Tourism in the Galapagos Islands jumped 39% in less than 10 years. In 2016, there were over 225,000 visitors!
The growth of the tourism industry is a double-edged sword, however. Money earned through tourism helps conservation efforts, but the increase of tourists can upset the natural balance of the islands.
If you’re interested in visiting the Galapagos Islands, the best thing you can do is ensure you’re taking the right steps to limit your impact.
Do you want to know how? Keep reading to learn the top 7 ways you can make your upcoming trip eco-friendly.
1. Go to Inhabited Islands
Many people dream about going to the Galapagos Islands because large parts of it are still untouched by tourists. However, by venturing into these areas, they will no longer be untouched.
Instead, plan to visit San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Floreana, and Isabela. You’ll be limiting your impact by leaving the untouched areas alone, and you’ll still get to see all the main animals.
2. Stay on the Trail
Even on the inhabited islands, there are areas untouched by tourists. In National Parks, veering off the marked trail will put you in untouched land. This could upset the natural balance, so be sure to stay on the trail at all times.
You can only visit the National Park with a licensed guide. Not only do the guides give you valuable information to make your tour more enjoyable, but they also help to protect the environment. So, don’t try to go off on your own or ignore their instructions.
3. Don’t Disturb the Wildlife
When you see a native animal on the Galapagos Islands, it’s tempting to go closer to get that amazing picture. However, it’s important that you limit your contact with wildlife as much as possible.
Avoid getting too close to them, and do not touch them or allow them to touch you. When taking photographs, avoid using your flash even if you’re doing so from a distance as this can actually alter their way of life.
You’ll also want to avoid feeding them. Over time, animals who get fed by tourists will get used to it and end up depending on this food for their survival. Not only does this disrupt the natural balance, but it also means the animals likely won’t be getting the nutrients they need to be healthy. Human food isn’t part of their natural diet.
4. Go by Boat
There are two main ways to see the Galapagos Islands: land-based and boat-based. The National Park regulates boat-based tourism to ensure it remains sustainable and doesn’t overload the islands. Unfortunately, the same regulations are not in place with land-based tourism.
This means that if you book a cruise, you can rest assured that your boat will not be overloading the islands with more tourists than it can handle.
While there is a limit of 100 passengers per boat, consider choosing an even smaller boat. Not only will your tour be making less of an impact with fewer people, but you’ll also get a more intimate experience. These travel experts have various cruises available to ensure you have a great experience while remaining eco-friendly.
5. Pick Eco-Friendly Tours and Hotels
If you do decide to partake in land-based tourism, you can help the environment by ensuring you pick eco-friendly tours and hotels. Before booking, check their website to see what efforts they’re taking to remain green. For example, a hotel may try to limit water usage by only cleaning sheets once per stay.
While at the hotel or on the tour, keep your eyes open for these efforts. If you notice that they don’t actually seem to be keeping their promises, their eco-friendly efforts may be a gimmick. You can combat this by saying something to a staff member or leaving a review online.
6. Don’t Litter
This tip shouldn’t come as a surprise. Unfortunately, as tourism increases, so does the risk of improper waste disposal.
No matter where you are on the islands, make sure you keep any trash on you until you can find a garbage can or recycling bin. If you notice garbage littering the streets or beach, consider taking the extra step and picking it up. Not only will this help prevent damage to the environment and wildlife, but it’ll also help ensure the islands stay beautiful and pristine.
7. Pick Activities and Souvenirs Carefully
When you see someone selling souvenirs, it’s natural to assume they’re legal. However, there are some people who sell souvenirs made from animal parts, shells, native woods, black coral, and shells.
It is illegal to remove these types of items from the islands. So, make sure you don’t buy any souvenirs made from these materials and report the vendor immediately.
The same goes for activities. Fishing, for example, isn’t allowed. In the National Park, activities like motorized aquatic sports and aerial tourism are not allowed.
Make sure you research any activities you want to do to ensure you’re not participating in something that may harm the environment. Additionally, if you see these types of tours, don’t be afraid to report them.
Eco-Friendly Tourism in the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are clean and beautiful. On your upcoming trip, help them stay that way by following the above tips. From taking a cruise to picking up litter, there are many ways you can practice eco-friendly tourism.
Are you interested in living green while at home too? Then view the rest of our blog for tips to create an environmentally-friendly house.