Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Getting to Galápagos
Where do I have to go first to get to Galápagos?
You must fly to Ecuador first, either to Quito or Guayaquil. From there, you’ll fly to Galápagos!
Which city is best to travel to first: Quito or Guayaquil?
Neither is better—they’re just different. There’s plenty to do in both places!
Both cities have tourist attractions that can be visited before or after the cruise. Guayaquil is more of a “passing” or “business” city, being a port city near the coast. You can visit attractions like Malecón 2000, Seminario (Iguana) Park, La Rotonda Monument, and Barrio Las Peñas.
Quito is a colonial city in the Andes, and you can visit places like Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, Colonial Downtown, Cotopaxi Volcano, Mindo Cloud Forest, Otavalo Market, and Papallacta Hot Springs.
When is the best time to travel to Galápagos?
Anytime! There’s no better time to travel to Galápagos than now! Galápagos is beautiful year-round, making pleasant conditions for hiking and wildlife spotting. However, you may take other factors such as high season or low season into account.
How many days should I stay in Ecuador?
It’s totally up to you! The number of days depends on how much time you have to make your trip. If you do want to visit an attraction in Quito or Guayaquil, it’s recommended at least 2 days before or after your trip to the Galápagos islands.
How many days do you recommend for Galápagos?
It depends on your time and budget. Our team (Rick/Zambo) would be happy to discuss this with you! We can work out detailed proposals that fit your needs!
How much is a land-based tour?
How far in advance should I arrive in Quito or Guayaquil before my trip to Galápagos?
Please be sure to arrive at the very least 24 hours before your trip, though we recommend at least 48 hours so you can settle in.
How long is the flight from Ecuador to Galápagos?
It depends where you depart from. Flights to Galápagos leave from both Quito and Guayaquil. If you travel from Quito there will be a short layover in Guayaquil (about 30 minutes), and you won’t need to exit the plane. It takes 30 minutes to fly from Quito to Guayaquil and roughly 1 and 30 minutes from Guayaquil to the Islands.
Are there luggage restrictions on airplanes?
One carry-on bag (25 lbs/ 12 kg) is allowed.
Why does the flight make a stop in Guayaquil?
To pick up passengers.
For flights to and from the Islands, can I depart and return from Quito or Guayaquil on either trip?
Yes, your flights to and from the Galápagos are totally up to you! You can fly to and from either Quito or Guayaquil.
Can I take an immediate international flight once I return to Ecuador from Galápagos?
Due to possible flight delays, we recommend you take the international flight back home, 24 hours after you return to mainland Ecuador. However, if you prefer to travel back the same day, it’s possible.
How do I get to the city from the airport?
Quito: The Mariscal Sucre International Airport is located in the town of Tababela, about 11 miles east of Quito. It takes about 45 minutes from the airport to the city of Quito. You can either take a taxi or book a private transfer through us.
Guayaquil: The Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport is located inside the city of Guayaquil, is pretty close to most hotels, and taking a taxi is super easy!
Which airline is the most used for flights to the Galápagos?
Most of the operators in Galápagos prefer to book the local flights with Avianca, but there are other airlines like LATAM or TAME that offer flights to the islands.
Which airline do you recommend for my international flight to Ecuador?
It depends where you’re flying from. We recommend you check with your travel agency to learn more about international flights to Ecuador.
Can my flight route be changed before my second payment?
Yes, it’s possible to change your flight route before you send the final payment.
Galápagos Entrance Fees
What is the Galápagos National Park (GNP) entrance fee?
All tourists visiting Galápagos Islands must pay an entry tax to visit the archipelago to the Ecuadorian National Park System. On its website, the Galápagos National Park announces that, “Funds from the entry tax for tourists are used to finance the conservation of biodiversity (…), and benefits the local community (…) and services directly related to tourists.”
Where can I pay Galápagos National Park (GNP) Entrance Fee?
You must pay your fee in cash at the airport in Galápagos upon arrival. The amount of this entrance fee depends on the age and nationality of the tourist. Most foreign tourists over the age of 12 pay US $100, while children pay US $50.
Visitors from the Andean Community and Mercosur nations over the age of 12 pay US $50, and children pay US $25. Ecuadorian nationals over the age of 12 pay US $6, and children pay US $3.
Can I pay the GNP Entrance Fee with a credit card?
No. It’s not possible to pay the entry fee with a credit card, you need cash.
How can I pay the GNP Entrance Fee?
When you arrive in the Islands, you’ll find a special counter to pay this fee.
What is the Transit Control Card?
The Governing Council of Galápagos uses the Transit Control Card (Tarjeta de Control de Tránsito or TCT) to monitor visitors’ time spent on the islands.
Where can I pay the TCT?
The Transit Control Card must be paid in cash at the Quito or Guayaquil airport before flying to the island. Visitors must go to a booth in the airport with their plane tickets to get the card, which costs $20 (cash only).
Can I pay the TCT with a credit card?
No, only with cash. It’s impossible to pay with a credit card.
Can I buy the TCT a day before traveling to the Galápagos to avoid the line?
There is an online service in case passengers do not prepay for this service. You can enter your info online before traveling to the islands. However, you MUST arrive at least 2 hours prior to your scheduled flight departure in order to pay and get the Transit Control Card from the Galápagos Government Council, which needs to be kept with you until you leave the archipelago.
On the Islands
Is it possible to make phone calls to my home country?
Yes! You can call your family and friends from Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island), where you will have access to Internet facilities.
Is there a dress code?
Nope! Let your style shine–there is no dress code on our tours. Wear whatever you want!
Are single or triple suites available?
Is there internet or WiFi on boat charters?
No, there is no internet or cell phone connection on boats.
What type of outlets are used?
There are 110v (2 flat prongs, like the ones in the United States) in all ships and on the mainland. In some of the ships there is 220v on the social areas, we recommend bringing your own adapter.
Precautions and What to Bring
Do you offer travel insurance?
We don’t offer trip insurance, but we strongly advise purchasing it.
What travel insurance do you recommend?
We recommend reviewing the best travel insurance options with your local travel agency, or you can review it with Allianz or Travel Guard.
Are there any immunizations required/recommended?
No. However, If you intend to spend more time in Ecuador, specifically in the jungle, immunizations are recommended. As this does change from time to time, please check with your local health care provider (or the Institute for Tropical Diseases) for more information.
What do you recommend for motion sickness, can I buy medication in Ecuador?
We suggest you check with your doctor before taking any motion-sickness medication. You can buy this medication in Ecuador or purchase the medication recommended by your doctor in your home country.
What should we bring?
Since the Islands are situated on the Equator, we recommend you bring lightweight clothing and of course, don’t forget your swimsuits, sunscreen, and good footwear for walking! Check out our travel tips for more recommendations.
Can we bring our own alcoholic beverages with us?
On board the plane, you may take up to 5 liters of alcohol with alcohol contents between 24% and 70% per person, as checked luggage. On board a cruise, the amount depends on the boat, however, most boats allow passengers to bring 1 bottle of an alcoholic drink per cabin.
Where can I go shopping?
You can buy souvenirs in the main towns at the beginning and end of your cruise.
Where can I buy a cell phone chip?
You can buy a cell phone chip at any shopping center in Quito or Guayaquil.
Is there internet or phone signal in Galápagos?
There is limited phone coverage in Galápagos, but you can buy a SIM card that will work with the main towns. Once you start sailing, cellphone reception will be very limited/nonexistent.
Do we have to exchange money before we travel to Ecuador/ once we are in the country?
Not if you have US dollars. In 2000, Ecuador adopted the US dollar as its official currency. Just make sure you bring cash bills in good condition with you; if they have any rips or tears in them, they will NOT be accepted!
How much money should I bring?
It depends on the length of your trip. Please note that you need enough cash for the Galápagos National Park fee (~$100), Ingala Transit Control card (~$20), alcoholic and soft drinks, souvenirs, tips, and in some cases, you’ll have to rent wetsuits and/or kayaks and/or bikes.
What are the tipping standards in Ecuador and Galápagos?
In Ecuador, there is no set amount for tipping! However, based on our clients’ experience, and if you think that the service has been excellent, we recommend for tours, US $8 to US $15 per person, per day. For example, if you travel onboard a cruise with your partner and both have decided to tip US $12 each per day, that would be US $24 a day, and US $168 for a 7-night cruise (the crew will divide it equally among them), plus any amount you leave to the guide.
What currency do you use in Ecuador and how can we exchange our money?
The official currency of Ecuador is the US dollar. If you are coming from the United States, you do NOT need to exchange your money. People coming from other countries are able to exchange money at the international airports in Quito or Guayaquil, located in banks and exchange areas.
Can we get money from ATMs in Galápagos?
Only a few itineraries offer free time in the main ports, where you can find a few ATMs. We recommend that you bring enough cash with you before you arrive in the islands for your personal expenses.