With the coming of summer, I often start to daydream about my own “dream destinations.” As I was going through a list of exotic destinations I have on my bucket list, I realized that many of them are disappearing, and while I may get a chance to see some of these places, I am not sure my children or my grandchildren will.
To help promote awareness for some of the most spectacular and endangered destinations, we have compiled some factoids in a nice infographic about “10 Places to See Before They’re Gone”, which to us are 10 of the best travel destinations!! We will offer some profiles of these places, and other destinations, in a new section of our blog. Perhaps these will inspire you as you formulate your next vacation plan.
The Galapagos Islands offer a truly magical vacation destination, largely because of its remoteness and its unique flora and fauna. In addition to the Galapagos tortoise, which is the largest living tortoise on the planet, the Galapagos also is home to more than 9,000 species, and more than 75 percent of the reptiles and birds are endemic to the region.
What is ruining the Galapagos is tourism. The number of visitors is steadily rising, increasing more than 12 percent each year. Last year there were more than a quarter of a million visitors. To support this increase in tourism means more infrastructure, and more risk to the delicate Galapagos ecosystem. There are more hotels and accommodations for tourists, which reduces the habitat available for the indigenous species. Hotels, bars, restaurants, and entertainment centers are taking over the landscape and affecting the natural beauty of these small islands. And ships are bringing new species, such as rats, to the islands that are competing with the local wildlife for food and introducing disease.
How long will it take before tourism spoils the Galapagos? It’s hard to say, but the impact of civilization on this once wild and remote destination is more acute every year. When thinking about the effect that visitors have on such a delicate ecosystem, I recall the challenges we have with many of our own national parks. The parks were created to preserve the natural wonders, but the mere fact that you open them to visitors endangers these destinations.
If you have traveled to the Galapagos, we would love to hear about your experience. Please send us your comments, and share some vacation photos for our Facebook page.