Macarena Iturralde is a renowned Galapagos expert with over 35 years’ experience working in the islands. She trained as a Marine Biologist with the Universidad Catolica de Quito and her field is marine invertebrates.
Macarena, was born in Quito, Ecuador, and has spent most of her adult life organizing and guiding journeys into the most exotic, pristine, and exciting parts of Latin America.
Since 1979, Macarena has been guiding trips through Ecuador, Galapagos, the Amazon, Peru, Bolivia and Patagonia. Having lived in the Galapagos for more than a decade, she has led countless voyages and scientific expeditions there, both on land and under water. From her base in the valley of Cumbaya, near Quito, Macarena still calls the Galapagos home.
In the Galapagos, Macarena works very closely with the Charles Darwin Foundation, of which she is a member of the General Assembly. The biggest and most important non-profit organization in the Galapagos, the foundation works with the Galapagos National Park, using science to inform the area’s conservation strategies, especially for the restoration of native habitat and the removal of invasive species. The foundation also runs the Charles Darwin Research Station, a one-of-a-kind facility fostering independent research and education crucial to the management of the park.
One of Macarena’s most memorable experiences here was going down to 2600 feet in depth in a submersible called the Johnson Sea Link, to help collect marine invertebrates in various zones. Enthralled by all of the islands’ wildlife, she has worked with other scientists studying waved albatrosses and mockingbirds.
Although the Galapagos could be considered at the heart of Macarena’s work, she also spends considerable time in the Ecuadorian Amazon of Yasuni National Park, and the Machu Picchu Sanctuary in Peru. She helped create the development action plans for five different national parks in Ecuador and was a consultant for Traffic International.
Macarena is also a keen diver with more than 350 dives around the world. Her favourite place for diving is, of course, the Galapagos, but she also loved Raja Ampat and hopes to visit the Red Sea and the Maldives someday.