The quintessential bucket list for a world traveler looking to conquer the globe’s wonders features: Machu Picchu in Peru, The Pyramids in Egypt, Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador.
The Galapagos pulls at the heart strings of nature lovers, snorkel fans and photography geeks. My first visit to South America included a 6 month backpacking adventure which took me from Santiago Chile to Guayaquil Ecuador. Finishing up in Ecuador’s tropical south had me a little vexed as I knew the Galapagos were something I most certainly wanted to experience but time and money were not on my side. As I took off on my flight bound for my native Toronto I made a promise to myself to visit the Galapagos if the opportunity ever presented itself.
And that is exactly what I did this past December when I flew down to Quito with Planeterra Co-Executive Director Paula Vlamings. We had an opportunity to meet with the hard working and friendly staff in the G Adventures operational office on the Friday and then flew to Puerto Ayora in the Galapagos Islands early Monday morning.
The majority of advocacy and fundraising efforts in the Galapagos are used to create awareness for conservation issues and the protection of the National Parks delicate ecosystems. We do this as well through our Oil Spill Prevention Program. An often overlooked piece of the puzzle is the social side – issues that the local communities face.
We were greeted at the airport by Juan Elaje, G Adventures Galapagos Customer Service Representative who drove us into town to meet Jose Ignacio, G Adventures Galapagos Operations Coordinator. We then drove as a team to a local public school, “Oswaldo Guayasamin” where we spent the afternoon.
Once we arrived at the school we had an opportunity to meet with several of the teachers and then specifically get a tour of their Recycled Paper Program for children with Special Needs. The children create beautiful artwork including bookmarks, postcards and decorative bottles that are all made of recycled paper and sold locally.
Planeterra is passionate about protecting the Galapagos Islands but also wants to actively give back to the local communities in which travelers visit. Planeterra has facilitated the purchase of these postcards to be sold on G Adventures cruise boats. All profits received from the purchase of these post cards go directly back to the school to assist in running their program.
Visiting the school was one of the highlights of my trip and am so pleased Planeterra is able to facilitate the sale of these postcards to passengers on G Adventures boats. By focusing on conservation efforts and the support of social programs in the Galapagos Planeterra is able to focus on a holistic way for travelers to give back to the places they love to visit.