Prior to the last eight years or so, a luxury experience of the Galapagos Islands meant signing up for a boat cruise – bad news for travellers who haven’t any sea legs. Pikaia Lodge on Santa Cruz Island – perched 450 meters above sea level and surrounded by lush tropical mist forest – is one of the first luxury accommodations of its type in the Galapagos. The lodge adopts the cruise itinerary model of daily, guided group tours under fixed four-, five- or eight-day programs, but has the added advantages of land-based activities and sleeping on solid ground.
Located within a giant tortoise reserve, Pikaia Lodge took eight years of planning and three full years to build, welcoming its first guests in October 2014. It’s somewhat secluded – on touching down at Baltra airport you’re in for a van ride, a boat ride and then another, longer van ride into the lush highlands before reaching the lodge’s handsome foyer. But with panoramic views of the surrounding hills and the crystal blue coastline beyond, it’s well worth the wait.
The sustainably-designed building houses 12 rooms and 2 suites, each offering an exceptional level of comfort and privacy. Those craving a little extra rest and relaxation can visit Sumaq Spa, equipped with massage room, gym, sauna and a glass-entombed Jacuzzi with spectacular views of the island.
Sea-based portions of the Pikaia tour packages are undertaken aboard one of the lodge’s two private luxury yachts Pikaia 1 or Pikaia 2, for a safe and relaxing day tour experience of the Galapagos’ many wildlife islands and beaches.