Being a Galapagos Naturalist Guide is much more than simply guiding. It is an intense dedication and love for one of the most natural and pristine ecosystems in the planet and a responsibility towards the visitor from all over the world so that he knows, discovers and appreciates the magic of the Islands. To become a Naturalist Guide in the Galapagos is a challenging profession and a very enriching one.
Galapagos Naturalist Guides undergo an intensive training program provided by the National Park Service. During the course, the naturalist acquires the information that, with time and experience, evolves into very strong and solid knowledge. Being the Galapagos, a “laboratory of evolution”, with a high rate of endemism and diversity on species, education is a constant, every day practice. It is like being in the right place and time with the proper tools to learn! Galapagos natural and human history deserves attention from many different aspects and it is the job of a naturalist guide to transmit to the visitors all the wonders of this natural paradise.
Apart from their talent and knowledge, one of the most important attributes of a naturalist guide, is the human touch. Naturalist Guides are confined to a reduced physical space (the cabin of the assigned vessel), is away from home for long periods and in contact with people from all over the world; this contact demands a good relationship with the visitors, the community and co-workers. The naturalist guide can be considered the ambassador of Ecuador and the Galapagos. The experience of the visitor in the Galapagos owes much to the social interaction with the Naturalist Guide.
Among the many responsibilities of a naturalist guide is to watch over the natural treasures of the park, its flora and fauna, take care of the ecosystems of the islands, to interpret the different aspects for the visitors and to make sure their experience is unforgettable. Environmental education –focused in a simple and amusing way-- is really a unique attribute that is developed over time. A special gift is to turn a Galapagos visitor into a responsible explorer, who respects and appreciates the natural setting and its resources, so that when he returns home, his experiences have filled his expectations.
A day in the life of a Naturalist Guide is very dynamic and fully enjoyed; the hikes, swimming and snorkeling activities, talks and lectures make this profession a very pleasant and interesting one. Galapagos is simply special and it is a privilege to work there and to feel the work as part of one’s life. It is a great place to enjoy and to make others enjoy it in the same way. The social and conservation compromise of a naturalist guide is sincere and heartfelt. The relationship with the community is good and the environmental footprint left on the islands must be without a trace. This is what makes the job of a naturalist guide challenging, pleasant and rewarding.