10 Do’s and Don’ts on the Galápagos Islands
The pristine paradise of the Galápagos Islands has been under siege since pirates first arrived in the 1700’s. Along with the pirates, came goats, pigs, donkeys, dogs, cats, and rats. They trampled the delicate native plants, gobbled up turtle eggs, staged inexplicable attacks on land iguana colonies, snacked on baby chicks, and tore through cactus tree trunks.
Now, tourism is the latest threat to one of the most unique places on the planet.
Here are 10 do’s and don’ts from the Galápagos National Park Service to help you preserve and protect this amazing natural wonder.
1) Do stick to designated paths to avoid trampling delicate plants, some of which only grow on the Galápagos Islands.
2) Do stay with your guide. Apparently, the guides from competing tour companies play a game of “gotcha” with each other. If you wander off, they will snap your picture and send it along with the name of your guide to the National Park Service. The National Park Service will, in turn, fine your guide. As a result, guides tend to get rather cranky if you wander off and will snap at you.
3) Don’t get too close to the animals. According to park regulations, you must maintain a distance of 6 feet from any animal. This is for your safety and theirs. It’s hard not to take advantage of the animals’ seemingly tame nature to sidle up a little closer. But, they are wild animals and they can hurt you.
4) Don’t feed the animals. They have plenty to eat.
5) Do pack out what you pack in. Save your trash until you can find a trash bin to throw it in. And, it is absolutely forbidden to sneak behind a bush to use the “natural” bathroom.
6) Do cooperate with the quarantine regulations when you fly to the Galápagos Islands. Leave plants, animals, and food at home.
7) Don’t smoke. In the arid environment in the Galápagos Island National Park it is too easy to start a fire that would devastate the landscape. You can smoke in the small towns that dot the islands, though.
8) Don’t take anything home. This includes rocks, shells, and souvenirs made from a banned item such as coral shells, lava rocks, sea lion teeth, and tortoise shells.
9) Don’t write or carve anything on tree trunks, rocks, or anywhere else. You can only imagine what the Galápagos Islands would look like if everyone did this.
10) Finally, avoid using Flash when taking pictures. Having a light go off in their eyes has a way of unsettling the animals.