Naturalist Guiding with Pikaia Lodge

June 3, 2020 by Hidden Doorways

For nature lovers, there are few places like the Galápagos Islands, the birthplace of Darwin’s theory of evolution. The Galápagos is one of the most ecologically diverse yet fragile place on the planet. Yet, during this pause from the pandemic the wildlife and marine life has carried on. One of the unique beauties of the Galápagos Islands is that it is one of the few places in the world where animals aren’t afraid of humans because they’ve lived in isolation with very few predators for millions of years.

Pikaia Lodge sits in the middle of a giant tortoise reserve spanning 31 hectares, which once a former cattle ranch. The sleek, minimalist, yet luxurious eco-lodge is carbon neutral, powered by alternative energy sources. What’s more, they’re dedicated to bringing endemic flora and fauna back. A leader in eco-tourism, Pikaia Lodge took on the massive task of reforesting the grounds and to date has planted over 11,000 trees, resulting in many tortoises and other wild animals and birds returning to the area.

Live out your Charles Darwin dreams and explore the vast ecosystem and exotic wildlife of the Galápagos Islands with Pikaia Lodge’s Naturalist Guide, Luis Rodriguez. Known as “Champi”, he has been guiding for the past 30 years. Champi has brought to life the wildlife and ecosystem with Pikaia Lodge guests since the lodge opened in 2014. Luis walks us through his favorite excursions and conservation developments. Pikaia Lodge offers land and sea excursions on its private fleet for guests.

What are some highlights that guests at Pikaia Lodge will see while touring with a Naturalist Guide?
Guides in the Galápagos Islands are naturalist and nature interpreters; both on land and in sea.
More importantly, a naturalist guide will take you to experience the incredible fearlessness of the local animals. This is not to be mistaken by tameness. It is a meaningful moment to be able to sit close to or make eye contact with a wild animal without fear of being present whilst there is no feeding nor enticing (which is completely forbidden). I believe this is one of the greatest joys in nature and unique to the Galápagos. To enjoy moments like that, you have to let yourself be guided by an experienced interpreter who holds the proper tools and knowledge.

How do you structure excursions for children? 
I would structure the excursions linked to learning and experience things that will not be repeated anywhere else like snorkeling with sea lion pups, seeing rays or even sharks while being and feeling safe. I would also take children to see nesting seabirds just a few feet away or to spot roaming tortoises.

Have you seen any changes in the wildlife’s behavior since the lockdown started during the pandemic?

Living in Galápagos Islands is like being immersed inside of a nature documentary. The lockdown has slowed down humans, yet every other beings here are doing what they always have done. For example, the tortoises are coming back to the highlands and roaming already near the roads, joining those close to town. The finches, mockingbirds, and warblers are permanent companions around our houses, but I have seen and heard more short eared owls and barn owls.


What steps are you taking to protect the wildlife with the new social distancing regulations?
The Galápagos National Park and Marine Reserve are closed and all access is completely forbidden.
Only areas directly near the towns are open, yet they are under social distancing measures. Patrolling continues, people are taking this seriously and rules are being followed more than ever.

How are your conservation efforts continue to evolve?
The Park Director and a team went around the islands to document the sites without visitors and take some information that would not have been possible to have just a few weeks ago.


With a different outlook on nature, and a completely new way to relate to it.



Pikaia Lodge
Barrio El Camote
Santa Cruz Island
Galápagos, Ecuador
Telephone: +011 593 4371 1670


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