NEW YORK — The decades-long effort to protect the Galapagos Islands realized an important milestone on January 14, 2022 when Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso signed a decree to conserve more than 23,000 square miles of ocean around the Galápagos Islands and beyond.
The new Hermandad Marine Reserve expands the current Galapagos Marine Reserve by almost 50 percent and extends northwest to the Costa Rican maritime border. This swath of ocean will safeguard a migratory corridor known as the Cocos-Galápagos Swimway, which is used by sea turtles, sharks, whales, rays, and many other marine species.
Lindblad Expeditions has had an enduring connection to the islands, ever since Lars-Eric Lindblad brought the first citizen explorers to the archipelago and funded the very first Galapagos Park Rangers. Lindblad’s founder and Co-Chair of the Board, Sven Lindblad, who first visited the Galapagos Islands in 1967 as a 17-year-old, was honored to witness this historic moment alongside Gustavo Manrique, Ecuador’s Minister of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition; President Ivan Duque of Colombia; former President Bill Clinton; Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer in Residence, and other dignitaries.
Following the ceremony, Sven Lindblad noted, “This is a really valuable and important step for marine protection…And hopefully these extensions will only get larger and larger over time. It’s been a tremendous joy. People have come from all over the world to celebrate what Galapagos has done. These islands are a jewel of our planet.”
See Video of the Signing of the Marine Reserve Decree
(Quito, Ecuador) — The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel (on Santa Cruz Island) has joined forces with Scalesia Galapagos Lodge (on Isabela Island) to offer a new week-long program in the Galapagos. Highlights include: touring Quito’s Old City, glamping in safari camp-style tents, snorkeling with sea turtles, hiking active volcanoes, visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station and tortoise breeding facility, and exploring islands by motor yacht. Prices start at $4,658 per person double.
The tour begins in Quito, Ecuador’s charming Andean capital, where guests will spend a night in an ornate Renaissance-inspired mansion in the heart of the Old City. Next, travel by air to Isabela Island, taking in the breathtaking scenery from a twin engine light aircraft, before ascending into the highland forests that envelop luxury safari-style tents at Scalesia Galapagos Lodge. Nearby volcanic islands of twisted lava and sparkling sandy coves await exploration, with daily excursions from the lodge to encounter the graceful marine creatures and trusting wildlife that make the archipelago so unique. The tour finishes off at the stylish Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, located on a tranquil beach within easy reach of the region’s oldest and most beautiful islets.
The program is available year-round.
Day 1 – Private transfer to a luxurious boutique hotel in the main square of Quito’s Old City. Casa Gangotena is a restored Renaissance-inspired mansion, with ornate neo-classical furnishings and spacious rooms. Relax in the terrace bar or the quaint patio garden, sample delicious food in the small restaurant and enjoy the complimentary cultural activities on offer.
Day 2 – Journey to Isabela Island on a twin engine light aircraft. Enveloped in wild forests, the Scalesia Galapagos Lodge features an ultra-contemporary glass-fronted main building housing the restaurant and lounge areas. Stay in one of the 16 safari camp-style tents, fully-equipped with a king-sized bed and modern facilities. Soak in the easy-going atmosphere and choose from an astounding range of excursions and activities on offer, including hikes, volcano visits and snorkeling trips as well as wildlife-spotting.
Day 3/4 – Choose from a wide range of excursions on offer at Scalesia Lodge, with different activities scheduled each day. Visit the white tip reef sharks and penguins of islet Tontoreras, or the thriving mangroves, natural pools and solitary beaches of Los Humedales, frequented by magenta-hued flamingos. One of the best snorkeling destinations is Los Tuneles, a marine paradise where lava flows have produced many arches and tunnels both under and above water.
Day 5 – Transfer across the Itabaca channel to Santa Cruz, the most populated island in the Galápagos. Drive up into the rugged highland forests to reach the twin volcanic craters Los Gemelos. At 600m above sea level, these volcanic sinkholes are home to many Darwin’s finches. Finch Bay overlooks the lush greenery and glittering waters of Punta Estrada.
Day 6 – Join highly-qualified naturalist guides for a day of exploring nearby islands on Finch Bay’s own motor yacht. The island you visit will depend on the day of the week. In the evening you have the option to dine al fresco, enjoying a 3-course meal set up especially for you on the beach.
Day 7 – Divine Bay is a tranquil haven for wildlife, protected from ocean swells by natural volcanic reefs on one side and a gallery of mangrove trees on the other. Hundreds of herons cross the bay each morning and return at sunset, while noddy terns and blue-footed boobies perch along the cliffs. Snorkel in the inviting waters of the cove, where sea turtles graze on seaweed, hundreds of reef fish species swim about the lava crevices, and young reef sharks and rays employ the brackish streams as havens from large predators while they mature.
Day 8 – Head home
Scalesia Galapagos Lodge is situated in the highlands of Isabela Island on the slopes of a volcano, about 20 minutes from the town of Puerto Villamil. The modern, luxurious, safari-style tent resort is in the middle of 16 a hectare (40 acre) property of a magical forest with a spectacular view of the coast of Isabela Island, the Pacific Ocean, and other Islands of Galapagos dotting the horizon. http://www.scalesialodge.com/
Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is a beachfront base from which you can discover the wildlife of the islands aboard its private yacht and create your own adventures on land and sea. https://www.finchbayhotel.com/.
Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc., a global leader of expedition cruises and adventure travel experiences, is purchasing the Via Australis to be operated in the Galapagos Islands. Lindblad expects to take possession of the ship in spring 2016 and following a signification renovation will deploy the ship during the third quarter of 2016. Lindblad, which is spending $18 million to acquire the ship, plans to spend up to $10 million to refurbish and outfit it. The Via Australis will replace the National Geographic Endeavour.
“The Via Australis will be the ideal platform for our Galapagos expeditions far into the future. Opportunities to acquire high quality expedition ships on attractive terms are infrequent so we seized this one,” said Sven Lindblad, President and CEO of Lindblad. “The Via Australis will provide us with increased profitability on the same route through more operating days, revenue enhancement opportunities, operating efficiencies and cost savings compared to the National Geographic Endeavour. Additionally, it will require significantly lower capital expenditures for the foreseeable future.”
“The most important elements of a Galapagos experience are the islands, the animals and the sea that surrounds them, so the ship that provides access to these things matters greatly,” Lindblad added. “The Via Australis is ultra-efficient to operate and was built with the same sensibility that matters so much to us, with a focus on the world outside. To that end, she has great viewing from all public spaces. Her ability to launch and deploy landing craft is fast and seamless. She is exceptionally quiet and maneuverable, a great asset when approaching marine life. And I’m particularly pleased that this ship will be well received by our crew who work very hard and are critical to expedition success.”
The Via Australis will be renamed bearing the National Geographic name. After refurbishment, some key features of the Via Australis:
50 cabins: 46 double cabins and 4 single cabins. Maximum capacity of 96 guests.
As the primary focus is the world outside, all public spaces are designed for maximum viewing with quick, easy access to decks to respond to bridge announcements of phenomenal sightings of nature and wildlife.
An open and ample top deck provides an unparalleled location for gathering, dining, relaxing and stargazing.
A spacious main lounge and a forward-viewing additional lounge with large windows and immediate access to the outer decks provide guests many comfortable options to relax, read or view the wildlife and scenery.
A fleet of Zodiacs and sea kayaks outfitted to transport guests easily into the wild, remote places being explored. The efficient Zodiac loading platform can deploy two landing crafts at the same time in order to safely and swiftly put guests ashore, in the water, or on a cruise through the surrounding landscapes
A fully equipped fitness room and a wellness spa.
State-of-the-art A/V system for the highest quality presentations, including National Geographic photography instruction.
Well-appointed and improved crew quarters.
Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc. is an expedition travel company that works in partnership with National Geographic to inspire people to explore and care about the planet. The organizations work in tandem to produce innovative marine expedition programs and to promote conservation and sustainable tourism around the world. The partnership’s educationally oriented voyages allow guests to interact with and learn from leading scientists, naturalists and researchers while discovering stunning natural environments, above and below the sea, through state-of-the-art exploration tools.
Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has launched their first, annual celebration of conservation in Galápagos –Conservation in Action |Galapagos – a series of late summer departures that will offer guests an enriched conservation experience and the “credentials” to make them a first-class Galápagos ambassador.
Lindblad is committed to protecting the pristine archipelago, and has raised with their guests more than $6 million to support conservation and education programs in the region through the Lindblad-National Geographic Fund (LEX-NG Fund). Conservation in Action |Galapagos was created with the initial goal of raising $250,000 for a new conservation initiative that will complement their long-standing stewardship efforts – while educating guests about the various programs available.
Now, guests can make a personal impact while having an extraordinary time: Lindblad will donate $1,000 per person towards Galápagos conservation for any new reservation made for travel to Galápagos from August 15 to September 26, 2015. Guests can also take advantage of free roundtrip air from Miami to Galapagos during those dates (up to $1,250 per guest value), valid on new bookings only and subject to availability.
In addition to the hallmark highlights of a Galapagos expedition – snorkeling with sea turtles, penguins, and sea lions; hikes among colonies of wildlife and birds unfazed by your presence; observing rare giant tortoises in the wild, and exploring the waters of the Galápagos by kayak, glass-bottom boat, or Zodiac, Conservation in Action |Galapagos guests will have the opportunity to:
Transform trash into treasure to support local artisans. Guests will work with our Paper to Pearls team to learn an engaging, purposeful skill that benefits the human community of Galápagos—and make beautiful beads out of paper for artisans to turn into jewelry for local sale.
Meet artist-in-residence Carlyn Iverson, an accomplished natural history artist/instructor, on board National Geographic Endeavour to learn how to truly see and represent the creatures of Galápagos. Carlyn will hold drawing classes in the field—the only place on Earth where wild animals calmly pose for their portrait—and provide expert instruction during the expedition. (on the August 21, 28; September 4, 11, 18, 25 departures.)
See Galápagos’ nature through the lens of your camera. Become a conservation ambassador for Galápagos and share the wonders with the world—your personal community of friends, family, and social groups—through your photos with our Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor. Develop your talents, or learn new skills, as well.
Rates for the 10 day/9 night voyages aboard the 96-guest National Geographic Endeavour begin at $6,290 per person and on the 48-guest National Geographic Islander at $6,760 per person based on double occupancy in a category 1 cabin.
For reservations or additional information on Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic voyages to some of the most beautiful and fascinating places on Earth, visit expeditions.com, call 1-800-EXPEDITION (1-800-397-3348) or contact your travel advisor.
Ecoventura, which operates an environmentally friendly fleet of small expedition yachts in the Galapagos Islands, plans to debut the region’s newest ship in early 2016.
Construction of the 20-passenger motor vessel is underway at the shipyard in Guayaquil, Ecuador but Ecoventura has begun taking bookings for MV Origin’s inaugural cruise Jan. 3, 2016. When launched she will be the newest and most comfortable 20-passenger yacht operating in Galapagos.
The vessel’s owner, Ecoventura, has more than two decades experience in sustainable tourism.
“We are exploring ways to make the Origin the most comfortable and environmentally efficient yacht in Galapagos,” Ecoventura founder and owner Santiago Dunn. “Our first goal is to reduce fossil fuel consumption by 45 percent (from 1800 gallons to 1000 gallons per week),” he explains. “This is no simple achievement when you consider our plans to sail at 12 knots on two engines so that guests can spend as much time as possible at each visitor site.”
MV Origin, designed for guests with a highly evolved lifestyle, will combine modern sophistication and a high level of comfort and service, with quality guided land excursions in small groups, gastronomical experiences, exciting physical activities and a dose of intellectual science for a life enriching experience. A veteran crew supervised by a master-level captain, two expert naturalist guides and a concierge will be at the beck and call of guests. Social areas offer private moments on board with a library, boutique, computer station, lounge areas, dining room, bar, Jacuzzi, sun deck, recliners and wet bar.
Guests aboard Origin will enjoy locally sourced, healthy, gourmet-style menus designed by top local chefs and creatively prepared by Ecoventura’s culinary school trained chefs. Some lunches will be served al fresco on deck. Passengers will have an open bar policy, including wine and local beer.
The vessel will feature 10 deluxe staterooms all located on the main deck with panoramic windows and private bathroom. Each stateroom is 140 square feet, with two twin beds that convert to a king, two connecting cabins, two triples, fine linens, bathrobes, and satellite TV.
Guests wishing to stay in shape will enjoy a fitness center with cardio equipment. The services of a professional masseuse can also be arranged at an additional charge on private charters only. Twice daily cabin cleanings are provided. Laundry service is also available. Guide lectures, cooking demonstrations and yoga will be part of the on-ship activities.
Ecoventura’s Director of Sales & Marketing, Doris Welsh, explained that MV Origin rates reflecting a premium class vessel will be higher than those on its three existing first class vessels, the Eric, Flamingo and Letty. A per person double rate for an eight-day all-inclusive cruise will be $6,500. Rates include cabin accommodation, all meals and snacks, all beverages including open bar, Captain’s welcome and farewell party, guided shore excursions, services of a concierge, use of wet suits, snorkelling equipment, stand-up paddle boards and sea kayaks, and transfers in the islands between the airport and dock.
There are two distinct itineraries on weekly (Sundays), year-round departures from the island of San Cristobal. The tours visit the most spectacular visitor sites of the archipelago; western/northern and central/southern.
Ecoventura is a family-owned company based in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with sales offices in Quito and Miami. In operation since 1990, the cruise company transports 4,000+ passengers annually aboard its fleet of at present three identical, 20-passenger first-class motor yachts, Eric, Flamingo and Letty, and the 16-passenger luxury dive live-aboard the MV Galapagos Sky. Departures are every Sunday from San Cristobal offering two unique seven-night itineraries.