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Galapagos visitor sites: what are they?

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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 2
Location: ecuador

PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 6:25 pm    Post subject: Galapagos visitor sites: what are they? Reply with quote

The Galápagos National Park was declared as such back in 1959. Tourism, however, was hardly considered a formal activity in the archipelago. Little by little, more people became aware that visiting these islands could actually be done. Here lies the main reason why the islands that included important areas of wildlife observation, had to have a higher level of protection. This is how visitor sites became the islands’ most important feature for organized tourism. In fact, it is what guarantees the best areas for wildlife observation, and the evenly distribution of visitors at the same time.

Visitor sites in the National Park were established since the 1970’s, and over time, some have been closed and others have been opened. Currently, over 92 visitor sites are available, and they have been classified as Intensive Use Zones and Extensive Use Zones. The difference between these two has only to do with the fragility of the visitor site (an index labelled as visitor carrying capacity), but it is worth noting that only 3% of the National Park is devoted to tourism. Therefore, when visiting Galápagos you are touching an extremely small fraction of the islands’ protected land. Yet, most visits remain uncrowded, thanks to the efforts of the Galapagos Islands National Park at assigning fixed itineraries for all vessels, regardless size.

In order to clearly show the designated areas for visiting, black and white stakes have been placed throughout the location. Naturalist Guides conduct shore visits and environmental interpretation happens along the trail.

One of the rules of the National Park is to stay on the trails. It is only with visitors’ awareness and cooperation that we can contribute to the great effort of preserving an island ecosystem. This is a clear example on how the visitor becomes a direct key player in the sustainability of the destination. Very few physical changes have taken place on the islands, as part of the designation of visitor sites.

Perhaps, the most obvious is the building of a small dock, which is only used for landing purposes (yes, of course, sea lions love these wonderful flat structures). Once inland, very few sites include modification of the walking areas, and the terrain therefore, remains untouched. Like in some other places, we could have made all sites easily accessible, and posing no difficulties whatsoever. But, it would sharply contrast against the dramatic nature of the islands’ volcanic terrain. Plus, anything artificially built, will contradict the nature of this kind of trip.

Some of the terrain variations include boulders, lava flows, tuff-stone layers, sandy beaches, brush, loose pebbles, and more. Diversity is easily witnessed on every island outing. This is another remarkable feature of the islands’ perpetual enigma: why is each island so different? Come and see the islands by yourself, and enjoy the visitor sites that are part of this tropical jewel.

The articles developed for Metropolitan Touring for their newsletter are wrote by a team of travelers, field guides, operations people and marketing and sales inside the company, all of them has more than 10 years working in the Galapagos cruise and tours guiding and sales, Sylvia Moncayo, Francisco Dousdebés, Santiago Tamayo, Gonzalo Alvarez are the team who produce our articles, Email info@metropolitan-spam Article Copyright Metropolitan Touring Corporation 2005 - 2006
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