Ever since the father of the theory of evolution, Charles Darwin, made the Galapagos famous, this remote wilderness has been on travelers “to do” lists and today a host of vessels make the 600-mile crossing from South America in serious style. Sailing yachts such as the SS Mary Anne offer billowing white sails, coils of rope on deck, and old-fashioned luxury. With just a handful of rooms on board, the guests’ experience is exclusive, and they get to explore the wonders of the Galapagos without the crowds.
Each island has its own characteristics, and while none of them are lush (in fact, many of the Galapagos islands resemble your image of the surface of the moon), they are bursting with unusual wildlife. Isolated from the mainland for millions of years, and until recently supporting very few humans, the animals here have never been hunted and are therefore quite accepting of human presence. It’s a weird but amazing sensation to be eyed up by these creatures as if you were simply another one of them.
Behold the giant tortoise and laugh at the blue-footed booby birds. Snorkel with tame and curious penguins, sea lions, and stingrays, and grab some amazing shots of the lava lizards and contemplative marine iguanas before they swim away. On the island of Isabella there is a volcano you can climb, and on Santa Cruz you can spend some time exploring the Charles Darwin Research Station, where scores of biologists continue the work Darwin himself began nearly 200 years ago.
There are some stunning accommodation options onshore. Splash out under canvas in ultra-luxury tents set on raised platforms or bathe in a gorgeous infinity pool after a day’s exploring. It’s easy to combine your Galapagos trip with some time in Ecuador– the country of your cruise’s arrival and departure. Exsus Luxury Holidays can take you there.