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…