The Galapagos Islands is a beautiful archipelago off the coast of Ecuador with no shortage of environmental problems from wild goats and rats to blackberry and guava trees.
I have written at length about environmental problems on the galapagos islands and have recommended Galapagos volunteer programs on here in the past that turned out to be so poorly run I was forced to remove them – including one that was awarded by National Geographic.
I have been wary about recommending another Galapagos Volunteer Program for over a year but finally an organization I trust has passed me the details of what looks like a fantastic volunteer opportunity concerned with conservation work and organic farming on the island of San Cristobal.
This new Galapagos Volunteer Program was published here on February 2014. Please use the comments below to share with us your experience on this organic farm: what you liked, what you think should be improved, recommendations to other volunteers. This way we can make the first truly transparent Galapagos Volunteer Program.
VOLUNTEER PROGRAM ON THE GALAPAGOS
The organic farm is situated 20 kilometers from the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, which is the capital of the Galapagos Province.
The farm has different climatic zones and types of vegetation on the islands. It is located in the south center of the island and surrounded by fresh water springs, which distinguishes it from other farms of the place and of the islands.
It has water for irrigation and human consumption of excellent quality; electricity and access roads for vehicles. There are preserved species of terrestrial flora and fauna. There is access to recreation sites at neighboring farms as well as at the National Park of Galapagos. Visits at the Galapagos National Park are guided by naturalist guides.
The organic farm has a mill for grinding sugar cane andhoney, marshmallow, brown sugar and other derivatives are produced. The mill is moved by horses or mules. Horses are used for various activities and recreation. You can enjoy great views of the majestic Pacific Ocean with spectacular sunsets over the Island Española opposite.
– eradicate invasive species of weeds
– Management of water springs and micro hydrographic water springs
– Technical support for farm owners in order to improve their income and life quality
– Exchange of customs as mutual cultural contribution between the volunteers and the inhabitants of the agricultural sector of San Cristobal Galapagos
– Teaching and learning of foreign languages
-Knowledge transfer of volunteers on management of resources in protected areas of Galapagos
– Sustainable development with communities, especially with the neighbors of the Cerro Gato sector, through alternative activities related to energy production and organic food
– Perform farm management based on guidelines and criteria of ecological easements. (with the intervention of government companies such as the Galapagos National Park which is the entity responsible of the management and conservation of the Islands.)
The organic farm has a good infrastructure for accommodation, each room has a private bathroom with hot shower and all services are available. There are large spaces for relaxing and reading, terraces with gazeboandcorridors with hammocks. The view is unbeatable! The house is a mixed construction of 11 meters long by 9 meters wide on two and a half floors.
The wooden cabin is 12,5 meters long and 6 meters wide. The total capacity is for 24 volunteers comfortably accommodated. It has a module for a dining room, bar with a billiard table, a large kitchen and a store room, For sports we have a volley ball field available.
For those who are interested in doing volunteer work, we inform you that we are assigning in perpetuity for the conservation of an important area of our land at the farm. This gesture of philanthropy we do because we are convinced that we all have the responsibility for the future of the planet, therefore we are committed to provide the same opportunity to live in a healthy environment in harmonywith nature.
If we plant a tree, it produces oxygen and if this tree is unique in the world we are offering the opportunity to enjoy these values to future generations. If we remove the blackberries, we are contributing to the conservation of the islands in their natural state and helping the farmers to improve their quality of life. Volunteers will be aware that the activity they do is for the benefit of the humanity, i.e. of their own benefit and the generations to come.
IN DESIGNATED AREAS FOR CONSERVATION we clean or remove the invasive plant species, such as blackberries, guava and supirosa among the main ones and replace them with native or endemic speciesbecause ofhigh conservation concern; for example, the farm Guadalupe is the only one that has freshwater mangrovewhich is located at a height of almost 200 meters above sea level. This is unique, therefore we are reforesting with plantspropagated in greenhouses by technicians of the Galapagos National Park.
We have also planted the pedunculated variety of SCALECIAS that are in danger of extinction at San Cristobal and in addition we are planting coffee, bananas and fruit trees to protect freshwater springs which own the farm. Furthermore we are eliminating blackberries in areas where there are plant species, such as ferns, guayabillos, hibiscus, etc.
AT THE REMAINING AREA OF THE FARM we are eliminating invasive species and are planting mainly sugar cane, coffee and fruit trees. We also have small gardens to produce organic food for home consumption. Once put into effect the agreement with the Galapagos National Park, you can participate on the scheduled activities, including many in the pilot project for the new model of tourism at Galapagos (Ecotourism), for example preparation of the inventories of flora and fauna of this property and the neighbors farm, trails, signposts and infrastructures according to the community’s interestfocused on the food security and ecotourism.
ON THE NEIGHBORS FARMS we support work, such as cleaning, preparation of organic fertilizers and seed orchard, tree planting or harvesting of products. The success of the program is to involve local people in the process and make them participate responsibly and actively on the sustainable management of Galapagos.
PROTECTED AREAS OF THE GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK: we support management programsaccording to the needs of the institution, always related to the conservation of the unique nature of the world.
Price per Person:
2 weeks (15 days) $550
4 weeks (30 days) $1080
6 weeks (45 days) $1350
8 weeks (60 days) $1680
10 or more (70 or more) $2025
accommodation, food, practical guides, technical support with qualified staff, tools and material for labor.
Price does NOT include:
airfare, $100USD entrance fee to the Galapagos National Park, traffic control card of US$ 10., life and health insurance, airport tax, weekend excursions or tourism, transportation from the airport to the farm and vice versa.