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Ecuador Dispatch Part II – The Insightful Yacht Captain

Date: May 16, 2024 | By: Ashish Sanghrajka | Category: Travel Blog

The Invisible Galapagos

This is part II of Gisela’s dispatch from Ecuador. Part one took us to the Amazon, which was where I first visited as a teen with my best friend in school, Fred. What an experience that was! Part II takes us to the famed Galapagos Islands.

For the longest time, the only known way to see the islands was by boat with mediocre food, bumpy rides, and amazing guides. Well, the boat product has evolved over the years, and with some great experiences available. However, I remember a commitment we made as a company almost 20 years ago to focus on land-based products in the Galapagos, as it aligned better with who we were as a company. That decision propelled Big Five to the cutting edge in the Galapagos, and we weren’t the only ones who thought so. Our esteemed guests loved the way activities could be tailored vs. a rigid schedule of activities, coupled with top naturalist guides and experiences that covered culinary and culture, in addition to the wildlife.

So it’s no surprise that our own Gisela Polo, currently on her way home from the Galapagos, summarized her return to Galapagos as:

Seeing the Galapagos the right way means spending more time in areas that are not always visited. It reminded Captain about his times as a child, seeing his grandfather on small yachts much like the ones Gisela used for full-day excursions from her lodge, in fact, she shared something the local captain told her:

“The money doesn’t always go to the communities when one visits the Galapagos, many times, it goes back to the corporations. Look at the food you are eating, my sister prepared that!, everything you are seeing, eating, and experiencing is from the local community.” 

This was touching for Gisela and frankly reinforces the ill effects of commoditization affecting some of the more mass- market products in the Galapagos.

I loved that when I asked Gisela about her favorite parts of her visit, she didn’t start with the animals, she ended with them. She started with all the micro-entrepreneurs running local farms and serving local markets.

Enjoy the video for part II and make sure to ask Gisela to tell you more about her story.


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