June 01, 2022

The Galápagos

Elevated Lifestyle,

SOAR Magazine

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Epic Private Journeys (EPJ), part of the Jet Linx Elevated Lifestyle program, offers you a once-in-a-lifetime expedition to the Galápagos Islands aboard the Aqua Mare, the first true superyacht in the Archipelago.

Lying 600 miles west of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands remain famous for their natural treasures and for their priceless value to scientists. This archipelago consisting of 19 islands presents a world unto itself, forged by lava, isolated for thousands of years, and home to famous wildlife that served as a source of inspiration for one of the most groundbreaking theories in the history of scientific thought.

Visited initially by the Spanish in 1535 and officially claimed by Ecuador in 1832, the Archipelago became internationally famous after British naturalist Charles Darwin visited in 1835 and used his observations as evidence for his theory of evolution by natural selection. Ecuador made the Galápagos a wildlife sanctuary in 1935 and a national park in 1959; in 1978 they were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

More than 9,000 different species of flora and fauna populate the Galápagos Islands. Giant tortoises with life spans of 150 years, penguins found north of the equator, iguanas that learned how to swim and a bird that lost its ability to fly…it is no wonder these enchanting islands are famously referred to as a living laboratory of evolution.

QUEEN OF THE ARCHIPELAGO

The 50-meter Aqua Mare takes your once-in-a-lifetime Galápagos adventure to the next level. With her expansive size and world-class pedigree, she boasts 30 percent more indoor volume than most yachts her size, making her the perfect respite after active days exploring the islands.

Aboard the Aqua Mare, guests will find seven large Zuretti-designed suites, including an 860-square-foot Owner’s Suite complete with exclusive steward service, extravagant indoor and outdoor social spaces and immaculate attention to detail, making it the first of its kind in the region, and the ultimate retreat while exploring the dramatic volcanic landscapes of the Galápagos. Exclusivity is combined with the most personalized service enabled by two naturalist guides for 16 guests, on top of the islands’ most exclusive one-to-one crew-to-guest ratio.

The beam-to-beam Owner’s Suite, located on the main deck, puts many luxury hotel suites to shame. Boasting a California king size bed, multiple closets, eight large windows, a separate study, bathroom with double shower, a hidden hydraulic television and veneer craftsmanship of the highest standards. Other cabins range in size, but each feature unique amenities like private saunas and Jacuzzis, bamboo armchairs, walk-in showers, leather desks, minibars, plenty of natural light and Italian marble

YOUR GALÁPAGOS ITINERARY

Day 1 // Galápagos National Park

Receive a warm welcome from your expert EPJ guides, who escort you to the Aqua Mare for a well-deserved Nikkei-inspired lunch from Chef Schiffiano. Next, guests are fitted with a snorkeling kit complete with mask, fins, snorkel, and an optional shorty wetsuit for personal use during the week. As guests acquaint themselves with the vessel, the Aqua Mare will transport them to the island of Santa Cruz, home to Galápagos National Park.

Set at the confluence of three ocean currents, there is an incredibly rich and abundant marine life offshore. For those who prefer to snorkel, the beach is one of the main nesting sites of sea turtles, so travelers will no doubt come across one or two. Guests then head back to the yacht for the evening to indulge in the first sumptuous dinner in the Archipelago, making it the perfect start to a Galápagos Islands adventure.

Day 2 // Genovesa Island

Aptly dubbed “Bird Island” due to its spectacular birdwatching opportunities, Genovesa Island lies about 60 miles northeast of Santa Cruz in the Galápagos Archipelago. This horse-shoe shaped island has a volcanic caldera whose wall has collapsed, forming the Great Darwin Bay. This exquisite bay is surrounded by cliffs and serves as home to frigatebirds and swallow-tailed gulls, the only nocturnal species of gull in the world.

Visitors will also find a magnificent crater lake in the center of the island as well as a large Palo Santo forest. Genovesa Island’s remote location means it is typically only visited as part of longer itineraries but its remarkable birdlife, as well as its diversity of exotic marine life, make it well worth the extra effort.

Day 3 // Santiago Island and Sombrero Chino Island

Day three begins with a morning workout or yoga followed by a refreshing breakfast before an excursion to Santiago Island with a dry landing at Bahía Sullivan to discover recent Pahoehoe lava flows. The elongated shield volcano of Santiago Island, also known as San Salvador Island or James Island, is dotted with Holocene pyroclastic cone. The island’s best site is undoubtedly Puerto Egas where you will find a long, lava shoreline where eroded rock formations are home to an impressive variety of wildlife, including an abundance of marine iguanas and fur seals.

Geology aficionados should head to Sullivan Bay to witness its black lava flow covered with lava bubbles and tree-trunk molds. Don’t miss Espumilla Beach which is fringed by a spectacular Palo Santo forest that shelters nesting Galápagos green turtles.

Day 4 // Bartolomé Island and Santa Cruz Island

An early morning anchor at Bartolomé Island will be needed for a moderate hike up to the summit of a spatter cone for a spectacular view of the island’s iconic Pinnacle Rock. Charles Darwin was famously inspired to write his seminal work, ‘The Origin of Species,’ after witnessing the veritable treasure trove of natural wonders exhibited on this extraordinary island. Darwin even named one of its most unusual islets after his close friend and fellow naturist, Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan.

After summiting, guests can then beat the heat with a snorkel to encounter sea turtles, white-tipped reef sharks and Galápagos penguins, before heading back to the yacht for lunch while the Aqua Mare heads towards Santa Cruz Island. Santa Cruz Island is home to Puerto Ayora, the largest and most developed town in the Galápagos.

Day 5 // Santa Cruz Island and El Chato Giant Tortoise Reserve

As a perfect base for adventure activities, the Aqua Mare will stay in place at Santa Cruz Island, allowing guests to dig deeper into activities on this developed island. Bright and early, guests explore the El Chato Giant Tortoise Reserve to see these rare creatures up close in their natural habitat. The area is also a great place to observe Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, flightcatchers, cattle egrets, and if lucky, Galápagos Rails.

After lunch, guests will digest a brief lecture on the evolution of Darwin’s finches. This is followed by a tender ride to Darwin Station and National Park headquarters to observe tortoises in captivity at the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, as well as the different age hatchlings categorized by islands. If preferred, a full-day diving option is available at this point.

Day 6 // Española Island and Punta Suárez

Day six of your Galápagos journey begins with guided meditation on the upper deck and after a nourishing breakfast from Chef Schiffiano, the Aqua Mare heads to Punta Suárez on Española Island for morning and afternoon excursions. This island offers a high percentage of endemic flora and fauna such as Española mockingbirds, lava lizards, Galápagos tortoises, marine iguanas, and the unique waved albatross.

Española Island, the southernmost in the Archipelago and most secluded, also claims the title as the oldest in the Galápagos. Guests experience sublime, dramatic black cliffs, crashing waves and elaborate courtship rituals of the albatross – a true highlight reel of a stop. By afternoon, guests take a tender to snorkel along the beautiful array of islets.

Day 7 // Santa Fe Island and South Plaza Island

After an overnight journey, guests will find themselves at Santa Fe Island, also known as Barrington. This small island features underwater rock formations dating back nearly four million years but remains well known for towering prickly pear cacti that reach heights of 20 feet. The magnificent Barrington Bay is the only visitor site on the island.

After lunch onboard, the Aqua Mare journeys to South Plaza Island, located off the eastern shore of Santa Cruz Island. Uninhabited by humans, the island is home to a plethora of plant and animal life. Carpetweed paints bright scarlet and violet over landscape in the dry season, turning bright green in winter, along with several fascinating color-changing cacti. This is the only place on Earth where Galápagos hybrid iguanas can be seen, as well as sea lions, Sally Lightfoot Crabs and a variety of seabirds.

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