Go Go Galapagos:
A Family Journey to Forever Remember
By Donna Corwin

GalapFeb11-1.jpgFamily vacations are times to create lifelong memories. What better than a voyage to the Galapagos Islands for an amazing adventure? "Other worldly," "ecologically pristine," "nature’s phenomenon," are just a few phrases that describe these volcanic islands, 600 miles west of Ecuador. With no predators in sight, these animals live in harmony with one another and with the humans who occasionally visit their home. It is an environment to revere, and the lessons about nature and the excitement of viewing animals instills a sense of wonder and appreciation.

WHAT TO EXPECT

One of the most ecologically green companies in sustainable travel in the Galapagos Islands is Ecoventura. A fleet of three small yachts, accommodating no more than 20 passengers, the Eric, the Letty and the Flamingo, are compact and comfortable and all rooms have outside-facing cabins. There is a polished teak sun deck, dining room and conference area with lots of games, books and videos. The crew is truly outstanding. Ivan and Karina, naturalist guides, are highly personable and knowledgeable. They lead diving excursions, snorkeling, nature hikes, kayaking and cave explorations. The brother and sister guides know every fact about the animals and the environment.

GalapFeb11-2.jpgEcoventura accommodates and welcomes families of children seven years and up. They will arrange games, parties, a King Neptune costume party when you cross the Equator (we had to "kiss a fish") and special kid-friendly menus. But the real fun and excitement lies onshore. That is where your family will experience nature up close and personal.

SPOTTING ANIMALS

On a press trip sponsored by the outfitter, a bevy of journalists and I traveled for one week, departing from San Cristobal, Ecuador. We first landed on Genovesa Island where we encountered red-footed Boobies—gorgeous, unique birds. We hiked up open lava fields and watched hawks swoop overhead.

We had a wet landing on Darwin Bay, a coral sand beach, where hundreds of sea lions basked in the midday sun. We were inches away from the sea lion mothers and their babies. We swam with sea turtles at Tagus Cove, Isabella, looked for octopus and starfish and crab on Santiago Island and found the infamous blue-footed Boobie. Our group hobnobbed with marine iguanas (a throwback to Jurassic Park). On Espanola, we hiked to find the winged albatross and Darwin’s finches.

GalapFeb11-3.jpgA school of dolphins accompanied our boat towards Santa Cruz Island where we hiked down lava caves formed by a volcanic explosion. Tropical and the Great frigate birds encircled our boat and landed on the railings almost welcoming us. Your children will thrill at the giant tortoise breeding center. These prehistoric gentle creatures can live up to 200 years and weigh as much as 800 pounds.

Ecoventura (www.ecoventura.com) offers child discounts of 25% off cruise rates, 50% off park rates. The seven-day cruise costs $3,375 per person (in a double occupancy room), or $3,300 per person in a triple occupancy room. The package includes three meals daily, excursions, complimentary snorkeling, kayaks, wet suits and expert guides.

Airlines that best support trips from the Bay Area include: Continental, Delta, American, and LAN Ecuador. Passengers should plan on flying into Guayaquil or Quito, Ecuador.

The hotels the tour company uses provide complimentary airport transfers. Travelers can also purchase private airport transfers. Ecoventura provides transfers in Galapagos from the airport to the dock and the boat.

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DETAILS:
For more information contact: www.mythsandmountains.com
Call (800) 670-6984
Departure dates at this link: www.ecoventura.com/expeditionyachts/additionalservices/family_departures.aspx

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Donna Corwin is a travel, lifestyle and parenting writer. She has written and published hundreds of travel articles and eight parenting books. This is her first article for BAFT.

 

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