When it comes to social responsibility and conservation efforts in Galapagos, Metropolitan Touring has been one of the pioneer companies in helping build and shape the tourism industry in the archipelago. We have always tried to find a good balance between helping the unique and delicate environment while harmlessly sharing its natural beauty with guests that visit us from all around the world.
Just like many other industries, the tourism industry tends to be a seasonal business. About 70% of the guests aboard the Santa Cruz II come from the United States of America. As a result, our high season tends to be during the entire month of July up until August 15th, meaning we were fully booked on all of our itineraries. There’re a few changes that occur during this period, the most noticeable of which is the groups of guests we have. Normally it tends to be just couples, but during the summer vacation we see an increase in families with young kids. The best part of this is that it’s always nice to see kids’ faces light up when they get a chance to see our amazing wildlife up close and personally. This month, as the summer vacation ended and most kids were already back in school in the USA, things have changed once again, and we are now sailing through our low season up until the Christmas break.
Being in the low season means we are not fully booked and have a decent number of cabins available on the boat. This is when Metropolitan Touring makes the most out of this opportunity to give back to the Galapagos community. We do this by sponsoring people from the archipelago that have been here all their lives yet, due to their economic situation, have not been able to travel between the islands and get to know the greater part of their own amazing home. On this particular cruise we had a group of 12 artisans from Isabela Island that where incredibly grateful for getting the chance to be on board with us. With this same group we actually also had a couple of Park Rangers from the Galapagos National Park – the entity that oversees all operations and coordinates all conservation efforts in Galapagos. The interesting part too was that, even though a few of these guests had never been to some of the visitor sites we landed on, every single one of them was equally devoted to the conservation of the Galapagos Islands.
The park rangers where enjoying most of the trip and listening carefully to what our expert naturalist guides had to tell them yet they always kept a watchful eye on other little things like: the condition of the trails that we walked on, whether all the signs and markers were in good condition or if there was one that needed replacement. They made notes if there was a missing step on a staircase or if the handrails were a bit loose so as to make a proper report and get the issue fixed right away. All in all, it was nice to see people from Galapagos enjoying their archipelago and, at the same time, taking great care of it. It couldn’t have been better timing either, for once we landed on Urbina Bay at Isabela Island, we saw an introduced species (a cat!) roaming freely in the wild. We were lucky to have enough time to take pictures of it and now the park rangers have the images to be able to write a report and have this problem correct as quickly as possible in order to maintain the natural beauty of this amazing place.
Galapagos conservation: it’s all about strength in numbers! Teamwork is key!