Achieving her childhood dream of working with animals in the Galapagos has not been without sacrifices. “My family lives on the mainland and flights are expensive,” she explains. “A limited number of seats are discounted for us, but they are not always available.” Food and housing is also expensive – some three times more than on the mainland – and stringent regulations exist to protect this fragile environment, of which 97 per cent is protected, and only 3 per cent inhabited.
As well as a moratorium on new hotels and boats, for example, the number of cars has been limited. “You need a permit to buy a car, and no more are being issued,” says Sofia. “If I want a car, I have to buy an existing permit from someone – which costs around $40,000. Then you have to buy the car – and to get a new car, you’d have to send an old one back to the mainland.”