Gratitude in the Galápagos

Contemplating class and distinction in Las Islas Galápagos.

With its famously fearless wildlife, breathtaking scenery, and emphasis on environmental conservation, the Galápagos Islands represent nature in its absolute purest form. This is a place where lizards paddle in the shallow waters and penguins waddle across the hot sand. Curious sealions say hello to scuba divers, while strikingly colored birds call from the tree lines. The Galápagos Islands are unlike anywhere else on earth. It’s a place that can humble the most seasoned traveler, inspire the ones who have “seen it all,” and encourage all who love to travel to never stop exploring this beautiful planet.

Few things can get me out of bed before 5:00 am, but I’ll make an exception for a sunrise expedition in the Galápagos Islands. The archipelago of tiny islands, located 563 miles west of continental Ecuador and draped so elegantly across the equator, is eye-opening in every sense of the word.

Though technically an expedition vessel, my 100-passenger ship offered every luxury imaginable. In addition to an elegant suite with "don't leave me" bed linens, the food was positively gourmet and my butler (my butler!) seemed to have a sixth sense that anticipated my every need.

At the end of each day, when I returned to my suite, a silver tray of hors d’oeuvres and icy beverages awaited. While immersed in a briefing over mouth-watering Ecuadorian cuisine, my gear was quietly laundered and returned to my closet as if by magic. There were plenty of reasons to stay put. But arise from bed each morning I did – Charles Darwin didn't sweat over the verbiage in On the Origin of Species for me to lay about – and found myself richer for the effort.

The Galápagos Islands, including the Marine Reserve, are a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. Galapagos National Park has been designated a Biosphere Reserve. As a result, visits are limited and there are rules in place. Adherence to the six-foot gap between viewers and wildlife can be challenging at times.

One day, as I marveled at centenarian tortoises lumbering across the volcanic landscape, an albatross strolled casually across my feet and my heart skipped a beat, partly because of the rule, but mostly because it boggled my mind.

On one rocky island, a flock of male frigates puffed out their red chests as a single, unimpressed female looked on. On another jagged shoreline, a shimmering "rock" suddenly opened its eyes and revealed itself to be an enormous marine lizard. Elsewhere, blue-footed, red-footed, and Nazca boobies preened and called to me from the trees.

While snorkeling with my group in the clear Pacific Ocean water, I spotted rainbow wrasse, triggerfish, and surgeon fish with bright yellow tails. Perhaps the most enchantment came from the sea lions who decided to join our swim party. As we pulled ourselves out onto the sand, they did the same, lying beside us like a gang of teenagers soaking up the sun's rays.

Back on my ship, soundly stunned by the rugged majesty and resilience of nature – not to mention the discreet luxuries of my air-cooled suite – I fell into bed each night feeling intensely grateful.

The New Silver Origin

One of the most elegant ships to sail the Galápagos, Silver Origin protects the archipelago's delicate ecosystem while it turns a natural wonderland into the ultimate luxury experience. Every suite comes with butler service and a glass-horizon balcony or private ocean-view shower.

Zodiac boats depart from the ship's marina for thrilling excursions with certified guides. Back on board, guests dine on gourmet cuisine, revel in wide-open views, and acquire new insights in the interactive Basecamp lounge.

Curious about nature and adaptation? Reach out to your travel advisor for expedition options.

All Photos Courtesy of Silversea

Related Content

Interested in reading more? You might also like…

December 2022

Irresistible Italy

Searching for Northern Italy’s best chocolate, wine, cheese, and bread.

Read more

November 2022

Gratitude in the Galápagos

Contemplating class and distinction in Las Islas Galápagos.

Read more

October 2022

The Awesome Forces of Tabacón

Join Darcy Rhyno on the last leg of their 10-week Costa Rican adventure, and slip into the soothing waters at Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal...

Read more

September 2022

A Magical Land

How a trip to Turkey led one writer to her geographic soulmate and a life-changing decision.

Read more