The Galapagos Islands are probably the most pristine and coveted destination for nature lovers on our planet. This famous Archipelago consists of 13 major islands and over 100 islets and is located 1000 kilometers (600 miles) from the coast of Ecuador, a small and beautiful Andean country in South America.
Because of the remote location and harsh living conditions, the Galapagos remained unpopulated until the 1930´s, where the first inhabitants started to settle in Santa Cruz and Floreana Islands. When the islands began to be of interest to scientist and photographers and get recognized in the world as a natural treasure, visitors coming to the Galapagos had very few options for lodging or moving around the islands, as most of its inhabitants were farmers or fishers. The cruise and charter industry in the Galapagos was started on the small fishing boats, manned by the island´s inhabitants, which had little or no experience in the tourism or service industry, making for great and unforgettable trips, but on inadequate vessels and lodging options.
From these days, a lot has changed in the tourism industry in the Galapagos, as the tourism operations in the Galapagos have professionalized their processes and services and new infrastructure and yachts have been brought to the islands. This constant improvement has made available new and interesting options to explore the islands in comfort and style, leading to the new trend in tourism on the Galapagos Islands: luxury cruises and tours, 5-star hotels, and lodges and exclusive experiences.
A luxury Galapagos vacation presents now new and exclusive possibilities for all travelers. There are two ways of exploring the Galapagos: cruises and island hopping programs. Island hopping is the name given to programs that take visitors on daily navigations or excursions to explore the visitor sites in the uninhabited islands of the archipelago while spending the nights in hotels or Lodges on the three towns of the islands (Puerto Ayora, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, and Puerto Villamil).
Cruises take passengers on a 4 to 15-day trip around the whole archipelago, making it possible to reach the most remote and pristine islands, while providing all the services and accommodations on board the ship or yacht.
Both options have seen an interesting increase in luxury options in the last few years. The cruise industry has brought new yachts and catamarans with cabins similar to what you would find in a 5-star hotel and very personalized services, with 9 to 12 crew members for just 16 passengers. Most of the vessels that came in the early 2000´s are being replaced for new luxury yachts and catamarans, with some mega-yachts starting operations in the last two years.
The same has happened with island hopping options, with new and more modern speedboats, and even mini yachts, so that passengers can have a comfortable navigation to the visitor sites, and the accommodations lodges, have also kept up with the changes, presenting now luxury hotel and 5 star lodges that were unheard of in the Galapagos just 5 years ago.
So, if you are planning a luxury vacation to the Galapagos Islands, make sure you investigate a little bit before confirming your tour, as luxury and exclusivity are the new trends in the Galapagos Islands.
Carlos Beate is the Commercial Manager at Andando Tours. Andando Tours offers exclusive traveling experiences, specializing in sailing around the Galapagos Islands and overland along the magnificent Avenue of Volcanoes on the Ecuadorian Andes.
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