Responsible travel: Galapagos adventure holiday with volunteering
The conservation work you will be doing during your trip is a response to a major problem in Galapagos, which is the growth of invasive flora species, such as blackberries, which in most cases are endangering the survival of endemic species. It might not seem like you will change the situation in one visit, but every plant you take out and every endemic one you plant are ecological footprints that you will be leaving on the Islands, which added to other volunteers efforts are certainly making a difference and saving the Flora in the Islands. At the same time you will be travelling in small groups at a time (6-8 people max) and you will receive a scientific orientation in our offices in order to guide you better for the work you will be doing and make you aware of the conservation situation going on in the Islands so you will act responsible during your stay.
When travelers are in ecologically sensitive areas like the Galapagos it is essential that they minimize waste and recycle. Guides will make the travelers aware of their impact by telling them the adverse effect that littering can leave on the local environment. Guides will tell participants of their impact. But at the same time it is up to the responsibility of each individual traveler to be culpable for their own actions.
There are Animal Rescue centres that we work with in the Andes highlands and in the Amazon rainforest, these centers work on the rehabilitation of injured animals and illegal pets, aiming to release some of them into their natural habitat. Through our programs our volunteers are encouraged to participate and in their efforts. They actively participate in the activities of these foundations and a portion of their program fees goes directly towards operating finances of these projects.
In our office we try to maintain environmental consciousness by recycling, limiting our water usage and using energy efficient light bulbs. We also try to limit unnecessary waste by using electronic documentation when possible, rather than paper documents.
This program enables you to become a responsible tourist mainly because the revenue you will leave during your trip will go to the local Community in the Islands, since you will be staying there and having meals there, as well as using local guides and facilities. Quite different from travelling in a cruise, where most of the revenue goes to companies based on the mainland or internationally. With this you help the community to develop, and you get a chance to meet them, learn how they live, and understand all the problems they are facing in the Islands. We work with family run hostels, specially in Isabella where you will get a chance to meet Adolfo and their grand kids, his wife Petita will sit and talk to you during meal times, sharing you their stories.
We employ local staff, they are all from Quito or Ecuador. Most have attended local Universities. New staff are trained accordingly. We have partnerships with local hostels and hotels. The name of the main provider we work with is called housite. In the Galapagos and in most of our other trips we do our best to eat locally. We work in contact with local producers to try to limit our carbon footprint.
Many of our programs directly involve community members. Whether it may be from teaching football to local youths, to teaching English to indigenous children or helping to build homes for needy families we are always community oriented. We do encourage our participants to take public transportation or walk. Most find it refreshing and easy to use. There are three main public transportation systems in Quito: the Ecovia, the trolley and the bus system. We tell all our participants about using these services.
When we do not provide food services to our participants we encourage them to eat at local restaurants. There is a great number of local restaurants that offer incredible varieties of food at affordable prices. Travelers get to experience new cuisine. Plus this money goes directly to the local community. We have informative information sessions before the travelers begin their program. There is also supplemental material that we provide through our website and pamphlets that give the traveler useful information about their impact on the environment and what they can do to conserve it.