Roberto Plaza always dreamed of living in the Galapagos. Seven years ago he finally made the leap and moved his family from Ecuador’s capital of Quito to the Enchanted Isles. And they did it in a big way: Roberto and his family live off the grid. They use solar energy to power their home and rainwater to drink and bathe; waste water is treated and reused for agricultural needs, and their entire house is built using materials that leave a light ecological footprint. Living this way comes with its share of challenges, but Roberto believes strongly that if you chose to make the Galapagos your home, it’s important to live as sustainably as possible. It’s a philosophy he lives by both at home and at work. A naturalist guide for nearly 20 years, the last 12 with Natural Habitat Adventures, Roberto says, “We not only run our tours in a way that aims for the least environmental impact, but we want our guests to experience pristine nature so they leave transformed. When they return home, we hope they’ll see things from a different perspective and keep protection of the environment in mind wherever they go.”
What’s kept Roberto guiding in the Galapagos? “It’s the magic that happens every day. Each day I see something new.”
Roberto’s most memorable experience involves a rare blue whale sighting. “When you’re out on the water and encounter the largest living mammal on the planet, and you have the chance to share that with people, it’s overwhelming. It’s incredible. The fact that these huge animals are endangered and we can still see them here makes you realize how untouched this place is.”
Roberto’s biggest dream for the Galapagos is that people leave the islands with a deeper appreciation for how valuable nature is.
“Coming to the Galapagos is an awakening for visitors. You need to have these once-in-a-lifetime adventures to really understand how connected we all are and how important nature is for our survival.”
This article was written by Sarah Fogel, originally published in the Natural Habitat Adventures & WWF 2014 catalog.