Galapagos National Park
In 1959, the Ecuadorian government set aside 1,714,000 acres (693,700 ha), 90% of the Galapagos Islands as a National Park. All the lands not already included in the settlement areas were designated and incorporated into the park. In 1967 a park service was set up in the islands and 5 years later the first park superintendent arrived.
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.
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 guide who accompanies all visitors enforcing rules through education.
Galapagos National Park Rules
The Galapagos Islands are one of the most magical places on earth. Here animals live without fear and do not run away from visitors. To maintain the uniqueness of the Galapagos Islands the national park service has developed rules to aid in the preservation. Your naturalist-guide will explain and enforce these rules making sure that all visitors stay together on marked paths and respect the follow the other park service regulations.
- No plant, animal, or remains of such (including shells, bones, and pieces of wood), or other natural objects should not be removed or disturbed.
- Be careful not to transport any live material to the islands, or from island to island.
- Do not take any food to the uninhabited islands, for the same reason.
- Do not touch or handle the animals.
- Do not feed the animals. It can be dangerous to you, and in the long run would destroy the animals’ social structure and breeding habits.
- Do not startle or chase any animal from its resting or nesting spot.
- Stay within the areas designated as visiting sites.
- Do not leave any litter on the islands, or throw any off your boat.
- Do not deface the rocks.
- Do not buy souvenirs or objects made of plants or animals from the islands.
- Do not visit the islands unless accompanied by a licensed National Park Guide.
- Restrict your visits to officially approved areas.
- Show your conservationist attitude.
Galapagos Marine Reserve
Found at the confluence of warm and cold surface currents and deep cold upwell waters, the waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands are home to a fascinating ecological system. These waters were unprotected until recently and became vulnerable to the pressures of increased human presence, fishing and tourism.
Galapagos Marine life is closely related to the life on the islands. Island animals depend on the ocean. Birds and animals existing near the water have a variety of distinctive habitats and endemic species including the world’s only sea-going lizard, the marine iguanas Other notable wildlife includes the sea-lyons,fur seals,Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorant, waved albatross, lava gull and swallow-tailed gull.
The waters surrounding the Galapagos are home to 3000 species of marine plants and animals. Diving in the Galapagos is quickly expanding; divers seek the experience of spectacular marine life including Whale Sharks, Galapagos Sharks, hammerheads, manta rays and leopard rays.
In the past few years fishing in the Galapagos has boomed. Fishermen come with lines and nets hunting for tuna. Divers seek lobsters and sea cucumbers. During the 1990’s fishing for sea cucumber to supply the Asian market greatly depleted that resource. Now even though illegal the fishing continues. Another lucrative and controversial practice is fishing for shark fins. These fishermen hunt the sharks merely for their fins, leaving the rest of the animal. This depletes the area of this important predator and the attraction of divers.
In 1992 a management plan was created for the Galapagos Marine Reserve, but due to lack of organization and involvement it went basically ignored. In 1997 renewed effort have brought about dramatic changes to the preserving the marine environment. All of the local sectors (fishing, tourism and conservation) have been brought together to negotiate protecting these resources. Finally in 1998 The Galapagos Marine Reserve was created. Designed to protect the waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands and the resources they contain.
Galapagos Marine Reserve Law
- The incorporation of the Marine Reserve into the national system of protected areas.
- The Marine Reserve area is increased from 15 – 40 miles (24-64 km) from the base line.
- The Galapagos National Park Service is established as the authority in charge of administration, management and control of the marine reserve, as well as coordinating control with the fisheries ministry and the navy.
- Establishing a multi-sector management board consisting of the Galapagos National Park Service and the users of the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
Galapagos Naturalist Guides
Whether you charter a boat or bring your own, all visitors to the Galapagos National Park are required to travel with a certified guide. These naturalist guides are trained in conservation and natural sciences by the Charles Darwin Foundation and licensed by the Galapagos National Park Service. The guides work as the first line of defense protecting the park’s natural resources through education. They accompany visitors ashore interpreting the natural wonders of the islands while enforcing the park rules and regulations.
Galapagos National Park Entrance Fees
A national park entrance fee is required from all visitors entering the Galapagos National Park and/or Galapagos Marine Reserve. The park fee payable in US Dollars may be paid at the airport upon arrival in the Galapagos Islands or can be pre-paid by arrangement with your tour operator. A permit granting access to the National Park and Marine Reserve is given as a receipt.
The park permit is submitted to National Park Officials at the point of entry (normally at the Baltra or San Cristobal airport), where it is processed and recorded. It is imperative to retain the permit and have it available at the time of entrance. Persons not having a permit for any reason, including misplaced permits, will be required to purchase a new permit to enter the national park.
- Foreign Tourists non-residents of Ecuador over 12 years of age – $100
- Foreign Tourists non-residents of Ecuador under 12 years of age – $50
- Foreign Tourists non-residents of Ecuador over 12 years of age. Nationals of one of the countries participating in the Andean Community of Nations or Mercosur – $25
- National Tourists or Foreign Residents of Ecuador over 12 years of age – $6
- National Tourists or Foreign Residents of Ecuador under 12 years of age – $3
- Tourists non-resident foreign students registered at one of the National Universities of Ecuador – $25
The Galapagos Transit Control Card or INGALA fee is a $20 per person fee payable by all those who travel to the Galapagos Islands. The fee regulates the migration to the Galapagos Island. The fee is normally paid at either the Quito or Guayaquil airport.