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The Traveller's Magazine
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If you’ve been lucky enough to visit the legendary Galapagos Islands in the last 14 years you’ll know that most tour boats and guides take everyone to the same places in the islands. During peak season, they’re over-run. New rules for tour operators will change all of that.

Things are going to change around these islands in a pursuit to reduce harmful emissions that could destroy one of the world’s most incredible ecosystem. Connections to the islands and mainland will be reconsidered for one thing, in order to drastically cut fuel consumption in an effort to protect the environment.


Rather than reducing the number of tourists, the Ministry of Tourism hopes to redistribute them throughout the year… essentially getting rid of any “peak” or “low” season. From February 1, 2012 new regulations will come into play regarding cruise ship and tour operators and how often (and for how long) they’re allowed to stay docked in the islands. Tour operators are expected to introduce new 2-week itineraries. Tourists will be able to choose from either a 7-night trip, a 5-night or a 4-night trip.

The new regulations also don’t allow tour boats to dock twice in the same spot, offering equal access to different islands during the tours. The good news for tourists and travellers is that this now opens up the possibility to visit lesser known spots in the archipelago. Instead of taking a trip to the 15 most visited spots on the islands, new trip itineraries will be offered to more “off the beaten path” parts of the Galapagos.


Boat sizes will also be regulated. Trail maintenance and tourist services are also on the Tourism Board’s agenda for 2012. For those travellers planning holidays in Ecuador with a side-trip to the Galapagos Islands, you’re in for a treat next year!

Are you dreaming of a trip to the Galapagos Islands in 2012?

Imgs: eutrophication&hypoxia / Flickr cc.

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2 responses to “Galapagos Islands: changing up the tour operator rules

  1. I agree with GITO. The author has written this article with little knowledge of the facts. No new sites are being opened up. The implications are for less congestion at the most popular sites, but not all 7 night cruises will now hit the most popular sites.

    Warmest regards,

    Heather Blenkiron

  2. I suggest that the author get their facts straight. Tagus Cove and Santa Fe have been open over the last 14 years, as has most of the archipelago. The PNG has implemented new rules requiring that all tour operators adopt a 15 day itinerary to lessen impact on some of the more visited sites, but no more sites or islands have been opened.

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