getting ready for
your galapagos trip
the galapagos islands
Passport valid for at least 6 months prior to expiration counting from the return date to your country of origin. If you are a citizen or resident with a valid passport from the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Italy, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Belgium, France, Spain and Russia you do not need a visa to enter Ecuador and the Galapagos. Most other European countries do not require a visa, although we suggest you check first with your country’s ministry of foreign relations. For any other countries not listed, you must check your visa requirments with your country’s ministry of foreign relations.
The currency in Ecuador is the US Dollar.
Bring major credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express which are accepted almost everywhere in Ecuador, the Galapagos and onboard our yachts. How much cash you bring is up to you but be mindful of the following:
Suggested gratuities and tipping are USD$50 per guest for the guide for one week and USD$150 per guest for the crew. Galapagos National Park Fees per person are $110. Alcoholic beverages in Ecuador are heavily taxed (~$10 per drink on board). There are souvenir stores in the Galapagos and some do not accept credit cards.
Avoid bringing $100 US dollar bills as most restaurants and small stores will not accept them. Bring your cash in smaller denominations, preferably in $20 dollar denominations.
There are Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) that accept international debit and credit cards almost everywhere in Ecuador and in Santa Cruz and San Cristobal Islands of the Galapagos.
TRAVEL AND MEDICAL INSURANCE
All passengers should have full medical insurance and trip-cancellation insurance. Be mindful that the Galapagos is a remote location with very basic medical facilities at hand. Emergency medical evacuation can cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars. Your Insurance company should be able to assist you with the best options for your particular trip. We can also recommend a proper insurance policy for you by clicking here.
QUASAR EXPEDITIONS EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBER
The most important recommendation is: always carry with you Quasar Expedition’s local emergency phone number. In case of an emergency, this should be your priority contact in order to receive immediate assistance. You will be given our emergency phone numbers when you book any trip with us.
Bring your perscription medicine for at least twice the amount you would need for the length of your trip just to be safe. Although most perscription drugs are available in Ecuador, brands and quality vary so better bring you doctor’s perscribed medicine.
GEAR AND CLOTHING
Sunglasses, hat/baseball cap, rain jacket/poncho, lightweight cotton pants, shorts, a couple of t-shirts, swimming suits, waterproof sandals or tevas, thick sole tennis shoes, regular underwear, cotton socks and a sweatshirt for breezy nights.
Suggested by not necessary are neoprene or lycra shirts to keep you warm while swimming and also to avoid getting a sunburn.
Dressing up is not required, though most of our guests prefer to dress up for diner. As a guideline dress up is not too fancy, rather casual formal: a nice dress or pants and blouse for women and pants and shirt for men.
We suggest you bring a photo or video camera, binoculars, small back pack, additional batteries, SD cards for your camera with ample disk storage or bring a laptop to transfer your images. Do not pack a hair dryer as we offer these onboard.
We offer the complete set of snorkeling gear onboard for all shapes and sizes: masks, snorkels, fins and wet suits. We strongly recommend you bring a perscription mask if you need glasses for everyday tasks. If you so choose, you can bring your own snorkel gear. Not offered onboard are neoprene or lycra shirts.
OTHER ITEMS TO BRING
Insect repellent, sun lotion (we recommend high factor: 50+), personal medication, personal toiletteries, resealable bags such as zip-lock bags to keep cameras and equipment dry during excursions.
MOBILE PHONES, SMART PHONES, TABLETS OR LAPTOPS
Most mobile phone service providers have roaming plans that may work with Ecuador’s 3G mobile providers: Claro and Movistar. Please inquire with your mobile service provider about such plans. Most hotels offer WiFi service. During your cruise you will only have 3G mobile phone service while on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal Islands. We have satellite phones onboard, which are available to you at any time for a cost.
Our passion for adventure began 30 years ago in the Galapagos Islands, in a time when there were no cell phones or internet connections. Back then, those of us who traveled knew that part of the thrill of traveling was about disconnecting from the daily routine and losing ourselves for a while, only to find our true selves in the end. This has always been one of the more thrilling aspects of travel for me, that I try to maintain anywhere I go, even if technology is fighting against it. Today, we have made a conscious choice as a company to leave technology aside on our journeys, even if it is only for a few days. We take our guests back in time, to those days when travel was about getting lost for just a little a while, and I think this choice has an incredible impact on the fond memories they return home with.
SEA SICKNESS PILLS OR PATCHES (DRAMAMINE)
If you have a tendency to get seasick, please inquire with your doctor about taking seasickness pills or patches. You should not take these without consulting a doctor. You can bring your doctor perscribed medicine with you. We offer seasickness pills onboard and will be given to you with the understanding that you are responsible for the risks involved in taking them, which is why we insist you consult your doctor prior to taking them.
— How do I avoid getting seasick in the Galapagos Islands?
BAGGAGE SPECIFICATIONS FOR YOUR GALAPAGOS TRIP
We recommend you take a soft sided bag to the Galapagos. You will only need the essentials in clothing and personal items and space is limited on board yachts. A duffel works best as it can be stored into a small drawer or closet. On flights to Galapagos you are allowed to check only one piece of luggage with a maximum of 23 Kg (50 pounds) and have a carry-on / hand bag of 10 Kg (22 pounds).
and the galapagos islands
Both Quito and Guayaquil have modern airports with all the services you expect. Quito’s new airport is 45 minutes away from the city. Guayaquil’s airport is located inside the city so it will take you no more than 15 minutes to reach your hotel.
Upon arrival to Ecuador, you will have to clear customs. All of your personal baggage will be scanned for items such as fresh fruit and or other fresh plant and animal foods.
If you hired airport transfer through us, your van and guide will be waiting for you once you clear customs. Once you arrive at your hotel, your driver and the hotel staff will take care of unloading your baggage. We recommend you keep an eye out for your baggage so that it is not mixed up with that of other passengers.
On the day your group flies to the Galapagos for the start of your cruise, please arrange to meet our Quasar representative at the airport an hour and a half prior to your flights departure. While we do not include transfers to the airport for your Galapagos flights in the price of your cruise, you can arrange these with us in advance at additional cost
Once you arrive at the airport you will be greeted by a Quasar staff member who will handle your check-in process with the airline. He/She will also take care of your baggage. This involves a routine bag check and scan by the Galapagos Islands authorities (INGALA) to make sure you are not taking any plant or animal substances such as fruits or seeds to the Islands. Our staff member will give you your airline ticket with checked bag receipts and instruct you to proceed to your gate.
Ecuador is 5 hours behind GMT or 1 hour behind USA Eastern Standard Time. Spanish is the official language of Ecuador and its provinces such as the Galapagos Islands. English is spoken in the main tourist centers, important hotels, on our yachts, by our guides but not by the general population. If you require a guide in a language other than English you should let us know well in advance and an extra fee may apply. Electricity on all yachts and on the mainland is 110W, 60 cycles, AC, (2 flat prongs), which is the same as in the United States. Travelers coming from Europe should bring their own converters as it is not easy to find them in Galapagos.
Like most places around the World, Ecuador’s cities have good and bad areas. Many of the best hotels are located on good, safe areas. You should take the same precautions as you would if you were to travel to a major city such as New York or London. Be mindful of pickpocketers when walking in the street or in crowded public areas. Don’t walk around with expensive jewelry or with a lot of cash on hand as the vast majority of stores accept major credit cards. Use only registered and certified taxi cabs. Be wary of people who randomly approach you. Don’t venture into places you have not previously asked about. It is not recommened to walk in the streets after dark.
In general, people in Galapagos and in Ecuador are very friendly and courteous but we suggest you proceed with caution when interacting with locals. Please follow your guide's recommendations as to your conduct when relating to the local population. Some guidelines include: do not photograph people, products in local markets and food in restaurants or in the street without obtaining previous consent.
If you booked a city tour or any other type of tour while in Quito or Guayaquil, your tour guide will be waiting for you at the hotel lobby at the specified hours based on your itinerary.
When you arrive to the Galapagos and after you disembark your flight, you will proceed to immigration control and entrance to the Galapagos National Park. After immigration control, your personal hand bags and carry-ons will be inspected for fresh plant and animal foods again. Finally, you will go to baggage claim to retreive your baggage. Once you clear these proceedings and exit baggage claim, your cruise naturalist guide will be waiting. He will identify himself to you by holding a sign with your yacht’s name.
Your guide along with other Quasar Expeditions’ staff will take care of your baggage and will safely take it onboard to your cabin. Your guide will inform and coordinate the boarding process to your yacht.
Once onboard your yacht, you will be welcomed by your captain, cruise director and crew and offered a refreshing drink. Your cruise director or guide will take you to your cabin where you can settle in and relax. You do not need to worry about what to do next as your guide or cruise director will inform you through your cabin’s announcement speakers.
Once you book your Galapagos trip with us, you will be directed to your yacht’s departure center. This is an exclusive page that will prepare you for your trip and walk you through the pre-trip process, which involves reading up on important information and learning more about your yacht and your itinerary. You will also need to prepare and submit the following documentation.
Reservation Form - here you will provide your personal travel information such as passport info, special health or dietary needs, emergency contact info, international flight info, etc.
Medical Form - here you will provide us with your personal health information such as height, weight, blood type, medical conditions, your doctor’s contact info, etc. This information will allow us to better assist you in case of an emergency.
Quasar Expeditions Booking and Cancellation Policies - Although by this point, you will already know our booking and cancellation policies, you will be able to download a copy through the departure center.
If you are traveling with minors, you will need to sign “The Agreement and Assumption of Hazards concerning minors” document. Signing this document means you understand and acknowledge the risks involved in taking a minor on a trip of this nature.
If you have a disability, you will need to sign the “Safety Agreement and Assumption of Risks for guests with disablities” document. Signing this document means you understand and acknowledge the risks involved in taking a trip to the Galapagos with your disability.
You will also need to hire travel insurance that has a good trip cancellation/ interruption policy, as well as emergency medical evacuation coverage.