THE LUX LIFE (RELAIS & CHATEAUX)

From kayaks to zodiacs, bird watching to sealion spotting – keeping busy on an Ecoventura voyage

AUTHOR The Ecoventura Team

People are drawn to the Galapagos Islands for a host of reasons – to snorkel with sealions, spot the vast array of endemic birdlife on the islands, dive with rays or hammerhead sharks, visit a giant tortoise breeding centre or learn about Darwin’s visit to the region. Or just to relax on board, cocktail in hand, watching the sun go down. The list is endless, and luckily, Ecoventura’s Relais & Chateaux yachts Origin and Theory have got you covered!

Read on for a list of the activities and excursions available on an Ecoventura voyage. Note that itineraries are pre-determined, but the list below should give a feel for the types of activities and excursions you might be able to experience, on board and off!

On Board Activities:

  • Briefings and enrichment lectures: Designed to brief guests on the following day’s itinerary, keep them up to speed on the status of the voyage, and provide in depth talks on various topics of interest. Guests can learn about Charles Darwin’s famous visit and the development of his theory of evolution, or social and environmental projects underway to help protect the Galapagos Islands, all from the comfort of the yacht’s lounge area.
  • Star-gazing: Head to the open top-deck to admire the vast Galapagos star-scape, learning about the main constellations visible from this Equatorial region.
  • Cooking demonstration: Let our culinary team demonstrate their expertise as they rustle up some classic local dishes – Ecuadorian ceviche is always a favourite.
  • Tour of the bridge: Accompany the Captain to the bridge to learn about the more technical aspects of the cruise; the ship, the controls, the navigation system and what goes on behind the scenes to enjoy all goes smoothly.
  • Work-outs and wellness: The gym below-decks has a treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, free-weights and yoga mats to help our more energetic guests keep active whilst on board.
  • Borrow a book from the onboard library: Our vessels have a wide range of books and reading material to keep you entertained, as well as board games.
  • Soak up some rays: After a busy day exploring the islands, relax on a sun lounger or hammock, take a dip in the jacuzzi or have a drink and watch the world go by.
  • Celebrate!: Let your hair down and get to know the other guests and crew at a Pirate Party (Itinerary A) or King Neptune Party (Itinerary B) to celebrate crossing the equator, a birthday or milestone event.

Excursions:

  • Guided nature walks: Explore lava fields, hike along cliffs, stroll along a secluded beach or experience close encounters with Galapagos wildlife and endemic fauna, accompanied by our expert guides. Guided shore excursions are graded by difficulty, ranging from an easy stroll along a beach/even terrain (level 1), through to a long, rocky challenging trail with loose or slippery rocks (level 5). Our guides will be able to advise on the grading of each particular excursion prior to departure.
  • Wildlife photography: First-time visitors to the Galapagos are often amazed at how close to the wildlife they can get. Sealions lounge on the beaches, lizards and iguanas bask in the sun and birds nest metres from the trails. There’s plenty of opportunity to finesse your photography skills, or look in to a hosted photography departure to take things a step further.
  • Birdwatching: Home to dozens of endemic bird species, the Galapagos is a birdwatcher’s paradise. The 14 endemic finch species played a key role in helping Darwin develop his theory of natural selection. How many can you spot?

  • Snorkelling: Snorkelling in the Galapagos for many is the highlight of the expedition, offered from the beach or in deeper water.  Observe the underwater world untethered during a snorkel trip, swimming alongside native sea turtles, playful sea lions, endemic marine iguanas and the world’s second smallest penguins. Snorkelling gear and wet suits are provided by Ecoventura.
  • Sea kayaking: Explore the inlets and mangroves on a double or single “sit-on-top” kayak. After a brief tutorial, head off to explore the islands’ secret coves and colourful shorelines at your own pace. Expect frequent wildlife spottings whilst still getting in a good workout, if desired!
  • Stand-up paddle boarding: Growing quickly in popularity the world over, stand-up paddles were introduced by Ecoventura a couple of years ago due to popular demand. Available in the same areas as the sea kayaks, spot sealions, turtles, fish and rays from your higher vantage point.
  • Zodiac rides: Inflatable dinghy, zodiak, or “panga” as they are known in Galapagos – these ubiquitous vessels are used to access the islands from our luxury yachts. We also use these small, low-impact dinghies to explore mangrove estuaries, caves and inlets – Black Turtle Cove, Elizabeth Bay or Baroness Point are not to be missed, as we turn off the engines and paddle whilst looking for green sea turtles mating, golden ray schools, sleeping reef sharks and many other wonderful creatures.

  • Glass bottomed boat: Watch for reef sharks, golden rays, and marine iguanas from the comfort of our glass-bottomed boat, giving a view directly in to the depths below.
  • Whale and dolphin watching: A truly exhilarating and unforgettable experience, marine mammal sitings of Bryde’s, Sperm and Orca whales, as well as dolphins, can happen anywhere in the islands year-round. The best time and place to see Blue and Humpback whales is between June and December when they migrate through the Boliver Channel between Isabela and Fernandina Islands.
  • Giant tortoise breeding centre: Visit the Charles Darwin station on Santa Cruz island to learn about conservation efforts designed to protect the giant tortoise species the Galapagos Islands are so famous for. Learn about Lonesome George – the centre’s most famous resident, the last of his species who sadly died in 2012 – and see the hatchlings and young tortoises being bred to help repopulate the islands.

  • Walking tour of Puerto Ayora: Learn about the human history of the Galapagos and its settlement on a walking tour through the streets of Puerto Ayora. Pick up some handmade souvenirs, or some Galapagos-grown coffee.
  • Visit to the giant tortoise sanctuary Rancho Las Primicias: A privately-owned hacienda built to provide a home to free-ranging tortoises, some of which weigh over 500 pounds. Roam the woodland to see tortoises in their natural habitat, feeding or resting in shallow pools.
  • Santa Cruz highlands: Travel in to the hills to see Los Gemelos (The Twins), a pair of deep sinkholes in the forest filled with verdant vegetation. See if you can spot Galapagos short-eared owls, endemic to the Galapagos who live in these parts.
  • Lava tunnels: Explore the hidden depths of Santa Cruz island in the underground lava tunnels, and learn more about the geology of the islands.
  • El Junco lake: The caldera of an extinct volcano, El Junco on San Cristobal island is the Galapagos’ only sizable freshwater lake.
  • Tagus Cove: A favourite stop-off point for whalers and pirates, sections of the rocky cliffs are marked with graffiti from as far back as the 1800s.
  • Post a letter at Post Office Bay: Established by British whalers in the 18th Century, the post barrel on Floreana is a novel way to send a postcard home. Leave it here and with any luck a fellow traveller will take it home and post it for you! Have a flick through the cards – are there any you could deliver back home?

  • Scuba diving: The Galapagos archipelago is located where three major ocean currents come together — combining cold waters from the south with warm currents from the north and cooler currents from the west. These conditions create diving encounters unlike anywhere else on earth. We offer experienced scuba divers our dedicated scuba Live-aboard experience – the 16-passenger luxury vessel Galapagos Sky. Spend 3-4 days diving the world famous Wolf and Darwin dive spots looking for whale sharks, schooling hammerheads, and manta rays.

Special occasions. We would be delighted to help you celebrate life’s important milestones on board – feel free to discuss with our team, or consider a group charter to share an event with your friends, family and loved ones. A few events we have recently enjoyed with our guests include the following:

  • Renewal of vows ceremony, or mock wedding: We can arrange the details, including printed invitations, a mock marriage certificate, a wedding cake and petit fours, decorations, sparkling wine, chocolate and music to celebrate your special day! Let us know at the time of booking and we would be delighted to discuss plans. Note that foreigners cannot legally marry in the Galapagos.
  • Chinese New Year: Enjoy an Asian-inspired dinner and decorations to celebrate China’s most important festival.
  • Thanksgiving: For our North American guests in particular, enjoy this special occasion on board for a truly memorable Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Christmas and New Year: For a Christmas or New Year you’ll never forget. Bring the whole family to make it truly special.
  • Birthdays, anniversary and retirement: Celebrate on board on an Ecoventura voyage!

Voyages are divided in to two itineraries, A & B. Itinerary A “Beaches and Bays” covers the Southern & Central route, whilst Itinerary B “Volcanic Wonders” takes us to the Northern and Western parts of the Archipelago. Guests are of course welcome to do both itineraries back to back. Itineraries are pre-determined and agreed with the Galapagos authorities – see our website for further details regarding which excursions and activities are available in which itinerary; please bear in mind that as such, excursions cannot normally be changed or selected individually, although guests can of course choose to opt out of excursions as they so wish. Note also that some excursions outlined above go hand in hand rather than being undertaken individually. Itineraries are subject to change at the Captain’s sole discretion.

We hope the above has whetted your appetite. Please feel free to contact the team for more information or to book your cabin. We look forward to welcoming you aboard!