10 travel tips - the galapagos islands
The Galapagos Islands is an incredible destination to visit, with stunning natural landscapes and unique wildlife species that have existed here for centuries. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the archipelago is also protected as a National Park to ensure its flora and fauna can survive well into the future. To ensure you have a memorable stay, make the most of your time available, and leave the islands in the pristine condition you found them, here are 10 travel tips to keep in mind before you go.
Always use sun protection
With refreshing sea breezes and plenty of time spent in the water, it’s easy to forget just how strong the sun can be in the Galapagos Islands. Even on milder days, there’s a strong chance of getting burnt if you’re not wearing adequate protection. This means a wide-brimmed hat and polaroid sunglasses to protect your eyes, as well as a high SPF sunscreen that’s reapplied throughout the day. There’s nothing worse than being “that person” in the tour group who’s lobster red, so come prepared!
Drink lots of water
A Galapagos Islands adventure is always action-packed, whether you’re hiking, biking, snorkeling or swimming. So it’s important to rehydrate regularly throughout the day, preferably with water. We highly recommend you bring a reusable bottle that can be refilled with drinking water, which will help to avoid the accumulation of plastic waste in the archipelago.
Explore all your options
When you first decided to visit the Galapagos Islands, you probably had a boat-based trip in mind that would take you to a variety of different islands. But keep in mind that there are plenty of other types of tours available, from mountain biking trips to SUP tours and land-based itineraries that combine kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking. Before you settle on the first tour you see, take time to compare the diverse array of options that are available and you might just discover something you hadn’t considered.
Overnight on all the inhabited islands
A cabin-based boat tour is a convenient way of visiting multiple landing sites but you’ll experience a whole lot more if you overnight on each of the Galapagos’ inhabited islands. Aside from learning about the archipelago’s unique wildlife, flora, and geology, you’ll get a first-hand insight into the culture and history of each settlement. At the end of the day, you can enjoy strolling the streets and exploring on your own, rather than being stuck on deck night after night.
Reserve well ahead of time
The Galapagos Islands are an undeniably popular holiday destination, particularly during peak vacation periods in North America and Europe. So it’s important that you make reservations well ahead of time to ensure rooms are available where and when you want to stay. The same goes for booking organized Galapagos tours, with the best ones booking out sometimes months in advance.
Pack a first-aid kit
Due to the remote location, there is limited access to medical care in the Galapagos Islands. Even if you’re visiting on an organized tour, it’s a good idea to pack a basic first-aid kit containing plasters, bandages, antiseptic and some painkillers. If you take prescription medication, make sure you have enough to last the entire trip as sourcing a replacement in the islands may be next to impossible.
Stay on the trails
Landing sites in the Galapagos Islands are carefully managed by the National Park Service to protect vegetation and erosion. It’s essential that you always stay on the trails, not only for the environment’s sake but also for your personal safety. It’s surprisingly easy to get lost and there are few settlements where you can ask for help if you do.
Keep a safe distance from sea lions
Sea lions are one of the most endearing of the Galapagos Islands’ wildlife species and it can be tempting to try and get as close as possible for photo opportunities. But alpha males and females with pups are known to be aggressive and won’t hesitate to defend themselves if they feel threatened. The official distance imposed by the Galapagos Islands National Park Service is for visitors to remain two meters from all wildlife, although you should heed all advice if your guide asks you to stay further away.
Never feed the wildlife
It can be tempting to lure wildlife closer to you with the offering of food or feel that you’re helping them to survive by giving them a little treat. But feeding animals can have a negative impact on them and cause significant health problems. The animals of the Galapagos Islands have thrived here for hundreds of thousands of years finding their own food sources and don’t need the help of humans.
Obey all National Park rules
Rules are enforced by the Galapagos Islands National Park Service for the safety of visitors and the protection of the natural ecosystem. It can be tempting to think “just this once won’t hurt” but the accumulative actions of thousands of visitors can have a severe impact. It’s essential that you cooperate with all environmental inspection and quarantine officials during your visit and don’t bring in any food, animal or plant products that are prohibited.
Quito Travel Tips
Here are some bonus tips while traveling to Quito before or after your trip to the Galapagos Islands.
- Be aware of your surroundings and keep up with what’s going on in the places you are travelling.
- Maintain a secure, confident attitude to avoid becoming a target to thieves and pickpockets.
- Be wary of false police, especially if approached on side streets.
- Avoid carrying valuables with you on the street if you do not need them, things like iPods, cell phones, and excess camera gear.
- If you must take out valuables on the street, it is best to do so near a police officer.
- Always keep copies of documents with you.
- Use traveler’s checks or credit cards and avoid carrying large sums of cash.
- Exchange money inside banks or your hotel, never in the streets.
- Do not take shortcuts or alleyways, always stay on main roads.
- At night, always take a taxi.