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Private Day Tour with Kids

Texas City, Texas
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Private Day Tour with Kids

I just posted this question in Lonely Planet, hoping to get as much recommendations as possible.

Hi everyone, my family and i have a galapagos tour booked for july, we have a couple of days to fill in and my wife suggested a couple of places, Mindo, Otavalo, Banos etc... i've been in touch with a few agencies but they all seem to offer shared tours, and the kids can get bored easily. any advice for agencies arranging private day tours? i don't mind paying extra but we would really want a flexible program where we could change a few things here and there... you know kids, gotta keep them interested.

Thank you to any one who can help out.

Jed

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Quito, Ecuador
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10,295 posts
96 reviews
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1. Re: Private Day Tour with Kids

Welcome to TA and the Ecuador forum, Jed. There have been several private guides recommended on the forum. I haven't used any of them so do not want to endorse them, but if you do a quick search you will come up with several names.

Quito, Ecuador
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327 posts
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2. Re: Private Day Tour with Kids

Hi Jed, I just sent you a private message with some information but I'll make some suggestions here as well for any future travelers visiting with kids. You're wise to seek a private guide/driver and I think you'll be thrilled with the flexibility and insight you gain by traveling in this way. May I ask, what are some of your kids' main interests and their ages? This will help tremendously with any recommendations I can make. For now, here are some general ideas....

With just a couple of days, I would say that Banos might be a bit far for the kids. The drive down takes 3.5-4 hours so you would want to stay overnight in order to have time to experience any of the highlights and then turn right around to drive another 4 hours back. If you have two nights or more to spend, however, it may be worth it. The highlight here is the Route of Waterfalls where you can hike to the pounding Pailon del Diablo waterfall, stand behind the powerful falls, and ride high above the river canyon by cable car. There are tons of other adventure activities as well including whitewater rafting and canyoning. All depends on the age of your kids but this town is "8 year old approved" meaning we've had kids this young travel with us there and they LOVED it :)

Mindo is absolutely a kid-paradise. Zip lining, the butterfly house, and chocolate tours are all big hits. Depending on their interests, there are also a few places to see dozens of hummingbirds flitting about, some wacky work-out equipment in the central park that kids adore (why? who knows?!), and river tubing available.

Otavalo is not quite as entertaining for most kids as other options may be but, if you and your wife are drawn to the market, there are activities in the surrounding areas that can keep them occupied. Parque Condor does a wonderful flight demonstration with large birds of prey in the afternoons, Cuicocha crater lake is just 30 mins outside of town and you can take a boat ride across or hike awhile along the rim, and there are several opportunities to visit artisans in their home workshops and experience the work "behind the scenes" that produces goods you find in the market.

If your family is interested in horseback riding, Pululahua Crater is just 1.5hrs north of Quito and there are a few small ranches who offer 3-4 hour rides through stunning landscapes. You can stop at the equatorial Intinan Museum on your way back to Quito to experience some wacky, participatory demonstrations focused on the significance of the equator and also showcasing traditional life in three of Ecuador's major eco-zones.

I hope this helps to get you started. I am excited for you and your family to experience Ecuador...what a wonderful memory & adventure you will all share!

Best,

Nicole

Texas City, Texas
2 posts
2 reviews
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3. Re: Private Day Tour with Kids

Thank you so much Nicole thats really helpful information, Mindo sounds great my 5 year old is going to love it very active, he loves hiking.

The Otavalo tour is in the bucket list as we promised friends and family to bring back some souvenirs, and Otavalo seems like the place to go. We will try to make it fun for the kids, I hear there is a nearby waterfall and some nice lagoons. As for Banos, if its as good as it sounds Im trying to arrange an overnight to make the most of it. Thanks once again Nicole! Azbuceadora thanks for the tip on guides, Ill have a look.

Quito, Ecuador
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4. Re: Private Day Tour with Kids

The kids will be fine in Otavalo for a day, especially if you can make it on a Saturday when the big market takes over the town. It's fun to see and there are plenty of wild, vibrant, bustling moments to enjoy. Last time I was there, we even saw a gentleman herding his ducks and ducklings through the artisan market. You just never know... I imagine the 4 hour round trip ride and the negotiating might be tiring for them but it is just one day! There is a waterfall just outside of town called Peguche and it is fun to hike to. There are a couple of "natural" pools along the way if you feel like taking a dip. Beware, the water is murky because of the minerals but don't let that scare you away. About 30 minutes outside of town, you can visit Cuicocha Lake, take a boat ride across the crater, and hike a bit around the rim to spectacular views. If the kids like birds, Parque Condor that I mentioned above is very well done. You can see a couple of Andean Condors, a bald eagle, and owls up close and the flight demonstration is great (last time we were there, a bald eagle landed on the seat right next to one of our group members!). The demonstrations take place at 11:30am and 3:30pm Wednesday - Sunday.

Depending on what you would like to take home, there is a market with similar goods in Quito called Mercado Artesenal as well as a line of outdoor vendors in Parque El Ejido. These two places are just a couple of blocks away from each other. In El Ejido, the Otavalo vendors often come down on Sundays to extend their weekend of sales. The great thing about El Ejido is that the kids can play on the wacky playgrounds, enjoy some ice cream, rent some wacky bikes & kid-cars, etc while one of you shops.

It is nice to have options :) If you decide against Otavalo, all is not lost! Haha

As for Banos, hiking to the waterfall is great fun; you can squeeze through the rock to stand behind the pounding waters. Prepare to be soaked! Along the way, the Tarabita rides across the canyon are amazing. In town, you can see folks processing sugar cane and pulling taffy near the baths and there are tons of options for eating. If you're feeling like a splurge, check out the hillside pools and jaccuzis at Luna Runtun spa overlooking the small town below. A couple of lodging options to check out are: Posada del Arte (mid-range) and Hostal D'Mathias (budget but new, clean, & nice...no breakfast but a shared kitchen for use).

Anyway, I get excited so I could ramble on forever. Best of luck with your planning! Let me know if I can help in any way.

Best,

Nicole

5. Re: Private Day Tour with Kids

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Edinburgh, Scotland
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6. Re: Private Day Tour with Kids

Mindo!

My family and I (kids 7, 9 and 10) have just had a couple of days between Quito and the Galapagos in Mindo and all wish we had had longer there. We arrived in town with nothing planned but found it very easy to book local guides and local tours on the spur of the moment. I can recommend the El Quetzel chocolate tour, the butterfly house, the zip lining - we preferred the company out of town as they were nicer and cheaper - the tarabita, and bird watching early in the morning. We wish we could have started longer than three days. The guy who runs the beehive cafe and (as of today!) Had taken over the running of the dragonfly hotel was incredibly helpful and is worth talking to over a coffee and cakes in his cafe. His name is Ingo and he is tall and he speaks very good English and we're glad we bumped into him.

Hope you all have a lovely time!

Dave

Huatulco
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7. Re: Private Day Tour with Kids

Hi Nicole, you have so many good answers for people on this forum! My husband and I are coming to Ecuador in sept for ten days. I have booked our first two nights in Quito and then we want to tour about. First stop is Otavalo market on the sat but after that no plans made. Can you recommend some highlights we should not miss? Also if you could recommend a driver and or tour person that would be great. We speak English and a bit of Spanish. We like great food and want to see lots of sights and culture of Ecuador. Thanks for your help!

Quito, Ecuador
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8. Re: Private Day Tour with Kids

Hi Clarissa,

I am so excited for you! 10 days is a wonderful amount of time in which to enjoy a glimpse at the diversity Ecuador offers. Including Quito and Otavalo, you will also have time to experience the windswept highland plains and surreal landscapes in Cotopaxi National Park and slip into the tropical cloud forest paradise of Mindo. This is usually the combination I recommend to folks who have your time frame for exploration simply because of the wildly different worlds you will visit without losing too much time to travel. However, you should see which areas strike your fancy most :) Look into those areas and also check out the Quilotoa Loop, Baños, and Tena. You can plan on choosing 2 of the above (depending on geography and logistics) to compliment your time in Quito and Otavalo.

Here are the highlights:

Cotopaxi...home to one of the world's highest active volcanoes, Cotopaxi National Park is in the heart of the Avenue of Volcanoes, surrounded by windswept highland plains, surreal landscapes, rural agricultural communities, and spectacular opportunities for horseback riding. In the park, you can choose a hike up to the glacier at 16,000+ feet, enjoy a scenic drive, cozy up in an historic hacienda, or enjoy several less intense hikes past herds of wild horses and boulders placed by Cotopaxi's last eruption.

Mindo...a tropical cloud forest paradise, the highlights here are bird watching, zip lining, tubing, butterfly farm, chocolate tour, and waterfall hikes. The tiny town has a laid-back, coastal vibe at altitude. When I drive down into this area, I always feel as if I'm visiting Jurassic Park! Hummingbirds are EVERYWHERE and relaxing by a sparkling pool is a must.

Quilotoa...an absolutely stunning volcanic crater lake, Quilotoa is just part of what is known as the Quilotoa Loop, a breathtaking scenic loop in a rural area of Ecuador just south of Quito and Cotopaxi National Park. If you can stay 1 - 2 nights here, there are tons of hiking opportunities above, through, and into Toachi Canyon, around the crater rim, or through the rural communities. Horseback riding is also common and there are several traditional markets to explore that are far less "touristy" than Otavalo depending on the day of the week you're visiting.

Otavalo...I don't describe this little mountain town as "touristy" to put it down. It is still a fantastic experience on a Saturday when the market takes over the streets, folks come in from the surrounding communities to sell their wares in full. lovely traditional dress, and you can practice your haggling skills to return home with the perfect souvenir. If you can make it to the animal market before 10am, do it. This part of the market maintains its traditional feel without too much of an invasion from tourism. Also in this area, you can visit Cuicocha crater lake, Parque Condor with a fantastic daily flight demonstration featuring birds of prey soaring over the valley, Peguche Waterfall, and surrounding artisan communities. If you're staying overnight, check into hiking opportunities as well.

Banos is often known as the adventure capital of Ecuador. The main highlights here are the Route of Waterfalls where you can zip line across the river canyon, hike to the pounding and spectacular Paillon del Diablo waterfall, bike downhill from the Andes to the edge of the Amazon jungle, and perhaps watch Volcano Tungurahua erupting above this misty mountain town.

Tena is on the outskirts of the Amazon and offers tons of whitewater rafting and kayaking opportunities as well as day trips into the jungle, a bit of caving, and interaction with some local communities. On an alternative route back to Quito from Banos.

I hope that helps get you started. With 10 days, I wouldn't attempt to travel much more than 4 hours from the city in any direction or you start to lose days to travel. There is so much to see in this 4 hour radius that I'm positive you won't be bored :) Please do let me know what areas you're most drawn to and we can narrow it down from there.

I am sending you a private message with driver/guide information.

I'm so excited for you to experience this incredible country!! The countdown begins :)

Best,

Nicole

9. Re: Private Day Tour with Kids

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