September 2, 2011
Now I know some of you just want to go the islands and have a fun vacation and look at the pretty animals- and that’s great you are entitled to that. However there is no denying that the Galapagos Islands are in danger and tourists are a big part of the problem. There is also the fact that if we don’t change the direction we’re going in while you are entitled to go the islands and have fun you are stripping future generations of that right because the unique fauna that makes the islands so magical will be extinct. Do make sure you research the company you go with properly and use your head to make smart decisions- if it seems wrong it is wrong! Don’t touch the animals, don’t litter, don’t remove anything from the islands or bring anything organic to them. I always suggest going with local companies to support local economies like I did in the Amazon. However, in the Galapagos that is hard to do. I did a weeklong trip based on land by myself, which was a total disaster, and a week on a boat with my family and a friend, which was wonderful. Land based tourism in the Galapagos is a mess and is not properly set up. I will talk a lot more about it in my next post, but as much as it saddens me to say this I don’t recommend land based trips- go on a boat! It is more organized, you will see more and hopefully you will learn more. The park rangers used to be very educated, but now it doesn’t take much to qualify and many of them are sons and daughters of local fishermen who have a lot of misinformation and many have been influenced by creationist Christian groups that have come to the islands and don’t believe in evolution. Even on my boat, which was supposed to have top of the line naturalists I was given startlingly inaccurate information many times, which is again why I suggest to read Carol Ann Bassett’s book! Make sure you research any guides you book because there are some wonderful ones out there- I got to spend half a day with Mathias Espinosa on Isabela during my land based portion of the trip and that afternoon was the one redeeming moment of the entire week!
Don’t let what I’m saying above discourage you from visiting the islands! They are an amazing unique ecosystem with thousands of endemic species of flora and fauna and a nature lover’s paradise!