There aren’t many places in the world where the word unique is an understatement, but it barely does justice to the 35 volcanic islands (and counting) that constitute the archipelago of the Galapagos Islands set 1000km off the Pacific coast of Ecuador. With 43% of the wildlife species endemic to the Islands, this UNESCO world heritage site is the ultimate destination for nature lovers and I was lucky enough to spend two weeks investigating the latest cruises, hotels and opportunities on offer earlier this year.
Before I give you my top tips, it’s worth saying that a visit to the Galapagos is, in my opinion, not to be missed. This is an opportunity to witness what the rest of the world looked like hundred of thousands of years ago a chain of living volcanoes emerging from an underwater platform, where three key oceanic currents meet creating an environment teeming with life. This is a place of extremes where frequently shifting climates can literally decimate animal populations and evolve species rapidly.
Tailoring your trip is a must. You could base yourselves on one of the main islands of Isabela or Santa Cruz while we arrange personal motor boat visits to some of the 64 stopping points, or there are also some wonderful cruises in boats of varying sizes on offer. To cruise you need at least four days and there are various themed tours available including diving, naturalist and family focused trips and celebration departures this year on the large boat, the Eclipse. Or you could do both, and perhaps combine with a visit to Peru or Ecuador.
In this special year, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, the exponent of the theory of evolution, celebrations brought Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall to the Galapagos where they stayed in and visited two of our top recommended establishments: The delightful Royal Palm Hotel which is only accessible by boat, and the Galapagos Safari Camp a fascinating new venture owned by my friend Stephanie Bonham-Carter which brings luxury safari tents to this remote paradise.
Even though visits are sought after, with numbers of tourists tightly controlled by the Ecuadorian authorities, we have found some fantastic deals for our clients. Such as cruise prices which include flights, park tickets, fuel surcharges and transit card costs a saving of around $700. Or if you are willing to plan a last minute trip we can save you up to 30% off the cruise price.
If you would like to explore this perfect laboratory of evolution, please contact us.