Visiting the Galapagos Islands
Traveling to the Galapagos Islands by yourself can be difficult and requires some specific steps such as declaring your itinerary and the accompaniment of a certified guide. To facilitate your trip, it is best to choose a trip organized by experts of the islands or to take part in a cruise.
This recommendation is motivated by a desire to protect the environment, as the Galapagos is a fragile and unique ecosystem. It is important to note that access to the islands is regulated, and it is necessary to comply with strict environmental protection rules to preserve the unique natural wealth of the Galapagos.
Can I visit the Galapagos Islands without a guide?
No, it is not possible to visit the Galapagos Islands without a guide. The Galapagos Islands are a protected nature reserve and special area of conservation, and it is mandatory for all visitors to be accompanied by a licensed guide when visiting the islands.
The strict regulations of the Galapagos Islands aim to protect the fragile environment of the archipelago and preserve the unique flora and fauna of the region. Licensed guides are trained to ensure the safety of visitors and to guarantee that conservation rules are followed.
In addition, local authorities in the Galapagos Islands have established visitor quotas for each island and tourist site, which means that only a limited number of people can visit each day. Licensed guides are responsible for organizing tours according to these quotas and ensuring that visitors respect conservation rules.
It is therefore essential to book a tour with a licensed travel agency to visit the Galapagos Islands.
Formalities to enter the Galapagos
Valid passport with expiration date later than 6 months after your return. No visa is required.
The Galapagos can only be reached by plane. These depart from Quito, stop in Guayaquil and then go to one of the two airports of the archipelago: Baltra (the airport that serves the island of Santa Cruz) or San Cristóbal.
To book a flight, you can contact airlines such as LATAM, Avianca, TAME, or book through a local travel agency in Ecuador. Flights to the Galapagos land at either Baltra Airport or San Cristobal Airport, depending on the airline.
Before checking in your luggage, go to the Ingala counter (Instituto Nacional Galápagos) to obtain the transit card, which costs 20 US$ to date, and pass a first luggage check (forbidden to carry fresh products, seeds or any animal).
Once in the Galapagos, you will have to pay an entry fee (US$ 100), to be paid in cash only.
Keep your receipt; boat captains must record them. Children under 12 years of age receive a 50% discount on the National Park entrance fee. In short, these taxes help protect and preserve the Islands.
Shuttles by boat or small plane are available between the islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal.
If you pay for your ticket with a Visa or Mastercard, you are covered by insurance for repatriation assistance during your stay. It is also possible to take out cancellation and repatriation insurance.
Money – exchange – banks – tips in Galapagos
In Galapagos, as in Ecuador, the official currency is the USD dollar. It is possible to make withdrawals with your credit card in Santa Cruz, but it is preferable to take cash (avoid large denominations) in the big cities (Quito or Guayaquil).
If tipping is in order, be aware that it is not mandatory and will reflect your level of satisfaction with the local staff. As a general rule, for a correct service, count from 5 to 10 $us per day, per participant and per speaker.
You do not need any specific vaccinations to go to the Galapagos Islands, nor do you need anti-malaria treatment. There are sometimes mosquitoes on some islands, so you may want to pack a mosquito repellent in your backpack when you arrive to avoid any inconvenience.
American standard socket (2 flat plugs, 110 V, 60 Hz). You will need a universal or US-specific adapter.
Recommendations to follow in the Galapagos
- Do not bring food, animals or plants.
- Walk strictly following the markers.
- Do not pick up anything: no rocks, no shells, no plants.
- Never touch the animals.
- Do not disturb the animals.
- Do not throw or leave anything on the islands.
- Do not smoke.
- Respect the instructions of your guide.
Indeed, you will be obligatorily accompanied by an official guide. He is here to explain to you the fauna and flora but also to control that you respect the place and that you stay within the markings.
(diving without tanks, with only fins, mask and snorkel).
- Swim and respect the areas indicated by your guide.
Program of your visit to the Galapagos Islands
The program is given as an indication. It is likely to be modified, on decision of the agency or the lodges/guides and according to the climate, the conditions of navigation and the requirements of the local communities among others. For reasons of organization and respect for the environment and energy saving in the most remote areas, some activities and transfers can be organized in grouped service (boat excursions, meals at fixed times…).
Safety in the Galapagos
We suggest that you take out a repatriation assistance insurance. If you paid for your flight with your Visa card, you are currently insured – you can ask your bank about this. Without wishing to deny any risk in this area, the Galapagos are safe, but it is always good to take precautions and use common sense.
- To proscribe external signs of wealth.
- To travel “compact”.
- Do not leave your bags and cameras unattended.
- Use hotel safes when available.
- To take with you a photocopy of your documents (passport, driving license…).
Your safety is our priority.
Some activities (diving,…) can present risks that each participant must be aware of. Before any activity, you will receive safety instructions. You will also have access to quality and complete equipment.
In case of emergency
In case of unforeseen circumstances during the trip (strikes, delays, road accidents, etc…) a Terra Galapagos emergency phone number is available 24 hours a day for our clients to reach a member of our team. This number will be communicated to you a few days before your arrival.