The Galapagos Islands

Galapagos National Park Rules
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The Galapagos Islands are very special. No one who visits them comes away quite the same; not the scientist who finds himself in the middle of Darwin's laboratory, nor the casual traveler who discovers a little Eden where the animals don't run away in fear of his approach. The islands are unique, and very delicate, and deserve our best efforts to preserve them in their natural state. To this end, the National Park has come up with the following rules. It is essential that you respect and follow these directives, that you stay on the marked paths, and that you do not wander off or lag behind your group. You can expect your Galapagos guide to be quite strict in enforcing these rules, as the guides all love these islands and will do anything they can to protect them.

  1. No plant, animal, or remains of such (including shells, bones, and pieces of wood), or other natural objects should be removed or disturbed. This is illegal, and can harm the ecological balance of the islands.
  2. Be careful not to transport any live material to the islands, or from island to island. Check your clothing for seeds or insects before each landing and departure. Each island has its own unique fauna and flora, and introduced species can quickly destroy these ecosystems.
  3. Do not take any food to the uninhabited islands, for the same reason. The orange seed you drop may become a tree.
  4. Do not touch or handle the animals. They will quickly become fearful and lose their remarkable fearlessness if they are approached by human invaders.
  5. 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. You came here to see a completely natural situation. Please do not interfere with it.
  6. Do not startle or chase any animal from its resting or nesting spot. Be especially careful among the breeding seabird colonies. An exposed booby chick can die within minutes, or be scooped up by a hungry frigatebird.
  7. Stay within the areas designated as visiting sites. Watch for trails and areas marked by the white wooden stakes. This way you can experience the islands while causing as little damage as possible.
  8. Do not leave any litter on the islands, or throw any off your boat. Carry along a bag of some sort if you're going to have any disposables, such as film wrappers or kleenex. Litter is not only ugly; more importantly it can cause serious physical harm to the animals. Sea turtles, for example, will eat plastics thrown overboard and die when it blocks their digestive tract.
  9. Do not deface the rocks. No grafitti - this is not the New York subway.
  10. Do not buy souvenirs or objects made of plants or animals from the islands. If anyone offers you any, please advise the National Park Service.
  11. Do not visit the islands unless accompanied by a licensed National Park guide. And follow his or her instructions at all times.
  12. Restrict your visits to officially approved areas. There are certain areas where the public is permitted, and others where access is restricted or prohibited. Your guide and captain know which areas you are allowed to visit. Don't try to get them to take you somewhere you're not supposed to be.
  13. Show your conservationist attitude. Explain these rules to others, and help to enforce them. Notify the Park Service if you see any damage being done. You could be a decisive factor in the islands' preservation.

Special thanks to IGTOA for providing this information

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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