Between 1975 and 2009 the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park has conducted 27 courses for Naturalist Guides in Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela. Currently, the archipelago has 77 Class III Naturalist Guides (the highest), 98 Class II Naturalist Guides and 203 Class I Naturalist Guides and 38 guides-divers of the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
Most courses for Naturalist Guides and promotions have been enacted with the support of the technical and scientific staff of the Charles Darwin Foundation, the country’s universities and experts from the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park.
Currently, the preparation of future guides is in the charge of the Pontificia Universidad Católica (Catholic University, Quito), the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park and the Ministry of Tourism.
On each island, Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal and Isabela, the examination for admission is given. Of the participants who scored 80% or more, the best 30 candidates are selected.
In the Course for Naturalist Guide, candidates are trained in:
- Protocol and etiquette;
- Customer Service;
- History of Ecuador and Galapagos;
- Ecology and Conservation;
- Wildlife of the GNP and the GMR and Continental Ecuador;
- Geology and Volcanology;
- Group Assistance and Guide;
- Environmental Interpretation;
- Professional Ethics;
- Management of National Heritage of Natural Areas;
- Interpretation Techniques;
- Environmental Education;
- Camping Techniques;
- First Aid and Survival;
To enhance this education and continue training the guides, the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park organizes seminars, workshops, and meetings and prepares and publishes informational materials such as the Visitor Sites Guide for Galapagos Naturalist Guides
Further on, a digital program has been predicted for long distance education, which includes valuable scientific material, cultural and natural that will strengthen the knowledge of the Naturalist Guides.
Currently, new courses for Dive Guides of the GMR are being developed, promotional courses for Naturalist Guide of Class I to II and from II to III and refresher courses prior to the renewal licenses of Naturalist Guides, that expire on October 31,2009.
Monitoring and evaluation
The Directorate of the Galapagos National Park is responsible for requesting activity reports from Guides within 15 days after the end of each cruise or trip.
Within this report, guides make certain observations that can be information based on either natural events, biological or physical, in addition to data on the infrastructure of the visitor site and, in some cases, complaints.
The information is incorporated into the database to evaluate the work of the guides, while improving the monitoring of visitor sites.