Ecuador with the family
Two families, four parents with 6 teenagers, have just got back from a family walking holiday in Ecuador and written to let us know how they got on:
"Our trip was great. We all had a fantastic time and the hiking was excellent. Thank you for all of your suggestions with planning the trip. You were very helpful and your suggestions were just what I needed.....On a final note, the hotel in the cloud forest was fantastic. We all LOVED the hummingbirds! " Caitlin Fry
Andean Trails owner and parent Kathy writes:
“Ecuador has been one of my favourite Andean countries, since I first went to lead groups and research a guide book back in 1997. The research took me on a 3 month backpacking epic around the country. I loved it. I was impressed with the fascinating array of landscapes and people. It terms of geography it is similar but much more compact than neighbouring Peru. There is the wildlife rich Amazon rain forest, the high Andes that run like a spine the length of the country, deep fertile Andean valleys, verdant cloud forest that cloaks the Andean slopes on the east and west sides, and the Pacific coastline with its mangroves, fishing villages, surf and sandy beaches. Plus, Ecuador's unique highlight, the Galapagos Islands. The wonderful thing about Ecuador is just how close everything is together so you can pack a lot in without having to spend hours on the road.
As I have aged out of being a back packer and into being a parent I still love Ecuador. Of course my perspective has changed. I don't love camping quite so much, I don't like carrying heavy back packs, nor sharing hostel rooms with a bunch of unknowns, but I do love to get out into the mountains, away from the main tourist trail, and explore.
I have taken my son, who is now 9, on several trips to Ecuador in the past few years - when he was younger it was the ice-cream, play parks and swimming pools he was interested in. Ecuador has no shortage of those.
Now he loves the wildlife and the adventure activities like rafting and biking as well. Luckily there is plenty to do for all ages and we have found Ecuador to be a child friendly country.
Plus, as it’s so compact it is quick and easy to get around, so you can fit a lot in however long your holiday.”
Emma, mother and one of our partners in Ecuador, recommends the following child friendly activities:
1. Botanical Gardens in Quito - lots of trails to follow through different ecosystems of Ecuador - paramo, cloud forest, subtropical forest, arid regions. There are also 3 or 4 hot houses (they are not all open all the time) - rainforest, carnivorous plants, and two orchid houses. A couple of traditional homes (Andean and Amazon), a part where they grow crops / fruit / veg, a rose garden, a big pond where you can feed the fish and they have different exhibitions during the year - they recently did one on frogs, they also have done butterfly exhibitions. As a family we love going there! And nearby is the Vivarium which is small but worth a visit to see amphibians and reptiles.
2. The cable car in Quito, known locally as the Teleferico, can be exciting for kids, there are superb views as you travel up and down and you can do a good walk once you are up the top. Take clothes for mountain weather and some money to get a hot chocolate in the café up there.
3. Quito tour bus - open top jump on jump off bus which takes you around Quito’s main sites. There is also one in Cuenca which is great fun too.
3. Mindo (the cloud forest near to Quito) - full of fun things for families - canopy zip-lining (smaller kids can go tandem with guide), tubing on river (for aged 10 years and over), butterfly house, chocolate workshop, night walks looking for creepy crawlies etc.
4. Horse-riding from a hacienda - the majority of horses in Ecuador’s haciendas are very calm, easy for first time riders to mount, just plod along. It’s a great way to wander around the Andes, through local villages and landscapes.
5. Visit to the family of Andean musicians in Peguche (near Otavalo) - my daughter loves this. You get to see how they make pan pipes and they tell you all about the other Andean instruments and then play you a couple of songs. When they play for you more often than not all the family comes out (from grandad through to the little grand children). Near-by you have the back-strap weavers which can also be interesting for kids where they give a demonstration of the different weaving techniques, natural dyes etc.
6. I recommend Maquipucuna lodge in the cloud forest for the swimming in the river amd waterfalls, helping out in kitchen (making Quimbolitos, Bolones or homemade granola for breakfast the next day), and visiting the local school for a game of football.
7. Amazon - seeing the wildlife especially mammals - monkeys, river dolphins, giant otters
8. Banos - biking along the Pastaza canyon passed waterfalls (there is traffic on this road so not recommendable for young kids), taking the “tarabitas” (cable cars) across the river, visiting the Swing at the End of the World (it’s not as scary as it looks!), watching the local people make the hand - pulled nougat on street corners.
10. Guayaquil - Parque histórico is great for kids - there is an animal park section, a historical homes section, and then you have the river front.
11. Beach - whale watching, watching fishermen bring in their catches.
We have put together a suggested Family Holiday and packed in a lot of those activities – but this is just a suggested itinerary can be totally tailored to fit specific interests, time available, and age groups.
Day 1 Transfer from Quito to Cuicocha Lake Hike & Otavalo Market (L,D)
Day 2 Papallacta Lakes Hike & Hot Springs (B,L,D)
Day 3 Guango Reserve Walk & Amazon Rainforest (B,L,D)
Day 4 Rafting in the Amazon (B,L,D)
Day 5 Pailon del Diablo Waterfall Walk (B,L,D)
Day 6 Mountain Biking near Banos (B,L,D)
Day 7 Horse-riding in Cotopaxi then return to Quito (B,L)
We’ll be writing another blog focussing on travelling to the Galapagos with your family soon.