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Ecuador
Galápagos Gone Green
The Galápagos Archipelago received national park protection in 1937, but some of the 76 vessels here still operate with World War II–era eco-practices. It’s a conundrum that UNESCO cited in 2007, labeling Darwin’s playground "in danger." Enter: Geographic Expeditions’ eco-cruiser, La Pinta, the first new yacht to score a Galápagos permit in eight years. The 48-passenger boat has not only an observatory and a luxurious crew-to-passenger ratio of one-to-two, but also onboard desalination and waste-treatment plants, low-carbon-dioxide-emitting engines, and an aggressive recycling program. "La Pinta was built based on feedback from past Galápagos travelers," explains Geographic Expeditions’ Latin America director, Clark Kotula, who went on the ship’s maiden voyage this year. The result, environmental sustainability aside, is a lot more space than you’ll find on most yachts: Decks are large, and the 236-square-foot cabins have giant picture windows, not mini portholes. La Pinta’s route mirrors that of other vessels, sailing to Santa Cruz Island for giant tortoises, Fernardina for what Kotula calls a marine-iguana extravaganza, and to Isabela, home to the largest population of Galápagos penguins.

Outfitter: Geographic Expeditions; geoex.com
Price: $7,000
Length: 11 days
Departs: Year-round

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