Galapagos Travel Information
Facts and details for your visit to the Galapagos Islands
Galapagos Islands Key facts
Ecuador GMT – 5hrs, Galapagos GMT – 6hrs
PASSPORTS & VISAS:
You need a passport which is valid for at least 6 months from the end of your trip, and with plenty of room for entry and exit stamps. A visa is not currently required for British travellers for stays of up to 90 days. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.
NB Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.
VACCINATIONS & PROPHYLACTICS:
Generally none is compulsory, but if you are travelling to Ecuadorian Amazon it is compulsory to have a valid certificate to prove that you have an up-to-date yellow fever vaccincation, which must have been given at least 10 days before arrival. It is also compulsory for travellers arriving from any country with a risk of yellow fever. Recommended vaccinations are diptheria, hepatitis A, polio, tetanus and typhoid. Sometimes recommended are meningitis and hepatitis B. Malaria prophylactics are strongly recommended for the Ecuadorian rainforest.
Quito is at an altitude of about 2,850 metres. Most people arriving in Quito from low altitiude tend to feel the effects of the high altitude. Symptoms include headaches and shortness of breath. To counter this you should take things slowly for your first day at altitude and take time to acclimatise. The effects of altitude usually wear off after the first day, but if they continue or you experience severe headaches or respiratory problems you should consult a doctor. You should also take care to use a high factor sunblock. Although it may be cold, the sun can be extremely strong in the Andes because of the high altitude and equatorial location, and the risk of sunburn is much higher than you might expect.
The official language is Spanish. Quechua, a native American language, is also widely spoken by many communities in the sierra. English is spoken in major tourist areas.
The population of some 16 million is largely indigenous Indian (40%) and Mestizo (40%) with a large European influence (15% mainly Spanish), with some Asian and African settlers. There are over 40 indigenous groups including Achuar, Chachi, Cofan, Huaorani, Otavaleno, Quichua, Shuar, Siona, Siecoya and Zaparo. 35% of the population live below the poverty line. The Roman Catholic religion predominates, with some Methodists and Baptists. In the Oriente populations are outwardly Roman Catholic but their religion is clearly blended with traditional beliefs.
110 volts AC, 60Hz, using American style plugs with 2 flat pins on the mainland. Galapagos yachts have generators to provide electricity and most have electric sockets in the cabin, but voltage and type of plug varies from yacht to yacht. Please contact us for more details.
The currency is the US Dollar. Paper money is American dollars and coins are cents (100 to the dollar), called Ecuadorian centavos and are exactly equivalent to American cents. They cannot be used outside Ecuador. It is advisable to have small denomination notes as any shopkeeperes will refuse $50 and $100 bills as forgeries of these is not uncommon.
FORMS OF PAYMENT: Major credit cards are accepted and can be used in the main cities, although some difficulties have been reported with American Express cards. Some Galapagos yachts accept credit cards, although on most yachts you will need to pay your bar bill in US$ cash at the end of your cruise.
Travellers cheques can be cashed by all major banks but this can be quite difficult in the Oriente (rainforest east of Quito).
Galapagos National Park Rules
We encourage all our travellers to be aware of the Galapagos National Park rules in order to minimise any inadvertent damage to the islands flora and fauna.
- Any visit within the protected area of the Galapagos National Park must be accompanied by a naturalist guide authorised by the Galapagos National Park Directorate.
- Avoid bad experiences by contracting tourism services and boats authorised to working the protected areas of the Galapagos Islands.
- For your security, and to ensure the conservation of the unique natural heritage of the islands, please keep to the trails and respect the signs at all times.
- Keep a distance of at least 2 metre (6ft) from animals to avoid disturbing them. Respect both their space and freedom.
- Galapagos animals do not need to be fed by humans. Offering food can create health problems.
- Please take pictures and videos without flash to avoid upsetting the animals. Professional photography and video recorded for commercial purposes must be authorised by the Galapagos National Park Directorate.
- There are designated areas for camping. Request authorisation from the Galapagos National Park’s offices with at least 48 hours prior notice.
- It is your responsibility NOT TO introduce food, animals or plants into the archipelago. Please cooperate with inspection and quarantine officials at the airports and docks of the islands.
- Do not buy any products/or services made from banned substances such as coral, shell, lava rock, animal parts and endemic materials. This is an illegal activity and must be reported.
- Please do not leave traces of your presence on the islands. Instead, take home unforgettable memories and experiences from your stay.
- Please take your rubbish with you until you find a suitable place to dispose it. The centres of all populated villages have effective waste management systems.
- Smoking and lighting campfires in the protected areas of the Galapagos National Park is strictly prohibited. There is a serious risk of causing major damage by fires.
- Fishing is not allowed. It is only permitted on recreational fishing boats authorised by the Galapagos National Park Directorate.
- Motorised aquatic sports, mini-subs, and aerial tourism are not permitted in the National Park.