|WILDLIFE AND EDUCATIONAL EXPEDITION
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
MAP OF THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Bienvenida is Spanish for “welcome” and the staff of World Discovery Safaris welcomes you on what, we hope, will be a most enjoyable and memorable wildlife and cultural experience in Galapagos Islands. This booklet has been designed to introduce you to these islands, acquaint you with its people, national parks and wildlife and to help you prepare for and get the most from your travel experience. When you selected World Discovery Safaris you chose a company with a long tradition of leadership in natural history related travel. We are proud that this has been accomplished without compromising the concepts and philosophies on which our company was founded. We believe that responsible travel programs must stress the conservation of ecosystems, provide an education for our travelers and an economic benefit for the local people. Our travel programs are greatly enhanced by the participation of the naturalist guides who share their knowledge and help us understand the social customs, conservation issues and philosophies of their countries. Interacting with them helps us to understand and appreciate people whose lives and cultures are often very different from our own.
World Discovery Safaris staff includes professionals in the sciences and education as well as travel. We work together to create an unforgettable, unique travel experience for you, and to produce supplementary informative materials, such as this booklet, to enhance your experience. We are here to answer your questions and look forward to your calls and e-mails because if you feel comfortable and knowledgeable before your departure, you will be free to enjoy your travel experience to the fullest. The information contained in this booklet is designed to assist as you prepare for your journey to the Galapagos Islands. The travel program you are about to depart on is an expedition in the true sense of the word and should not be undertaken casually. We wish for you the same excitement and awe we first experienced when we were introduced to the unique plant and animal life, geology, pristine beaches, underwater world and friendly people found only in the Galapagos Islands.
Is would be a huge understatement to simply say that the wildlife of the Galapagos is unique. Charles Darwin's observations of the plants and animals that are found here, their remarkable adaptation to this hostile environment, and the subtle variations between races of the same species living on different islands led directly to the development of the theory of evolution. The theory helps to explain how the complex living things on Earth have evolved from simple, singled-celled ancestors by the process of natural selection. Without a doubt, the most important event in the five centuries of human history on the Galapagos was Darwin's visit in 1835. However, even without Darwin, the tale of human contact with the Galapagos is a fascinating one, and over the years these enchanted islands have meant many things to many people.
Our travel program to Galapagos has been specifically designed to visit several islands, each with its unique community of plants and animals, scenic attractions, and cultural components.
Physical activities: The pace of our Galapagos Islands travel program is “moderate” and should not be excessively demanding for most. Provided you can walk for two or three hours on the trails in a state or city park you will be able to participate in the scheduled nature walks. Some excursions are more strenuous than others and require the ascent of steep slopes or over rough terrain, however most walks are conducted at a moderate pace with frequent stops during which your naturalist guide interprets what you are seeing. Getting into and out of the small boats (pangas) that ferry you ashore requires a degree of agility, fitness and sure footedness. If you don’t walk, jog, swim or exercise regularly, then you might consider doing some exercises in preparation for this expedition. Being in good physical condition, although not a requirement for this travel program, will certainly enhance your enjoyment of the activities. On most days there are options for morning and afternoon walks or outings to see wildlife. Swimming, snorkeling and sea kayaking are optional activities that add interest to the planned excursions.
Naturalist /Guides: A nature walk on the Galapagos Islands with a well-trained naturalist guide is akin to experiencing a work of art. Even if you don't see a single animal there is drama; there is suspense; you laugh; you cry; you learn things. Yet if you ask most people before the trip what factors they take into consideration to determine what to do on vacation, guides would usually be pretty far down on the list. After the trip, I have asked hundreds of people, what was the single most important factor that determined the quality of their experience? Almost invariably they say, "our guide." Guides take the hassle out of travel. They provide education, insight into the host culture, and, most important, in many cases, friendship. Travelers who have decided to go it alone often end up wishing they had a guide. Each World Discovery Safari group travel program is accompanied by one or more professional naturalist guide(s). These men and women are graduates of an extensive and on-going training program that includes courses in natural history, tourism, culture & history. They are carefully selected for their interpretive skills, knowledge, temperament and ability to communicate. In addition they have had several years of “on the job” training and have advanced to their current position because they have successfully led numerous natural history related programs and demonstrated their ability as charismatic and resourceful leaders. Your naturalist / guide is often the single most important element of a successful trip.
Environmental Sensitivity and Conservation Commitment: World Discovery Safaris recognizes the importance of environmentally sensitive travel to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. An important aspect of the long-range challenge facing this developing nation is to manage its wealth of wildlife reserves and scenic attractions in a sustainable manner, and to utilize its resources in a way that will create optimum and sustainable living conditions for all its inhabitants. Our participation in the Smart Voyager environmental certification program ensures that the companies we work with and the crew members of the vessels we use are committed to preserving the Galapagos National Park and respect this fragile ecosystem that, worldwide, is recognized as a "living laboratory of evolution."
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