With proper trip planning, you and your group can experience the essence of the Galápagos, happening upon welcomed surprises around every corner for a visit unlike any other.
Advice, Recommendations, and Tips
to Streamline Your Journey
Located near the equator, the Galápagos receive bountiful sunlight and rainfall. We suggest packing lightly with hiking shoes, swimwear, summer clothes, a backpack, and a light rain jacket.
Don’t let the elements put a damper on your trip. Be sure to bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and bug spray. In turn, the UV rays and benign island insects will leave you at peace while you enjoy a new world of biodiversity and exploration.
The Galápagos are surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and offer a welcomed collection of water-based activities. You can either rent snorkeling and dive gear here or bring your own for a better fit. We also suggest that surfers bring reef booties in addition to their usual gear.
For a close-up look at Galápagos wildlife and scenery, we recommend bringing your own binoculars. You may also want to bring a camera or phone to relive your experiences and share your landmark trip with curious friends and family.
Although the archipelago features modern pharmacies, we suggest bringing your own medications and seasickness pills to spend as much time journeying as possible.
Putting Your Health and Safety First
The Galápagos are open to tourism and require a health screening form, negative pre-flight COVID-19 test, and contact form. We welcome your visit with open arms and recommend reading our terms and conditions before traveling.
When to Schedule Your Adventure
For perfect high 70°F to 80°F temperatures, continuous wildlife activity, lush greenery, and warm swimming temperatures, we recommend visiting between December and May.
If you would like to visit between May and December, you will still enjoy the full island experience, albeit with low 70°F air temperatures, cooler water, and dryer conditions.
Limited Connectivity and Reception
As with most remote locations, Wi-Fi may only be available in hotels and cafes. Likewise, cellular signals are patchy throughout the island. We find that the limited connectivity adds to the spirit of the trip, facilitating a more authentic visit.
Tipping in Ecuador and Galápagos Islands
Tipping is a difficult subject because expectations and what is considered polite varies so much from country to country. In some places tipping is mandatory, but in others it is not. In the USA it is not acceptable to not leave a tip in a restaurant, but in some European countries a tip might only be left if the service was truly outstanding. It is best to be clear at the outset what the expectations are, so that you can do the right thing, and especially if you feel you have experienced excellent service. This also saves on awkward moments where you are not surew hat to do. It is worth remembering that wages are fairly low in Ecuador, so if you can give a small tip to someone who works hard to make your experience special it will be much appreciated and will go a long way. Here we will look at tipping tour guides on the Ecuadorian mainland and in the Galápagos Islands (yes, it is different in each of these regions), tipping at restaurants, bars, in taxis, in the airport and at the hotel.
Tipping Tour Guides in Ecuador
For tour guides on the mainland in Ecuador, expectations of tips differ somewhat. You should aim to give your tour guide somewhere between $10-$20 per day for the tour, and this amount is for the whole family / the couple, not per person.
For example, if you are on a 10-day tour with your family and you left a minimum tip of $10 per day, you could be leaving $100 with the guide at the end of the trip.
Don’t forget if your tour has both a tour guide and a driver, it is good not to overlook the driver – and especially so if your tour runs over several days and they’ve been driving you around a lot.
Tipping in the Galápagos Islands
On a Galápagos Islands cruise or land based tours, tipping is expected and is normal. Your naturalist guide is very knowledgeable and will have spent a lot of time training to secure the qualifications necessary so that they can work in this type of job. For your naturalist guide you should plan on leaving a tip of approximately 20-40 per day, per person (e.g. if you are a couple you would leave $40 to $80 per day of the cruise/tour in total). The crew also works hard to ensure that you enjoy your trip and you should tip them too. For these staff members if any – approximately $15-30 per day should be allocated, to be split between all of the crew. For example, for a five-day Galápagos Islands cruise/tour, a couple should leave at least $20 per person per day for the naturalist guide, and at least another $15 per day each for the entire crew to share.
Tipping in restaurants is not obligatory in Ecuador, unlike in the United States and some other countries. However, if you feel you received good service it is courteous and polite to leave a tip of 10%, or maybe a couple of dollars.
At mid to higher end restaurants sometimes a 10% service charge will be added to your bill. In this case there is no need to tip in addition to this. However, if you do experience outstanding service, you might want to offer the wait staff a dollar to indicate your satisfaction. At lower end restaurants the service charge is usually not applied to the bill and leaving a dollar for your wait staff is appropriate.
It is definitely not expected to tip in taxis, so do not do this. If you do you might be making things harder for future foreigners who take the same taxis. If you wanted you could round up the fare, especially if the taxi driver helps you with your bags. This may be easier to do anyway than trying to get change, as taxi drivers are notorious for not having small change to hand.
There are a few situations where tipping at the hotel is appropriate. For example, if someone carries your bag to your room for you, you might give them a tip of between $0.50 and a dollar. You may want to leave a tip for the staff that have cleaned your room. If you do that, a tip of $1-2 is reasonable. In most hotels this wouldn’t be expected, but employees will appreciate it.
If a porter carries your bag for you, you should give them approximately a dollar per bag carried. Please note that this is NOT a tip, but rather this is payment for carrying your bag, since this is how the airport porters bring in an income.
Tipping Tour Guides in Galápagos
Ecuador and Galápagos Insiders Tips on Tips: Remember when tipping that people in Ecuador really do not earn very much, and your dollar tip means a lot more to them than that dollar means to you – it goes a lot further in Ecuador. We recommend that you tip using the amounts mentioned here as a rough guide. Beware of over-tipping. This may seem kind and generous but giving an over the top tip might raise expectations, making things difficult for future visitors to Ecuador. The person being tipped might face a lot of disappointment in the future when they never again receive such a high tip.