When our family visited the Galapagos Islands we felt very safe. The majority of our time was spent exploring the Islands with a Naturalist Guide, or relaxing at the Red Mangrove lodges. When we did head out to explore on our own (Santa Cruz Island) we felt very comfortable with the atmosphere on the Island.
Having a Naturalist Guide along when we were exploring unfamiliar territory was reassuring. I knew that if there was anything to be concerned about (plant, animal or terrain) the Naturalist Guide would let me know. This gave me confidence and helped us keep our daughter aware of her surroundings as well.
A Naturalist Guide accompanied us on all of the group excursions, and as an added bonus a Red Mangrove Tour Leader came along as well. The Tour Leader brought along the gear we needed and snacks to keep us hydrated and energized. They also answered a lot of our questions about the plants and animals, and helped us learn about some of the cultural aspects of the Islands. Having a member of the staff from where we were staying accompany us on all of the excursions also added to the feeling of safety for our family.
The Galapagos Islands are in South America, and traveling in South America sounds scary to some people. I think this impression often comes from hyped up travel gossip and negative media coverage. It has been our experience that traveling in South America is safe, provided that we are aware of our surroundings and use common sense. We have lived in Ecuador for more than two years, and the more we see of this country the more amazed we are by its beauty.
A few general rules that we keep in mind while traveling in South America are:
- Never go out alone after dark
- Keep personal belongings secure at all times
- Avoid secluded areas
Interestingly, while we were visiting the Galapagos Island of Santa Cruz, all of these rules were broken and we felt quiet safe while breaking them – because of the circumstances and atmosphere.
- Rule #1 was broken when we visited the local fish market to see a sea lion jostling for position with some hungry pelicans in the fresh fish scrap line up.
- Rule #2 was broken when we left all of our personal stuff with a Red Mangrove staff member while we swam and snorkeled to our hearts content.
- Rule #3 was broken when we went to Tortuga Bay, and I can’t wait to go back!
Of course personal safety habits still came into play for us, like not standing too close to the caldera of the volcano we had just hiked up, or not running out to stand under a poison apple tree when it started to rain. There are some safety rules that just can’t be broken.
During our whole trip, we felt really relaxed with the level of safety on our visit, and that helped us to focus on exploring the wonders of nature that surrounded us. So it’s safe to say that we consider the Galapagos Islands a safe place to visit and explore – whether traveling alone, as a couple or with kids; especially when staying with a tour operator.