CNH Tours - Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours Galapagos
Monday April 15, 2013
Tourist found dead after wandering off the trail
Yesterday (Sunday) at approximately 14h00, two rangers of the Galapagos National Park Service, part of the search team looking for a tourist considered lost since the previous day, found the body of Thomas Berman who had arrived in Galapagos the previous Tuesday. The body was located about 118 meters from the path leading to the "Las Grietas" visitor site, near the main town of Puerto Ayora.
A group of 13 rangers, with the support of local fire department, had intensified the search in the morning, expanding the search area. On top that, a National Park boat searched shorelines nearby.
78 year old Mr. Berman, a British-Israeli national was reported missing by the tour operator who had sold him a trip to Isabela Island, which was scheduled to depart at 14h00 on Satureday - but Mr. Berman did not show up. Staff of the hotel where he was staying confirmed that on Saturday, Mr. Berman had left the hotel indicating he was going to Las Grietas, and intended on returning for the trip to Isabela. The hotel surveillance cameras confirm that at 10:28 he left the hotel with a small backpack and a camera. It was based on this information, that the Park proceeded to organize the search party.
Unfortunately, accidents do happen. Mr. Berman was smart in having informed the hotel of his plans - otherwise, the park would not have known where to search. The trail to Las Grietas is fairly well marked, but it's not inconceivable that someone could take a wrong turn and lose their bearings. Heading off on unknown trails on your own is not recommended for exactly this reason. One supposes that Mr. Berman was in good shape and confident in his ability to do the 1.5 mile / 2 km, trail - which does go over moderately rough terrain from time to time, and which is used quite regularly by locals, particularly on a weekend. Still, one would have expected a person to have survived a little more than 24 hours in this area. We suppose that Mr. Berman must have suffered some sort of malaise.
Off the trail hiking in Galapagos is notoriously difficult. Vegetation is dense, the ground can be very uneven on ancient lava flows, and a lot of plants have thorns. Being on the equator, the sun doesn't quite help finding north and south. A very good friend of CNH Tours and an experienced naturalist guide recently recounted his harrowing tale just in February, having lost bearings when accompanying a scientist in the field. It took them all day to find their way out. Tourist and locals are reported lost fairly frequently. Sometimes they make it back, sometimes their remains are found much later.