Many parents might be intimidated at the prospect of traveling to Ecuador, or really any international destination, which children. There are so many unpredictable factors, among which are safety and security. You’ll be relieved to hear Ecuador is, in fact, an ideal destination for the jet-setting family. To get some ideas rolling, here are a few top Ecuador family tours you can plan for your trip.
Ecuador family tour 1: Galapagos Islands
Not everyone can afford a trip to Ecuador that includes the Galapagos Islands, but if you can, this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you and your family.
Visiting the islands is like walking through your highschool textbook, with a special focus on the chapter on evolution. Additionally, you’ll see animals you can’t find anywhere else on Earth and interact with them in a highly unusual way. Since they have always been protected on the Islands, many animals don’t shy away from visitors, allowing you to observe their behavior in their natural environment.
Before planning a tour to the Galapagos Islands, make sure you have a good idea of your family’s preferences. That is, whether they prefer to snorkel, hike, birdwatch or even dive. If you’re hoping to spot a specific type of bird, like the albatross, you’ll have to visit the Galapagos at the right season.
Wanderbus offers a few Galapagos Islands packages that you can enjoy with your family. Alternatively, you can try to organize Galapagos day tours individually. Note that many day tours don’t permit children below two years of age.
Ecuador family tour 2: Amazon Rainforest
Another can’t-miss destination in Ecuador is the Amazon Rainforest, which is disappearing at an alarming rate. Tourism to this area in Ecuador supports local economies and encourages populations, as well as the Ecuadorian government, to protect, rather than exploit, the area.
Like the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon rainforest is a wonderful destination to take the family. Its natural wonders will inspire and educate in a way that is only beneficial to our society and the Earth.
Among the activities you can do there with your family are bird and wildlife spotting, kayaking and canoeing, piraña fishing and visiting indigenous communities to learn about their traditions. Wanderbus offers affordable extra tours to the Amazon that are easy to plan.
If you prefer to organize your own Amazon trip, consider visiting the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve which is considered one of the world’s most biodiverse areas. Other protected areas within the Amazon include the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, Cayambe-Coca National Park, Sumaco-Napo-Galeras National Park, and the Llanganates.
Read about a few recommended ecotourism destinations in Ecuador and community projects in the Amazon
Ecuador family tour 3: Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, and Baños
Rather than visiting one destination, consider combining some of Ecuador’s top three destinations on this Ecuador family tour.
Cotopaxi Volcano, located in Cotopaxi National Park, is definitely one of the country’s highlights. It’s also very easy to get to from Quito and to combine with other nearby sights.
Here, on a clear day, you’ll see an impressive, snow-capped active volcano regularly puffing ash into the air.
There are numerous activities you can plan with your family, including horseback rides across the Andean páramo, hikes to the shelter or other nearby mountains and mountain biking.
Next on the list is Quilotoa Crater, which is what Cotopaxi would look like if it exploded! (it’s like a before and after experience) Quilotoa is a breathtaking, water-filled caldera that you can hike into and around. The water within is turquoise and really quite spectacular.
Once in the crater, you can camp and kayak in the lake. Quilotoa is a bit farther from Quito but combines well with Cotopaxi since they’re relatively close.
Finally, spend a day or two in Baños, Ecuador’s adventure capital. This is an exciting place for adults and children alike! Here you can zipline across lush gorges, visit impressive waterfalls like the Pailón del Diablo, horseback ride, bike, hike and so much more.
There are also many hotel and restaurant options in Baños, making trip planning a cinch. For more on Baños with kids, read this.
The Cotopaxi, Quilotoa and Baños circuit can be done with one of our Wanderbus passes: the Jacamar Pass.
Ecuador family tours: Tips for traveling with children
Traveling internationally comes with risks, both for the adults and children in your party. With children, it can be particularly stressful. We’ve listed some essential safety advice for traveling with children to consider as you plan your Ecuador family tour.
In many countries, travel insurance is required for all members of the travel party. Make sure you have obtained travel insurance for each family member or a general family plan, which is often available at discounted rates.
The main advantage of having travel insurance in Ecuador is that you won’t rely on public health, which can be difficult to navigate if you don’t speak Spanish. Instead, you can approach a specialist or go directly to a private Ecuadorian clinic.
Though the main purpose would be to cover medical expenses, many travel insurance packages also cover loss and theft.
You should keep these handy at all times, along with that of your embassy in case of an emergency.
Keep in mind that your embassy will likely have their own list of recommended hospitals and specialists in case you need one. Also, where applicable, register with your embassy so they know you’re traveling in the country.
- Police – 101
- Ambulance – 131
- Directory Assistance – 104
- Emergency (major cities only) – 911
- Fire – 102
Though we often get anxious about emergencies, food poisoning may be of more concern, especially in Ecuador!
There are certain precautions you can take to minimize the risk of food poisoning, like:
- Avoid street food, generally. You don’t know how the food was prepared (perhaps unfiltered water was used) or how long it has been exposed. Rating lactose, egg-based dishes, meat and fish can be especially risky. Best practice is to avoid it entirely, eat at a restaurant or cook just cook your own meals.
- Avoid salads and, unless you’re sure it was made with filtered water, avoid fresh juice. This may be difficult because Ecuador abounds in fresh fruit and juice, but simply make sure that its preparation was done with filtered water.
- Carry hand sanitizer and/or wet wipes with you and wash your hands and those of your children regularly to avoid ingesting bacteria.
UV radiation in Ecuador is no joke! It can lead to painful sunburn and even sunstroke. Ecuadorians themselves avoid being outside between 11am and 3pm and are careful to wear sunglasses, hats and long-sleeved shirts. You might want to add sunscreen to the mix as well.
Safety on the streets
When you’re exploring the busier streets of Quito make sure you keep an eye on them at all times and have a plan/meeting point in case you get separated.
You might be asked to provide written consent from your child’s other parent if you’re traveling alone with your child. This normally happens when flying in or out of the country and can be a huge hassle if you’re not prepared.
Don’t hesitate to ask us about family tours in Ecuador or other safety concerns, just pop your question in the comments section below!