What Is a Big No-No in the Galapagos Islands?
The Galapagos Islands are a dream destination for nature lovers across the globe. Since the HMS Beagle’s arrival on the islands in 1835 and the subsequent publication of a young Charles Darwin’s reflections on the animals found there, the Galapagos have captured people’s imaginations.
But as is becoming increasingly well understood, ecosystems are delicate, fragile things. As the effects of a global climate crisis become better understood, many tourists are now questioning the ethics of international travel, particularly when it’s to exotic natural landscapes rich with wildlife.
Join Academy Bay Diving as we outline some of the things you must NOT do when traveling in the Galapagos, the big no-nos of your trip to the islands.
We’ve been running diving and land tours in the Galapagos for a long time, and we certainly don’t want to dissuade any guests from joining us in this enchanting place. We, do, though, want to ensure that our islands remain an extraordinary, bio-diverse wonderland for generations to come and so being conscious of good etiquette when exploring the islands is absolutely essential. We a little effort, you can have the adventure of a lifetime in the Galapagos, assured that your visit is a positive for the long-term health of the environment.
The Threat to the Galapagos Islands
Charles Darwin described the Galapagos archipelago as being a “little world within itself,” and he was completely correct to say so. Advances in the biological sciences have helped us to understand just how finely tuned an ecosystem is; the slightest change to an environment can have devastating effects for the native creatures that inhabit it. So, when we look at the number of visitors coming to the Galapagos in recent years, it’s understandable to feel some alarm. The number of tourists traveling to the islands has increased tenfold within the last 20 years with around 150,000 people now visiting each year.
So, are the islands doomed? No. Fortunately, many of the tour companies operating in the area have adopted responsible, agreed upon, practices to ensure the islands continue to flourish. Furthermore, the Ecuadorian government has increasingly invested in the protection of the natural environment here. But tourists have a a big role to play: by avoiding just a few negative behaviors (many of which should be obvious), you can enjoy your dream holiday guilt-free.
Below we outline some of the biggest no-nos for any adventurer making their first visit to the Galapagos.
Don’t bring plastic to the Galapagos Islands
Let’s begin with a simple rule: avoid bringing plastic with you on your trip. Instead, invest a good quality refillable drinking flask and pack reusable containers for any lunches or snacks you want to keep with you.
If you do notice litter on your travels, be a conscientious guest and pick it up. Microplastics are causing untold damage to seas and rivers the world over, let’s keep the Galapagos the pristine environment it’s famous for being!
Keep a 2-Meter Distance From All Wild Animals
For your safety, and the safety of the native wildlife, please keep a respectful distance between you and the animals. Many creatures inhabiting the Galapagos are insanely cute and very friendly (we’re looking at you Giant Tortoises), but human interactions can be devastating for their wellbeing in the long run.
Furthemore, do not feed the animals! Wild animals need to know how to fend for themselves. The animals you encounter are not in captivity. If they become too reliant on human generosity for their food, it puts them in danger of later being unable to fend for themselves. Certain human foods may also be poisonous to the animals.
Don’t Smoke or Light Any Fires
The Galapagos Islands are not like anywhere else in the world and it means that certain behaviors acceptable elsewhere should be avoided here. Due to the climate and nature of the fauna, no fires should ever be lit when you’re out on a tour!
Listen to Your Guides
Listen to the expert guides who are traveling with you, they know the environment better than anyone! At Academy Bay Diving, we have been putting the comfort and safety of visitors first since 2006. Our experienced, local guides use their knowledge to ensure you’re having an amazing time on your Galapagos trip and that the group is behaving responsibly and treating the environment with respect.
Stick to the Trails
Reduce your impact on the environment by sticking to the designated trails and pathways. Walking off on your own is not only dangerous, but can lead to the unnecessary erosion of the environment. The local wildlife has also adjusted to life with human visitors, any changes can disturb and frighten the animals.
Don’t Take Anything From the Environment
Again, this shouldn’t need to be said, but don’t lift anything from the natural environment to take home as a trophy or souvenir. When the islands first became a tourist destination in the 1960s, it was recommended that no more than 12,000 guests visit the islands each year. Today, around 150,000 guests are coming annually. If every guest decided to interfere with the island’s natural landscape, it would have dire consequences.
Additionally, don’t leave anything behind! As equally important as not taking anything from the islands, we also ask that you don’t leave anything behind you. Of course, all litter should be carried until it can safely be put in a bin. But also be aware of where your belongings are at all times.
Most Important of All: Have the Time of Your Life
The Galapagos Islands is one of the few places that truly warrants buck-list status! Make sure you’re allowing yourself all the time you need to really enjoy your stay in the islands. Explore magnificent landscapes unlike anywhere else, get up close to extraordinary creatures, and take part in some of the events and activities always happening in the region!
Have a browse of our full selection of diving and land tour experiences in the Galapagos. If you don’t see anything quite right for you, get in touch and we can discuss all your Galapagos tour options with you directly. Take your first steps toward a vacation you’ll never forget.