Exclusive Galapagos

Today the islands have seen little change thanks to the Galapagos National Park that plans the itineraries for licensed vessels to ensure the islands do not become crowded. As a consequence, the Galapagos Islands offer one of the most enriching wildlife experiences in the world and with a handful of small luxury yachts and land based lodges cropping up in this carefully restricted area, there is no better time to visit.

The latest vessel to grace the Galapagos realm is the MV Origin which launched in February 2016 and raises the bar in terms of comfort and sophistication. Its ten deluxe staterooms all have the privilege of large ocean view windows, and there is a dedicated concierge. Up on the Darwin deck, white hammocks, taupe rattan chairs, striped daybeds and a jacuzzi set a contemporary scene. Look out to sea though and encounter age-old natural spectacles and thriving endemic species whose ‘extreme tameness’ as Darwin described, has formed a natural utopia. www.origingalapagos.com

Whilst most opt to cruise around the Galapagos Islands on a vessel, a few properties on terra firma have upped the ante for island stays and make for restful days after a cruise. They also have their own small yachts for trips to nearby islands making these outposts an ideal base in the archipelago.

The Finch Bay Hotel has had a complete renovation in 2016 by one of Ecuador’s well known interior designers, Julio Vinueza. This is the only beachfront upscale hotel located in the islands with a stunning freshwater swimming pool and a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef at the helm of the restaurant. www.finchbayhotel.com

Even further up the scale is the spectacularly located Pikaia Lodge. It has to be one of the most striking state of the art lodges in South America set on a volcanic plateau with views stretching out to the ocean. This lodge has, with just 14 rooms, a beautiful infinity pool and spa. www.pikaialodge.com

The Galapagos Safari Camp, an African style safari camp, offers a discreet experience where guests (both couples and families) can immerse themselves in nature and soak up breathtaking views. The owners of the lodge whose children were brought up in the privilege of these surrounding wild highlands, know exactly what families need (bikes, cots and wetsuits). During the school holidays the camp offers a specially tailored kids club so that parents have the chance to relax whilst their children are entertained with both educational and adventure driven activities. The naturalist guides have been working with the Galapagos Safari Camp since it started and are very much part of the ‘family network’. www.galapagossafaricamp.com

Our advice – ‘Don’t Delay’ – it has always been vital to book well in advance, but if it’s exclusivity you are after in the Galapagos Islands, then the earlier you book, the better.

Best time to go?

The Galapagos Islands are located on the equator with year round warm temperatures but there are two distinct seasons. June to November is known as Garua (“mist”) season. During these months, the Humboldt Current brings cold water through the islands and marine life is very active as a result (although days can be a bit overcast). The dry and sunny season is from December through May. Most species of animals can be seen all year long with a few exceptions; the waved albatross can only be found in the islands from April through November and whale shark season is from June through November.