These near mythological islands off the coast of Ecuador are a naturalist’s dream: all dense jungles, hidden beaches, volcanic landscapes and one-of-a-kind species. If you want to follow in Darwin’s footsteps, here’s how to get the most out of the Galápagos…
KEEP YOUR FOOTPRINT LIGHT
Galápagos Safari Camp – our first ever Smith retreat on the still relatively untouched islands – is the ideal eco-explorer’s base. Owners Michael and Stephanie have added a luxury glamping site to their 135-acre farmstead with the subtlest of touches – natural materials abound, farm-fresh fare is served in the lodge and guests can even help out with the expansive reforestation project. Plus, they’ve tailored the most immersive adventure itineraries imaginable (feeling the heat from an active volcano, iguana-spotting along the coast, surf safaris…), so you’ll experience the best of the islands with plenty of not-in-the-guidebook insights.
DON’T FORGET YOUR CAMERA
Yes, we say this a lot, but sunsets come and go; 150-year-old giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, flightless cormorants and (kissing) miniature penguins most certainly do not, so pack that SLR and keep it close at all times. Throw a waterproof camera in, too – you never know when you’ll swim past a sea lion, paddle alongside a turtle or dive with some stingrays.
There are plenty of places to hole up in seclusion, keep yourself to yourself and dine à deux – this isn’t one of them. Don’t worry, it’s not a holiday camp either, but sharing tales of your day’s adventures over a cold Caipirinha Galapagueña back at base is part of the experience. The island-wide views aren’t a bad conversation starter, either.