"Genesis", de Sebastião Salgado
Foto de "Genesis", de Sebastião Salgado (Reprodução)

An invitation from Sebastião Salgado

Discover Galápagos, an archipelago rich in exotic animals and plants, many extinct, that inspired Charles Darwin to write “The Origin of Species”

It had been a long time since I had been interested in getting to know the Galápagos, because of its characteristics and even to reinforce some religious convictions. But the definitive incentive was to see the images captured by the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado and published in the book “Genesis”.

"Genesis", by Sebastião Salgado
Photo of “Genesis”, by Sebastião Salgado (Reproduction)

The work contains records of the most distant places on the planet, which preserve their original characteristics – they are the same as they were hundreds of years ago. Among others, Antarctica, Siberia, Sahara Desert, Amazon Rainforest and… Galapagos!

From desire to planning and execution it was a leap. Months later, I was flying over San Cristóbal, one of the 38 islands that make up the archipelago lost in the immensity of the Pacific Ocean, almost a thousand kilometers off the Ecuadorian coast. There are four main islands, inhabited: Santa Cruz, Isabela, São Cristóbal and Floreana.

Galapagos Map

The impact that Galápagos has on the retina and other senses of the visitor is permanent, from the beginning to the end of the journey. The archipelago is reached by two airports, one located on the island of San Cristóbal, and the other (the most used) on the small island of Baltra, which is attached to the island of Santa Cruz, where important government offices, hotels, tourism companies are located. and research centers, such as the Charles Darwin Scientific Station.

The newly arrived visitor is impressed with the naturalness with which the animals behave: herons and sea lions completely at ease on the beach, on moored boats, fish market counters … everywhere. In fact, their priority is to harass them, which is an environmental crime.

Local authorities seek to maintain environmental preservation with increasingly restrictive measures to combat predatory tourism. In 1959, the Ecuadorian government created the National Park, which houses 97% of the archipelago’s land surface. A 138,000-square-km marine reserve was also delimited, with a total ban on fishing.

In 1978, Galápagos was considered a World Heritage Site by Unesco. In Galapagos, everything is expensive. Starting with the flights that leave from Quito or Guayaquil, passing through the fee charged to the tourists as soon as they disembark (US $ 100), the daily rates of the hotel and the price of the meals (a portion of rice and a fillet of fish does not leave for less than US $ 10), up to the value of the passage of the boats to go from one island to another (US $ 30).

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