In late April 2019 we explored the Galapagos Islands aboard Silversea’s Silver Galapagos Expedition ship. For this overview post, we highlight five key story lines from our visit: geology, marine life, terrestrial life, people and cruise life.
Geology of the Galapagos
The cruise goes from island to island and it’s apparent that each island is world unto itself. The islands range from 500,000 to 5 million years old which create very different terrains. This is due to wind and water erosion as well as soil creation and subsequent vegetation. Further differences occur between windward and leeward sides, westward vs easterly lying islands, the degree of tectonic plate movement and uplift, the tides, specific lava flows and elevation. While all islands are volcanic, each spot we explored offered very different micro climates. These differences are the key to the variety of wild life as well as Darwin’s findings.
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Marine life of the Galapagos
Almost every day consisted of a snorkeling adventure. The abundance of marine life in the Galapagos was fascinating. The sea lions were plentiful and playful, the penguins were tiny, friendly and agile, the sea turtles exude calm, and the coral were bright. We saw huge schools of fish which blackened the seas and we also saw some pretty large sharks. Best of all, the marine life seemed as interested in us as we were of them.
Terrestrial life of the Galapagos
On land, we saw everything from birds to lizards to plants. The finches and mockingbirds are inexorably linked to Darwin’s evolutionary findings. The Galapagos tortoises are world famous and come in two main varieties. Land Iguanas are bizarre creatures but only exist on a few islands while we saw lava lizards all over the place. Meanwhile plants ranged from cactus and other succulents to mangrove and deciduous trees.
People on the ship
We spent a lot of time with the 8 expedition leaders on the ship. Each were fantastic in their knowledge and helpfulness. They were in general very safety conscious and kind to those with injuries. The rest of the crew – from the butlers to dining room wait staff to bartenders to the front desk were kind, helpful and service oriented. Fellow passengers were equally fascinating as like minded travelers seeking a little adventure. And we were able to spend some time in Quito Ecuador where we found people warm and unpretentious.
Cruise life on the Silver Galapagos
Unlike most cruises, Expedition cruising is all about the adventure. We never docked; all transit between land and the ship was via zodiac. Typically days had activities in the morning (starting at 7 AM) as well as later in the afternoon. This avoids the hot mid day sun but also allows a re-positioning between morning and afternoon excursions. The days are very active typically consisting of a hike or two, a snorkel and a zodiac adventure. Getting to sleep was never a problem!
We lunched outside at the grill and had dinner at 7:30 each evening in the restaurant. Local Ecuadorian cuisine was the best and the wine selection was excellent. The on board musician was talented, fun and ubiquitous. And for those that wanted more, each day typically had a couple of lectures and always had a preview for the next days activities. This was not a laid back vacation at all.
These five story lines: geology, marine line, terrestrial life, the people we met and the cruise life really sum up our experience. The adaptations of the wildlife is clear and compelling. The vacation itself is not only active but engaging. Interacting with wildlife that have no fear of humans is an incredible experience. And combining that interaction with the luxury associated with a Silversea cruise and the knowledge of the guides made for a truly unique and wonderful vacation.
Next post, we’ll start our daily descriptions.