We recently got back from an unbelievable experience in the Galápagos Islands with the award-winning eco-tourism company Lindblad Expeditions. True to the company’s mission to engage participants in an expedition — a journey of discovery — the families on our trip were utterly immersed in exploring this unique and exotic destination, located 600 miles off the coast of the South American mainland.
“The Galapagos is a reference book for the world and a place to see conservation in action.” — The Charles Darwin Foundation
The Lindblad Galápagos experience is immersive in part because there are none of the usual day-to-day distractions. We spent 7 days on the 96-passenger National Geographic Endeavour. There are no TVs and, although there is Internet, the connection is via satellite and viable for short bursts of time only. Moreover, kids and their parents are just too busy to worry or wonder about what is going on anywhere else but in the Galápagos, given Lindblad’s action-packed itinerary.
Why now? The lessons that children learn in the Galápagos will stick with them forever. I’m using the word “lessons” intentionally here. This is a once-in-a-lifetime educational trip, in addition to being an unforgettable family vacation.
Ninety-seven percent of the land of the Galápagos Islands is part of the Galápagos National Park. The government of Ecuador has successfully protected this special place from serious man-made intrusions. It’s been a struggle, as we learned even the smallest interruptions in the ecosystem can have a monumental impact. The result of all the conservation effort, however, is that the Galápagos is one of the most pristine places on the planet. Families see nature as it was meant to be. Trips like this inspire our children to inherit and protect our environment, as well as encourage them to think about conservation for life.
Although extinction is a real and persistent issue on our planet, most of our exposure is via stories of species that are or may become extinct. There are species that exist nowhere else on earth but the Galápagos Islands, like Lonesome George, a giant tortoise whose specific subspecies died with him. Children get so close to the ecosystem here that those aren’t just stories, but very real. It’s impossible to leave without understanding the real urgency behind animal conservation.
Science lessons come to life in the Galápagos. There is no better way to understand a lesson than to experience what is being taught firsthand. Families see evidence of evolution in action here, where unlikely species live together in harmony and animals have survived by adapting to their environment. From seeing the world’s only oceangoing lizard, the marine iguana, to Darwin’s finches, whose beaks have adapted on the islands to different food sources, evidence of evolution is at every turn.
Part of the joy of exploring the Galápagos is the opportunity to get close — really close — to wildlife. The animals here have few predators and have no fear of humans. This provides an unbelievable opportunity to observe animals in a profoundly personal and impactful way.
I love beach vacations for decompressing, but one day blends into another and, at the end, there are few distinctive memories. In contrast, the Galápagos is the ultimate all-family adventure, with diverse and impactful activities each and every day. The remote, exotic surroundings pull families together in their experience. Dinnertime chatter is all about what happened during the day … Lindblad Expeditions offers nonstop land and water exploration. It’s impossible to be bored with this kind of stimulation around you.
Stay tuned for a full review of our Lindblad Expeditions Galápagos tour.
Editor’s Note: Ciao Bambino received a media rate to experience the Galápagos with Lindblad Expeditions. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy.
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