5 splendid short-haul destinations
27 February 2024
Get up close and personal with evolution in the Galapagos Islands, where the world’s most mind blowing science lesson takes place every day. The valuable opportunity to appreciate the wonder of the natural environment along with the dazzling beauty of the archipelago make the Galapagos the perfect destination for curious young minds to flourish.
The Galapagos islands are unique; situated about 1000 kilometres from the nearest major landmass, and geologically very young at between 2 and 4 million years old. These two factors have influenced the environment which in turn has determined the astonishing array of wildlife and their endlessly fascinating adaptations.
As well as boundless opportunities for children (and grown ups!) to learn a huge amount about the natural world, a Galapagos holiday offers plenty of time for relaxation, family fun, adventures on land and in the water, as well as discovering aspects of the local culture. The Galapagos archipelago has a huge range of landscapes, so you can expect a variety of activities. From exploring bleak volcanic outcrops or hiking verdant forested peaks to swimming and snorkelling off dreamy beaches – it’s all here, and it’s all populated by the incredible wildlife.
When you plan your family Galapagos trip through TravelLocal, you have direct contact with our handpicked local operators who can design your trip around your family’s specific requirements, so if you or your children have any questions about what to expect on a Galapagos cruise, you can get the answers direct from the experts on the ground. We have put together this introduction to family adventures in the Galapagos to whet your appetite.
The Galapagos archipelago is a year-round destination, with plenty to see whenever you visit. From December to June it’s the rainy season, but this can actually be the better time to cruise the islands if calm seas and warmer, clearer snorkelling conditions are a priority. The rains are heavy when they fall, but showers are usually brief and interspersed with sunny weather. The Humboldt current makes an appearance from July to November, cooling the waters considerably, which may sound like a disadvantage but actually the colder seas mean a more abundant supply of food and consequently more active and numerous marine life in general. The weather tends to be drier in this period, but also foggier, windier and cooler.
The unique appeal of the Galapagos owes a lot to the diversity of the ecosystems, and it’s possible to see the contrasts between them on a trip that takes in several of the 16 islands. If there is a particular species your family is keen to see, TravelLocal’s Galapagos experts can advise you where best to find them and therefore which itineraries would be most suitable.
Children are usually delighted to be able to see some of the larger species up close, for example the famously playful Galapagos sea lions, or perhaps the penguins. Other species which leave a lasting impression are the marine iguanas – the only seagoing reptile in the world – the giant tortoise, and the colourful Sally Lightfoot crab. Avian fauna is equally rich, and the iconic Blue Footed Booby is one of the species synonymous with the archipelago that you may be lucky enough to see.
One neat way to help older children understand the value of conservation – particularly relevant in a pristine environment like the Galapagos – is to consider including a day’s voluntary work as part of your trip. Clearing invasive plant species helps preserve the original ecosystems for further generations to enjoy, and can be a memorable way to imprint on your children how fragile our natural world is.
For an outdoorsy, action packed holiday in and around boats and beaches, you may need to bring some equipment. For both water and land, grippy water shoes are ideal, especially for kids. Snorkeling gear and wetsuits are available locally but if you already have your own, you may prefer to bring them as you are likely to be using them frequently. Underwater cameras are great fun and allow you and your children to record the incredible marine life of the islands. The Galaagos Islands tend to bring out the David Attenborough in everyone!
The archipelago is equatorial, and the sun is strong. Always slip (on a t-shirt), slap (on a hat), and slop (on the suncream). For activities in the water, maintain vigilance and ensure children have most of their skin covered.
The clear Pacific waters around the Galapagos are rarely completely calm, so if seasickness is likely to affect you or your children you may need to pop to the pharmacy before departure to stock up on anti nausea wristbands or medication. To maximise your chance of a cruise without seasickness, choose to visit the Galapagos between December and June, when seas are calmer, and opt for a large vessel and a lower cabin where possible.
To stoke the fire of your children’s enthusiasm for a trip, you could invest in a couple of Galapagos wildlife guides, where they can learn more about the diversity of species before you arrive, then refer to them in the field. Several excellent nature films have been made about the environment and wildlife of the archipelago, including David Attenborough’s Galapagos 3D, BBC’s Galapagos: Islands of Change, and certain sequences of Planet Earth II.
Make it happen
There are a variety of itinerary ideas for the Galapagos Islands, each offering something different. To best match your family’s requirements, our local experts can adapt their itineraries to suit. Why not send them your details and make your dream Galapagos trip reality? If you would like to speak to someone in the TravelLocal office, please call +44 (0) 117 325 7898.
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