Galapagos Islands National Park
The Galapagos Islands National Park was created in 1968 to protect the development of the rich biodiversity of this Archipelago.
In 1934 Ecuador proclaimed first laws to protect the Galapagos Islands. In 1959 they were declared a National Park. 97% of the surface of the archipelago corresponds to the National Park and the remaining 3% is set aside to human establishments.
The Galapagos Islands were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978 and were internationally recognized as a Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO and the Biosphere Program in 1984.
In 1986, the Galapagos Marine Resources Reserve was established including all waters within 15 nautical miles of a baseline joining the outermost points of the Galapagos Islands. This was upgraded to a Biological Reserve of Marine Resources in December 1996.
In 1990 it was declared a Whale Sanctuary and in 2001 the Galapagos Marine Reserve was included in the list of Natural Heritage Sites.
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Galapagos Islands National Park Objectives
- To project the insular ecosystems and their biodiversity to guarantee the continual evolutionary and ecological processes.
- To promote scientific research, specifically these which help to solve problem management the GNP.
- To promote sustainable social & economical development of the inhabitants the educational tourism, avoiding extractive activities over natural resources.
- To involve the inhabitants, and visitors in conservation meanings.
The most recent Galapagos Park Management Plan was approved in 2005 and highlights a philosophical change from a primary focus on natural resource management and conservation to a broader focus on the need to manage the entire Galapagos Archipelago.
The Galapagos Islands National Park has six main management programs:
- Conservation of ecology and biodiversity
- Coordination of the ecosystem model with regional planning
- Institutional strengthening
- Support to the human communities of Galapagos
- Investigation and Research
- Scientific cooperation at national and international levels
Galapagos National Park Rules
- Because of its unique nature, the plants, animals and rocks should stay on site so that there is no change.
Nothing must be taken away from the islands, except photos.
- Please avoid the introduction of foreign organisms such as animals, seeds, plants and insects as they cause serious problems.
- Galapagos animals should not be touched or petted for your safety and because they can quickly loose their tameness and change their behavior.
- The endemic and native fauna of Galápagos has its natural form for feeding. Therefore, do not give them any type of food because it could harm them.
- The Galapagos marine birds leave their nests if you disturb or follow them. They will let their eggs or chicks alone on the ground or leave them exposed to the sun.Therefore you may watch the birds at a distance of no less than two meters.
- Visitors' sites at the Galapagos Islands National Park are marked to guarantee your safety. You cannot leave the paths.
- Garbage of any type interferes with natural processes and takes away the enchantment of the unique island scenery.
Do not dispose garbage at visitors' sites, in the ocean or near the Islands.
- Please avoid purchasing souvenirs made of flora and fauna of the Islands, like black coral, marine tortoise shells, sea lion teeth, or shells. This goes against the principles of conservation.
- Writing names and phrases of any type on rocks, walls, etc. is a sign of bad manners and rudeness and damages the scenery.
- Fire or smoking within Park areas is not allowed as a fire could start with a match or a cigarette that is not put out completely, and can cause uncontrollable bush fires, death and destruction.
- Fishing on board of tourist ships is not permitted. Please collaborate with the National Park Service by reporting any transgression to the management of the Galapagos National Park.
- If you want to camp in the authorized sites, you have to request a permit from the Galapagos National Park Director. We have technical offices located in the inhabited islands (San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Isabela, and Floreana).
- If any kind of danger puts on risk the visitor's safety and that of the National Park, please inform about it to a Park Ranger, Police authorities, Ecuadorian Navy, Air Force or any Municipal Authority.
- Don't be embarrassed to show your conservationist attitude. Explain to others the rules of Galapagos Islands National Park and make them follow them.
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Galapagos Islands National Park Recommendations
- In order to enjoy your stay in Galapagos you should be in good health.
- Visit the areas of the Galapagos National Park and the Marine Reserve only escorted by a naturalist guide, licensed by the National Park Service.
- If you go scuba diving, please make sure that you have all documents and licenses to do so.
- Watch out for signs and instructions in the authorized visitor sites of the Galapagos Islands National Park and please follow them.
- Contract tourist services only at travel agencies and tour operators legally recognized in Galapagos.
- National and foreign visitors are allowed to stay on the islands for 90 days (3months) as established in the Special Law for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Galapagos Islands.
Galapagos Land Based Tourism
The Islands are an unique tourist destiny, it's diversity of landscapes, white coral beaches, volcanoes, lava tunnels, mangroves, and a great diversity of native and endemic flora and fauna. The Archipelago has 60 Visitors' Sites to offer.
The Galapagos Islands National Park offers the possibility of a variety of activities such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, snorkeling, diving and more. The urban areas provide services to visitors, promoting local tourism.
You have a great variety of services like hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, Internet, souvenir stores and local attractions. Local tour operators will provide you with all the services you require regarding excursions.
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Galapagos Marine Tourism
The conditions of the Galapagos waters are so unique that it has turned the Islands into an important diving destiny. It offers diverse habitats and species, due to a unique combination of oceanic currents and deep waters very close to the coasts the Islands offer the possibility to see unique marine species.
Diving as a form of tourism has grown notably during the last years. We are still one of the few places where marine wildlife is not afraid of human beings. One of the biggest attractions is diving with schools of sharks.
The Galapagos is regarded as one of the seven marine wonders of the world, by the prestigious oceanographic organization Codam International.
Galapagos Naturalist Guides are Responsible for informing and educating tourists about the natural history and conservation of Galapagos.
Ensuring that the actions of the tourists do not violate established technical and administrative provisions so that visitors have a pleasant and satisfactory experience during their visits.
There are 3 Categories of Galapagos Naturalist Guides:
- Naturalist Guides I
- Naturalist Guides II
- Naturalist Guides III
The Galapagos Islands National Park will keep working in order to maintain and preserve all the fragile ecosystems of the Islands in both land and sea environments.
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