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As a Galapagos Specialist, my job is to help travelers evaluate the various trips available and to create the perfect custom trip. Since we work with all the quality ships in the Galapagos, I am able to present all of the information, positive and negative, and help travelers make an informed decision.
I traveled to the Galapagos to inspect a variety of the expedition and luxury ships. As a mother of two, I had a particular interest in what the Galapagos offers for families with children. Galapagos is a year-round family destination for kids of all ages, and offers children an opportunity to gain a sense of connectedness to nature, which for many is a new phenomenon, as well as a chance to learn without even realizing they are--the best kind of learning!
The one thing I was constantly amazed by was the diversity of animals in any given spot: Sea lions pose for your camera while marine iguanas look like statues from the prehistoric era and bright red Sally Light-foot crabs scurry before you. Literally, every ten steps I walked, there was an entirely different wildlife scene straight out of a National Geographic special. Morning and afternoon, activities abound, but were optional and flexible for every age and physical level. Short walks, glass-bottom boat rides, Zodiac tours, or simply beach-combing to snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking-there was something for everyone.
Have you ever been out in nature where wildlife is all around you, very close to you, yet nothing fears you? Nothing runs from you? In fact, everything curiously eyes you and even approaches? Well, in the Galapagos Islands, this is exactly what happens. Sea lions pose for your camera and marine iguanas look like statues from the prehistoric era. I spent two weeks exploring seven different islands on a variety of expedition and luxury ships so I could come back and pass on my experiences to my clients.
I think the one thing I was constantly amazed by was the diversity of animals in any given spot. Literally, every ten steps I walked, there was an entirely different scene of wildlife straight out of a National Geographic special. I felt like I was in some kind of animal wonderland on each and every island. Everything we saw brought on more and more questions, that thank goodness there were highly qualified guides to answer everyone's countless questions.
One of the boats I traveled on was the Letty, a 20-passenger boat with two guides which provided a very intimate and casual atmosphere where everyone felt like family by the end of the trip. Sometimes if there is a sailing with children, they will hire a guide specifically geared toward kids to make it extra fascinating! Our one guide went snorkeling with us and could immediately identify all the fish we saw. He also took us to popular spots for sharks and manta rays which was just fascinating, even if a bit scary. At one point, a sea lion swam by and nibbled on the end of my flipper before swimming off - such beautiful and sweet animals!
You'd never know from a distance, but up close, the flightless cormorant has the most startling deep green eyes-a shimmery sort of turquoise. I know this because while out kayaking near shore one afternoon, several curious cormorants approached and one came right up and pecked at my lifejacket before scampering off. While this was happening, one of several Galapagos penguins (only 14 inches tall!) hopped from the rock face onto the tip of my kayak and promptly dove into the water. There was so much happening that I really didn't know where to focus my attention first. Of course, all this was before I jumped out of the kayak with my snorkel to swim with two green sea turtles I had spotted. Spectacular!
For those not up to snorkeling or kayaking, the Santa Cruz, a 90-passenger ship I also sailed aboard, includes glass-bottom boats that were very nice for families. This ship is also nice and roomy with plenty of space for idle kids to roam around and explore. And, the guides are very friendly and great with children. Plus, the menu had lots of variety for any picky little ones! I was happy that almost every boat I was on had an excellent variety of fresh, ripe fruit. The Celebrity Xpedition I traveled on had the most "American" child's menu and also had lots of activities for both adults and for kids. There was Salsa night with dance lessons and even a Karaoke night! It was also pretty neat crossing the Equator several different times during trip--terrific King Neptune dress up parties!
Overall, the Galapagos has become one of my favorite destinations worldwide. The wonderful people, the amazing scenery and the extraordinary and rare wildlife made this a trip of a lifetime one I will cherish and never forget. It is a true, year-round family destination for kids of all ages. I wish I had been able to experience these wonders when I was a child!
EXTEND YOUR STAY:
Consider extending your stay at the wonderful, family-friendly Finch Bay Eco Hotel. The Finch Bay Hotel, on Santa Cruz Island, offers privacy, natural surroundings, superb service, and a variety of multi-sport nature activities.