Ecuador & the Galápagos Trip Overview
There’s no country in the world quite like Ecuador. Its rich and unique biodiversity, location in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, and the amalgam of indigenous and colonial Spanish cultures make this tiny country truly one of a kind. As it’s quickly becoming one of the world’s trendiest travel destinations, Ecuador is the perfect place for teachers of all disciplines to bring their students and introduce them to South America. From the old colonial architecture of Quito to the incredible wildlife found in the Galápagos Islands, this tour offers something for everyone! Students will also earn up to 18 hours of service credit as they volunteer in local communities on the island of San Cristobal.
Our mission is to provide an authentic experience rooted in “teaching teens to be travelers, not tourists.” Language students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Spanish and practice what they have learned in the classroom. Our staff members will help students discover that foreign languages are an exciting tool they can use wherever their travels might take them.
Our goal is to help students to step outside their comfort zone, appreciate other cultures, and discover the joy of traveling. Thanks to our years of experience in leading young travelers around Latin America, Travel For Teens staff are experts in engaging and inspiring student travelers. Join us on this one-of-a-kind cultural experience and leave them with memories to last a lifetime!
Did You Know? Teachers travel for free! Enroll just six paying participants and your trip is covered. Learn more about the Benefits for Teachers.
During this trip, you and your students will…
- Earn up to 18 hours of community service credits volunteering with Ecuadorian schoolchildren and on a sustainable farm
- Stand in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres at once at La Mitad del Mundo
- Explore the vibrant plazas and colorful markets of the Andean city of Quito
- Meet giant Gálapagos tortoises in their natural habitat
- Relax on world-class beaches
- Get up close to marine iguanas, sea lions, canaries, finches, and other unique wildlife
- HIke to the top of the island for spectacular views
- Visit a lagoon inside a volcanic crater
DAY 1: ¡Bienvenidos a Ecuador!
The adventure begins as you fly from your preferred airport to Quito. Your Travel For Teens guides will meet you at the Quito Airport and accompany you for the duration of your journey. Upon arrival, board our private coach and head to our hotel in downtown. We’ll take a short walk to get acquainted with our surroundings before enjoying our first dinner of Ecuadorian cuisine.
DAY 2: Two Hemispheres at Once
Get to know Quito like a local this morning as we take a guided tour of the city. Our first stop is la Mitad del Mundo, otherwise known as the Equator. We’ll stand in both the Southern and Northern Hemispheres at the same time, and participate in some unique experiments that can only be done at Latitude 0°. We’ll also explore the city’s well-preserved colonial district, traditional marketplaces, and lively plazas where locals hang out every day.
DAY 3: Darwin's Legacy
Fly from Quito to the Galápagos Islands! These remote islands in the Pacific Ocean are famous as the place where Charles Darwin came up with the theory of evolution, based on the wildlife he observed here. We’ll begin on the island of Santa Cruz, where we’ll explore the beautiful green landscapes of the highlands and visit a giant tortoise ranch.
DAY 4: Turquoise Water and Tortoises
In the morning, we’ll visit the beautiful beaches at Tortuga Bay, which are ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and photography. You’ll also find marine iguanas and sea lions resting along the shore. After lunch, we’ll learn about the local ecosystems and conservation efforts at the Charles Darwin Station. Visit the Tortoise Breeding Center, where it’s possible to see many different species of tortoise and even get up close to them.
DAY 5: Ancient volcanoes
It’s time for our next island, Isla San Cristobal. We’ll take a speedboat from one island to the next. Explore the Junco Lagoon located within a volcanic crater and try to spot the frigate birds diving for their lunch. In the afternoon, we’ll have time for hiking and swimming at Puerto Chino beach, before relaxing on La Lobería beach.
DAY 6: Connecting with the community
After enjoying everything the Galápagos have to offer, there is no better way to complete our journey than by giving back to these islands that have given us so many incredible memories! We will have the option of completing two community service projects on the island. First, work with elementary or high school students and play games with them, help them practice their English, and learn about what life on the islands is like. We’ll also help out with any light maintenance projects the school may need. Then, we’ll visit a sustainable farm dedicated to preserving the environment and providing food for the local community. We’ll help out with several projects on the farm, including recycling and preparing food in a traditional mud oven.
DAY 7: Community Service Continues
Today, we’ll continue our service work with our local partners.
Day 8: The best views on the island
This morning, take a break from volunteering to visit the Centro de Interpretación to learn about the geology of the Islands. After a short hike to Cerro Tijeretas for breathtaking views, we’ll relax on the beach. In the afternoon, students will have free time to explore the village of San Cristobal, do some souvenir shopping and get a coffee from a local café.
Day 9: Beach time!
On our last day on the island, we’ll wrap up the community service projects we’re working on. Say hasta luego to the new friends you’ve made. Spend one last afternoon relaxing on the beach before enjoying an upscale final dinner to celebrate the end of an amazing trip!
Day 10: ¡Adiós, Ecuador!
Your TFT guides will accompany you to the airport and assist you with check-in for your flight. Wave goodbye as you head through security and sit back and relax on your flight home.
LOOKING FOR A SHORTER ADVENTURE? THIS TRIP CAN BE ADAPTED!
For teachers who are short on time, we can make this a 7, 8, or 9-day adventure! One of our expert trip designers will help adapt this itinerary to suit your specific needs. Contact us for more details.
The TFT Difference
We Never Combine Groups
Your tour should be special and just for you and your students! We will never combine two or more groups on the same bus or tour. We will lead a trip with as few as six people and a teacher. Your Trip Director travels with you for the duration of your program.
Stress-Free Planning and 24/7 Support
We are there for you every step of the way, and our support begins the moment you decide to do a TFT trip! We will provide you with a team member who will help bring your tour to life, along with everything you need to help get students to sign up for the adventure! On the tour you will have 24/7 dedicated staff with you to ensure everything runs smoothly and because we know travel is full of surprises, solve anything that may pop up along the way.
Photos and Email Updates
Your trip is special and you and your students should have those memories captured forever! Expect frequent personal email updates and hundreds of photos from your TFT staff shared with you and your students’ families so everyone can follow along on the journey. We are the only teen travel program to offer this in-depth trip communication and it truly makes all the difference!
Central Accommodation and Local Meals
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. We stay at locally owned accommodation in the city center so you don’t waste your valuable time commuting. We dine at charming authentic restaurants to get a real flavor (literally!) for the local culture. The best way to travel is like a local. So ditch the tour bus and have a real traveler’s experience with us!
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. Eat, stay, and travel like a local.
Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we are consistently winning awards for Top Youth Travel Organization.
"I went on the Costa Rica Adrenaline trip this past summer and it was amazing! I have never gone on a trip by myself before and I was very nervous. But after meeting with everyone at the airport, I knew that I made the right choice booking the trip! The staff were so helpful and very resourceful throughout the trip, and everyone in my group were super nice and welcoming! I really enjoyed the adventures we did, such as: tubing, ziplining, snorkeling, and canyoning! But one of the best memories I had was being able to surf for the very first time!! It was so surreal and an incredible feeling! I was said to say goodbye on our last night, but I still stay in contact with some of the friends I made to this day! I would totally recommend this trip to anyone who loves adventure!!"
"What an amazing experience! This trip was truly 3-weeks that changed my life and perspective forever. Spending this time in Costa Rica will be the best choice you will ever make, I know it’s the best choice that I made. Expect to join a group of teens that are also interested in exploring the world and helping out animals. I still stay in touch with these friends 2 years later, and even have made trips across the country to New York City to visit my Costa Rica pals! The best part of the whole trip to me was the animals and working at the rescue center. Learn the proper care for these exotic animals and work with other volunteers from all over the world who share the same interests as you. Some of the amazing experiences I had were babysitting the baby sloths, taking a baby anteater into the forest, or feeding the young monkeys. Outside of working at the rescue center I tried so many things that were out of my comfort zone, a night hike in the jungle, salsa dancing in front of a whole restaurant, and ziplining through the jungle. I recommend this trip to anyone who is interested in immersing themselves into a new culture, and not afraid to get dirty and work hard to help this animal sanctuary."
"Signing up for a Travel For Teens trip was the best decision I’ve ever made. I was a bit nervous at first about traveling by myself, and I was worried I wouldn’t make any friends. Little did I know that in just a two week time period I’d have a whole new point of view on travel, and friends that will last a lifetime. There was never once a second where I felt homesick because every day was filled with life changing experiences like working hands-on with sea turtles, ziplining, surfing, and exploring the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Our counselors were some of the sweetest, and funniest people I’ve ever met, and were super helpful in guiding us on how to be proper travelers, rather than tourists. I swear time moves quicker in Costa Rica, because those amazing two weeks were over too soon. Our group may have looked incredibly weird to the patrons in Miami Airport terminal 24 who probably do not see very many groups of 12 teenagers huddled in a crying group hug. We eventually all managed to stop crying and go our separate ways, meanwhile planning our TFT trips for the next summer. Overall I returned more confident and open than I was before going on the trip, and am counting down the days till my next trip."