Family Galapagos

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Boobies. Blue-footed boobies to be precise. These seabirds with very smart shoes are just one of the many bizarre species to be encountered in the Galapagos Islands. For future David Attenboroughs, the swimming lizards, flightless birds and other fascinating creatures of this volcanic archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean provide an unbeatable nature experience.

From Quito, the capital of Ecuador, it's a two-hour flight across to the Galapagos Islands, where you board a ship that is specially set up for families. The week-long cruise takes in many of the 13 main islands that straddle the equator, and the on-board, English-speaking guide will answer all your questions about the ecology and natural history of the Galapagos.

Many of the marine and land animals of the Galapagos are found nowhere else, and they inspired Charles Darwin to develop his theory of evolution. Because of the islands' historic isolation, the creatures there have no fear of man, which means that on trips to shore you come into close contact with marine iguanas, fur seals, sea lions, flightless cormorants, the Chatham lava lizard and the Galapagos penguin - the only tropical penguin species.

Other wildlife includes seabird colonies and giant tortoises, while on Santa Cruz island the sights include twin volcanic craters and a forest of 'prickly pear' cacti. There's also time for swimming and great snorkelling.

After the cruise, families might like to stay on in the Galapagos for a few days on Santa Cruz Island, where you can relax on the beach, go diving, mountain biking and explore the island at your own pace.

Finally, back on the mainland there is the chance to take in the historic colonial centre of Quito, plus the magnificent volcanoes and cloud forests nearby before flying home. You could say that the family holiday has evolved…

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Ollie is our 'Family Galapagos ' expert and as a seasoned traveller has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.