THE LUX LIFE (RELAIS & CHATEAUX)

Why now is the perfect moment for a Galapagos vacation

AUTHOR The Ecoventura Team

As the Northern Hemisphere days grow longer and the weather gets warmer, many people are looking weeks and months ahead to give some thought to their summer vacation. Whilst restrictions vary from country to country, there is perhaps a growing feeling that many of us can, finally, dream of trips away once again.

But with travel curtailed for so many months, the pressure is on; where should one go to make the next trip a truly memorable experience, and for all the right reasons?

One location that is always a frontrunner is, of course, the Galapagos Islands. One of the planet’s wildlife hotspots, home to magnificent beaches and a host of watersports and other excursions, the Islands have also done a fantastic job managing the pandemic.

Why should we visit the Galapagos Islands this year?

2021 is a special time to visit Galapagos. Tourist numbers are at a level last seen 20 years ago, and the wildlife is abundant after a year with so few visitors. According to our guides, the concentration of animals in some locations is as high as they have ever known; recent guests have enjoyed watching pods of dolphins up to 150 strong, whilst sea lions, penguins, sharks, rays, and turtles – to name a few! – are thriving, including in many of our regular snorkeling spots.

The Galapagos Islands is a great location to support and learn about conservation efforts, many of which have continued apace during the pandemic. Diego and 25 other tortoises were rehomed last July as part of what is often considered one of the most successful captive reproduction and breeding program ever undertaken anywhere in the world, whilst more recently scientists have discovered another long-thought-extinct tortoise species on Fernandina Island.

And with some unmissable discounts of up to 25% currently available, what better way to enjoy a trip to the Galapagos than on one of our luxury expedition yachts?

Let our experienced guides show you around the islands as they take you on a vast array of different excursions and activities. And when you’re back on board, enjoy our open bar whilst our chefs rustle up meals worthy of the only Relais & Chateaux vessels in the archipelago.

Is it safe to travel to mainland Ecuador?

The Government of Ecuador aims to have the entire adult population of 9 million people vaccinated by the end of August, marking the first 100 days in office of the new President.  The vaccination program is advancing well, and a 30-day curfew in mainland Ecuador (lifted on May 20th) helped to control the spread of Covid.

What’s more, for our US guests, the US State Department recently downgraded the Travel Advisory level for Ecuador from Level 4 (Do not Travel) to Level 3 (Reconsider Travel).

What are the current entry requirements?

Starting July 1st, travelers age two and over can enter both Ecuador and the Galapagos with one of three documents:

1. A negative RT-PCT test

2. A negative Antigen test issued within 72 hours of arrival

3. A vaccination certification card that proves you have received all applicable Covid-19 vaccine doses at least two weeks prior to arrival.

The “salvoconducto” or safe passage form is no longer required after July 1st.

Should any guest need an Antigen test in Ecuador (to travel on to Peru or return to the US), VIP Medical lab is open 24/7 at the airport in Quito.

In Guayaquil, VERIS is available on Sundays through a special arrangement made by Ecoventura. Upon arrival from the Galapagos to GYE on Avianca flight AV1637, our representative will meet and escort our guests to the lab. The cost is $40 and results are available within 30 minutes, with credit cards being accepted – it couldn’t be easier!

How is Covid being controlled in Galapagos and on board the yachts?

The Galapagos is the first province in Ecuador to be immunized against Covid-19, with the entire adult population of 30,000+ having received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, including all our crew.

Ecoventura, along with eight other tourism providers, sponsored the logistical costs for delivering medical supplies, and the equipment necessary to carry out the vaccination program. We joined forces to cover flights, food, and accommodation for medical professionals to travel from mainland Ecuador, doing our bit to contribute to the prompt vaccination of the inhabitants to protect their health during such difficult times. And given so much of the local economy depends on tourism, the program has also helped visitors to return and the local population to get back to work, supporting the local economy and the livelihoods of so many of the residents.

Onboard, we were quick to implement a raft of enhanced cleanliness and sanitation protocols to protect our crew and visitors alike. And with all of our crew members being vaccinated, plus working a rotation system of four weeks to create a Covid-free bubble on board, we have been able to operate dozens of safe, successful departures since the Islands reopened to tourism last summer.

But don’t just take our word for it! Here is a sample of the feedback we have received from guests in the past few months:

“This trip has been splendid beyond anything I expected. The entire crew is exceptional beyond belief!”

“Enjoyed every moment! The crew was delightful and fun. The food was amazing. The views and excursions spectacular.”

“This week aboard the ORIGIN in the Galapagos was quite simply the best vacation we have taken anywhere at any time, ever. Thank you for a truly extraordinary experience.”

If that’s inspired you to book your own Galapagos trip, get in touch and we’d love to make it happen!