The Galápagos Islands emerged in the Pacific Ocean six million years ago following a spate of volcanic activity and, isolated from the continental mainland, have become home to unique plant and animal species. Giant tortoises, iguanas, penguins, frigate birds, waved albatross and blue-footed boobies and a wealth of rare flora all thrive there. Today, the Galápagos Islands are at risk due to a growing human population. Overuse of limited natural resources and the introduction of invasive alien species and disease add stress to an isolated island system already beginning to experience the effects of global climate change.
In 1959, the Ecuadorian government declared 97.5% of the archipelago's land area a national park, excepting areas already colonised. In 1986, the 70,000 square km of ocean surrounding the islands was declared a marine reserve, second in size only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef. In 1990, the archipelago became a whale sanctuary. UNESCO listed the islands in 1978 as a World Heritage Site and in 1985 as a biosphere reserve. Your national park fee of $US100 will contribute towards the conservation work.
Visits to the Galápagos Islands are strictly controlled. The number of craft operating cruises, their itineraries, the length of time spent on each island, the distribution of visitors, rules regarding contact with the wildlife, removing rubbish and more are all monitored by the national park authority and other official organisations.
Your luxurious cruise yacht, the first class, historic MY Grace, complies with local and international safety regulations, and sustainable practices to protect the fragility of the archipelago. It’s a small craft, accommodating only 18 guests, which means there is minimal impact on the environment. The vessel only supplies biodegradable products in the bathrooms, recycles, and encourages guests to save water and switch off lights.
The yacht’s operator, Quasar Expeditions, has a strong commitment to sustainable travel, which is evident in the company’s active participation of conservation projects and support for environmental organisations in the Galápagos Islands.
Quasar Expeditions has partnered up with Free World United to help raise funds for Galápagos Conservancy, a US based organisation focused exclusively on protecting the unique ecosystems and biological integrity of the Galápagos archipelago. The mission of Galapagos Conservancy is to advance and support the conservation of the unique biodiversity and ecosystems of Galapagos through directed research, informed public policy, and building a sustainable society.
In order to uphold their commitment to environmentally sustainable tour operations, Quasar Expeditions partner with Carbonfund.org to calculate the emissions generated by each journey and mitigate those emissions by supporting reforestation and bio-diversity preservation projects around the world. “Our recent partnership with Carbonfund.org is a big step for Quasar Expeditions in making yet another positive contribution to conservation and sustainable tourism,” explains Fernando Diez, Director of Marketing and E-Commerce. “Although our adventures are methodically designed to leave very light footprints, we know that there is always some environmental impact, so we are now happy to be offsetting our carbon emissions through Carbonfund.org.”
Quasar Expeditions, the operator of your cruise yacht Grace, understands that to achieve sustainability the children who live in the Galápagos islands need to be educated in responsible practices. The company founded the Galapagos Scouts Project in San Cristobal in 1997 to support the international Scout movement’s conservation programmes with financial resources and other assistance focussed on the local group.
Quasar Expeditions is also a contributor to and partner in the Fiver Children’s Foundation, a not-for-profit comprehensive youth development organisation empowering children from underprivileged communities to develop life skills and to reach their full potential. Fiver’s 10-year commitment to each child includes year-round mentoring and counselling programmes, a character building residential summer programme, and partnerships with schools and community based organisations.
Quasar Expeditions donated a cabin aboard your yacht M/Y Grace to be auctioned off in aid of the World Paediatric Project, which in 2001 founded an International Hospital for Children, and whose mission is to link worldwide paediatric surgical, diagnostic and preventative resources to heal critically ill children in developing countries.