Galapagos Islands family Vacation
The highlight in the Amazon basin was white water rafting, but the other activities, such as jungle hike, spending time in the village learning about local life and making chocolate were all incredible and educational and our 10 year old enjoyed all of them.
The Galapagos islands were a once in a lifetime experience. Both Santa Cruze and Isabel islands were beautiful and very different experiences. The activities, again, were great and appropriate for both our son and his grandfather. They were challenging and the days were full, but not overwhelming. The wildlife was incredible and we saw tortoises, turtles, sharks, sea lions (not seals!), blue footed birds whose name was censored, pelicans, frigates, pink flamingoes, penguins and the list goes on and on.
Two things that made the trip so good. Our guide and the logistics behind the scenes.
First was our guide Pablo and his coterie of assistants throughout each part of the trip. Pablo is an incredible resource on the history of Ecuador, on the wildlife, biology, the environment, the flora, on everything. He answered each and every one of our questions, was entertaining and made the trip special. He was also incredibly good at looking at how his people were doing on a given day and adjusting the schedule to make sure we either didn't to too much or too little. He provided options for activities and was flexible in the election. Couple of examples. On Isabella Island, after seven days of Ecuadorian food, the boys wanted pizza. They started a lobbying campaign in the early afternoon after we biked by two pizza joints and kept it up throughout the day. We asked Pablo if it was possible and he said he would see what he could do. I'm sure that pizza was not part of the plan, but at 7pm we met in the hotel and walked over to a pizza place to the delight of the kids (and parents). Pablo also was good at making sure that the restaurant (or anyplace) was ready for our arrival. We always had a table ready, and in the case of the pizza place, we had our pizzas on the table within five minutes of arrival. Hot out of the oven. The place was quite crowded and people that got there before us waited long after we were eating to get their pizza.
The second was related to the above, but it was the logistics. Everything was taken care of and transparent to us. As mentioned above, tables were waiting at restaurants, cabs or water taxis or boats were waiting for us at the designated time, activities were ready. From arrival at the airport to departure at the end, there was always someone waiting to get us to where we needed to go. The only unknown was in the handoff from Pablos control on the Galapagos to our ride back to the airport the following day. We weren't clear leaving the islands when our pickup was going to be, but that was answered when we got to Quito and met the REI rep there. That could have been communicated better and earlier; but that was a very small detail.
There were some rock stars from the trip—people who either led an activity, or helped us out along the way.
Pablo our tour guide who knows everything and everyone. He made the trip a five start experience.
Freddie in Amazon Basin at the hotel Huasquila. A man of multiple talents from identifying all the flora in the jungle to showing practical application of using the juice from the stem of a plant to disinfect a cut (a real world application due to one of us falling in the jungle) to cooking chocolate with us.
Tarquino on the rafting tour. He was hilarious and constantly surprised us during the trip.
Nellie on Izabella Island. Trailed behind picking up our detritus, talked to us about the island and her 20 years there and about birds, water desalinization plants and tortosises.