Charles Darwin came to unlock the secrets of our existence; you’ll probably be content to see otherworldly volcanic landscapes, unique wildlife and unspoilt jungle. If so, Galápagos Safari Camp is your ideal eco-luxe launchpad for exploring these near mythological islands: nine teak-floored super-tents and and a tropic-lined lodge sat subtly in 135 acres of parkland where passionate staff ensure you’ll experience the Galápagos’ greatest hits with the lightest of footprints.
Get this when you book through us:
A ceviche-making class and a bottle of wine with your first night's dinner, plus a visit to the camp's own reforestation project for stays of four nights or more.
Rates include a buffet breakfast and a set-menu evening meal.
Speak with the staff if you're hoping to host a special occasion during your stay – they'll be more than happy to help.
At the hotel
Outdoor infinity pool, bikes to borrow, communal lounge with WiFi, viewing deck, laundry service. In tents: jungle-and-ocean-view balcony with hammock, ensuite bathroom with biodegradable products, desk, hair dryer, tea- and coffee-making facilities.
Our favourite rooms
There are nine foliage-fringed luxury tents, and a larger three-bedroom family-friendly cabin – all with ensuite bathrooms – pitched about 70m from the main lodge, simply decorated with handwoven Ecuadorian rugs and locally made teak furniture, with balconies peering over the Galapagos National Park's verdant valleys. You’re unlikely to be bothered by neighbours at the best of times, but if privacy is your priority, secluded tent number one is nicknamed the ‘honeymoon suite’.
The intentional small size of the infinity plunge pool – all in the name of protecting scarce water sources – means you could mistake it for a natural waterhole. Thankfully, you can dive into it after a day of adventuring and gaze out to sea without the fear of upsetting thirsty wildlife. Take a dip at night and you’ll be dazzled by stars.
Not as such, but if you let reception know in advance, masseurs can be sent up for in-room treatments.
A copy of The Origin of Species, your sturdiest walking boots, earthy-toned cottons and heightened senses.
There’s some learning to go with your leisure – all guests get a background on Darwin’s work on the island and the evolution of its distinctive wildlife.
All ages welcome, safaris can be crafted for the little Smiths. There's a designated family suite that sleeps six and there is plenty of room to roam outdoors. The kids club opens late afternoon during school holidays to distract small ones before dinner.
In a big way. They help with reforestation (guests can help out if they like), have begun growing native cacao plants, use purified rainwater across the camp and most produce comes from their farm. Menus are fixed, to reduce food waste, and tents have been carefully placed to enhance natural air flow and reduce the need for air-conditioning.
For a sundowner, head straight to the viewing deck and drink in the showstopping sunset panoramas. For dinner, take a seat at the communal dining table – it’s the best place for swapping Galápagos tales.
You’re in one of the few places on earth where khaki safari gear is de rigueur, so embrace your inner Indiana Jones or Lara Croft.
Headed by culinary consultant Ildefonso Burgos, creative young chefs Daysi and Dani serve up a four-course Ecuadorian-accented, organic-as-it-gets dinner in the main lodge each evening (Mr & Mrs Smith snacked on sesame-crusted tuna with nori sauce and honey- and mustard-glazed pork, but the menu changes nightly). There are smaller tables on the veranda if you feel like dining à deux.
There might not be an actual bar, but you can kick back in the convivial lounge – or anywhere else you fancy – with a cold beer, a glass of wine or an island-themed cocktail. We liked the tequila-laced Blue-footed Boobie and the Caipirinha Galapagueña, made with local sugar-cane spirit.
The lodge and tents are off the beaten path in 135 acres of farmland on the island of Santa Cruz.
Flights from the US and Europe land at Quito and Guayaquil airport. From there it’s a two-hour flight to Baltra airport where you’ll be met by a driver and your guide.
This isn’t hire-car country, but you’ll be driven to and from the airport and on as many day-trips as you care to book.
There’s a short boat ride across the Itabaca Channel between your airport pickup and your drive through Santa Cruz.
Worth getting out of bed for
The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of adventure, and – as one of the only places to offer semi-private and private tours – your safari-camp base couldn’t be better placed for exploring them. You won’t need to worry about organising trips either: your hosts will take care of everything, including picnics, transport, boat trips and a snorkelling kit.
Choose from an expertly planned list of five-, six- and seven-day itineraries that take in land-based highlights (giant tortoise reserves, active volcanoes, flamingo-dotted lagoons, iguana-spotting on the coast, pristine white sands at Tortuga Bay, tours of the Charles Darwin Research Centre), aquatic expeditions (boat trips to uninhabited islands, scuba diving among penguins, turtles, hammerhead sharks, stingrays and reef fish, snorkelling with sea lions) and action-led excursions (surfing and kayaking). If you’ve a particular interest (science, wildlife photography etc), let your Safari Designer know and they’ll try and tailor a trip to suit.
No interest in an early-morning wake-up call? No worries. Just laze around by the pool and have a leisurely hike around the Highlands.
It's unlikely you'll be venturing out for meals, since all food is customised and included in your stay and eating out can be a little difficult here due to limited transport links.
Mr & Mr Smith have just returned from a stay at this eco escape in the Galápagos Islands and as soon as they've finished their last bar of cacao and downloaded their giant-tortoise snaps, a full account of their back-to-nature break will be with you. In the meantime, just to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick postcard from Galápagos Safari Camp.
There are islands and then there are the Galápagos Islands: biologists' paradise, birthplace of evolutionary theory, once-in-a-lifetime adventure playground. If you're going to explore them, you'll need to do it right, and Galápagos Safari Camp will ensure you do just that.
This eco-sensitive spread of 10 luxury tents and terrace-toting lookout lodge sits inconspicuously among the jungle of Santa Cruz's Highlands. Owners Michael (from Spain) and Stephanie (half English/half Ecuadorian) were the last foreigners to buy Galápagos land before the laws were changed, and they look after their abundant acres as well as they look after their awe-struck guests. With so much to explore on these legendary isles, the passion and knowledge of the staff couldn't be more welcome – they've expertly crafted day-trip (and longer) itineraries to ensure every guest gets as much out of their visit as they can.
Head up to the lodge for dinner after a day's adventuring and you'll be enthusiastically swapping wildlife stories with other guests before you know it, over farm-fresh Ecuadorian food and well-earned cocktails. Retire to your teak-floored mega-tent and it feels not much like a tent at all, but an elegant forest lodge a world away from the daily grind.