Like a box of chocolates, the Galapagos Islands offer a wide variety of treasures that both surprise and delight visitors. In fact, thousands upon thousands of tourists visit the Galapagos each year, enticed by the promise of experiencing the natural wonders of hikes along active volcanoes, treks into the highlands on horseback, snorkeling, getting up-close and personal with exotic wildlife, or simply relaxing on white-sand beaches that are as pristine as the day they rose out of the seas.
However, there is a catch: As more and more visitors flock to the Galapagos for a taste of its environmental and ecological marvels, it strains the natural beauty and wildlife that made the islands so attractive in the first place.
As a way of counteracting some of the side effects of tourism on the environment, the Galapagos Islands have become the home of the first sustainable airport in the world! Now, visitors can fly to this island paradise while leaving a significantly reduced carbon footprint as part of their trip.
Baltra Airport, which services Baltra Island, runs entirely on electricity generated by solar and wind energy thanks to nearby panels and turbines. Fresh water comes from an on-site desalination plant, which processes nearby seawater. Mechanical shutters open and close based on sensor readings of heat and carbon dioxide levels inside the building. And, if that weren’t enough, the airport is constructed–from the building itself all the way down to the chairs in the waiting areas–from recycled materials taken from the former Seymour Airport.
“The main thing is that is that is a sustainable building… that can balance technology and comfort for passengers without polluting the environment,” said Jorge Rocillo, the airport manager, in an interview with Euronews. “This is basically the legacy we want to give.”
With a litany of green and environmentally-conscious features, many people agree that this $40-million dollar investment was worth every penny. In fact, Baltra Airport received the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Efficient Design (LEED) Gold Certification in recognition of its sustainable characteristics!
The airport goes hand in hand with ongoing efforts to preserve the pristine natural beauty of the Galapagos, which have been famous for their environment and ecology since the 1800s when Charles Darwin drew inspiration for his theories of evolution and natural selection from the local wildlife. Today, over 97% of the Galapagos is designated as protected national parks, including beautiful beaches and impressive volcanic formations, and numerous foundations operate in the archipelago to study and protect the giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, and other species that call these islands home.
Some Galapagos residents think the airport will increase tourism, as more and more ecotourists will want to see this remarkable engineering achievement before going on to enjoy the rest of the wonders of the Galapagos. No one expects tourism to the Galapagos to decline, after all, especially after being ranked as the best islands to visit in the world by Travel + Leisure Magazine!
Many of Palace Tours’ trips to the Galapagos begin or end at this unique facility, so book a vacation now and experience it for yourself! For more information or to book your own Galapagos adventure today, visit our website and Facebook page!