Galápagos Island FAQs
About the Galápagos Islands
When is the best time to go to the Galápagos Islands?
The Galápagos Islands are one of those rare locations where there truly is no bad time to go. My personal favorite time to go, though, is February. Things have calmed down after the holidays. The water is pretty balmy. And, the mosquito population is still fairly manageable.
What is the weather like?
The weather can be downright steamy during the day and then cool off during the evening. Dressing in layers is a definite must.
You can easily check the weather before your trip to get an idea of what to expect.
We will also send you a packing list to help ensure that you come prepared.
What documents do I need to travel to the Galápagos Islands?
US citizens need a passport with 6+ months of validity remaining to enter Ecuador. The Galápagos Islands are a part of Ecuador.
It is your responsibility to check on current entrance requirements with local immigration offices or the Ecuadorian embassy.
Is the electricity the same as in the US?
You can plug in Apple devices (iphone, Mac) without a problem.
You will need to bring a converter and an adapter in order to plug in other devices (camera battery chargers, blow dryers, etc.)
Is there air conditioning in the hotels?
The hotels have fans. And, some hotels even have pools or are beachfront properties. But, alas, there is no air conditioning.
Will I need immunizations for my trip to the Galápagos Islands?
You should check the CDC website to see which immunizations are currently recommended.
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About Our Adventure
Who goes on this type of adventure?
Most of our guests are like you. They are interested in doing more than observing the world from the window of a tour bus.
Most are couples, singles, and families from the US.
However, we welcome travelers from all over the world.
Also, all of our groups are private. So, you needn’t worry about whether you’ll get along with a group of strangers on our adventures.
Is this adventure a good choice if I am traveling alone?
You’ll benefit from our expertise. For example, you won’t have to worry about giving directions to a taxi driver who doesn’t speak English.
And, you’ll have one of our super knowledgeable and fun guides all to yourself.
Is this adventure suitable for children?
Most definitely! In fact, this adventure is great for families with children from about 7 or 8 years old and up.
Unlike a cruise, there are plenty of activities on our land-based adventure to keep the entire family engaged.
Do you have age limits?
We accept bookings from guests aged 21 to 70.
However, depending on the traveler and the adventure, we will book travelers outside of that age range.
What are the qualifications of your guides?
Our guides are phenomenal! Many have become personal friends.
All of our guides are licensed by the Ecuadorian government and have many years of experience leading adventures.
They all have first aid training and many have earned a Wilderness First Responder certificate.
Our guides speak both English and Spanish. They love what they do and are thrilled to have the opportunity to show you their homeland.
Are hotels included in the cost of your trip?
We will take care of all hotel reservations during the trip.
Check out the itinerary for specific information on the hotels.
What are the hotels like?
We work with boutique hotels in Guayaquil and throughout the Galápagos Islands.
One thing to note—whenever possible, our hotels are locally owned. We work with Ecuadorian-owned hotels to ensure your tourist dollars remain in Ecuador and benefit Ecuadorians.
Why should we consider a land-based adventure over a cruise?
At one time, cruises were the only way to see the Galápagos Islands. Our land-based adventure has a number of advantages over a cruise, though.
- You don’t have to worry about getting seasick for days on end. You will spend some time on a boat. And, there is an island-to-island hop in a small plane. But, neither lasts very long.
- You’ll have more time to spend on the islands, participating in activities and meeting locals. On a cruise, a significant amount of time is spent traveling to and from the boat.
- You can get up at a decent hour. On a cruise, you have to rise with the sun to get ready to leave for the before-lunch excursion. Our land-based adventure actually gives you more time to relax and sleep in!
- You’ll sleep better. The captain moves the ship at night on a cruise. The ship’s engines can be a surprisingly loud.
What is philanthropic adventure travel?
As a part of your adventure, we take you off the beaten path to visit a non-profit project. You can see who we work with on the Giving Back in the Galápagos Islands page of our website.
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Getting to the Galápagos Islands
Are international flights included in the cost of the adventure?
No. You’ll need to purchase your airline tickets to and from Ecuador.
Are domestic flights included in the cost of the adventure?
No. You’ll need to purchase your domestic airline tickets.
However, we’ll tell you what flights you need to take so that you can make sure you are in the right place at the right time.
What should I do if I am concerned about carbon offsetting?
We share your concern.
In fact, we purchase carbon offsets on your behalf for air travel included in the itinerary.
Which airport do I need to fly into?
You’ll need to fly into the Guayaquil International Airport. You’ll then fly to Baltra in the Galápagos Islands. There are no international flights at this time that go directly to the Galápagos Islands.
How do I get from the airport to the hotel?
One of our guides will meet you at the airport.
Look for your name on a sign when you exit the baggage claim area.
Your guide will escort you to the hotel and assist you with check in.
What do I need to do when coming through customs when I enter Ecuador?
During the flight to Guayaquil, the flight attendant will give you an Ecuador entrance form.
You’ll need to complete the form to show, along with your passport, to the customs officer.
The customs officer will ask how long you plan to be in Ecuador. Normally, the officer will stamp your passport indicating a permissible stay of 60 to 90 days.
The officer will return both your passport and the customs entry form.
What do I do with the entry form?
You need to keep the entry form to show the customs officer when you leave Ecuador.
Keep it with your passport so that you don’t lose it!
Is there a departure tax?
Yes. Travelers leaving Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands must pay a departure tax.
This tax is almost always included in the cost of your plane ticket. If it is not included in your plane ticket, there are several ATMs in the airport that you can use to get cash to pay the departure tax.
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What is the currency of Ecuador?
The US dollar is the currency of Ecuador.
Can I use my credit card?
Credit cards are accepted in many hotels, restaurants, and shops in major cities such as Quito and Guayaquil. However, in small towns on the Galápagos Islands, cash is still king.
Some hotels and restaurants also charge a different price if you use a credit card. They will add an 8 to 10 percent surcharge to the bill. In these situations, clearly, using cash is preferable.
You should check with your credit card company before you leave for Ecuador to find out what, if any, fees they will charge if you use your card in Ecuador.
Be sure that your credit card company notes the dates you will be in Ecuador to avoid problems with your credit card. Just in case there is a problem, get the number of the credit card company to call from Ecuador. There is often a different customer service number to call from overseas.
Can I use my ATM card?
There are ATMs with directions in English readily available in Guayaquil, and at the airport. There are also ATMs in the Galápagos Islands.
If you are not sure if you will find an ATM at a particular place, check with your guide.
Be aware that some ATMs in Ecuador do not automatically release your card when they dispense cash. You may need to request card return by pushing a button. Always take an extra few seconds to verify that you have your card before you walk away.
Many ATMs have instructions in English, and your guide can also help you use the machine if necessary.
Make sure to talk with your bank before you leave for Ecuador. You should find out what, if any, fees you’ll be charged.
Also have your bank note the dates you will be in Ecuador to avoid the possibility of having problems using your ATM card. Just in case there is a problem, you should also get the number of the bank to call from Ecuador. There is often a different customer service number to call from overseas.
How much should I budget beyond the cost of my trip?
How much additional money you need to budget beyond the cost of the trip is really up to you.
You can get an excellent lunch for about $15 to $20 on the days it is not included.
And, a dinner with a drink at a very nice restaurant typically won’t run more than $30 to $40.
Shopping really depends on your taste.
How much should I tip?
It is customary to tip 10% of the total bill in restaurants.
All tips are included in our adventure with the exception of your tour leader.
You should tip according to your heart, but $10/person for each day is typical.
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What can I do to avoid getting sick?
Make sure to drink only bottled or purified water. And, use bottled or purified water to brush your teeth.
Bottled water is readily available. When you purchase bottled water, make sure the seal is intact. Also, many of the hotels provide a pitcher of purified water in the rooms.
Request your drinks without ice. And, avoid eating uncooked food or food purchased from street vendors.
Use hand sanitizer to wash your hands frequently.
What health and well-being issues should I be concerned about?
The Ecuadorian sun is quite strong. So, bring plenty of sun block, a good pair of sunglasses, and a sun hat. Long-sleeved shirts and pants also offer additional protection from the sun.
In addition, the drivers in Ecuador are more aggressive than they are in the US. Never assume that you have the right of way as a pedestrian. Look carefully and avoid distractions when crossing the streets. A good rule of thumb is to cross the street when a crowd of locals does, if at all possible.
Can I refill my prescriptions in Ecuador?
Not all medicines are available in Ecuador. You should bring the quantities of all prescription medications you will need in the original bottles.
What medications and other first aid supplies should I bring?
The CDC website contains a comprehensive list of first aid supplies international travelers should pack.
What are the public restrooms like?
The public restrooms are generally quite clean. However, they may not all stock toilet paper or have running water. In addition, some restrooms are set up so that you need to get toilet paper at a main receptacle before you enter the stall. Carry small packets of Kleenex to keep in your pocket, just in case. Hand sanitizer can also be very helpful.
Regardless of whether you use a public restroom or the bathroom in your hotel, restaurant, or even the airport, you will need to put all toilet paper in the waste basket provided. Ecuador’s sewage system can’t handle toilet paper or other items being flushed.
Will my health insurance work in Ecuador?
Most US-based health insurance will not cover you in Ecuador. As a result, you’ll need to buy travel insurance to cover you while you travel in Ecuador.
Travel insurance companies have several different levels of policies. Make sure the policy options you select covers you for all of the activities you plan to take part in during your trip. If not, you may find yourself in the unhappy position of having to pay a hefty medical bill.
Travel insurance is required to participate in all of our adventures.
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Eat, Drink, & Be Merry
Can I drink the water?
You can’t drink the tap water in Ecuador. However, bottled water is readily available and many hotels provide a pitcher of purified water in the room that you can use to brush your teeth, drink, and refill your water bottle.
Can I eat fresh fruits and vegetables?
Many restaurants in areas frequented by tourists are now washing their fresh fruits and vegetables with purified water, which makes them safe to eat. Just to be safe, though, always ask first.
Can I have ice in my drinks?
Many restaurants in areas frequented by tourists now use purified water to make ice. You should always ask first to be sure this is the case in the restaurant you are patronizing. We recommend that you avoid ice in your drinks.
Can special diets be arranged?
Yes, we can accommodate special diets if you let us know your requirements ahead of time. Please let us know about your special diet needs on your Trip Application.
Are all meals included?
Most, but not all, meals are included. We include the meals that we feel most certain that you’ll be hungry to eat given your itinerary for that day.
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Traveling Within Ecuador
Which airlines do you recommend for flights within Ecuador?
We recommend that our guests fly on LAN or Tame for flights from Guayaquil to Baltra.
What other forms of transportation are used?
In addition to flying, you will travel by private car or van, speed boat, kayak, and small plane.
What other transportation costs will I incur during the trip?
The only additional transportation cost you may incur on our adventure is for checked baggage, depending on current airline rules.
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Staying in Touch
How can I stay in touch while I am on the Galápagos Islands?
You can easily access WiFi in the Galápagos Islands from your hotel lobby.
Will I be able to recharge my cell phone and laptop?
Yes, if you bring a 2-pin plug adapter and a voltage transformer to use in Ecuador. Ecuador’s electricity is 220 volts, 60 cycles. You can buy this equipment at travel stores. You may also wish to bring extra batteries for cameras.
If you have an iPhone or an Apple computer, you may be able to plug these devices directly into the wall socket. Please check with an Apple authorized dealer first, though, to make sure that this will work for the device you bring.
How do I call the US from the Galápagos Islands?
To call the US, dial 1 and then the number you wish to dial. If you plan to call the US frequently, you may wish to purchase a calling card online before you leave. A calling card will allow you to make these calls more cheaply.
Skype is also a good option.
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How will I know what to bring?
We will send you a packing list appropriate to your trip.
Please leave expensive jewelry and other costly items at home. You do not want to unwittingly make yourself a potential target for pickpockets.
Are there limitations on suitcase weight or size?
Since you’ll be hopping from island-to-island, a reasonably sized-suitcase will work just fine. No steamer trunks, please!
If I pack light, will I be able to do laundry during my trip?
Yes, it is fairly easy to do laundry, even if just in your hotel room sink, on this trip.
What else should I bring?
Make sure to bring a copy of your passport, your ATM card, and any credit cards you are traveling with. Bringing another form of identification and a passport photo will also make it easier to replace your passport if it is lost or stolen.
You should also bring a list of phone numbers of your doctors at home, your credit card companies, your cell phone carrier, and your bank. Sometimes there is a different number to call if you are making the call from outside the US, so be sure that you have noted the correct number to call from Ecuador.
Also, take care to store copies of your documents and your important phone numbers separately from the documents themselves!
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Booking an Adventure
How far in advance should I book my adventure?
Accommodations in the Galápagos Islands are extremely limited. So, we recommend that you book 6 months to a year in advance. Of course, you may always check with us for current availability.
How do I book an adventure with Llama Expeditions?
Simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-415-701-7600 to let us which adventure you are interested in and when you’d like to go. We’ll send you all of the necessary paperwork to complete to make your reservation.
What about a deposit?
We’ll need a deposit of $500 per person when you submit your application. This deposit secures your place on the trip.
When is the final payment due?
We’ll need payment in full, by check or by credit card, 60 days prior to departure. This means that you’ll need to mail your check so that we receive it 60 days prior to the trip.
Unfortunately, we cannot make any exceptions.
What documents do I need to book the trip?
Besides payment, you must also send us:
- A signed copy of the booking terms and conditions for each person traveling in your party 18 and older
- Proof of travel insurance that covers each person in your party
Without these documents, we cannot accept your booking even if you have paid in full.
Can I change my mind and transfer to another trip or departure date?
You can change your mind and transfer to another trip up to 60 days prior to the departure date.
What are the penalties for cancelling my trip?
|Date of Cancellation||Policy|
|91 days or more prior to departure||Full trip payment is refunded less a $200 per person administrative fee|
|61 to 90 days prior to departure||75% per person of the trip payment is refunded|
|60 to 45 days prior to departure||50% per person of the trip payment is refunded|
|44 to 0 days prior to departure||0% per person of the trip payment is refunded|
Will you refund the cost of any activities we don't participate in during the trip
No partial refunds will be given for unused hotel rooms, meals, sightseeing trips, transportation, or trekking arrangements for any reason whatsoever.
The Trip Cost is quoted as a package and credits are not given for services not used.
What happens if Llama Expeditions cancels the trip?
Llama Expeditions reserves the right to cancel the trip due to an inadequate group size or any other cause that will make the trip unfeasible for us to run. We will inform you 45 days prior to departure if we find that we have to cancel the trip.
If this is the case, we will refund 100% of the land cost of the trip. However, we are not responsible for any additional expenses you have incurred in preparing for the trip. (E.g., nonrefundable airline ticket purchases, visa fees, etc.)
Are trip delays and cost increases a possibility?
While they don’t happen often, trip delays and cost increases are a possibility.
The cost of trip delays is not included if any trip is delayed due to bad weather, trail conditions, river levels, road conditions, government intervention, civil unrest, illness, or any other situation that is out of our control or the control of our partners in Ecuador.
We guarantee the cost the adventure that we quote you for up to 60 days.
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