Most visitors are attracted to the Galapagos to actually learn about the wonderful diversity of life (including the unique mating rituals of the Blue-footed booby or the Waved Albatross). This is why Galapagos is so famous throughout the planet and that is what make the islands unique among ALL other destinations on Earth.
As more mainlanders migrated to the Islands, they became more populated and the locals opened bars, restaurants, t-shirts shops, internet cafes, coffee shops, jewelry shops – and converted homes into hotels that now line the streets of Puerto Ayora. They started promoting hotel based tourism creating a boom in new hotels for tourists more focused on island based pleasures interspersed with the occasional day trip to see the wildlife. There is nothing wrong with a beach holiday, nightlife or socializing with the locals, however why go all the way to Galapagos to do this – when you can find this almost anywhere in the world?
Galapagos is unique – not for the party scene, not for speeding around in fast boats – but for the fact that nowhere else on this big beautiful but shrinking planet, can you see nature in the way you see it there. Our belief is that selling Galapagos for other pleasures that you can find in a thousand other places on the planet is shortselling this jewel for a quick buck, but more importantly it is undermining its long term conservation. Why be the cause of land based tourism development in Galapagos, which results in the promotion of more migration to the islands, which in turn fuels uncontrolled population growth, one of the many reasons UNESCO declared them as a World Heritage Site at Risk in 2007, citing introduction of alien species, illegal fishing, unsustainable land based tourism, illegal migration and population growth. Galapagos was later removed from the list in 2010, but many conservationist feel this was done pre-maturely as the Islands still remain very much at risk.
On a small tour vessel, you can develop a real sense of intimacy with the place, day and night, as the sun sets over Fernandina Volcano, or rises above Alcedo Volcano. The best way to get the most out of what Galapagos is famous for (e.g. wildlife, volcanic landscapes, the wild and remote coastlines out in the Pacific) is on a small ship (yacht) cruise. Tour boats have unique access to remote visitor sites on uninhabited islands with up close and intimate wildlife viewing opportunities. Tour boats navigate at night meaning fewer daylight hours are spent in transit and more time on the islands tour boats visit the islands and wildlife in the early am and late pm when wildlife is more active and the sun less intense. Some of the best marine spectacles are during this time of day. Land tours are done in the middle of the day when tour boats offer snorkeling, zodiac rides, etc.
The Ecoventura yachts combine coastal visits on uninhabited islands with inland highland visits, where giant tortoises are found in the wild, as well as all active pursuits such as snorkeling, kayak, hiking, zodiac rides, scuba (offered on MV Galapagos SKY) combined with visits to port towns with local residents, where you can take a leisurely walk, shop for souvinirs and stop at an internet café. By taking a cruise all the planning and logistics are done, the itinerary is set, all meals are provided, and there is continuity, and you only have to pack and unpack once. On a land based tour or “Island hopping”, you will never get to the outer most farthest flung uninhabited visitor sites and their wildlife viewing opportunities. Day trips from a hotel will take you on a snorkeling outing only or a crowded site with little diversity where you spend 3-4 hours in choppy seas on a lightweight speed boat. See more details at our blog post:
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