THE IMPORTANCE OF A QUALIFIED NATURALIST GUIDE!!!
IMPORTANT … recent cruise comment from SULIDAE: October 10th to 14th, 2009:
Thank you for all of your help organizing some of my travels in Ecuador. It was great fun.
I wanted to make some comments about the guide that was assigned to the Sulidae for the Galapagos tour. I do not know if there is a Galapagos guide organization that I may contact as well.
Firstly, the crew of the Sulidae were fantastic, helpful, kind, and went above and beyond to make us all feel welcome and cared for. The guide, however, was extremely disappointing, to the point of being hazardous. His name is Martin. Our tour was Oct. 10-14. It was his first experience as a guide, which in and of itself is not a problem. He had only learned English for a couple weeks. He practiced a few things to say, but was not able to answer any of our questions. Some of these questions were as simple as “do we need hiking boots or
sandals” or “how long is the walk”. He would start answering something completely different. We were never adequately prepared for the day, because we were not informed.
The language barrier was challenging, but not the worst part. He told us in so many words that he was being a guide for the money. He can make 3 times as much money than he used to. Many times we would be waiting for him, ready to go on shore at the appointed time, and he was still sleeping. In the evenings, his “talk” about the itinerary for the next day consisted of reading times and places off the white board, with no explanation, back story, history, etc. If we asked a complicated question such as “what animals might we see?”, once he finally understood the question, he would have to look to one of the crew, and ask them.
The main fault was that he did not appear to care. One of the passengers was struggling severely with sea sickness. The crew was empathetic, and brought her her meals on deck so that she would be more comfortable. The guide simply laughed at her. Another passenger was stung while snorkeling, was in major pain, and climbed up onto the panga with a very red and throbbing arm. The guide again laughed and carried on pointing out fish from the boat. The crew and other passengers finally told the guide that we needed to bring her back to the main boat so she could be treated.
The most dangerous of slip ups on the part of the guide was during another snorkeling expedition. We were taking the panga to the area designated for snorkeling. On the way, there were penguins and other animals. One of the passengers asked if we could snorkel there for a few minutes, then carry on to the next place. The guide said sure. One of the passengers was about to jump in, and the first mate yelled to the guide that we couldn’t snorkel there – there were sharks, and it was feeding time.
Any time we came close to another guide, we were saddened by the amount of information they were passing to their group, and by the enthusiasm with which they partook in their explanation. It is really a shame to have missed so much information about the incredible islands and animals.
I am saying this only because I firmly believe this man should not be a guide. He is unkind and uncaring, and misrepresents the Galapagos. We learned much more from the crew, who spoke no English, because they were knowledgeable and passionate about their islands!
Is there a Galapagos tour guide operation that I may contact?
Thank you for your time.