Where are the Galapagos Islands?
You hear about people who take a Galapagos tour, but where do they go? The Galapagos Islands (or Archipelago de Colon) is a Province of Ecuador located 600 miles (1000 kilometers) west of the Ecuadorian coast. They lie directly on the equator.
BANKS AND MONEY
What kind of currency is used in the Galapagos Islands?
Ecuador, and the Galapagos Islands, have officially been "dollarized." U.S. dollars and travelers checks are accepted on the islands. MasterCard and Visa are the most commonly accepted credit cards while American Express are not usually used.
there banks in the Galapagos Islands?
The only bank on the islands is called El Banco del Pacifico.
El Banco de Pacifico in Puerto Ayora:
Will exchange traveler's checks for a 5% commission (it doesn't make sense, we know!). The bank is open Monday to Friday 8:00 - 3:30 and Saturday 9:30 -12:30. Personal checks are not accepted. The ATM operates 24 hours.
Are children allowed?
If you want to take a Galapagos tour with your children, you can. Most yachts accept and even offer discounted rates for children. Children will need extra supervision on the island tours and in the water. Some ships have restrictions to children. Others organize family departures, special for families with kids!.
What is the climate like in the Galapagos Islands?
The islands lie directly on the Equator, so you can expect it to be warm for most of the year. The hottest season is generally from December to April with average temperatures ranging from a low of 70 to a high of 84 F (22 - 31 C). It’s also the rainy season. The sea is generally calm this time of the year and the water temperature warmer (making snorkeling a lot more fun!). May to November is considered the "cool" season with average temperatures ranging from a low of 68 to a high of 82 F (19 – 27 C). At this time of year, there are more animals on different islands, and the cold currents bring more animal life to the ocean (though it’s a lot colder in the water!)
Check out our climate section for current climatic information about the islands.
Are there Internet and telephone services?
Only in Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island), Puerto Baquerizo (San Cristóbal Island), Puerto Villamil (Isabela) and in the airports. Internet services are costlier on the islands than the mainland, as are phone calls.
What type of electrical outlets & currency is onboard?
Yachts operate on 110-volts/60-cycle currency, with standard North American outlets, as do all the hotels in Galapagos. The Yachts have normally also 220V. 60 Hz. on board.
is the National Park entrance fee & how can I pay it?
Everybody is required to pay a $100.00 entrance fee – even students. The only discounts are given to people from the Andean Community (Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and Bolivia) who pay a $50.00 entrance fee.
does my Galapagos National Park entrance go?
The park entrance fee is distributed as follows: 40% Galapagos National Park; 20% Galapagos Municipalities; 10% Galapagos Province Government; 10% Galapagos National Institute (INGALA); 5% Galapagos Marine Reserve; 5% Galapagos Province Inspection and Quarantine System; 5% INEFAN (National Park Service); 5% National Army. In total, these fees assist in the protection and preservation of the Islands.
EXTENDING MY STAY
Can I extend my stay before and/or after my cruise?
Yes, you can extend your stay, and we highly recommend it. Taking a Galapagos tour is only part of experiencing the islands. Staying in the islands is a whole other experience. Go to our sections on Santa Cruz, Santa Isabel, and San Cristobol. All of these places are great to spend extra time renting kayaks, diving, relaxing, and enjoying the company of the people of the islands.
- CHECK IN
When and how do I check-in for my Galapagos flight?
Check-in time is two hours before your flight in the national terminal. Your luggage must be checked by SICGAL for fruits, meals and plants prior to check-in. Many yachts will have representatives at the airport to assist you with your check-in. You also need to adquire in the airports a Transit Card to entry the Islands ($10).
What are the luggage and weight restrictions?. Each passenger is allowed up to 40 lbs. of luggage.
FLIGHTS - SEASONS
What are the flight seasons and rates?. Go to “getting there and away” for more detailed information about flights, rates, and seasons.
How do I make my Galapagos flight arrangements?
You can arrange your flight through a travel agent or directly through TAME or AEROGAL from Quito or Guayaquil. Remember there’s a discount in airlines in Low season.
GETTING TO THE ISLANDS
do I get to the Galapagos Islands?
The most common way to get to the islands is by air (about 99.9% of the people probably go this way.) Years ago there was some cargo ships that go to the islands, It was an uncomfortable, long journey, however, and ended up costing about the same.
Most flights arrive in Baltra, already planned around the Galapagos cruises that leave from Puerto Ayora several times a week. Some flights arrive in San Cristobal for those who go on a different Galapagos tour.
GALAPAGOS TOUR FAQ'S
What are the onboard Naturalist guides skills and qualifications?
The Galapagos National Park with the help of the Charles Darwin Research Station trains the guides. There are three levels of guides:
A level “I” guide is a native of the islands or has been a resident of the archipelago for many years. He/She will have a high school diploma and a lot of knowledge about the region. A Naturalist Guide I speaks English as well. He must pass the course of Naturalist Guide I, and can lead a group of 10 visitors maximum. This level guide is usually on the more economic boats in the islands.
A level “II” guide is an Ecuadorian by birth or by naturalization. He/she has achieved a high school diploma or has a university background in biology, related fields, or in tourism. He has to be fluent in English, French or German, and pass the course of Naturalist Guide II. He can lead groups of up to 16 visitors. All Tourist class yachts carry Class-II guides.
Ecuadorian by birth or by naturalization, and, in the case of a foreigner, must have legal working papers. He has to show proof of a degree in biology or related fields, or in tourism. He must be fluent in Spanish, English, then French or German. He must pass the course of Naturalist Guide III, and may lead a group of 20 visitors. All Tourist Superior, First and Luxury class yachts carry Class-III guides.
The guides are responsible for:
Educating visitors about the natural history, geology, flora and fauna
of the island.
2. Monitoring and controlling where the visitors go within the park.
3. Enforcing the rules of the park.
4. Carrying a license and identity papers with him/her at all times.
5. Wearing a uniform.
6. Participating in observation activities like collecting data on the ecological impact of the islands.
7. Reporting to island authorities whenever necessary.
8. Keeping you and your tour group safe and informed!
*So much of your enjoyment of the islands depends on your guide. We recommend researching guides and asking around. It’s a small community, and people will be able to tell you which guides give better information!
Can my tour's itinerary be changed?
A yacht's itinerary can be changed only by the Galapagos National Park Authorities or by the captain of the yacht under weather-related circumstances.
TOURS AND MONEY
What is included in the boat tour?
All tours include transportation to and from the airport, accommodation, food, and guide services. Many boats provide snorkeling gear and some have kayaks. Look into your tour for more details.
is not included?
Galapagos flights, Galapagos Entrance Fee (includes the municipal tax, currently $100 US payable in cash to the national park authorities in Baltra), tips (it is customary to tip the guide, chef and crew) soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and any other extras not specifically mentioned. There is also a $25 US departure tax from Ecuador on all international flights.
Some Tours do not provide snorkeling gear, and you have to rent it. Others do. Again, check before boarding.
What can I purchase onboard and how?
Most yachts offer a limited bar selection and souvenirs, which are paid for at the end of the tour in cash or Travelers Checks (some yachts also accept credit cards).
What are the recommended tipping policies?
We recommend tipping between $5 - $8 per person per day for the ship’s crew and another $5 - $8 for the guide or guides. If they give exceptional service, please show them how happy you are!
PASSPORTS / VISA
What documents are needed to enter the Galapagos?
Always check with your local embassy or consulate to determine whether or not you need a VISA for Ecuador. A passport is a must, though; so be sure to get your papers settled before traveling abroad. It's smart to take photocopies of all important documents (passport, travel insurance, credit cards etc.) and keep them in a safe place apart from your originals.
To enter Ecuador only a valid passport is required. No visas are required for U.S., Canadian, and most European citizens unless you plan to stay more than ninety days. Check with local immigration offices or the Ecuadorian consulate prior to sailing to determine if a visa is necessary. You will also need a return-ticket out of the islands.
What type of film and photographic equipment are recommended?
A telephoto lens, UV filter and LOADS of film should be brought! To be safe, we recommend that you triple the amount of film you think you'll go through. "Just one more shot of that cute little sea lion," can take up 20 photos! We also recommend buying a couple of disposable underwater cameras. With all the snorkeling you'll be doing, you'll be able to take great shots of turtles, penguins, sharks, brilliantly colored fish, octopus, corals and more!
Just don't find yourself without enough film, and don't forget spare batteries! Everything on the islands is so expensive. Moreover, once you're on your cruise, you won't dock again until the end.
When should I make my Galapagos tour reservation?
If you want a luxury or superior Galapagos tour, you probably will need to book it from Ecuador’s mainland or your home. They fill up faster than the economy cruises. During low season (check out “When to go” section), you may have more luck booking at the last minute. We recommend making your reservation as early as possible as late bookings can result in limited options.
Can I scuba dive in the Galapagos Islands?
Go to our scuba diving section of the page for more information. (Just a note: The Galapagos has some of the best diving in the world!)
Are sea kayaks available onboard?
Some yachts offer sea kayaks. The Red Mangrove Inn, in Puerto Ayora, rents sea kayaks for a day as well. It’s a great way to get around the islands and superb exercise!
Is smoking allowed onboard?
Smoking is allowed on most yachts but only on the outside deck. Smoking is not allowed during your visits to the islands.
Will there be opportunities to go snorkeling?
You will be snorkeling everyday, even twice/day if you wish. So much of the Galapagos fauna is underwater. You will have a lot of time to explore both land and sea.
snorkeling equipment included?
Most yachts offer snorkeling equipment. Sometimes the quality is very poor. We recommend bringing your own for hygienic reasons. Boats will sometimes rent gear (or you can get it Puerto Ayora as well). A weekly rental may cost anywhere from $10.00 - $15.00.
Should I purchase travel insurance?
Yes, we thoroughly recommend taking out travel insurance before departing on your holiday.
Is there drinking water onboard?
All yachts offer their passengers drinking water. Bring your own water bottle for island visits. It’s hot, dry, and you need to keep hydrated!
Are wetsuits necessary?
Wet suits are not necessary. If you get cold easily, we recommend renting one. They will help make your time snorkeling much more enjoyable.
For more information and reservations
Telephone: +57 1 7456019
Our Low-Price Guarantee Policy
If you find any on-line price for less than what we have to offer, service-for-service, we will match that price, unconditionally.
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