One question that has arisen as a result of coronavirus is about the impact the pandemic has had on Galapagos nature and wildlife. During the Covid-19 pandemic the Galapagos Islands have experienced fewer visitors. Several reports indicate that the wildlife has enjoyed this. In fact, one video even showed some sea lions recorded walking through a Galapagos town! While the wildlife in the Galapagos is unafraid of humans, this was still a rather unusual event. But on a more serious note, what have the benefits and drawbacks been for Galapagos nature and wildlife during the Covid-19 pandemic?
The animals have benefitted from a lower level of visitors. While tourism is carefully managed to minimize the impact on wildlife, it is nonetheless inevitably affected by this activity. Currently quite a few cruises are operating with normalcy, and most businesses and hotels have re-opened since last September. The life within the sea has also had an opportunity to recover. In fact, wildlife was bolstered due to the lack of tourist activity during good part of last year. This standstill in the industry is known as “anthropause”. What this refers to is the slow down or stopping of human activity which came about during the peak of the pandemic, and this is being studied by researchers. For example, a study by researchers at Brown University is looking into how the ecosystem has been altered as a result of fewer tourists. For example, it is thought that shy fish could become bolder, and a change like this could have a significant impact on the wildlife in the marine reserve. The findings of this research could feed back into the organization of diving in the archipelago to minimize impacts on the marine life.
There have been other benefits of few visitors in the archipelago. While some projects were on pause during lockdown, once lockdown was over, there were good opportunities for work to be completed on conservation projects by the national park authorities. Some scientists have also had a better chance to work on their research without the presence of visitors. However, other studies and conservation work has been hampered by the lack of volunteers. Most volunteers had to return to their home countries during the pandemic.
Ultimately, the preservation of the Galapagos Islands is reliant on visitors, and so we are very hopeful that the situation will normalize soon, so that visitors will start traveling to the islands again. The tourism industry in Ecuador, and particularly in the archipelago itself, relies heavily on income generated from tourism. Conservation projects that help to preserve the nature and wildlife also require funding and volunteers.
The Galapagos Islands are now open, and slowly but surely, visitors are starting to return. The Galapagos National Park recently confirmed that some species of birds have been incrementing in numbers never seen before, such as the flightless cormorant and the Galapagos penguin, which is great news. For those that do decide to visit the islands at the current time, they are likely to enjoy an uncrowded environment and wildlife that is booming. There’ll be few other tourists to get in the way of photographs, and the islands will seem even more unspoiled than ever before. This means that if you’re able to travel now, this may just be the perfect time for a visit. The lack of tourists also means a good opportunity to get good deals as well, and there is a lot of excitement around getting the tourists back.
If you do want to make the most of the opportunity to visit now during these quiet months, a Galapagos tour based on the islands may be the best option. Galapagos Islands land-based tours are based on one island or split between more than one island and these offer a great opportunity to see lots of wildlife. Galapagos Islands cruises are a little trickier right now, as they need sufficient numbers of visitors in order to run. This means it is difficult for operators to confirm tours. If your heart is set on a cruise we can certainly try to help you, and we have our ears to the ground, but you may want to book a little further in advance. We are already taking bookings for 2021 and even 2022!
If restrictions in your country allow it, we recommend visiting the Galapagos Islands sooner rather than later to enjoy the nature and wildlife that has had a chance to recover given the lack of recent tourism.
Ecuador and Galapagos Insiders is offering complete flexibility on the matter of deposit payments, and we offer rescheduling for free. As Galapagos experts, we are fully appraised of the Covid-19 situation in Ecuador and in the Galapagos Islands, including entry requirements and regulations. So if you want to visit the Galapagos Islands why not get in touch today?