The Galápagos by land and sea – plus a top Myanmar tip

From stellar new expedition ships to a modernist eco lodge

The design of one of the suites aboard the Myanmar-bound Sanctuary Ananda
The design of one of the suites aboard the Myanmar-bound Sanctuary Ananda

The Galapagos Islands are in the travel spotlight thanks to the just-launched, 100-guest Silver Galapagos (second picture; www.silversea.com) – a Silversea ship with balconied suites, marble bathrooms and private butlers (seven days from £3,550 per person). Then in 2014 comes Pikaia(third picture; www.pikaialodgegalapagos.com; from $1,070), an out-of-the-box modernist lodge on a plateau above two dormant volcanic craters on the island of Santa Cruz. There’s nothing particularly subtle about this concrete and glass 14-room hotel flanked by a national park, but then the Galápagos have always had a strange, off-the-map identity, with their peculiar blue-footed birdlife and giant tortoises.

The new Silver Galapagos expedition ship will take in the islands’ wildlife
The new Silver Galapagos expedition ship will take in the islands’ wildlife
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Whether or not these two new expressions of luxury lifestyle fit with a wilderness destination such as this is a matter of opinion. What isn’t open to debate, however, is the man to call for intelligent, low-impact access – including cross-island bike trips, meetings with scientists and superior guiding services. US-born Tyler Dillon, now working out of Toronto for travel outfitter Butterfield & Robinson (www.butterfield.com), has visited the islands more than 20 times; he knows all the land-based lodges that are giving a different focus to the traditional cruising itineraries, as well as the best surf breaks on Santa Cruz.   

A rendering of Pikaia Lodge, opening next year on the Galápagos Island of Santa Cruz
A rendering of Pikaia Lodge, opening next year on the Galápagos Island of Santa Cruz
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Dillon’s other great specialism is Myanmar, where he has spent his winters for the past six years. New expedition boats on the Chindwin and Irrawaddy Rivers include the 20-suite Sanctuary Ananda (first picture; www.sanctuaryretreats.com; from $1,669 per person for three nights), launching in December 2014. Myanmar pundits will say you need to book now for Christmas next year, such is the flurry of interest in a country still short of good hotels.

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