Ecuador and Galapagos Islands wildlife holiday

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Ecuador and Galapagos Islands wildlife holiday

Environment

We believe tourism should be educational and sustainable, as well as entertaining. We designed this trip to contribute minimal impact to the local environment with positive benefits to the local communities. Reusable water bottles are provided in an effort to encourage less waste and discourage the need for plastic throw-away bottles.

The Napo Wildlife Center is a good example of responsible eco-tourism projects. The buildings were built by the natives indigenous of the Kichwa Añangu Community. The community has invested in an environmental and unique system, probable the best and most advanced of the Amazonia. All waste water is processed to maintain the swamps clean. Also the energy is generated by solar panels, industrial batteries and silent generators, which is an efficient system with minimal environment impacts.

Mashpi Lodge was built utilizing pre-assembled steel walls which were mostly put together in Quito before being transported to the Lodge’s location, to minimize impact in the forest. The Lodge uses LED lights in order to reduce energy consumption. It also uses yellow lights not to attract insects at night. The Hotel treats the waste waters biologically, utilizing its organic waste and recycling the solid waste.

The Hotel works with the local community of Mashpi for the provision of organic products existing in the zone. This reduces the carbon trail and provides with income to the community. Guiding in Mashpi is conducted by the best Naturalist Guides in the country, several of them natives and residents of the zone, who transmit their knowledge of the forest, its biodiversity and world importance with passion and enthusiasm. The Mashpi Project has financed the employment of a Resident Biologist since 2010. He and his team have conducted an extensive study in the Reserve which contributed to the Reserve being awarded with an Environmental License from the Ministry of the Environment of Ecuador with a Protected Area of 1300 hectares. The investigation has identified species of frogs that were thought not to exist in the area. An extensive list of birds, insects, mammals and reptiles has also been developed. In addition to financing the resident biologist it also finances the Lodge’s “Life Centre” as a Field Center of Research. The Mashpi Project has also had an important role in reinforcing the initiative to establish a new and larger Reserve of 17.200 hectares, which was declared as a Protected Area by the Municipality of Quito in May of 2011. The Private Reserve of Mashpi is already inside this bigger reserve, ensuring its future viability and enhancing the success of the Lodge, not only as a source of employment but also to share the learning and experiences with the local communities.

Red Mangrove Galapagos leads the Galapagos Green Initiative by example with the following improvements:
- Helping conserve and recycle water by being the first hotel in Galapagos to have an onsite filtration system for drinking water so there is no reliance on imported bottled water.
- Being one of the only hotels in Galapagos to utilize a black water treatment plant to recycle water Adding new, environmentally friendly, low water, soap and electrical usage washers and dryers.
- Replacing backup generators with more efficient automatic generators.

Energy saving efforts include towel and sheet programs, voluntary carbon-offsetting contributions. Visitors and employees are informed and encouraged to adhere to both the Park Rules and Red Mangrove conservation measures. Drastic reduction of paper use by creating permanent laminated welcome letters, hotel information, park regulations and environmental education issues for guests; by turning administrative offices into practically a paperless operation printing only when absolutely necessary and by using only glass storage for sugar, cloth napkins, etc in our restaurants.
- Use only biodegradable/natural/recyclable products, including our cleaning products and biodegradable plastic bags.
- Use of organic repellents, organic bulk shampoo and other products from the Ecuador Amazon.
Paper, not styrofoam, plates on excursions (paper plates are not common in Ecuador and too many still use readily available styrofoam).
- Coastal cleaning sponsorship with Ecuadorian Maritime authorities. On a daily basis, our guides and employees always pick up all garbage, not only from our guests, but also any found in areas visited.

Land-based programs use less fuel on short trips than a constantly idling or motoring cruise would. Guests are offered free bicycle usage at Aventura Lodge, thus conserving fuel through reduced taxi usage in Puerto Ayora. At the Aventura Lodge solar energy is captured by means of a large set of solar panels.

All guides in the Galapagos are licensed Class III naturalists, the highest level. All guides receive a rigorous environmental education that focuses on Ecology and Conservation, wildlife of the Galapagos National Park and the Galapagos Marine Reserve, geology and volcanology. Scuba diving guides are licensed Divemasters and highly-experienced in diving in the Galapagos. All excursions also follow strict rules and regulations: visitors must remain on marked trails at visitor sites and respect signs at all times for the protection of wildlife, maintain a distance of at least six feet from wildlife to avoid disturbing them, even if they approach you, feeding wildlife is strictly prohibited. It is also prohibited to buy any products or souvenirs made from banned substances. All guides are trained in and practice “leave-no-trace” principals in order to maintain the beauty of the environment. All waste and trash and dispose of or recycle it in the populated areas or on your tour boat.

Community

All guides are Ecuadorian and often local inhabitants, trained in their specialized fields with an emphasis on environmental standards. Our hand-selected list of local professors and specialist guides are prominent community members and have the interests of their communities at heart when making decisions relating to tourism and their cultural biography.

Guides in the Amazon rainforest and in the highland cloudforests are expert naturalists; Galapagos guides are licensed naturalists and licensed divemasters. Napo Wildlife Center, Mashpi Lodge both employ local people as staff members. At Mashpi Lodge 80% of its employees are from the local community.

The Mashpi Project was one of the first in the country to participate in the governmental program “Cree Ecuador”, devised by the Ministry of Production. This implies that the Ministry invests US$1.5 million of the project’s cost. In exchange, the company will collaborate with the Ministry to create and support a local association of the community and that its employees acquire a minimum of 10% of this sum in company shares. Red Mangrove Inn creates opportunities for local residents through employment, education (English and business classes, etc) and by sponsoring opportunities for local residents such as Naturalist Guide certification, etc.

As members of the IGLTA (International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association), we promise to only work with partners and guides who are conscious and conscientious of the various backgrounds of our globally diverse travelers.

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