EXPERT Q&A: Stephanie Bonham-Carter
The owner of Galapagos Safari Camp on the inspiration behind her African-themed lodge off the coast of Ecuador
By: WHITNEY JAMES
Q: You were born a world traveler! Tell us a bit about your childhood in Ecuador and England.
Quito was my childhood home, and I grew up loving Cotopaxi and the breathtaking mountains that surround the Andean city. Life had a different pace there, and Ecuador was a lot less developed. Infrastructure was limited, yet I adored exploring hidden corners of the country; traveling within the country was an adventurous experience. England welcomed me in my teens, and its polished culture and serene landscape was a stark and welcome contrast to my untamed early life.
Q: How did you end up calling the Galapagos home?
I had been away from Ecuador for 15 years. At that time, I was trying to base myself in Spain. Having spent eight years traveling round the world I was ready to settle down. I asked Michael, my friend at the time (now my husband), to come to Ecuador on holiday with me and we added the Galapagos to our visit. It was love at first sight, and we both started dreaming about building a life there. We were determined to make that dream happen.
"It was a wonderfully romantic adventure that unraveled for the subsequent eight years."
Q: What makes the Galapagos a great place to visit for kids?
We had our kids in the Galapagos, and we watched them grow hand in hand with their environment. It was clear this place is a wonderful experience for families with young kids. We created a family-focused safari and believe that children thrive when they are connected to nature. The Galapagos offers such an abundance of fauna at great proximity. The experience of exciting and unforgettable encounters with nature in a pristine natural habitat is a gift to any child!
Q: What are some of the conservation initiatives guests can learn about at GSC?
We have been engaged with reforestation efforts since our inception. One of the biggest issues in the Galapagos is introduced species; Santa Cruz Island has severely suffered from invasive plant introduction. We have worked with the Charles Darwin Research Station and Conservation International to manage our project. It is a private initiative with a long-term view, and it allows our guests to learn and understand the problem at hand as well as having a hands-on experience tree painting in our dedicated area.
"Our guests have a lot more privacy and freedom of choice when creating their unique Galapagos experience."
Q: What is your favorite animal in the region? How about your kids’?
That is a good question and a hard one too. It is easy to love the emblematic species like the giant tortoises that roam around the property or the blue-footed boobies that are so charismatic. However, there are the lesser-known characters such as the Galapagos rail, a shy little bird that hides in the bushes and is so timid that they are hard to see—it is a real treat to get a glimpse of them! Also, marine life in the Galapagos is breathtaking and I get a thrill every time we dive, from the small sea horses to the imposing hammerheads…I still have not answered your question!
My son Lawrence loves tortoises. He grew up with them, and we spent endless days looking for tortoise in the highlands. Jasmine was asked the same question a while ago and her answer was “fairies.”
Read more about Galapagos Safari Camp below, or give us a call at 1.888.870.0903 to chat with one of our specialists about booking your stay.
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Stephanie Bonham-Carter Interview
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