Looking for a Greener Vacation? Galapagos Islands Top the List for Ecotourists

My friend Carol received a postcard from the Galapagos Islands the other day. The funny thing is she mailed it to herself on her vacation there a year ago. It gives new meaning to the term “snail mail.” In all seriousness, she believes it must have gotten mixed up with other papers at the travel desk. Someone probably found it recently and stuck it in the mail. Nevertheless, it makes a fun story and it is a great reminder of the extraordinary vacation she and her son Andrew took last year. The Galapagos Islands provides one of the world’s top ecotourism locations and she and her son thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

According to Carol, “the Galapagos Islands are unlike any other place in the world.” They are controlled by the government of Ecuador. In the interest of preservation, only so many boats are allowed to travel in at one time. Carol and Andrew flew 600 miles from the southernmost city in Ecuador to meet their island guide. They boarded a small boat containing 14 other passengers and proceeded to voyage around the islands.

There are 18 main islands in the archipelago. Carol and Andrew spent eight days on the boat getting off twice a day to explore the islands. Most days were spent hiking or snorkeling, allowing them to observe wildlife indigenous to the area. Although the area has a warm climate, the water is very cold this time of year so my friends needed to wear wetsuits. Carol and Andrew enjoyed seeing so many interesting animals up close. “We saw lots of turtles, sea lions, sea iguanas, and many unique birds including blue-footed boobies and an albatross.” Andrew took the pictures of the tortoise and the blue-booted boobie that appear above. The highlight of the trip for Carol was seeing the giant tortoises at the Darwin Research Center, “At the center, we were able to get right up close to them. They were very old and so amazing to watch.”

Carol and Andrew were thrilled with their eco-travel experience. If you want to take a greener vacation this year, consider an eco-tourist location. In 1990, the term ecotourism was coined by an organization called The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). The term is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment and improve the well-being of local people.” The group boasts 20 years of “uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel.” According to their website, the principles of Ecotourism are as follows:

• Building environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
• Minimizing overall impact.
• Raising sensitivities for host countries regarding to their social, political, and environmental climate.
• Providing a financial tourism benefit allowing empowerment for local people in areas visited.
• Providing an added financial benefit to aid in conservation.
• Rendering positive experiences for visitors and their hosts.

If you are and adventurer seeking an eco-friendly vacation, consider visiting the Galapagos Islands. It is one of the top ecotourism locations in the world. Although eco-tourism is about preservation and sustainability, locations still cater to the whims of tourists on vacation. As such, you can still purchase souvenirs of your trip. For example, Andrew came home from the trip with a t-shirt bearing a picture of one of the unique birds they saw. He couldn’t resist the shirt’s slogan “I love boobies.”

TIES puts out a free publication called the “Travel Green Guide” that is updated regularly. The publication includes eco-friendly tips for vacationers and a list of communities and organizations currently active in the ecotourism industry. If you want more information on vacationing in the Galapagos Islands or another ecotourist location, you can download the “Travel Green Guide” from the TIES website at www.ecotourism.org.My friend Carol received a postcard from the Galapagos Islands the other day. The funny thing is she mailed it to herself on her vacation there a year ago. It gives new meaning to the term “snail mail.” In all seriousness, she believes it must have gotten mixed up with other papers at the travel desk. Someone probably found it recently and stuck it in the mail. Nevertheless, it makes a fun story and it is a great reminder of the extraordinary vacation she and her son Andrew took last year. The Galapagos Islands provides one of the world’s top ecotourism locations and she and her son thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

According to Carol, “the Galapagos Islands are unlike any other place in the world.” They are controlled by the government of Ecuador. In the interest of preservation, only so many boats are allowed to travel in at one time. Carol and Andrew flew 600 miles from the southernmost city in Ecuador to meet their island guide. They boarded a small boat containing 14 other passengers and proceeded to voyage around the islands.

There are 18 main islands in the archipelago. Carol and Andrew spent eight days on the boat getting off twice a day to explore the islands. Most days were spent hiking or snorkeling, allowing them to observe wildlife indigenous to the area. Although the area has a warm climate, the water is very cold this time of year so my friends needed to wear wetsuits. Carol and Andrew enjoyed seeing so many interesting animals up close. “We saw lots of turtles, sea lions, sea iguanas, and many unique birds including blue-footed boobies and an albatross.” Andrew took the pictures of the tortoise and the blue-booted boobie that appear above. The highlight of the trip for Carol was seeing the giant tortoises at the Darwin Research Center, “At the center, we were able to get right up close to them. They were very old and so amazing to watch.”

Carol and Andrew were thrilled with their eco-travel experience. If you want to take a greener vacation this year, consider an eco-tourist location. In 1990, the term ecotourism was coined by an organization called The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). The term is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment and improve the well-being of local people.” The group boasts 20 years of “uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel.” According to their website, the principles of Ecotourism are as follows:

• Building environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
• Minimizing overall impact.
• Raising sensitivities for host countries regarding to their social, political, and environmental climate.
• Providing a financial tourism benefit allowing empowerment for local people in areas visited.
• Providing an added financial benefit to aid in conservation.
• Rendering positive experiences for visitors and their hosts.

If you are and adventurer seeking an eco-friendly vacation, consider visiting the Galapagos Islands. It is one of the top ecotourism locations in the world. Although eco-tourism is about preservation and sustainability, locations still cater to the whims of tourists on vacation. As such, you can still purchase souvenirs of your trip. For example, Andrew came home from the trip with a t-shirt bearing a picture of one of the unique birds they saw. He couldn’t resist the shirt’s slogan “I love boobies.”

TIES puts out a free publication called the “Travel Green Guide” that is updated regularly. The publication includes eco-friendly tips for vacationers and a list of communities and organizations currently active in the ecotourism industry. If you want more information on vacationing in the Galapagos Islands or another ecotourist location, you can download the “Travel Green Guide” from the TIES website at www.ecotourism.org.