"The natural history of these islands is eminently curious and well deserves attention.....The archipelago is a little world within itself....[where] both in space and time, we seem to be brought somewhat near to that great fact, that mystery of mysteries, the first appearance of new beings on this earth." — Charles Darwin

As a young schoolboy learning of Charles Darwin's 1835 visit to the Galápagos Islands aboard the H.M.S. Beagle, I was inspired to read more about natural history and determined to some day travel to this "little world within itself."

Finally able to visit in August 2001, I was struck by the archipelago's primordial beauty, its fearless wildlife, and the splendid quality of the equatorial light that seemed to be as much a substance as the brilliant blue Pacific and the islands themselves.

Isolated from the mainland, the Galápagos contain unique species whose members display divergence even between inhabitants of different islands, the result of having to adapt to slightly different conditions. There are few places in the world where it is possible to find such a variety of species which show so many degrees of evolutionary change in such a restricted area. It was this diversity of unique forms and their distribution that captured Darwin's attention and led him to formulate his theory of natural selection and write the Origin of Species in 1859.

For eight days I sailed among these islands and islets of volcanic origin that straddle the equator 621 miles west of Ecuador on the Andando, a 105 foot steel hulled brigantine. I was able to visit several of the islands and closely observe plants and wildlife that are found nowhere else on earth, all while experiencing the thrill and freedom of sailing on the open sea.

I have tried to capture some of the adventure, mystery and wonder of this unique place in the following images.