Ecuador with kids – things to do in Ecuador with kids

I’m SOO excited about 2020 when I’m taking my daughter on a xx months trip to South America. The Galapagos Island in Ecuador are high on my bucket list since many many years so I want to take the opportunity to visit them together with my then 7 year old daughter. And of course, we are interested in other things to do with kids in Ecuador. To already get into planning mode, I asked a few fellow bloggers to give me their best things to do with kids in Ecuador. Luckily there were a few bloggers who had visited Ecuador with their kids and could give me some advice.

I have only been to South America once on a solo trip which was an epic adventure to Peru to hike the Inca Trail and see Macchu Pichu.

So this article is about Ecuador with kids. I start compiling this article now but once I’ve visited Ecuador with my daughter I will obviously add my things to do with kids in Ecuador. This is already a good list to start with as we can build up to the excitement.

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Introduction to things to do with kids in Ecuador

There are many things to do with kids in Ecuador so it might be quite difficult to make choices. I for example didn’t realize that the Amazon jungle as well as the Andes Mountain range can also be visited from Ecuador. My major bucket list item is visiting the Galapagos Islands but obviously Ecuador has more to offer.

Ecuador, as the name suggest, is located on the equator of South America’s west coast. The variety of landscapes include the Andes, the Amazon jungle and as mentioned already the Galapagos Islands. It sounds like a great country for active and adventurous families like us.

The capital city is Quito, most famous for its colonial Spanish center, which is largely intact.

Exploring the Galapagos Islands on a cruise

Contributed by Brett Love and Mary Gabbett from Blue Ridge Mountain Travel Guide

It’s one thing to teach kids about the significance of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution from the static pages of a textbook. But taking them on an adventure to explore the remote Ecuadorian archipelago in which he researched and developed that theory is another thing entirely. During his nearly five-year “Voyage of the Beagle” (1831-1836), the iconic British naturalist observed that different subspecies of finches and tortoises had developed genetic adaptations that allowed them to feed on the different types of fruits and foliage found on the Galapagos islands they inhabited.

To describe a small ship cruise through the Galapagos Islands as educational doesn’t really do it justice. It’s an overwhelming experience (in a very good way) to sail from island to island as a family, hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling through myriad different types of ecosystems along the way. For those who travel with kids, it’s hard to imagine a more rewarding travel experience.

My daughter and I traveled with U.S.-based tour operator International Expeditions on their intimate 32-guest yacht, the Evolution. The ship is equipped with all of the comfort, but none of the crowds or gaudiness you’d expect from mega cruise ships. There are daily educational lectures about the history and wildlife of the islands, and two excursions per day led by experienced naturalists (their ratio of guides to guests is arguably the best in the archipelago). This makes for a deeply personal experience that went above and beyond our expectations.

Our trip took us to some of the most popular islands, including Santa Cruz and Santiago, as well as more remote islands (including my personal favorites, Isabela and Fernandina). Coming face-to-face with an inquisitive Galapagos Tortoise, finding yourself surrounded by Marine Iguanas or Galapagos Sea Lions, and swimming with Galapagos Penguins leaves an indelible impact on adventurers of any age. The opportunity to share that experience with your children is priceless, creating memories that are sure to last a lifetime.

Visiting the Amazon with kids in Ecuador

Contributed by Charles from The Barefoot Nomad

With so many things to do in Ecuador with kids, it’s easy to overlook something that most wait to do until they’re in Brazil or Peru. Comprising over 7 million square kilometres, the Amazon Basin and its rain forest touches 9 South American countries and Ecuador is one of them. The quickest way to get to the Amazon from Quito is to take a short flight to Puerto Francisco de Orellana. Known locally as El Coca, you can also take a bus down from the capital however the roads getting into Coca can be a little dicey at times so we recommend flying in.

Make your booking with La Selva Lodge HERE!

Once you’re in Coca, you can take a 3 to 10 day tour that will not only take you down one of the Amazon Rivers many tributaries, but will also bring you into the Amazon Rainforest proper. Most tours center around the Yasuni National Park or the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, which lay on either side of the Napo River which is what that portion of the Amazon River is called.

After taking a high speed long boat down the Napo River for a few hours, you’ll usually jump onto a set of smaller canoes to get you into the heart of the rainforest itself. From there you’ll spend the next few days exploring the area with a nature guide and sleeping in lodges at night.

On our trip, we spent 4 days at La Selva Lodge, one of the nicest eco lodges in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest, and we all enjoyed daily hikes and canoe trips exploring the areas varied fauna and flora. From getting up close to 5 types of monkeys to fishing for piranha our kids had a blast in the Amazon.

We saw so many colorful birds, interesting lizards, fascinating frogs and giant insects that our heads were constantly turning and getting a chance to use actual Amazon blow darts as taught by an actual Amazon tribe was one of the trips best highlights. If your kids love the outdoors, interacting with nature and seeing why the Amazon has more wildlife per mile than anyplace else on earth, then checking out Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest should be high on your list while visiting Ecuador with kids.

Oh I can really not wait to go there!! So excited!

Check out rates and make a booking at La Selva Lodge HERE.

Ecuador with kids – TeleferiQo Cable Car

Contributed by Angelica from Things to do and Eat

TeleferiQo is one of the coolest places in Ecuador and is perfect when traveling with kids! It’s beautiful, it’s easy to get to, and it can be as easy or as hard as your kids want!

Just outside of Quito, TeleferiQo is a cable car that takes you to a park. Both the lift and the park are full of incredible, panoramic views of the city and volcanoes. In fact, the aerial lift is one of the highest in the world! Teleferico in Spanish means cable car, and the Qo in TeleferiQo means Quito.

Throughout the park are different exhibits (including llamas and swings) that you can take pictures with that make exploring with your kids even more fun. There are also horseback riding opportunities and a tasty BBQ place. If your kids are avid hikers, there’s a hike up to the top of a volcano Ruku Pichincha, but note that this is a moderate, half day hike.

To get here from the city center, you can grab a taxi, and there are taxis and drivers who can take you back from here. You could also do a tour that combines this with other Quito attractions like the Middle of the World, and these will shuttle you to each stop. You have to pay to take the lift, but it was around $7.50 for adults when we went and cheaper for kids.

Know that Teleferico is even higher altitude than Quito, so if you or your kids are having trouble adjusting, you may want to wait to explore the park. You can always bring anti-altitude medicines to help with the altitude. You should also bring layers because it will be a little colder here than in Quito. To be extra prepared on your Ecuador trip, here’s a full packing list for Ecuador.

Birdwatching in Mindo – things to do with kids in Ecuador

Contributed by Fiona Berry from Passport and Piano

Mindo sits in the heart of the cloud rainforest approximately 2 hours from Quito. It has one of the most diverse ecosystems and is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.  There’s a multitude of ways to explore the rainforest including a cable car, Zip lining at Canopy Adventures or trekking on foot. Whichever way you’ll have fantastic family fun.

The area is renowned for its birdwatching, and it’s possible to see Cock- of- the-Rock leks, toucans and hummingbirds in many of the reserves. While serious twitchers can easily hire a guide, the Hostal Jardín El Descanso is fantastic for those who need more instant and close up encounters. Its located at the end of Calle de Los Colibries, which aptly translates to Hummingbird street.  Rodney, the owner, has cultivated his back garden into a lush green oasis to attract a wide variety of birds.  There is a large seating area with tables and benches and lots of bird feeders suspended from the wooden pergola. The hummingbirds adore the sugar water and get so close you can almost touch them.

The woodpeckers and squirrels seemed to love the bananas which were strung to the tree, and we were told that toucans are also known to visit. It’s easy to take photographs, and there are picture cards to identify the birds. The seating is undercover so its a great place to visit if its raining and the food is very reasonably priced if you fancy a spot of lunch. Rodney is very enthusiastic about his garden and will be delighted to share his knowledge.  He’ll tell you about the plants and what sort of birds visit. He charges $3 for entry but your welcome to stay as long as you like.

Visit the Center of The World in Ecuador – Ecuador with kids

Contributed by Kyla from Where Is The World

One of the many fun things to do in Ecuador with kids is visit Mitad del Mundo, the center of the earth. It’s a giant monument marking the location of the equator in Ecuador, along with a museum, cultural pavilions, restaurants and a playground!  There’s enough here to keep the whole family occupied for a few hours.

Once you pay your entrance fee, my suggestion is to head straight to the large monument in the middle that denotes the equatorial line. The exact location of the equator varies a little bit depending on the axis of the earth’s rotation, but it’s close enough! Take a few pictures and enjoy jumping back and forth between the North and South hemispheres. This kept our kids busy for longer than I expected!!

The photo op is a fun thing to do, but there’s so much more to do here. Our favourite was the museum. It’s best for kids that are 4-5 years or older as there’s not much for little ones. It’s full of information debunking myths about the toilet flushing different ways in different hemispheres, and why you weigh more or less on the moon versus earth. It’s basically a giant science experiment just waiting for little minds to explore!

Beyond learning about the equator, you can also discover a bit about Ecuadorian culture too. The main floor of the museum houses exhibits with a variety of information about Ecuador, but the kids enjoyed the life-size Ancestral housing exhibition the best. They pretended they were living in the houses and compared just how different the houses were from each-other, and from our own house in Canada. It was fascinating to learn about the different ways the local people in Ecuador have lived.

Once you’re tired of exploring, snack on some chocolate or stop for a full lunch in one of the restaurants. There’s also a great little playground where the kids can burn off a bit of energy before or after lunch.

The last thing you should do before leaving is send a postcard home with a special stamp from the Center of the Earth! There’s a small gift shop near the monument with post cards for sale (or course) and special stamps. This is a great souvenir, and it’s even more fun to receive it in the mail after you get hom.

Overall, Mitad del Mundo is a hands-on experience fun for all ages, and definitely one of the best things to do in Ecuador with kids. So much learning happens, but it’s such a good time no one will realize how much they’re learning!

Visiting Galapagos Island on a shoestring budget

Contributed by Fiona Berry from Passport and Piano

The Galapagos Islands is one of the worlds most diverse and protected marine reserves. There’s nowhere on the planet that has a more rich and varied ecosystem. The giant tortoises, friendly sharks, Rays, reef coral, iguanas, and birds are incredible.

To preserve this pristine marine reserve, any activity in the Galapagos Island is quite pricey, however there are a few things that you can do without being escorted by a National Park guide. Of the 3 islands in Galapagos that you are allowed to stay on, we found the most cost-effective as a family was Isabella.

There are several half-day trips possible from Isabella and a few things you can do for free. So this is great if you want to visit Galapagos Island on a shoestring budget, like our family. One of the best free activities was the snorkelling at Concha De La Perla where my nephews thoroughly enjoyed swimming with rays, reef sharks and spectacular colorful fish.  You can hire snorkelling equipment from any of the dive shops in town.

Another free activity which we all thoroughly enjoyed was the walk to the Tortoise Breeding Centre.  Along the wooden boardwalks through the mangroves, you pass a couple of lagoons which are home to lots of Flamingos.

Most of the snorkelling in the Galapagos is out at sea, and although the tour guides are very supportive and encouraging with weaker swimmers, it can still be quite daunting.  In fact, my husband only tried it once, jumping off the boat was just too much.  The snorkelling on our tour of Los Tuneles was much better for him and he really enjoyed that.This half-day trip from Isabella island makes an excellent outing in the Galapagos Islands for the whole family

The water is crystal clear and shallow. It makes for perfect picture taking of turtles from above.  The snorkelling is in a bay so the currents are not as strong and the guides accompany you in the water.  We saw the largest sea turtles and Reef Shark colonies on this trip which my nephews still talk about with much enthusiasm.

The tour to Los Tuneles costs around USD 140.  It is worth noting that Galapagos excursions often involve several hours on a speed boat which might be a bit challenging for the less faint at hear.  Los Tuneles is approximately 50 minutes from Isabela, which makes it much more accessible when you’re visiting the Galapagos Islands with your family.

Jessy Lipperts
Jessy has over 15 years of experience in the travel industry. She completed a post-graduate at Harvard University Extension School in  Sustainable Management of Tourism Destinations and is currently enrolled in a transformational leadership program which offers a creative solution to the education crisis in South Africa. Jessy is the proud mother of Rosie and together they love to design and go on solo parent adventures. They currently live in Cape Town, South Africa.