Rachel Dex, co-founder of Think Galapagos looks back on some of the highlights of her own Galapagos Family Tours.
Exploring a pristine wildness like the Galapagos is a great equaliser, allowing old and young to come together and share new experiences with equal joy. However planning a trip to somewhere so remote and wild isn’t always easy! There are lots of things to think about when planning a Galapagos family tour to get it just right. I have two teenage boys, 3 years apart who are almost like different species in themselves, so I appreciate the challenges planning a special family vacation can bring.
Having been lucky enough to travel with my own children to the Galapagos as well as other parts of Ecuador including the Amazon Rainforest and the Cloud forest at various stages of their lives, I have seen first-hand the wonderful opportunities exploring a pristine wilderness like the Galapagos as a family can bring. Immersive, educational, engaging and inspiring are just a few of the words that come to mind as I think back on the times on our family vacations in Galapagos.
Galapagos with teens
My best ever Galapagos family tour was when my eldest son Gabriel was 15 and my youngest Noah was 12 years. For me, what made that trip so special was the awakening I saw when teenagers disconnect from their phones and technology and truly connect with wildlife and the natural world. Our trip was to the western part of Galapagos, this meant no mobile phone signal for almost the entire time we were away. Initial consternation faded fast as Galapagos worked its magic.
Our group of fellow travellers were also a big part of why it was such a great trip for us as a family. They came from all corners of the globe; two young doctors from Australia, a family from the USA on the final leg of an around the world trip, a photographer from Taiwan and his partner, a NASA scientist and a German-Ecuadorean couple.
We saw some truly awe inspiring things during that week. As well as all the wonders you would expect to see in Galapagos in July, we also had the amazing luck to see Sierra Negra volcano erupting ….. and as if that wasn’t enough, two days after that we got to swim with a pod of around a hundred pilot whales off the coast of Isabela Island.
You can’t really see how many pilot whales are here – or the fact that we jumped in the sea to be with them – but at least this records a bit of the moment.
On our last evening when chatting over dinner with our fellow guests my 15 year old son, described our experience in Galapagos as one of the best weeks of his life. For me as a mum, despite all the amazing wildlife and experiences we had shared, that moment for me was the highlight of my trip. It truly had been a special week and one that I will remember forever.
Galapagos family tours with young children
Another trip I remember very well was our first trip to Galapagos as a family. We were really keen to go, but waited until our youngest son Noah was three and a half, an age we judged when he was just about old enough to not throw himself overboard at the first opportunity! Although he really was too young to appreciate all that Galapagos had too offer, it was really special to be there all together sharing Galapagos with our children.
For Gabriel who was about to turn 7 years at the time it was pure joy, both for him and for us as parents watching him! On that first trip, Gabriel’s highlight was without a doubt his close-up encounters with playful sea lions, the sheer playfulness, fearlessness and curiosity of them are hard to resist.
Our son Noah, then did get to return to Galapagos when he was 8 years old, when the two of us travelled together on one of my inspection visits (a tough part of my job!). He had just become a strong enough swimmer to really be able to snorkel well, and was just thrilled with the delights of the underwater world and we really couldn’t keep him out of the water.
My favourite part of the job
Creating exceptional family vacations to the Galapagos and knowing just how transformational a trip like this can be for kids really is one of my favourite parts of the job (aside from the part when I have to make regular visits to Galapagos to visit the yachts we work with and our local teams!). Over the years I have been lucky enough to be part of the planning and creation of Galapagos vacations for lots of families. From large multigenerational gatherings on a privately chartered yachts, to mother and daughters travelling together to fulfil a long held dream and everything in between. It is so wonderful to hear back from our guests about their experiences when they get home. One of my favourite stories was from Jenny Vidler who travelled to Galapagos with her mum, and then was so inspired by her trip she went on to work for the Galapagos Conseration Trust. Here is the blog Jenny wrote for us about her journey. Another favourite is the Oates family. They took such amazing photographs on their trip we were delighted when they agreed to share them with us in a guest blog.
Each Galapagos Family Tour we create is as unique as the family booking it. To start planning your special Galapagos family trip, or if you have any questions please do give me a ring today on +44 1482 887453 or use our contact form to get in touch, and I would be delighted to help.