At Think Galapagos our aim is that each holiday we organise should generate positive change. We want to create exceptional and inspirational holidays that not only give you memories that will last a lifetime, but also encourage a greater environmental awareness and a chance to learn more about the ecosystems you visit and their conservation value.
We want to play our role, however small, in trying to address the global biodiversity crisis by ensuring all the holidays we organise actively leave the wildlife and habitats that you visit with more protection and support. We also ensure all our holidays support the local communities you visit.
Ecuador is the most biodiverse place on earth relative to its size. This means it has more plant and animal species per square meter than anywhere else on earth. Like everywhere on earth, the biodiversity of Ecuador is in crisis in particular through deforestation. Globally since 1970, the world’s wildlife populations have fallen by two thirds. In Ecuador it is difficult to get accurate figures of deforestation, but according to the Ministry of the Environment, between 1990 and 2018 – over 2 million hectares (4.9 million acres) of forest were lost in Ecuador.
The unique and pristine ecosystem of the Galapagos Archipelago also faces numerous threats, most notably from invasive species, over fishing, climate change, pollution in the form of water, air plastic and soil and the lack of sustainable development for the human population in the islands.
We believe that responsible, well managed nature-based tourism has a vital role to play in protecting nature. The reality is that most decisions about how land and resources are used – for logging, agriculture, industry or nature – are financial. By creating value in economic terms, responsible nature-based tourism can bring employment opportunities for local communities and economic incentives and benefits to the conservation of nature.
In the Galapagos Islands well managed tourism can provide an alternative to extractive industries like fishing. In mainland Ecuador it can provide an alternative to agriculture (see Santa Lucia for a particularly inspirational example of this) and in the Amazon, places like Sani Lodge and the Napo Wildlife Centre that are 100% community owned and run have helped ensure the conservation of the forest areas around them.
Biodiversity itself is incredibly important for the processes that support all life on earth, including humans. As well as harming biodiversity our damage to the natural environment is also impacting climate change. Nature in the form of our forests, oceans, grass lands, peat bogs and healthy soils absorb 50% of human created carbon emissions each year. When these disappear, it damages nature’s ability to respond to and regulate greenhouse gasses and therefore intensifies the effects of climate change. To have any chance of meeting our climate targets we must ensure that we prioritise protecting nature.
We ensure we work with locally owned, responsibly managed tourism operations in Ecuador, Galapagos and Peru where possible. Responsible, sustainably managed tourism also means a better more authentic experience for our guests.
We support conservation charities and organisations that make a difference. Think Galapagos are long term supporters and an official tourism partner of the Galapagos Conservation Trust which works to mitigate the conservation challenges faced by the islands. For each UK based guest that books we will include a one year membership of the Trust (no cost to you for this, it is covered by us).
For every holiday we organise we calculate the carbon footprint of our services. Rainforest Concern then help us calculate how much standing forest we need to protect to ‘balance’ that. We then use that money to support the permanent protection of cloud forest in Ecuador in an area of exceptional biodiversity. (more details below and in our blog on this subject)
We also use our knowledge to help support new community based ecotourism projects. Since 2019 Think Galapagos founder Rachel Dex has worked on a project in Colombia to support the development of ecotourism projects in areas of exceptional biodiversity. Rachel is part of a team that also includes Royal Botanic Gardens Kew together with a local organisation in Colombia funded by UK PACT (Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions). More details below and also in our blog post about our work here.
“We cannot protect something we do not love, we cannot love what we do not know, and we cannot know what we do not see. And touch. And hear.” – Richard Louv.
All holidays booked with Think Galapagos directly contribute to and advance the protection of habitats and wildlife in Ecuador and Galapagos. We are long term supporters of Galapagos Conservation Trust and the charity Rainforest Concern‘s work in protecting the exceptional biodiversity of Ecuador’s cloud forests.
For all guests that travel with us, we make a contribution on your behalf to one of our chosen charities or conservation projects. Currently we are supporting Rainforest Concern’s project in the Ecuadorian cloud forest and our other project is a crowdfunding campaign for the ecotourism project we work with in Colombia. When you fill in your booking form, you will be asked to tick the box of the charity or project you would like to support
For every UK based guest that travels with us we will provide a 6-month membership of the Galapagos Conservation Trust. The Trust supports pioneering conservation projects ranging from species specific studies to ecosystem-scale restoration projects such as the one they are currently supporting in Floreana Island. Your year’s membership will help support vital conservation projects in the Galapagos and you will receive a subscription to their bi-annual magazine and email newsletters as well as invites to various events held during the year.
Rainforest Concern is a UK based charity set up to protect the endangered habitats of the South American rainforest, including their immense biodiversity and the indigenous people who depend on them for their survival. Rainforest concern take direct action to protect vital corridors of rainforest such as purchasing land in the name of local NGOs or communities. One of their main projects is to create a continuous forest corridor between the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve and community owned forest. Your contribution will protect a 1/5 acre of Ecuadorian rainforest – about 800m2, the size of a suburban garden.
The Forest and Peace Tourism Routes project aims to demonstrate the potential of community-based ecotourism in biodiversity hotspots. Their goal is to sustain rural livelihoods, reduce deforestation, avoid greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen peace building in two post-conflict regions of Colombia: the Serranía de las Quinchas in Boyacá and the Serranía del Perijá in Cesar. Funding helps the 24 families involved to purchase some of the basic elements needed to improve the home-stay lodging for tourists as well as equipping their community guides and helping buy new kitchen equipment.
Think Galapagos and our guests were instrumental in the successful establishment of the Pan y Miel Foundation in Quito. The Foundation provided schooling and basic care for children in a shanty town in the capital who due to a combination of poverty and family situations, were unable to get to school.
In 2018 Think Galapagos helped fund a years healthy lunches for over 80 pupils at a school in a poor rural community in the Chimborazo area of Ecuador through WE.org. The aim of the project is to ensure children get healthy food and essential nutrients so they are able to concentrate and excel in school.
Since 2011 Think Galapagos has helped Rainforest Concern secure the permanent protection of over 35 acres of rainforest and has offset more than 10 tonnes of Carbon. Most of the rainforest protected is pristine cloud forest areas of northwest Ecuador part of the Choco Global Biodiversity Hotspot.