountains, search Incan ruins, and walk the city of Cuenca to blend into the flow of everyday life!

Day 9: Venture into El Cajas National Park / Cross the Continental Divide / Enjoy Guayaquil 

Take an exciting drive back to Guayaquil.  

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Weave through the countryside, passing through different climate zones and across the Continental divide. Take in the scenery as you drive along the Pacific coast and banana and coffee plantations! Once in Guayaquil, take time to relax and explore the city with your family before enjoying a farewell dinner with your fellow travelers!


Day 10: Depart Guayaquil / Arrive Home

Depart for your international flight home and talk about all the great memories you’ve just created on your amazing family vacation!


Itineraries vary depending on travel dates.  Please give us a call for specifics.

Wyndham Guayaquil

The Wyndham Hotel in Guayaquil is located just steps from the historic Santa Ana Hill, its famous lighthouse, and the Malecon 2000. Guests to this Guayaquil hotel can stay fit at the state-of-art fitness center or relax with a swim in the heated outdoor pool, which proffers glorious views of the city from the 9th floor terrace. Each of its 179 over-sized guest rooms includes thoughtful amenities like plush pillow top bedding, down pillows, minibar, floor -to-ceiling windows, bathrobe, digital safe and 43 inch flat screen satellite TV.

Hosteria Santa Barbara

Located just outside of Cuenca in the town of Gualaceo, Hosteria Santa Barbara is the perfect mix of modern and historic. This beautiful hotel sits on 37 acres of land inside the Azuay province nestled in the midst of the Ecuadorian Andes. The mountain range serves as a wonderful backdrop as you relax by the poolside or take advantage of the onsite spa and sauna! As you relax, your kids will be able to play on the tennis, racquetball, basketball, or soccer courts to have fun. There is also a gym and game room complete with a pool and ping-pong table. Each cabana has access to wifi and room service, although we don’t imagine you’ll be spending too much time inside!

M/V The Santa Cruz II

This small-cruise ship is a fantastic and fun experience for travelers of any age. Parents can enjoy the sun deck lounge area, gazing out into the sea, while kids can take part in the “Young Pirates” program or have visits with the ship’s Captain. The rooms are light, feel spacious, and the ship features a library with internet access. This is a great and fun place to see the islands of the Galapagos and relax after days of exploration!  

M/V Tip Top IV
This yacht can accommodate 16 passengers in 10 cabins. Each cabin consists of two twin beds or one double bed, private bathrooms and air condtioning. Common areas include a bar and dining room, lounge, and sun deck. Kayaks are available onboard and snorkeling equipment is included.
M/V Eclipse
This first-class ocean going vessel accommodates 48 passengers allowing for stability but also small enough to explore the islands intimately. The staterooms are very comfortable and spacious. Wetsuits and snorkel equipment are provided.

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.
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. 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. 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.
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.