BEFORE YOU GO
If you're interested in a trip to the Galapagos Islands, you've come to the right place.
Below you'll find all the information you need about how to pack for your adventure, what to prepare for logistically with your flights and travel documents, and the nitty-gritty details like if you need to pack bug spray. Take a look and let us know if you have any additional questions! We're always happy to chat and can be reached directly at 1.888.870.0903.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: WHAT'S THE WEATHER LIKE?
The Galapagos and mainland Ecuador are year-round destinations because of their unique location and weather. Temperatures are always relatively temperate, with the coolest times of year June through October, the warmest November through May. Keep in mind boat journeys through the Galapagos do not operate during the months of August and September due to rougher seas. Check the forecast before you go for the most accurate information.
Q: WHAT'S THE TIME ZONE?
The Galapagos Islands are six hours behind GMT, which makes them the same time zone as US Mountain Time (spring and summer).
Q: WHAT LANGUAGE DO THEY SPEAK?
Spanish is spoken throughout the islands and Ecuador, but English is also common.
Q: CAN I USE MY CELL PHONE?
Even if you have an international plan, you most likely will not get service while in the Galapagos. But hey, don’t you want to unplug anyway?
Q: DO I NEED TO BUY MY OWN SCUBA GEAR?
Galapagos Safari Camp provides wetsuits and snorkeling equipment. For the boats, travelers will be able to rent wetsuits from a dive shop on Santa Cruz Island for $45 per person prior to boarding your yacht. Plenty of other snorkeling gear will be provided on the boat. That being said, you may want to bring your own mask, as those can be harder to fit. If not don’t worry–we’ve got you covered!
Q: HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD I BRING?
In Ecuador, the U.S. dollar is legal tender, and you’ll find all prices are set in USD. It’s a good idea to carry about $300 per person in small bills, aside from tipping money. ATM machines are located in Quito and credit cards are accepted throughout the country and on board the yachts for bar tabs, but not always reliable. Come with a few options so you’re not scrambling, and remember to store everything in a money belt or pouch for safe keeping.
Q: WHAT'S THE DEAL ON TIPPING?
Tipping is a personal and individual matter. The decision to tip and how much to give is entirely yours. Restaurants in Ecuador automatically add a 12-14% tax to the bill, but you may leave another 5%. Tipping hotel porters and taxis is not typical. Please note that out-of-country checks are impossible to cash in Ecuador, it costs upwards of $50 to cash a traveler’s check, and a heavy income tax is levied on wire transfers, so cash is best.
For hotels in Quito and on Santa Cruz Island, it is customary to directly tip your guide, driver, and boat crew. For lodge staff, we ask kindly to avoid tipping directly and place gratuities as a whole in the tip box in the reception areas. Here are some suggestions:
- Guides: $10 per person, per day
- Driver or boat crew: $10 per driver/crew member per full day of touring
- Lodge staff: $10 per person, per night
- Driver for short transfers to/from hotels: $5 per person
If you are traveling by boat through the Galapagos Islands:
- Yacht naturalist: $100 - 150 per person, per week
- Yacht captain and crew tip pool: $300-400 per person, per week
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS AND VACCINATIONS
PASSPORT & VISAS
If you are a citizen of a country which has a visa waiver agreement with Ecuador, such as the United States and Canada, you don’t have to worry about getting a visa. All you need is proof of a return ticket to your home country. If you are from a country outside of the 50 with waiver agreements, visit passportsandvisas.com for more information.
Before you leave home, make several photocopies of your passport. We also recommend bringing at least two extra 2x2 passport photographs. This will facilitate the replacement of your passport in the event your passport is lost or stolen. Keep your passport, money, vouchers, and international air tickets in a money belt or pouch.
- Your passport must be valid for six months after your date of entry into antarctica
- Please have 4 blank pages in your passport, you world traveler you!
In general, no special immunizations or medications are necessary for travel to the Galapagos Islands. You can also check the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That being said, Zika is a risk in Ecuador and you'll want to take precaution against mosquito bites. Use insect repellant with at least 20% DEET, cover exposed skin when possible, and use bug nets in your room when provided.
The following vaccinations are recommended by the CDC for all travelers.
- Hepatitis A
- Malaria (optional)
CHARGERS AND ADAPTORS
Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands operate on 110-voltage electricity, so converters and adapters aren’t necessary. We’re excited about it, too!
THINGS YOU'LL NEED
- Quick-dry, comfortable clothing and functional layers are key
- Sundresses are a popular choice for relaxing post-adventure
- A few short & long sleeve shirts
- 2-3 pair of casual pants/shorts (think khakis or yoga-style gear)
- Bathing suits
- Underclothes and socks
- Rain jacket
- Comfortable and functional walking shoes, including sandals with a back-strap
- Sweater or sweatshirt
- Insect repellent
- Sunglasses, sunscreen, and hat
- Binoculars: we recommend getting a Maven or Leica pair with 10 x 42 magnification
- Extra money and money belt to securely carry all passports, vouchers, and air tickets
- Normal prescriptions and traveler’s meds for sea-sickness, heartburn, indigestion, diarrhea
- Waterproof camera for capturing underwater fun
- Galapagos Park Entrance Fee: Adults $100, children under 12 $50 in CASH
- INGALA Transit Control fee $20 in CASH
- Wetsuit rental $35 in CASH
- Small daypack for hikes
Remember! Your carry-on should include your passport, money, toiletries, camera, and a spare set of clothes.
WHEN YOU'RE IN THE AIR
Check-in time for all international flights is three hours prior to departure time. This allows for delays at the security screening units in each terminal. There is no first class fast track through security screening, so get there early to avoid any stress.
First of all, take a deep breath. You’ve already packed a spare set of clothes, your passport, money, and camera in your carry-on. Next, provide your airline with contact and delivery information for your first stop. Let our ground operator there know that your luggage has been lost, and they will track it while you enjoy your stay.
IN CASE YOU MISS US
If your family needs to contact you for emergency reasons while you are away, please have them call the Outside GO office in Santa Fe at (505) 795-7710.
For after hour emergencies, please use the following:
SANDY CUNNINGHAM | (505) 231-0699 | firstname.lastname@example.org
BRITTANY BENGRY | (616) 401-9058 | email@example.com
CHIP CUNNINGHAM | (505) 231-0355 | firstname.lastname@example.org
ON THE GROUND
Integrity/Reina Silvia Yacht | INCA Floats Office: (011 593 2) 2560 506 Emergency: (011 593 99) 9448 425
Galapagos Safari Camp Hotel Manager: +593 (0)98 296 8228 Emergency: +593 (0) 939 27 07 86