Welcome to Galapagos.com, where you can embark on the great new world of sustainable tourism based upon the globally recognized 3 Pillars of giving back to local people and the planet including:
• Environmentally-friendly Practices;
• Support for the Protection of Natural and Cultural Heritage;
• Contributing to the Social and Economic Well-being of Local Communities.
The Galapagos Islands, so connected to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, is a wonderful place to begin your understanding of sustainable travel. The Galapagos represent a complex yet fragile ecosystem, revealing how all life is inter-connected. Yet the isolation of these islands for millennia has meant that life here has also evolved in unique ways. The Galapagos and its very rare wildlife, brought to the world’s attention by Darwin, tells the story of our planet’s past evolution, and also shows why protecting nature holds the key to our planetary future.
The goal of Galapagos.com goes far beyond the Galapagos Islands as a travel destination in and of itself. Rather, we see this as a platform for better understanding the global sustainable tourism transformation underway, and how you as a fellow traveler can be part of this worthy effort. Galapagos.com launches with a focus specifically on Latin America, and in the months ahead we will expand to other regions of the world.
Big Five Tours & Expeditions’ sustainable tourism vision was born in the very heart of the company, and harks back to the beginnings of Big Five in Nairobi, Kenya. In 1973, the founder and CEO, Mahen Sanghrajka, had a dream to share the beauty of Africa that he knew, growing up in Kenya, with small groups of like-minded explorers. Early on, before the idea of ecotourism was even born, he was part of helping to establish a code of ethics for wildlife safaris that included prohibiting smoking while near wildlife and training guides to teach travelers about respectful behavior near wild animals (for example – do not shout at an animal or bang on a vehicle roof top to get their attention to take a photograph). Today, those ideas may seem absurdly obvious, but in the early 1970s in East Africa, they were not.
In 1987, Big Five began taking travelers to the Galapagos Islands, and over the years we have witnessed startling and dramatic changes, as ever bigger cruise ships arrived, reminding us once again that fragile environments, like so many other cherished natural places around the globe, are under siege. That is why we are leaders and advocates for sustainable tourism (Big Five twice won the prestigious Virtuoso Sustainable Tourism Leadership Award, and our Founder, Mahen, has served multiple times as a judge for the National Geographic World Legacy Awards in sustainable tourism best practices. For more, visit “Sustainable Tourism”.
Most countries, including our own, face a myriad of sustainability issues that often cross categories and boundaries. It would be a massive undertaking, more suited to academic research than a travel company, to define all the challenges and opportunities in sustainable tourism that each country faces. So instead, we based our rankings on years of experience creating travel programs in each of these places as an award-winning sustainable travel company. More than anything else, we wanted to recognize efforts at the country level, from those that are beginning the sustainable tourism journey to those who stand among destination leaders, to help fellow travelers and travel advisors have a quick way to determine what countries are helping to lead the way to a brighter travel future. We will continue to update the site and our rankings.