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The Galapagos Are Special

By doina — last modified Oct 21, 2003 10:22 AM

Published: 2003-10-21 10:22:22
Countries: Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands are special. This condition is what offers us advantages, but at the same time demands more responsibilities.

Among the advantages we have their uniqueness, especially because of their biodiversity. On these islands we can walk on trails and see birds mating and their offspring hatch; snorkel or dive among sea lions, sharks, whales and manta rays; or watch the greatness of their geology, where, on its lava flows, one can understand the origin of life. While cruising from one island to the other between sunrise and sunset you can also see a species of animal, like finches or lava lizards, which look similar, but are one entirely different species on another island. All this is what makes Galapagos magic!

This spectacle of life, and the possibility of sharing it is a privileged opportunity for navigators, but with responsibility, and this is when we get involved.

97% of these islands are protected, and there are specific sites open for tourism that you can visit with an approved itinerary. The towns are located on the other 3 %. Nowadays, a special law regulates that there is no more migration. The priority of Galapagos is nature, and one has to visit it with that approach. There are no marinas, only anchorages.

The smaller yachts and sailboats that have 10 people or less on board and are transiting through the South Pacific can stay in one of the inhabited ports without any previous permit. With this possibility a large door is opened for both the islanders and the navigators, where the latter can leave their vessels anchored and visit the National Park with local authorized tour operators.

What is special, and is what we, "Sail'n Galapagos” (Ricardo Arenas & Yvonne Mórtola), promote is the private visit for those who have their own yachts or sailboats to cruise the islands on their own vessels. Rigorous and necessary formalities have to be fulfilled, which we, in a very orderly way, make it easy for whom it requires, and this way avoid the impact of over use, as well as to protect the local, Ecuadorian operator.

This kind of visit is well controlled and managed by the Ecuadorian authorities. There are many exigencies with the vessel’s papers, as well as with the controls from the beginning to the end of the visit. The GNP approves an itinerary and the trained naturalist guide who will accompany the vessel during the visit to the protected areas. A very high tax has to be paid for those days of visit; this payment is “almost prohibitive”, but it “naturally selects” those who can afford it. This money is used by the National Park for the control and management of the area.

We have been in the business since 1999 and do the best possible in two targets: for smaller sailboats (with up to 10 people on board) to arrive in the inhabited ports and use the local services (we need our people to think and do more tourism instead of trying to fish sea cucumbers, sharks or other species) and to be the link or the way for those who can afford it, to responsibly enjoy one of the most natural and impressive archipelagos of the world from the comfort of their own vessels.

Sail'n Galápagos looks for that. We’re not interested in amassing this kind of visit. We’re interested that each and everyone we look after can feel the enchantment of Galapagos that we, after 18 years of living here, still feel.

Ricardo Arenas, Sail’n Galapagos