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It was hard to put a name to the feeling as this was not something I had felt before — the humidity on my skin, in my bones, not like a ton-of-bricks-Minneapolis-summer humidity. No, this was different; it was cut with a refreshing, unfaltering sea breeze.

I was at the end of the world where volcanic matter rises up from the darkest depths of the ocean, where the sky and water seem to go on forever. I was disconnected from the outside world in a way I had never been before. And as soon as I accepted this, as soon as my agitation passed, I was free.

I was aboard the grandest yacht on the water, Ecoventura’s brand-new MV Origin, cruising the Galápagos Islands. Designed with luxury in mind, the sleek 145-foot vessel accommodates a mere 20 passengers in 10 exquisitely appointed staterooms. It was in this intimate setting that I was introduced to the wonders of the archipelago. Among the 13 devoted Ecuadorian crew members were two naturalists, men who had learned to swim shortly after learning to walk. They have experienced volcanoes erupting, whales breaching and tourism evolving in their beloved home.

After the first couple panga (dinghy) rides, hikes and dives, I was transformed, no longer concerned about Instagramming my experience. I realized I wanted to soak up as much information from the naturalists as possible. Their knowledge of the archipelago was astonishing, and they took pride in sharing their love for the land and water. I wanted to know the natural world like never before.

The convergence of three major oceanic currents brings a remarkable mix of marine life to the Galápagos, with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world tucked away here. We snorkeled with manta rays, black-tip reef sharks, penguins and charming baby sea lions. We marveled at the flightless cormorant, the waved albatross, the Galápagos petrel and the swallow-tailed gull. We saw frigatebirds soaring, blue-footed boobies dancing, pink flamingos feasting and marine iguanas sunning. And we reveled at the fact that 20% of the marine life of these islands is endemic, found nowhere else on earth.

The time to go the Galápagos is now, and the MV Origin is the most ecofriendly yacht cruising these strange, beautiful, important islands that gave birth to Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. It is one of the only destinations in the world where you can fully disconnect, a telling reminder that constant connectivity isn’t an accurate measure of the survival of the fittest.

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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