By Karen Loftus, Guest Blogger
If looking to take your kids classroom on the road there is no better place than Ecuador where kids can jump into an eco-conscious education filled with adventure and family fun for everyone.
The Galápagos alone is reason enough to head to Ecuador. However the Amazon rivals the Galápagos on the diversity of wildlife and adventure front while Quito and Guayaquil can offer a few action packed cultural and natural history-oriented days for your young urban explorers.
Sitting at 9,350 feet above sea level, Quito is the least altered and best preserved historic city center in the Americas where 16th and 17th century churches and cathedrals abound. The colonial center of Ecuador’s capital city was built on an ancient Incan site and it was the first along with Poland’s Warsaw to be awarded World Heritage site status in 1978 for its historic quarter.
There’s plenty of directions to head in in the sprawling Quito, from the Historic center which is filled with churches, chapels, cathedral, museums, palaces and municipal buildings. In the Financial District you’ll see a more modern side of the city with sleek skyscraper throughout. La Ronda Street used to be home of important poets, musicians and politicians, now is simply a great place to walk around, visit the crafts workshops and let the local life and the lessons fall over the family as you pick up on the local charm of the place and the Ecuadorian people.
The gondola lift (teleferiQo) is a great way to finish the day for the family. Whatever you missed you will see on the ride up and over the entire city. Take in the colorful shantytowns in the hills and the dramatic mountainous landscape of the area en route to the top. At 13,500 feet kids can hit the amusement park or go for a hike above while parents take in dinner with a panoramic view or the family hits the food court under the stars.
Get your outdoor recorders on and your notebooks flipped as there is plenty to take in on the Ecuadorian Amazon. The Amazon Rainforest which has the most diverse ecosystem in the world stretches across parts of nine countries, Ecuador’s Oriente being one of those regions.
The Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest has four national parks; Yasuni, Cayambe-Coca, Llanganates and Sumaco Napo-Galeras. Yasuni National Park is said to be Ecuador’s largest National Park and a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and the most biodiverse place on earth. Consider all of this info for a fire pit quiz later.
There are 200 species of mammals, over 596 of birds, 382 species of fish and nine indigenous nationalities in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Set in the rainforest, the dense jungle also has a few small cities, six provinces and 739,000 people living within it. Regardless it is still a wild jungle throughout.
You can expect time spent in dugout canoes, on canopy walks and on jungle hikes throughout. You have a few days and plenty of space to run wild on the 82 square miles at the NAPO Wildlife Center. Nights are filled with stars and wildlife sounds at eco opulent lodge. Of course this is in between iguana, tortoises, lizards, anacondas, macaws, river dolphins, jaguars, ocelots, monkeys, sloths and anteaters sightings. So look alive. There’s a quiz on this.
Spread along the banks of the Guayas River, Guayaquil is a vibrant city in Ecuador, one of the main South American ports in the Pacific and the gateway to the Galápagos. The city is abuzz, as it is Ecuador’s most populous urban center with a population of nearly 2.3 million. There’s a park, a zoo and botanical garden and several vistas throughout the city.
The top of the historic Santa Ana and El Carmen Hills offer great views of the city from above and plenty of ice cream options on the stairs along the way. The Wyndham is a modern and chic hotel that will put you and your family in the heart of the city’s riverfront and the Malecon 2000 walkway.
If looking to nestle the family in the lap of luxury you’re in luck as the Royal Palm on Santa Cruz Island has housed its fair share of royals in their day. You and your adventure squad can venture by yacht to North Seymour, Santa Fe or to South Plaza Islands as well as explore your home turf on Santa Cruz, the epicenter of the Galápagos action and your home and classroom while in the archipelago.
Days will be filled with snorkeling, sea kayaking, wildlife walks and boat rides. You don’t have to venture far to see endangered giant tortoises, sea lions, dolphins, marine iguanas, sea turtles, pelicans, frigate birds, flamingoes and plenty of boobies. Keep your cameras ready and the lessons coming. It’s an education of a lifetime.
Join our Ecuador’s Family Wildlife Discovery Trip. Contact a Southwind Travel Consultant to plan a trip of a lifetime today.
Karen Loftus, January 2018
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