The Galapagos National Park was created to protect these Islands, and now is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
The Galapagos National Park service started back in 1959. This governmental organization has been in charge of the protection and management of the protected areas of the Galapagos Islands.
Find Cheap Galapagos Islands Flights here
It is the first protected area in Ecuador, declared on July 4th 1959. Ever since its discovery in 1535, the Galapagos Islands became a no man's land where pirates, American and British whalers and first inhabitants used the Island's coves to careen their ships and obtain water and giant tortoises for food.
The introduced species and invasive aggressive plants have been the greatest menace for the natural Wildlife of Galapagos
The first conservation efforts in the History of the Galapagos Islands took place in the 1930's and since 1959 the Galapagos National Park Service, a governmental organization, has been in charge of the protection and management of the protected areas of the Archipelago.
Its main objective is the protection and conservation of the insular and marine ecosystems and their biological diversity for the benefit of humankind, local communities, science and education.
The Galapagos National Park Service has been encouraging sustainable development of human activity in the Archipelago ever since then.
The establishment of the Park has contributed significantly to the preservation of Island ecosystems. Fewer invasive species have arrived to the Islands and many of the worst invasive species, including the goats, have been eradicated in some places and brought under control in others.
Galapagos Tourism is also closely regulated by the Park to minimize further damage to fragile ecosystems.
Tourism in the Galapagos Islands, including cruises and land tours, began in the mid-sixties. It grew steadily in the seventies and exploded during the eighties.
The Galapagos Park Service has designated over 50 official land sites spread throughout the Islands, totaling less than 1% of the National Park area.
Visitors are also allowed in the towns and designated public areas. The land sites are categorized according to their fragility as follows:
These are sites where particular species flourish, wildlife is varied and the terrain distinctive, making for interesting sightseeing.
Visitor activity is tightly controlled, and the number of visitors is limited to groups of sixteen, one at a time. Only small Galapagos Island Cruises visit these zones.
These sites generally have extraordinary scenery and biological and geological diversity enjoyed by visitors without specialized interests.
Limitations are fewer than in the "Restricted category" and a larger number of groups at a time are accommodated. Many Galapagos Island Cruises visit these zones.
These sites are located on the four inhabited Islands of Galapagos and have the fewest restrictions.
Camping and Galapagos Trekking are allowed, providing a less expensive way to experience the Galapagos.
The Galapagos National Park Service is an organization where more than 230 people work day by day to make possible the best management of the Islands.
Park rangers are dedicated to their mission of patrolling the Islands and Marine Reserve, controlling invasive species and being responsible for tourism management in the park areas.
Thanks to the delayed human arrival and the early attempts for conservation, the Galapagos Islands still conserves most of its original biodiversity.
Galapagos is unique, recognized worldwide and both, the Galapagos Islands National Park service and the Marine Reserve reflect the compromise adopted by the Ecuadorian government to preserve this important legacy for all future Ecuadorian generations and humankind.
The Galapagos National Park Service works hand in hand with the Charles Darwin Research Station implementing their common goals of conservation and preservations of the natural resources with the Galapagos National Park and Galapagos Marine Reserve.
The park service approves all itineraries of boats visiting the Islands making sure that the tourism is distributed evenly throughout the Islands. They also work as the licensing board for guides in the Islands.
Galapagos Park rules and regulations have been developed in an effort to protect the area resources.
Rather than patrol boats for enforcement, the park utilizes certified Galapagos Naturalists who accompanies all visitors enforcing rules through education.
Galapagos National Park authorities collect an entrance fee from all park visitors, allowing access into the park and marine reserve.
The Galapagos Islands Park contributes to the development of the insular region in accordance with the characteristics and capacity of the unique Galapagos ecosystems.
In many occasions, policies and procedures have been defined and ratified in order to support a selective and special development in accordance with the specific conditions of the Islands.
The Galapagos National Park includes 13 major Islands, 6 small Islands, and 42 islets (some barely big enough to set foot upon).
It is not the volcanic Islands that attract most visitors, but rather the renowned wildlife endemic to Galapagos, located 600 miles from the nearest continent.
Giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, flightless cormorants, waved albatrosses, and marine iguanas roam around in what Darwin described as a "living laboratory of evolution".
The Islands that make up this cornucopia of unique species have not always been protected. The park has a history of human colonization that has taken a negative toll on the environment.
For this reason, tours of the Islands and their surrounding waters are only possible with a guide and visitors must always walk on designated paths.
See Our Recommended Galapagos Island Tours
Our organized tours manage to turn visitors into amateur naturalists as they marvel at vampire finches, warm-water penguins, hammerhead sharks, and friendly sea lions. Entrance to the Galapagos National Park is US$100 plus $10 of immigration card.