Once, not so very long ago, virtually everyone came to Galapagos with the expectation of taking a cruise ship around the islands. They would stay for a few days or a week, or even two, never disembarking to experience the local culture except on the day designated by the cruise to go to Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz or The Interpretation Center on San Cristobal.
Those days are gone! Now tourists have a choice of whether to cruise or to stay in a hotel and select a land-based itinerary. More and more, land travel is the modality of choice. Why? Because it allows for a richer cultural experience. Visitors can get to know our cultural heritage, visit our neighborhoods, interact with shop owners and other Galapagueños, eat at authentic restaurants and visit cultural centers and even our schools. This is the new model for ethical and responsible travel.
In 2015, 224,755 tourists visited the Galapagos Islands according to the National Park Service. Of these more than half stayed in a hotel in town instead of setting off on a cruise ship. This represents an increase of 8% in land-based travel in a one year period. On-board vessel traffic was down 3%. This trend is continuing.
There are many excellent reasons for this trend. To mention just a few:
- As travelers become more savvy and aware of their environmental responsibilities, they want to leave less of a footprint.
- Land-based travel allows visitors to customize the tour that they want. They are unconstrained by the set itinerary of a cruise ship.
- It is less expensive to stay in a hotel and take day trips than to spend time on a boat.
- Travelers get to interact within our local communities, experience our local culture and enrich our culture by sharing their experiences with us.
Galapagos Eco Friendly was created with the land-based tour model in mind. Our owner Harry Jimenez is delighted to help all of our guests plan the perfect vacation suited to their activity level, interests and budget. Read our section on Ecotourism to learn even more about this exciting and innovative way to visit the Galapagos Islands.