The Ultimate Galapagos Islands Expedition

Lauren Hill

Senior Contributor

Imagine being more than 1,000 kilometres off Ecuador’s coast, among a collection of remote islands thriving with curious animals, birds and marine life. This is the Galapagos that Charles Darwin encountered, and the environment that can still be experienced in its pristine state today.

Sustainability and sophistication

In 2017, the Galapagos Conservation Trust launched a three-year strategy to conserve, sustain and protect the archipelago in perpetuity, developing and supporting projects that benefit the environment of the Galapagos. Thanks to significant conservation efforts like these, the UNESCO protected islands retain their prolific ecosystems.

Expedition companies operating here know the importance of playing their part in protecting this unique environment. Through bespoke tours of the islands and their surroundings, ASMALLWORLD Private is shining a light on some of the cruise operators providing a responsibly led journey around the wildlife-rich archipelago. Each of these luxury cruise providers proves its commitment to conservation and sustainability through independent efforts in the responsibility of their own operations, as well as collaborations with conservation programmes. This gives you the freedom to swim with sea lions, snorkel with sharks and encounter land creatures such as giant tortoises in the knowledge your expedition is benefitting the islands.

Whether it’s a standalone Galapagos expedition or longer South American journey, ASMALLWORLD Private will tailor your entire trip, tying in one of the region’s eco-conscious luxury cruises.

Giant tortoises roam this fascinating archipelago

Credit: Jo Reason

Celebrity Flora by Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Flora, the Celebrity Cruise ship launched in June 2019, accommodates no more than 100 passengers on voyages taking in the marine environment and landscape. Specifically designed for this archipelago, the new vessel comes with a signature outward-facing design that provides 360-degree views of the islands, an open-air stargazing platform and the modern interiors of Ecuadorian designer Adriana Hoyos, taking inspiration from the islands’ flora and fauna.

As well as showing a commitment to sustainability, the cruise line is contributing to environmental initiatives in an effort to better understand the ecology of the islands and in turn educate each voyage’s passengers.

All suite accommodation incorporating sustainable, natural materials provides a sumptuous base for exploration, with an all-inclusive concept encompassing the culinary creations of a Michelin-starred chef, Galapagos National Park fees, use of water sports equipment and twice-daily guided shore landings and excursions.

For an extra fee, you can take part in additional excursions, such as the one-of-a-kind Galapagos Glamping experience in which two top-deck cabanas are fitted with a double bed for sleeping and dining area for an alfresco meal under the star-filled sky.

Zodiac excursion from the Celebrity Flora

Silver Origin by Silversea Cruises

Having sailed these seas for the past two decades, Silversea Cruises is among the stalwart cruise lines navigating these waters. The cruise line’s brand new expedition ship Silver Origin will make its debut here in July 2020. Carrying just 100 passengers along with an expedition crew, the new vessel will pair ultra-luxury suited accommodation with facilities including an Explorer Lounge, Observation Lounge, fitness centre and spa, plus two restaurants: the main dining room serving a twist on the local cuisine and an indoor-outdoor grill. A team of Ecuadorian expert guides and eight Zodiacs will then provide your immersion into the environment you came to see.

This is your base for discovering sea lions, blue-footed boobies and marine iguanas around islands including North Seymour, hiking along the red-rock cliffs of Rabida, snorkelling with sharks, rays and turtles at Eden Islet and coming face to face with giant tortoises on San Cristobal Island where you can find out about the conservation efforts surrounding these creatures.

Silversea Cruises recently elevated its own conservation efforts too, by launching a fund dedicated to preserving the environment of this archipelago in partnership with Galapagos Conservancy. Through this fund, the cruise line aims to have a positive impact on this special environment.

Silver Origin

Origin and Theory by Ecoventura

The Galapagos specialist Ecoventura pours all of its resources into leading expeditions that are as sustainable as they are luxurious, with expert naturalist guidance. Ecoventura’s identical expedition yachts, Origin and Theory, even made it into the Relais & Chateaux collection, with each 10-cabin vessel accommodating up to just 20 guests, giving their voyages a more personalised feel. Join Ecoventura’s guides on cliff-top nature walks, mangrove and cave Zodiac rides, sea kayaking and stand-up paddleboard excursions and thrilling scuba dives. Follow each day’s exploration of the islands with time spent relaxing and socialising in the yacht’s lounge, bar and dining room. The two yachts are identical in design and run alternative itineraries at the same time.

As its name suggests, Ecoventura is dedicated to achieving optimum sustainability and ensuring each passenger is a custodian of the environment. In 2000, Ecoventura became the first recipient of the SmartVoyager ecological certificate and over the years, the cruise provider has contributed to a series of sustainability funds and ecological and social programmes. The expedition outfit’s involvement in these initiatives is evident throughout the whole environmentally conscious experience.

Ecoventura's MV Origin

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