The Galapagos Islands are a world-class visitor destination, and the rich and famous are not immune to their attraction!
Many famous visitors have come from around the world to see the Galapagos Islands and to enjoy themselves just like any other visitor.
The same rules apply to the rich and famous: they can only go ashore on the visitor sites, they must be accompanied by a certified Galapagos naturalist guide, etc.
Here are just a few of the most famous Galapagos visitors!
Tomas de Berlanga, Bishop of Panama
How appropriate that the Galapagos’ first visitor should be a celebrity. In 1535, Berlanga was on his way to Peru to put an end to a civil war among the conquistadors when his ship was blown off course.
Thus were the Galapagos Islands first discovered.
The famous pirate and explorer visited Galapagos in 1784.
He was particularly impressed by the tasty tortoises, writing:
“The land-turtle are here so numerous that 5 or 600 men might subsist on them alone for several months without any other sort of provision: they are extraordinary large and fat; and so sweet that no pullet eats more pleasantly.”
Darwin was a young naturalist on board the HMS Beagle when it visited Galapagos in 1835.
Years later, the samples he had collected led him to an epiphany. He realized that the Galapagos Finches, unique to each island, had all evolved from a common ancestor, leading him to develop his Theory of Evolution, and stunning the world.
They’re still naming streets, buildings, and more after him in the Galapagos Islands.
Melville was a young sailor in 1841 when he visited the Galapagos Islands. His greatest work, Moby Dick, was still ten years in his future.
Once he was an established writer, he did a magazine article about Galapagos where he focused on the harshness of the islands:
“Another feature in these isles is their emphatic uninhabitableness… Man and wolf alike disown them. Little but reptile life is here found: tortoises, lizards, immense spiders, snakes, and that strangest anomaly of outlandish nature, the iguana. No voice, no low, no howl is heard–the chief sound of life here is a hiss.”
The movie bombshell visited the Galapagos in 2007, where she fell in love with the sea lions.
She was distressed to learn that the playful animals are sometimes used as bait by illegal shark fishermen and has joined with action star Jackie Chan to try and reduce Asia’s appetite for illegal shark fins.
She has even served on the board of the Galapagos conservancy.
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall
The heir to the throne of England visited the Galapagos Islands with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in March of 2009.
The Prince and Duchess were impressed by the wildlife and the need for conservation efforts.
Chevy Chase, Glenn Close, Leonardo DiCaprio, Daryl Hannah and Edward Norton
These five stars, as well as several others, visited on board the Endeavor in April, 2010 as part of a conservation conference. Leonardo DiCaprio went even further, offering to help preserve Ecuador’s Yasuni Nature reserve. While in Galapagos, they met with Ecuadorian vice-president Lenin Moreno.
These are just a few of the many celebrities who have come to the Galapagos Islands. So on your next trip, keep an eye on the people at the table next to you: they might be more famous visitors!
Galapagos Welcomes VIP’s
Galapagos: travel destination of the rich and famous! In recent weeks, the islands have hosted some well-known visitors.
Over a century ago, British naturalist Charles Darwin made his legendary visit to the islands.
On March 2009, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall spent one day in the islands. Nevertheless, they managed to pack quite a bit into their brief time there.
Charles and Camilla became official “godparents” of a tiny, two-year-old tortoise during a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station. It is a Galapagos tradition to allow visiting dignitaries to “adopt” a baby tortoise at the breeding station and give it a new name. The tortoise formerly known as “53” from the number painted on its back has been renamed William, after Charles’ eldest son. While at the breeding center, the couple took the opportunity to meet Galapagos’ most famous resident: Lonesome George, last of the Pinta Island giant tortoises. The royal couple also visited North Seymour Island, known for Frigatebirds, Blue-footed Boobies, and sea lions.
Prince Charles is committed to fighting climate change in the world and was on a ten-day trip to South America to bring attention to his cause. He received the red-carpet treatment at all of his stops, including Chile and Brazil, where he was greeted by the sitting Presidents of those nations. Ecuador sent former Vice-President Lenin Moreno in place of the former President Rafael Correa.
The Prince took the opportunity to talk about the environmental challenges facing the world today. He lauded the Galapagos for the ongoing efforts to protect endangered species but warned of the dangers of allowing too many tourists to visit. He acknowledged that this was the great challenge of Galapagos: how to manage tourism in an environmentally friendly way.
The Prince of Wales is not the only internationally known figure to visit the Islands. Richard Gere, the award-winning star of such films as Pretty Woman and An Officer and a Gentleman, toured the islands with his family while on vacation. He, too, met Lonesome George and spoke publicly about his interest in preserving the islands. Gere, known for adopting causes such as freedom for Tibet, offered to assist the National Park by speaking out for conservation. He also mentioned his admiration for the park rangers and the job they do. Gere had tried to remain incognito on his trip, registering under a different name, but eventually accepted that his cover had been blown and talked with reporters.
Hopefully, these celebrities and their support for Galapagos conservation will bring the attention of the world to the problems facing the islands and the visionary men and women who are doing all they can to preserve them for posterity.