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Traveling to the Galapagos should be an enjoyable experience, but it can present some unique challenges for Jewish travelers. How can you observe Kashrut—the traditional laws of keeping kosher—in one of Earth’s most remote and exotic destinations? With careful planning and some thoughtful research, this trip doesn’t have to compromise your commitment to kosher dietary requirements. Read on to find practical tips, advice, and resources to help ensure that Jewish travelers keep kosher while visiting the beautiful isles of Ecuador’s Galapagos Archipelago!
Let’s start by looking at some not-so-useful kosher travel tips for Galapagos tips that are typically given to tourists:
– “Bring your food: Consider packing non-perishable kosher snacks or meals that are easy to transport, such as nuts, dried fruit, or pre-packaged meals.”
Why is this a bad idea? This doesn’t work in the Galapagos due to the stringent rules regarding the food you can travel with. Although you can travel with packages of dried fruit and nuts, traveling with too much may invite the scrutiny of authorities, which can be a hassle. Also, these items can be hard to source on the islands. Keeping kosher in the Galapagos can be cumbersome if you lug around all that food.
– “Stick to vegetarian options: If you’re unable to find a suitable restaurant or food option, consider sticking to vegetarian meals instead of risking eating non-kosher meat.”
This can be a good rule of thumb, but if you picked a sea-based (expedition cruise) option, it is more than likely that the cooking station aboard is small and that all meals are prepped and cooked together. Similarly, restaurants in Galapagos rarely separate their ingredients during meal prep. Also, certified kosher product providers may only sometimes service the islands.
So, what can you do about kosher food options in Galapagos? Let’s examine some options to help you adhere to the parameters of your diet.
This is the best way to guarantee keeping kosher while traveling in Galapagos. A large community can book an entire itinerary and request that management guarantee that the onboard kitchen observes Kashrut laws.
The issue? Of course, this is only possible if you are traveling with a large group that can plan around the itinerary and commits to chartering a cruise. You will also need to find a company with experience chartering mid-sized vessels that observe Kashrut, sourcing ingredients, and employing an experienced kitchen staff.
This option is much more realistic for small groups or families. Well-organized ships can certainly accommodate dietary restrictions. It’s a question of acquiring kosher products and having trained staff to guarantee proper separation and preparation of ingredients in the kitchen. Some travel providers are even willing to source kitchen utensils, pots, and pans that will be used exclusively for your stay.
The issue? None. It would help if you insisted on a travel provider willing and capable of ensuring their kitchen staff is trained in proper food management and separation while having access to a reliable provider of kosher-friendly options in the Galapagos products. Thankfully, mainland Ecuador has such providers, and it’s just a matter of ensuring you are traveling with an accredited travel agency with prior experience in Kashrut.
Again, it all boils down to planning. Whether journeying alone or as part of a group, all the old tricks still apply here. Exploiting dietary parameters that are easy to satisfy—like fresh fruits and vegetables and fine-and-scale seafood—is a great way to keep kosher-friendly options in the Galapagos; you can enjoy some of the best fruit you’ll ever taste and plenty of delicious locally sourced fish.
Of course, it is better to enjoy all the variety and creativity of quality, expertly prepared meals without sacrificing any part of the equation simply because you’re keeping kosher in the Galapagos. This requires a kitchen willing and able to observe your dietary requirements.
No matter the season, keeping kosher in the Galapagos, you’ll be able to find flaky, white ocean fish, such as sea bass, grouper, or flounder. Galapagos kosher food options can be used to make traditional local dishes, such as ceviche. And, while most restaurants in Galapagos can accommodate requests for these dishes, some will not prep or cook ingredients separately.
Suppose you are enjoying a land-based experience and staying at a hotel instead of island-hopping aboard an expedition cruise. In this case, you can ask about sourcing products, pans, and utensils to help you keep kosher. The key is finding a hotel with kosher dietary requirements in Galapagos with a kitchen accommodating your needs.
Remember that staying kosher while traveling may require extra planning, though it is worth the effort to honor one’s religious beliefs. Keeping kosher in the Galapagos doesn’t have to impede your visit. The main thing is to ask your travel agent whether they can accommodate dietary practices like kosher and modify their services to suit your needs.