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Galapagos National Park Rules

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Galapagos National Park Rules for Visitors

The Galapagos Islands are one of the planet’s last remaining pristine wildlife refuges, home to rare & endangered endemic species, and the strict visitor rules that the National Park enforces are important for the conservation of these fragile natural habitats.

Since the 1960s, tourism in the Galapagos Islands has exploded, exceeding more than 220,000 annual visitors. And the number is still on the rise, with more hotels being built and boats being commissioned each year. On one hand, it’s wonderful that so many people can see the archipelago that Darwin himself visited in 1835, and much of the money from tourism helps support a robust local economy focused on the conservation of the Islands; on the other hand, controlling and regulating tourism is vital to maintaining the Galapagos Islands just as they were when Darwin visited.


 

Fast Fact: The Galapagos National Park regulates immigration and tourism in the entire Galapagos archipelago - although the population on the four inhabited islands has grown significantly in the past generation, very few Ecuadorians are allowed to move there. And all of the tours and cruises through the Galapagos Islands are planned far in advance according to the guidelines set out by the National Park.

 

 
 

 

So what are these rules that the Galapagos National Park has?

Here’s a shortlist of the most important things to keep in mind while traveling to the Galapagos Islands:

  • Only visit protected areas within the Galapagos National Park accompanied by a GNPD authorized naturalist guide.
  • Stay on the trails! The trails at all visitor sites are very well marked and your guides will make sure you follow this rule. It helps preserve the natural habitats and keeps both you and the wildlife safe.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from wildlife (even if they approach you). This is the best way to avoid disturbing them.
  • Never give food to any wildlife - the circle of life in the Galapagos is delicately balanced; there’s no need for you to interfere, and it could even cause the animals health problems.
  • Never introduce new food, animals, or plants to the Galapagos Islands; protection against invasive species has been a hard-won battle in the archipelago.

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it's lethal.”

 
  • Don’t use a flash when taking pictures of the wildlife - any professional photography or videography for commercial use must be approved by the GNPD beforehand.

  • Camping is limited to just a few authorized areas and must be approved by the GNPD at least two days in advance.

  • Never take anything from the natural environment or habitats in the Galapagos - you can purchase souvenirs from stores in Puerto Villamil, Puerto Ayora, or Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, or from any of the airports or local vendors. But never take anything made from black coral, native wood or vegetation, lava rock, shells, or animal parts, as these are banned substances.

  • Leave No Trace is the motto! Make sure that when you leave a site, it looks exactly the same as when you arrived - that means that all trash must be properly disposed of or recycled, as indicated by the hotel or boat where you are staying.

  • To avoid the very serious risk of fires, all smoking or campfires are strictly forbidden in the National Park.

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  • You can only fish from GNPD authorized recreational tour boats.

  • You are not permitted to do any motorized aquatic sports or aerial tourism in the Marine Reserve or National Park.
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    Why does it matter?

    Whenever you visit any national park anywhere in the world, your goal should be to leave it exactly as it was before you came, and this is especially important when visiting the Galapagos Islands!


     
     

     

    Here, you aren’t a tourist as much as a temporary part of the whole ecosystem, which is why playing your part in conserving the Islands is paramount. The rules set in place by the National Park have been carefully designed to balance travelers’ access to Galapagos species and marine wildlife in its most natural forms and the protection of these fragile marine environments.

    You will witness endemic and native species the likes of which could only exist in the Galapagos Islands, and your contribution to protecting them is your responsibility when you visit. We are the stewards of the next generation, and the decisions & actions we take today will have a lasting impact on tomorrow. For more information on the Galapagos Islands or for Galapagos cruises and tours, contact our team of local experts!


    Finally we leave you with this Infographic prepared by our Insider team, we hope you enjoy it and we hope to have you on one of our Galapagos Tours soon!
     

     
    Galapagos Park Rules - Infographic

    Galapagos Park Rules for Visitors

     

    By Ecuador & Galapagos Insiders
    By Ecuador & Galapagos Insiders
    Ecuador & Galapagos Insiders is a leading travel company based in Ecuador and run by local tour guides and travel specialists, we are happy to provide expert and free trip planning advice, no commitment fee involved.
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