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$150 and up
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Darwin's Enchanted Isles - a volcanic archipelago on the equator 600 miles west of the Ecuadorian coast - are one of our planet's most precious and unique ecosystems, home to an extraordinary profusion of exotic, often endemic flora and fauna. This remote island group, with its dramatic and desolate beauty, is home to some of the most unique species in the world. Many are endemic, such as the Galapagos tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra), marine and land iguanas, the flightless cormorant (Phalacrocorax harrisi) and, of course, Darwin's famous finches.
Darwin noted that different species adapted to fit different niches on individual islands, which gave rise to his idea of natural selection. After visiting the Galapagos in 1941, Herman Melville called them "Las Encantadas." But it wasn't until 1959 when it became part of Ecuador's national park system that this fragile ecosystem with its rare and endemic species was protected. In 1979, the Galapagos archipelago was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Number of employees: 94
Percentage of local employees: 60%
Ecoventura’s core commitment to the ongoing sustainability of this fragile and at-risk ecosystem began in 1999 when the company first began to green its operations. Ecoventura is now a recognized leader in responsible tourism to the Galapagos Islands and a case study for communities and regions seeking to avoid the negative effects of irresponsible tourism.
Ecoventura was among the first company to earn and maintain the voluntary certification, SmartVoyager, in 2000. This ensures our operation complies with a set of strict environmental and social policies, such as producing our own water, waste management, using four stroke engines, and providing good living conditions and benefits to our crews.
Ecoventura became the first company in the Galapagos to offset carbon emissions from its four yachts and sales offices from 2006 to 2011. The company also reduced emissions by 10% through the use of high performance filters and the installation of 40 solar panels and two wind generators on the ERIC, converting her to the first hybrid yacht in the Galapagos.
In 2011, Ecoventura earned Rainforest Alliance Verification as a result of its commitment to conserving the environment and supporting local communities. The Rainforest Alliance Verification standards have been recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), the gold standard for sustainable tourism. This provides assurance that a hotel or tour operator has met comprehensive social, environmental, and economic standards that conserve natural resources, protect wildlife, and help local communities to thrive.
As of January 29, 2012, the Galapagos National Park requires all vessels in the Galapagos to change itineraries to not repeat any visitor sites within a two week period. In order to promote quality over quantity and lessen the number of visitors, Ecoventura chose to operate two unique full week night itineraries as opposed to a combination of shorter 3 to 4 night itineraries. The change is a result of park efforts to reduce erosion and the pressure and possible stress on wildlife at the 14 most popular visitor sites in the archipelago by redistributing visitor numbers across more sites and ultimately enhancing visitor experience.
Through the Galapagos Marine Biodiversity Fund, Ecoventura provided scholarships to local students to pursue undergraduate degrees at the Galapagos Academic Institute for the Arts & Sciences (GAIAS), part of the University of San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) at the San Cristobal Island campus. The objective was to form community leaders who will help manage conservation and be prepared to take a stand against illegal fishing that threatens the islands’ ecosystem. To date, 23 students have graduated, many of whom have already entered the workforce in the islands: three in tourism-related activities, three in public institutions, and one in teaching in a local high school. Two graduates have decided to pursue further degrees.
In July 2012, Ecoventura sponsored 12 local students to participate in a course for Galapagos students ages 16-17 through Ecology Project International. Students spent 50 hours in the field directly involved in conservation actions concerning invasive species and the health of tortoises in the wild. The goal was to develop critical-thinking skills and a conservation ethic along with knowledge of the problems that threaten the sustainability of the islands. A $400 donation made the course possible for one student.
In November 2012, Ecoventura launched a career shadowing program for high school students ages 15-17 living in the Galapagos that assists them with career exploration by offering the opportunity to “shadow” an Ecoventura naturalist guide. Ecoventura guides served as mentors to the students in the field during a week-long cruise in November 2012 aboard the MY Letty. A total of four applicants were chosen by The Ecology Project staff based on the student’s essay explaining their interest in becoming a naturalist guide. This program provides a valuable link to motivate and encourage local students to choose a career as a professional naturalist guide.
As one of the most well-established tour companies based in San Cristobal, Ecoventura has helped to support various initiatives that benefit the local population of 5,600 living in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal. Through the foundation “Gotitas de Esperanza” (Drops of Hope), Ecoventura has sponsored salaries for teachers and physical therapists who work at Alejandro Alvear School for the past decade. During the day, the school provides therapy for children with Down’s Syndrome and other physical disabilities. In the evenings, the school serves the adult population of the island through programs such as teaching sign language for the hearing impaired.
In 2011, Ecoventura teamed up with Pack for a Purpose, a charitable organization. By packing up to 5 lbs (2.27 kgs) of supplies suggested on their web site, we give passengers the opportunity to make a difference in the lives on children who live in Galapagos by bringing needed items with them on their trip. The program is voluntary and takes little effort, but can make a big impact. Ecoventura collects and delivers supplies to the students at Alejandro Alvear School and to the New Era Foundation, which supports art programs, Eco Scouts, and English activities.
$150 and up
Scheduled departures are offered every Sunday from San Cristobal Island with comprehensive 7-night itinerary including the outer, most spectacular islands. Learn more about Eric, Flamingo & Letty itineraries.
Ecoventura also operates the Galapagos Sky, a 16-passenger live-aboard dive boat offering 7-night itineraries visiting the Wolf and Darwin Islands.
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Nearest international airport: Quito (UIO); Guayaquil (GYE)
Nearest local/national airport: San Cristobal (SCR)
Distance, by land, to the nearest airport: ~2 miles (3 kilometers) from the San Cristobal airport to port.
Passengers should arrive in Ecuador (either Quito or Guayaquil) at least one night before the cruise. Flights to the Galapagos from Ecuador are automatically confirmed by Ecoventura on Aerogal Airlines, a privately owned and customer service oriented company.
The flight to Galapagos, the Galapagos National Park fee, and transit control card fees are collected and pre-paid in advance. Learn more.
Darwin's Enchanted Isles are one of our planets most precious and unique ecosystems, home to an extraordinary profusion of exotic, often endemic, flora and fauna. Tourism to this remote volcanic archipelago is both part of the solution and also part of the problem. Humans have unwittingly brought alien species that compete with native plants and animals. The growing number of settlers migrating from the mainland of Ecuador to the islands has put pressure on a fragile environment that imperils the entire ecosystem. As a result in 2007, UNESCO declared the Galapagos as a World Heritage Site at risk.
Ecoventura is dedicated to preserve the ecological integrity of the Islands for both its scientific value and economic benefit. Through various conservation efforts and projects, including SmartVoyager, carbon offsetting, and the Global Marine Biodiversity Fund (GMBF), Ecoventura can support their claim as a responsible tour operator.
Through two strategies - conservation education and marine conservation - GMBF puts donated funds to work on the ground, supporting local projects through grants and addressing critical issues, reversing ecological damage and conserving Galapagos for the future. Its efforts, along with those of other Galapagos supporters, will help ensure that this global treasure remains prosperous and thriving with life.
In 2005, Santiago Dunn, President of Ecoventura, was presented with the Rainforest Alliance's prestigious Individual Sustainable Standard-Setter award for his significant contributions to environmental conservation and sustainability. "We want to give our passengers the assurance that Ecoventura has taken every measure to ensure that passengers enjoy a safe, thrilling adventure without harming the unique wildlife or the fragile environment. We all live in this world and breath the same air, the very least we can do is try to preserve it for our children and the generations to come," says Santiago Dunn.
Director of Sales and Marketing
Vía Samborondón, km 1,5
Edificio Samborondón Business Center, Torre A, Piso 3
Date: January, 2011
Rainforest Alliance Verified™
Date: December, 2010