September 2014 is a very important month for us at Think Galapagos as it sees us celebrate a whole decade in business. We can’t believe how time has flown since we founded the business and are incredibly proud by all we’ve achieved – and humbled by the wonderful feedback we’ve had from our guests over that time.
For those of you who don’t know our background, I first met Santiago when we were both working in the Galapagos; Santiago as a naturalist and me doing some mystery shopping for a luxury yacht company (great work if you can get it!). After we met, we settled in Quito for almost a decade, starting to organise trips to Ecuador and Galapagos for wildlife photographers, getting married and starting our family. I was also working as the Ecuador correspondent for The Economist and Bloomberg News during this time, which was a fascinating period in the country’s history.
Just over 10 years ago we made the decision to move back to the UK to be closer to friends and family here. The decision was made easier knowing that we would maintain strong links with Ecuador and the Galapagos given Santiago’s roots as a naturalist and the amazing friends and contacts we had built up in the tourism industry there. And so when we moved back to the UK, Think Galapagos was born.
Our aims back then were very simple; to organise a handful of escorted group trips that Santiago, widely recognised as one of the top Galapagos naturalists, would personally lead in May and November each year. However we soon realised that alongside the group trips there was growing demand for tailor-made trips from people who had heard of us through recommendation or who had found our website. Tailor-made trips now account for 70% of our business and the type of people who come on a tailor-made trip vary immensely; from families and groups of friends to lone travellers and from honeymooners to those enjoying the freedom of retirement.
The joy of a tailor-made trip is the flexibility it gives you; you can plan a holiday based exactly around what you want to see and experience, travel at your own pace and at the budget that’s right for you.
We’ve found over the years that our in-depth knowledge of Ecuador and the Galapagos has given us an edge over our competitors. Santiago and I personally plan the itineraries of each of our guests, using Galapagos yachts and lodges we have handpicked for their individual qualities and with our team of excellent guides on the ground, most of which are good personal friends we have known and worked with for many years.
Our proudest moment over the last 10 years came last year when, on the back of over 75 five-star customer reviews, we were ranked Number Two Tour Operator in the world on independent review site The Review Centre. We like to think our personal service, both pre, during and post-trip had a lot to do with this.
Every year we spread our wings a little further, organising trips to other parts of South and Central America for guests that want to travel to new destinations with us. We also continue to fine tune the Galapagos and Ecuador tours, always looking for new experiences, hotels and yachts that we can offer our guests.
We’ve made so many good friends over the years and continue to make more on every trip. We’ll be raising a glass of champagne this month to all the lovely guests who made it possible to celebrate 10 years in business!
Rachel Dex, co-founder Think Galapagos