Don Forster - Family in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

An Ecuador Vacation With the Family

An oft repeated statement you hear in the travel business when people return from a holiday is, “I need a holiday after my holiday!” Never so much is that statement true than when travelling with a young family. The itinerary may be well paced but there is no keeping up with three high-energy boys, as I learned on our family Ecuador vacation.

I had the pleasure of taking my family back to one of my stomping grounds – Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands – from the days when I was an overland expedition leader in South America.

Having the privilege of visiting the Galapagos on numerous times, it was, as always, another memorable time. This time more so, as I saw the joy, wonder, and excitement in the eyes of my children as they sat feet from seals, blue-footed boobies, and albatross. Mind you, there was much fascination and joy in the plunge pool and kids’ cocktails that they enjoyed on board our vessel, the M/V Legend. Kids – whaddya gonna do.

Quito at Night, Ecuador
Quito at night

Before leaving, my wife and I began to list all of the upcoming Ecuador vacation adventures with the kids. Starting with flights to and from Ecuador and the Galapagos, questions included were “what movies will they have on the plane?” We also discussed visiting the “middle of the world”, shopping in the famous indigenous market of Otavalo, staying with a local family, and visiting the “boobies” of the Galapagos (they, of course, found this very amusing). Our youngest, Hayden, known as “have a chat,” fell totally quiet, as he and his siblings tried to take in all that lay ahead in front of them.

After arriving and checking into our hotel, where the topic of conversation was the huge swimming pool and the fight to be the first in it, we set off to visit the equator, about 1 hour from Quito.

Here we witnessed how water gurgled down the plug one way in the northern hemisphere, and the opposite way in the southern hemisphere. Mind you, this difference was noticeable when the portable sink was moved no more than a foot either side of the equator demarcation line!

There was then a demonstration to the effect of gravity by balance walking along the equator in a straight line, eyes closed – muy dificil (very hard). Doing the same thing on either side of the equator was mas facil (much easier).

The ultimate test of skill came when we were challenged to balance an egg on the end of a nail on the equator. With combating pull of gravity from either side of the globe, this task is MUY MUY DIFICIL. To my embarrassment and pride, Ethan, our second son, succeeded in the task whereas the rest of our group did not!  Science class – check.

Don Forster - Demonstrating the Balance Walk on the Equator at Mitad del Mundo Near Quito, Ecuador
Demonstrating the balance walk on the equator at Mitad del Mundo
Don Forster - Ethan Balancing an Egg at the Equator - Mitad del Mundo Near Quito, Ecuador
Ethan balancing an egg on the equator, Mitad del Mundo

Our next adventure was a trip to the world famous indigenous market of Otavalo, 2 hours north of Quito by spectacular roads that dissect Ecuador’s famous rose production areas. Did you know that Ecuador’s biggest revenue generators are oil, bananas, roses, and tourism! Geo politics class – check.

A microcosm of local indigenous life and culture are on display every Saturday and Wednesday in the Otavalo Market.

From here we moved further north for lunch at a 400 year old hacienda that today operates as a restaurant and hotel. This hacienda – Pinsaqui – is one of Goway’s Stays of Distinctions.

Suggested Itineraries:
3-Day Quito Stopover
2-Day Otavalo Overnight
3-Day Hacienda Pinsaqui – Stay of Distinction

Don Forster - Boys with Market Stall Keepers in Otavalo Market, Ecuador
The boys with Otavalo Market stall keepers

It was now time for the highlight of the trip and our next stop – the Galapagos Islands.

The first sign of things to come on our arrival into the Galapagos was when my oldest boy, Sael (pronounced sail), keenly spotted the 5 or 6 seals lazing on the dock, as we boarded our pangas (zodiacs) for our water-bound transfer to our vessel and home for the next 4 days – the M/V Legend.

4-Day Cruising Galapagos (M/V Legend)

One of the larger vessels in the Galapagos, the Legend is the perfect vessel for groups and families, as it offers lots of space and many activities for the kids who will always want to watch a movie or play video games in their down time, in the Kids Centre on board.

Aerial View of Galapagos Cruise Vessel, MV Legend, Ecuador
Aerial view of Galapagos cruise vessel, MV Legend

Special Offer:
Free Galapagos Airfare – Save up to $550US/$675CA
Book on select Galapagos cruises aboard the Legend or Coral I or II and Goway will pay for your return airfare to the Galapagos. Offer valid until August 31, 2016.

The Galapagos is a modern day “Garden of Eden,” in South America, equalled only by the Falklands and Antarctica. The exposure to wildlife is unprecedented. Being able to sit one foot from sleeping seals, or in Hayden’s case, nose to nose, is an event for any age. The walk around dozing birds, particularly the world famous blue-footed boobies – blessed. To walk upon frigates birds in the middle of their mating dance – and they not break stride – jaw dropping. To snorkel for the first time, with a list of marine life ranging from sea turtles to penguins to parrot fish to sting rays to sharks – get outta here!

Don Forster - Hayden' s Encounter with a Galapagos Seal, Ecuador
Hayden’ s encounter with a Galapagos seal
Blue-footed boobie, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Blue-footed boobies in the Galapagos

A combination of amazing food, time around a pool and hot tub, cocktails as the sun sets over the horizon and equator, and spotting the Southern Cross (important to me as I am an Australian), helped make the perfect family Ecuador vacation. Not to mention, it was all enhanced by an amazing crew, and guides with a passion and knowledge that was inspiring.

Ecuador and the Galapagos are one of the many jewels sitting in South America waiting to be discovered. As much as I loved sharing it with my kids, you don’t need to travel with the family to see and witness all of this. I dare say that the above sights, sounds, and experiences are typical on a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos. They are special and unique, and Goway has many options and opportunities to witness this, and more.

With all of the things we did, do you know what the boys relate to their friends when they talk of their trip to Ecuador? The fact that they stayed in 5-star hotels! Kids – whaddya gonna do.

Goway offers a wide choice of itineraries for a perfect Ecuador vacation, including vessels for the Galapagos Islands, as well as many choices for exploring the coast, highlands, or Amazon.

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Don Forster
Don Forster

Trade Training Manager — Born in Australia and raised in Canada and Papua New Guinea, Don took his first solo trip to Bali – aged just 13. Since then, Don’s travels have taken him to every continent. He’s been a backpacker in Asia, Europe and Egypt, an overland adventurer in East and Southern Africa, and an overland driver in South and Central America. He is especially fond of Peru, Patagonia and Namibia, though his longest adventure to date has been a London to Kathmandu run via the Middle East.

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