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I finally got my boating fix in, since it’s been a long 18 months since I’ve been on the ocean. This boat had no sails, but I could’t be too picky about expedition ships in the Galápagos archipelago.
The vessel was the M/V Evolution, a 192-foot Japanese fishing ship built in the early 20th century, converted into an expedition ship and operated by Quasar Expeditions. I needed a classic-looking ship and this was it. I don’t think I would have been happy on a “plasticky” all-white fiberglass ship with a hundred other guests. There are many Galápagos Islands cruise tours, and this has to be the best.
The small size of the ship kept it nice and intimate, with a guest roster of 31 people and crew compliment of 18 plus the cruise director and two licensed Galápagos naturalist guides. The cruise was eight days, and almost every night the ship would motor to a new anchorage. We’d wake up in a new location every morning – at least I’d wake up, it seems a lot of the others had trouble sleeping – have breakfast and get ready for the day’s activities.
I know I was on a boat in nature and all that stuff, but my favorite part may have been the food. The chef and kitchen staff were phenomenal. I had planned on losing weight on this trip but…we ended up putting that off until afterwards. The daily activities kept us really busy, so the energy was really important. The days more or less consisted of a morning guided hike through the islands, a return to the ship to go snorkeling, lunch, and another visit to shore at a new spot.
Yeah, I could do this for more than eight days.
The naturalists – Alex & Lenny – were wonderful. Each night before dinner we’d gather in the lounge for a lesson on geology, conservation, human history, and so on.
You can’t really see the islands without a licensed Galápagos Islands tour guide accompanying you, and after some of the history lessons you see why. The human impact on the islands has been really detrimental to the indigenous life and conservationists have been working extremely hard over the past few decades to restore the balance, or at least bring it closer to normal. Invasive species such as rats, goats, pigs, and dogs, introduced by pirates and whalers, have decimated some of the native species. You can see firsthand the “butterfly effect” caused by the introduction of just one small fly.
Read Henry Nicholls’ critically-acclaimed book, The Galápagos: A Natural History, before going to these islands for a better understanding of what you’ll see.
Our guides introduced us to many of the phenomenal natural wonders of the islands. A seal pup, just a few hours old, trying to mount its blood-stained mother to nurse, the placenta still fresh and covered in flies. Other older sea lion pups playing with marine iguanas, grabbing them by the tail as they attempted to swim across the tide pools. Penguins, iguanas, seals, pelicans, and boobies on rocks all within a few feet of each other, none bothered by the presence of the other. Lava flows so intricate and ornate that you’d think a human sculptor could only make patterns like that. And the list goes on and on.
You could fly to the Galápagos and stay at a hotel the whole time, but that’s a waste of a trip. The only way to tour the Galápagos Islands is to get on a boat and visit islands that you can’t otherwise tour.
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