New Galapagos Islands travel regulations go into effect next week

On February 1st, a new set of travel regulations will go into effect in the Galapagos Islands, which are designed to help protect the environment there, while simultaneously presenting travelers with a better experience. These new rules have already had an impact on available itineraries, but visitors can expect the same overall options for visiting this amazing destination.

The new rules are actually quite simple. The Ecuadorian government, which oversees operation of the Galapagos National Park, has passed regulations that state that no vessel operating in and around the archipelago will be permitted to visit the same site more than once within a 14 day period. The purpose for this change in operation is that it should help disperse the ship traffic throughout the region, thereby keeping overcrowding to a minimum, while also protecting the unique and fragile ecosystems there. By reducing crowds, the overall experience of the Galapagos should be preserved for visitors as well, keeping it one of the top destinations for future generations to enjoy too.

When the new regulations were first announced there was some concern that tour operators would do away with the shorter itineraries in favor of those that were 14 days in length or longer. That hasn’t been the case however, as companies recognize the fact that they must cater to the needs of all travelers, including those who don’t have two weeks to spare for their getaway. As a result, they’ve had to get a bit creative with their itineraries in order to operate within the 14-day rules, but there are still plenty of 7, 10, and 12 day Galapagos adventures available to go along with the more extended trips.

Adventure travel company Metropolitan Touring, for example, operates three ships in the Galapagos and made the switch over to the their new itineraries earlier this week. Their options can all be combined to create trips of various lengths ranging from 10-15 days, and guests have the ability to extend their stay further by booking rooms at an eco-lodge located on Santa Cruz Island. Other travel companies offer similar flexibility in their schedules, giving travelers the ability to find the right itinerary to fits their needs.

The Galapagos Islands are truly one of the most unique natural environments on our planet, and are home to a host of wildlife that isn’t found anywhere else on Earth. These regulations will help to ensure that the islands, and the creatures that live there, stay safe and protected for years to come.

New Galapagos Islands regulations will change 2012 tours

Over the past decade or so, the Galapagos Islands have become one of the more popular tourist attractions in the world. In fact, they’ve gotten so popular that the fragile ecosystem there has become threatened by the amount of tourist traffic that now visit the area each year. In 2012, a new set of regulations will go into effect that may help protect the Islands, and could have an effect on travelers as well.

Beginning February 1st of next year, no vessel will be permitted to visit the same site more than once in a given 14 day period. The hope is that this will keep the traffic dispersed throughout the islands, and prevent some of the more threatened areas from becoming too crowded. It should also help to make the overall Galapagos experience a better one too.

While these regulations sound like a great plan for protecting one of the planet’s best natural wonders, they will have a direct impact on travelers planning on going to the Islands in the future. For instance, many of the tour operators have already begun to drop their shorter 7 to 10 day itineraries in favor of longer 14+ day excursions. In fact, week long Galapagos trips may become a thing of the past, as ships wouldn’t be able to visit the same sites with the same regularity, making them very inefficient for tour operators.

That is not to say that shorter trips might not still be available in some form or another, but they will not offer the same level of coverage that the have in the past, and travelers might not get to experience everything they had hoped for.

Also keep in mind that a 14 day Galapagos trip will require 17 or 18 days when you factor in the travel time to Ecuador and the islands themselves. That may mean that those of us with fewer days to spare will be shut out from visiting the Islands as well.

If you’re visiting the Galapagos this year, your travel plans won’t be impacted, but if you’re planning on going in 2012 or beyond, you may want to reexamine your options.