The Galápagos islands are world-renowned for unbelievable wildlife; where the animals look photoshopped and treat you simply like you are the local paparazzi. The islands are known for some of the best diving in the world, one-of-a-kind birdwatching, wildlife hikes, cruises and as a place to understand and see evolution up close.
You may be surprised to know that there are only four islands in the Galápagos archipelago that are inhabited and even fewer with luxury accommodation. Isabela island is the largest of the islands but home to just 2200 people and countless species of extraordinary animals. It is one of the best places in the world to spot rare flora and fauna and could easily be something you’d dream up. It’s just taken the spot as my favourite spot in South America and it’s the one island I would say should be on every person’s bucket list.
On the slopes of an active volcano on Isabela island sits the barefoot-luxe wildlife retreat, Scalesia Galápagos Lodge, a haven in the middle of the jungle. It’s a completely unique place combining the best in wild surroundings with all the comforts associated with a luxury hotel. Consisting of 16 incredibly high-ceilinged safari tented lodges, imported from South Africa, three relaxation areas and beautiful gardens it’s a tranquil oasis to view wildlife and soak in the magic of the Galápagos.
But don’t be misled by the Safari tents. They’re worlds apart from most lodges. This is certainly no camping or glamping experience, Scalesia Galápagos Lodge offers some of the best accommodation across the Galápagos. The tents, if you can even call them that, have unrivalled views of lush, green jungle and beach as far as your eye can take you. You walk through the most beautiful flowers and gardens of endemic species to your lodge, and it feels a little like your own secret forest.
Pretty butterflies and birds like the Galápagos Yellow Warble fly onto your patio at least a few times each day, completing the picturesque setting of complete and utter serenity.
Each safari lodge has a large, airy bedroom with a king-sized bed, desk area and wardrobe space as well as a long bathroom with what is known as the best shower on the island! The bathroom is a powerhouse of natural light, pouring in from the huge windows. The powerful rain shower is the perfect space to start your day amidst the tropical smells from their fragrant environment-friendly biodegradable toiletries. It’s how I imagine all of the actresses in the Herbal Essences adverts feel! The gowns are made of cotton and super soft. The lodges are equipped with power points, strong hardwood flooring, soft bed-side rugs and rustic-luxe details.
A unique selling point that I loved about Scalesia Lodge, over the other luxury hotels, was that they provide each g their own experienced naturalists, who can take you on private excursions to all parts of the island to share their knowledge. Many of the excursions are included in your room rate. We took up the complimentary trip to explore Sierra Negra, one of Isabela islands three active volcanoes with a private guide and a private driver. Without a doubt, Sandra was one of the most knowledgeable naturalists we met in all of the Galápagos islands. Your naturalist truly makes all of the difference as they’ll be your source of knowledge, acting as your own personal David Attenborough as you explore and hands down Scalesia works with some of the best in the business!
When you’ve explored to your hearts content, your driver will bring you back to the lodge to enjoy lunch. You’ll be welcomed by Marco, the general manager, with refreshing cool towels, a snack and playing great music off of his legendary Spotify playlist. His smile is infectious and he truly will do all he can to make your stay wonderful! Usually, Marco would lead us to the dining room and talk us through the menu options, his recommendations and patiently be there to answer our questions!
The dining room is a beautiful Scandinavian-inspired area, with floor to ceiling glass windows, wooden dining tables, and chairs with embossed furnishings.
The white walls and hanging chandeliers make the room look even larger and the stone floors of volcanic rock remind you that you are still, in fact, in the middle of a natural paradise.
We loved the Scalesia Kitchen concept where the kitchen brings together Ecuadorian, Asian and Western influences. The head chef has been trained in Japanese cuisine, and the menu shows this. His lunch dishes such as Teriyaki chicken sit on the menu alongside local dishes like Coriander Ceviche and options made of quinoa, corn and western options of classic creamy soups and pasta dishes. There were a number of great dishes but for me, the western dishes are where the chef shines as not all of the Ecuadorian dishes were to my taste. His Italian carbonara made us giggle in delight and his hearty tomato soup made me nostalgic for home.
After lunch, you could choose to unwind in the relaxation areas, curl up with a book and soak in the views, or perhaps head out to snorkel on the beach. In this time, Scalesia will turn the heating on for you and provide hot water bottles in their turndown service so you’re good and warm tonight!
For us, the dinner at Scalesia Lodge is where there is still a tiny bit of room for improvement. For starters, I’d recommend the hearty soups or tasty ceviche but the mains didn’t quite deliver. Desserts were beautiful with details like spun sugar and pretty plating, however they left a little to be desired for those of us who have been spoilt with great puddings, as they were unfortunately more beautiful than they were tasty.
Scalesia lodge tells a tale of somewhere with buckets of potential. With sixteen enormous safari lodges imported from Africa, acres of beautiful jungle surroundings, stunning views and warm service, it’s on the cusp of becoming a tropical haven luxury hotel on the Galápagos.
Best of all any time now Scalesia Galápagos Lodge will also be home to ten Giant Tortoises who will call this their temporary home. Scalesia Lodge will play the middle ground between the Galápagos breeding centre and The Wild, whilst Giant Tortoises are rehabilitated and released. They are in the process of building a spa too, which I believe will revolutionise this place, allowing you to have a true relaxation spot after excursions!
Scalesia Lodge is a barefoot rustic-luxe hideaway in the marvel that is Isabela island. It’s meant to be the best hotel on this island and is a great base to explore a truly magical island. Between spotting frigate birds, blue footed boobies, iguanas, penguins and more, you can soak in immense views from this safari-style luxury at Scalesia Lodge. There are still not too many tourists on Isabela meaning you can beat the crowds and see tonnes of wildlife, without forgoing comfort and luxury. If you’re looking for a truly unique luxury stay to balance wildlife spotting and relaxation in the Galápagos islands, well then, this could be the one for you!
Our three-night stay and dinners at Scalesia Lodge were complimentary for the purpose of review, but as always, my opinions are my own.
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