The Evolution is perhaps one of the nicest boats in the Galapagos. It is a pretty ship with character, intimate, yet with very large state-rooms for expedition-standards with port-holes that open, spacious bathrooms with storage, and some rooms large enough for a third person. The crew of 18 is gregarious and familiar, like being on board with friends. The Captain, the hotel manager, the naturalists, and the crew get to know the passengers and their preferences and abilities and conduct their jobs in a way that is efficient and seamless but also very relaxed and natural.
The size of the ship really does allow for connecting with all of the passengers over the course of the week in a pleasant and meaningful way. Public spaces include the upper deck off of the bridge ideal for wildlife watching, a lower deck with lounge chairs and Jacuzzi, and a covered bar deck for sunsets and snoozes. The dining room can accommodate most groups both inside and outside for meals. The food is delicious typical Ecuadorean dishes including many wonderful salads, and local vegetables, fresh fish, ceviches, and creative soups at every meal.
As with most expeditions, the day starts out with a hearty breakfast followed by an excursion to discover wildlife. In the Galapagos, much of the wildlife encounters happen underwater whilst snorkeling, but a great amount of time is spent wondering volcanic islands and white sand beaches where one can observe piles of spitting iguanas, mothers giving birth to their baby fur seals, young sea lions playing in the surf, and literally dozens upon dozens of birds, notably the famed red-footed, blue-footed and nasca boobies, but also pelicans, hawks, frigates, doves, finches, tropicbirds, and penguins.
Each time the “pangas” (zodiacs) arrived back to the ship, the crew awaited us with fresh juices and a homemade baked good or savory appetizer. The team could not be more welcoming or kind. A huge advantage of being on a ship of this size is that guests get to know everyone in the group and the crew on a level not possible on larger ships. Personal preferences are remembered and a comfortable, informal ease abounds.
The Galapagos itself is a place on earth that is truly indescribable and quite literally is like no place on earth. Each of the islands has its own diverse habitat and an abundance of wildlife that lives in a beautiful paradise unspoiled by man. There is no place in the world where one can approach animals that have no fear of humans and are happy to play among the visitors or just ignore them if preferred – no scurrying off to hide here! Birds nest, sea lions play, and there is no shortage of noisy mating calls and ritual mating dances on the land, on the sea, and in the sky.
For those happier to be land-based, please also contact me regarding a spectacular 5-7 bedroom villa on the water in Santa Cruz. The villa is elegant and decorated with a true sense of place, has a water-front pool, and jacuzzi is fully staffed and offers daily day trips to discover the wildlife and diversity of the islands.
Trip highlights were:
– Watching my children run along the surf with baby sea-lions
– Snorkeling with uninterested sharks and doing summersaults with playful sea-lions
– Kayaking next to giant sea-turtles
– Lying on powder white sand beaches with fur seals
– Watching the fur seals give birth and nurse their young
– Observing the blue-footed boobies hilarious mating dance
– Listening to the Amazing Fregate birds puff up their bright red pouches and compete in a cluck-off in attempts to attract the female mates flying overhead checking out their options
– Having our “pangas” escorted by dozens and dozens of leaping dolphins
– Watching the Pelicans dive for their catch and then happily gulping it down
– Watching an entire colony of penguins leap to the water and swim in synch
– Cocktail hour on the top deck after each day’s adventures and the daily recap given by the naturalists
– Watching a million stars in the sky from the outdoor lounge chairs at night
– The giant Albatross, with a 6-foot wingspan, performing up to eight dance steps for their would-be mates
– Babies, babies, babies – everywhere babies being cared for by their mothers. Especially cute were all of the down-covered birds who resembled unruly piles of fuzz before their feathers came in
– Breathtaking volcanic landscapes that make up the archipelago of the Galapagos popping out of impossibly blue Pacific waters
– Filling my lungs with the freshest air
– Observing 500-pound dinosaur-like tortoises in the highlands of the Galapagos (they live up to 150 years!)
– Finally meeting 90-year old “Lonesome George”, the very last Tortoise to survive from the nearly extinct generations of Pinta Island tortoises
– Watching the Christmas Iguanas turn a vibrant mix of red and green
– Spitting back at the “spitting” marine iguanas
– Narrowly avoiding stepping on the thousands of land iguanas camouflaged along our rocky paths
– Amazing Ecuadorean cuisine including shrimp, squid and fish ceviches, corn and cheese tortillas, tamales, pozole, fried carnitas, coconut covered Wahoo fish, Cazuela of tuna with peanuts and plantains, fried plantains, and wonderful local fruits and vegetables
– Observing first-hand evolution, endemic species, the cycle of life, geology as effected by tectonic plates and currents, and most of all seeing the world as perhaps it was meant to be = priceless!