Do you want to truly experience the Galapagos Islands? Do you yearn for a meaningful and lasting experience on these magical islands - something more than snapping photos?
Does living in a house in a small farming community appeal to you more than a boat or hotel full of tourists? Are you inspired to do honest work giving back to the Galapagos people and environment, or would you rather be like every other tourist - ignorantly disrupting the natural balance of the island?
If you prefer to be a run-of-the-mill tourist, Hacienda Tranquila is not for you – but don’t worry, you are normal. On the other hand, if you do truly wish to experience the Galapagos, READ ON!!
What Is Hacienda Tranquila?
Hacienda Tranquila is where people go to help strengthen the human and natural communities of the Galapagos by day, and to soak up the cultural and natural beauty of the islands by night (and weekend).
Physically, Hacienda Tranquila is a 50 hectare plot of land located in the tiny 15 family farming community of La Soleadad on the island of San Cristobal in the Galapagos. The plot of land itself is extremely impressive, as it borders the national park and affords astounding views of the native forests of the Galapagos all the way down to the island’s eastern and western shorelines. However, Hacienda Tranquila is so much more than a plot of land with a view.
Hacienda Tranquila is defined by the work its volunteers do to. Our mission is to strengthen the environment and community simultaneously. Virtually all volunteer programs in the Galapagos focus solely on the environment and neglect the problems of the people. The small number of organizations that do address social issues pay no attention to the environment. Hacienda Tranquila is different. We are the only project in the Galapagos that works with community, environmental, and social issues. Our volunteers tackle social and environmental issues as one.
Hacienda Tranquila’s mission is to improve the both the environmental and social situations of the Galapagos. Our volunteers translate this mission into action.
How Do Our Volunteers Make The Island A Better Place?
- Reforestation – The Galapagos are under siege from invasive species. Invasives overrun small farms destroying livelihoods, and they choke out the endemic forests which Galapagos tortoises, mockingbirds, and finches depend on for survival. Our volunteers spend much of their time removing invasives and planting and nurturing native and endemic species in their place.
By 2020, we aim to have rehabilitated all of the Hacienda’s 50 hectares, which will cover three endemic ecosystems – the transitional zone (between the arid lowlands and the upper moist zones), the miconia zone, and the escalesia zone. Once all the land is restored, Galapagos tortoises will be reintroduced.
Furthermore, our volunteers help local farmers clear invasive plants from their farms. All the Hacienda asks in exchange is the farmers’ promise that they will care for a portion of their land where the volunteers will plant native and endemic vegetation.
- Community Work – Every week, children from INFA (the local equivalent to family services) come to the Hacienda to hike, horseback ride or play games with the volunteers. At the same time these kids are enjoying the outdoors, they are being instilled with environmental education. This should hopefully manifest in more sustainable habits, livelihoods, and ways of thinking as the kids mature.
Local disabled people come to the Hacienda to receive free therapy using horseback riding (hippo-therapy). We are the only ones certified in hippo-therapy on the Galapagos.
One day of labor each week is dedicated to the ongoing replacement of the 8 km water pipe that provides water to the community.
- Self and Community-Sustainability – The volunteers maintain their own organic garden, milk their own cows, and grow, dry and roast their own coffee. They produce more than they consume, so they donate the remainder to INFA (an organization for vulnerable children).
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