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Quito, ECUADOR– Families with toddlers to tweens, can now comfortably experience the Galapagos that heretofore has been nearly off limits for them because cruise ships often exclude young children and land stays were difficult to come by.
Ecuador’s leading hospitality company for active adventure, Red Mangrove Galapagos and Ecuador Lodges, offers a variety of land-based itineraries and sufficient multi-island room capacity in five separate lodges to entice active young families.
“My wife and seven-month-old daughter went on several of our island tours recently and the baby just loved seeing the tortoises and birds close up. Noting the fact that most don’t allow young children, there is no way she would have ever been able to experience this on a Galapagos cruise ship,” said Caleb Hayes, Diving Sales & Operations Manager for the company.
From 2009 to 2010 Red Mangrove Galapagos and Ecuador Lodges saw a 32 percent increase in family business, reported Hernan Roads, visionary founder and owner. He expects a similar level of growth this year, pointing out that his properties, based on eco-sensitive, sustainable practices are capturing more attention each year.
“Before us, there was not a brand of hotels or lodges that offered any multi-island consistency in terms of quality, staffing, environmental standards and program and activity flexibility,” he said.
The pros of a land-based vacation focus on the fact that the land programs are open to all ages of children, they are run every day and arrivals and departures can be planned on the family’s schedule without having to fit a rigid cruise ship departure schedule
Said Rodas, “We ease parental anxiety by eliminating the worry of ‘child overboard’ and concerns about the confined space on a ship. We also don’t do wet landings where you have to wade ashore or jump on to wet rocks. Additionally, our land-based programs are simply more economical and we are able to meet a family’s budget better than cruise options.”
There is a 25 percent discount off the package price for children under age 10. Per person rates begin at $340 per day and are inclusive of deluxe lodging, meals, excursions with English speaking naturalist guides, free Internet wireless service while in Santa Cruz, free use of bikes when in Puerto Ayora and Isabela, all snorkeling gear and 10% service charge.
Rodas recommends for young ones, toddler to age 12 an 8-day/7-night three-island, Full Galapagos Adventure program with only a short navigation from island to island. See: http://www.redmangrove.com/tours/full-adventure-in-galapagos.html
For older kids ages 12-18 he recommends an 8-day/7-night multi-island, Multi-sport Soft Adventure program encompassing three islands plus biking, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and trekking. See: http://www.redmangrove.com/tours/multi-sport-adventure.html.
Younger children are welcome on any of Red Mangrove’s year-round land-based tour programs and for infants, reasonably priced baby-sitting services are also available upon request. For underwater enthusiasts, including families with young children, there are classes and opportunities to learn how to dive with PADI certified instructors. Diving parents also appreciate being able to participate on dive excursions while the little ones are well taken care of ashore.