From the very beginning of ROW in 1979, we have been driven by a sense of responsibility the protect the places we visit, and to build stewardship in these places by educating and sharing our passion with our guests. This ethic is woven into the fabric of our company. So, when we started operations in the Galápagos ten years ago with our Galapagos Unbound tour, we wanted to figure out how we could contribute to and support the local people, as well as the environment.
We started by buying as many of the trips' provisions as possible from local farmers, fishermen and merchants. We provided funds for our main support boat (a local fisherman) to buy new 4-stroke motors that are quieter and less polluting than those he had, and allowed him to pay us back over several years from the monies we paid him for his services. We made sure our trips had rich, educational elements and, of course, we hired local guides.
In addition, it wasn't long before we discovered IGTOA - the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association. We started adding a $50-75 optional donation line-item to the invoices of our guests, and those funds in turn are donated to IGTOA. We also add contributions directly from ROW. IGTOA funds a lot of great conservation projects in the islands. These projects range from supporting research at the Charles Darwin Foundation on the islands, to educating local fishermen about better fishing practices, as well as enforcement of current fishing regulations, and much more. You can read more about these projects here.
In addition to IGTOA, we make regular donations to the USA-based Galapagos Conservancy, which also does important work in the Galápagos National Park.
We invite you to take a look at both of these organizations and see if you might want to become involved. As well, know that if you choose to travel with ROW Adventures to the Galápagos Islands, a large percentage of your trip price goes directly to the people and causes of the Islands.