Ecuador’s storied Galapagos Islands are the place to greet the animals – from sea lions to blue-footed boobies — up close, sometimes eye to eye. The islands are renowned for their stunning variety of wildlife that holds a strong appeal for animal lovers of all stripes.
Now there is a new place to call home while you discover the mythic islands – Montemar, the first, wholly eco-efficient operation in Galapagos. In other words, simply by staying here you are helping the islands by having the least impact their natural resources. The property generates 99% of their energy through solar panels and solar water heater and 100% of the water used is rainwater, which is treated with frontier non-invasive technology.
For generations, multitudes of tourists flocked here in massive cruise ships that damaged the environment and threatened to destroy these fragile islands.
But take a look around! You can see slow changes coming. The Galapagos Safari Camp was the first camp in the islands to make heavy use of rainwater catchment systems. And they expect to be fully solar powered in the next year or so.
In 2008, Big Five began to turn away from the crowds and toward small ships and the first small camp models like Galapagos Safari Camp that promised not only stellar wildlife encounters but also a far more intimate, personal and sustainable experience than you could find on a giant cruise ship.
Today, the longing for that kind of experience has exploded. The Montemar is another addition that offers an exclusive and luxurious little lodge with a mere three villas. Yes, three villas, with a total of eight rooms, nestled on 18 hectares/2.5 acres of land on the island of Santa Cruz. Nature provided most of the local materials used for the construction of this small, eco refuge that include bamboo, Spanish cedar and lava rocks to help create this unique island environment.
Roberto Plaza is an Ecuadorian from Guayaquil. He earned his degree in biology with an emphasis on ecology and sustainable development at the Latin University of Costa Rica. Roberto has been a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands since. Reyna Oleas earned her degree in Ecology from Universidad San Francisco de Quito and M.B.A. from INCAE, Costa Rica. Her commitment to nature has led her to contribute to conservation education serving as director of Scalesia Foundation, making policy and as advisor to ministries and decision makers and now in the business sector with Montemar.
This couple did not set out to create an eco lodge. “It really just happened as a natural outgrowth of our beliefs,” said Reyna.
They are experts in Galapagos and have both been naturalist guides in the islands. In Roberto’s case, that covers some 25 years! Reyna has also a degree in ecology and conservation.
They carried sustainability throughout the project by growing much of the organic food used here including free-range, organic chickens and ingredients from the organic, biodynamic garden. The tasting menu takes the most iconic dishes from Ecuador. Kids and families enjoy our flexibility to put together pizza with the most sophisticated versions of any plate.
Montemar is on the natural migration path of Galapagos Giant Tortoises, so you be sharing the island with them. The property runs a geo-tracking program of tortoises along with the research center and plays an important role in the conservation of their environment.
Activities offered include the famous wildlife, of course, but also entice you to take advantage of opportunities to hike, kayak, and snorkel or dive. You can also relax with optional meditation or Yoga classes at their Yoga Studio, and enjoy gourmet coffee and chocolate tastings from the coffee farm. Your hosts Roberto and Reyna can guide you on a “tour around their country” though foods and recipes prepared in an open kitchen.
As the inevitable changes continue come to the islands, we hope for more responsible small-scale sustainable projects such Montemar and Galapagos Safari Camp arise.