Beginning with the best: the Galapágos Islands. Charles Darwin’s ‘living laboratory’, an archipelago of 13 major islands and countless islets whose animal inhabitants spawned the naturalist’s theories on evolution and natural selection in On the Origin of Species. Perched in an isolated position 600 miles from the mainland’s coast in the pounding Pacific Ocean, the islands are a wildlife-lover’s paradise, renowned for the vast and varied species of exotic wildlife. Thanks to its remote location and careful conservation methods it is possible to get up close and personal with many of the species that call the islands home; observe the elaborate courtship rituals of the blue-footed booby, rutted marine iguanas basking lazily in the sun or colossal giant tortoises lumbering around in search of supper. Many Galapágos Islands holidays include a cruise. This allows greater ease of travelling between the islands, meaning a greater breadth of experiences, though land-based Galapágos tours are also increasingly popular. We can recommend the best way to travel for your own individual requirements, from the sleekest expedition vessels to the most comfortable lodges. For anyone seeking a greater understanding of the flora and fauna, a visit to Charles Darwin Station is an unmissable experience. Located on Santa Cruz Island, the second largest island in the archipelago, the research station has spent decades working on various conservation projects. It was here that likely inspired Darwin’s theories of evolution, and today you can see the giant tortoises that live for an average of 150 years.