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Travel Tips

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.
  • Krista Whitley - 10 day Galapagos Adventure Tour - May 2024
    Pablo (our guide) is the Steve Irwin of Ecuador and Karen at Galakiwi offered 24/7, 365 concierge customer service. Truly an exceptional experience from booking to completion that left our family with new life long friends. I cannot recommend Galakiwi highly enough!
    Krista Whitley
    10 day Galapagos Adventure Tour - May 2024
  • Melanie Eustace - 6-day Land Galapagos Tour, January 2024
    A big thank you to the team at Galakiwi for making my holiday in the Galapagos the most incredible experience I could have ever wished for. I thought I had missed out completely when my flight from Miami got canceled but Laura rescheduled everything in Ecuador for me and arranged for me to catch up with my group without missing out at all. Pepo our guide did a superb job and every day was even better than the one before, except the last one when we had to go home ?. From beginning to end every single member of the Galakiwi team was incredible. I couldn't recommend this 6-day Galapagos holiday or Galakiwi highly enough. I will treasure all the wonderful memories of the Galapagos.
    Melanie Eustace
    6-day Land Galapagos Tour, January 2024
  • Murray - Family Tour - 2023
    I would give this trip six stars if I could. This was my second trip with Galakiwi, the first having been with a small group of adults none of whom I knew before the trip. This trip, I requested a custom itinerary for myself, my adult daughter and her husband, and their bright and very active kids aged 7, 10 and 12. The staff did a great job seeking out activities suitable for us, some of which I'd done previously and some I had not. We were even able to book a surfing session. Pablo Valladares was our guide on the first trip and I requested him for this tour because of his outgoing personality, encyclopedic knowledge about the islands, and obvious deep love for the place where he lives. I cannot recommend Galakiwi highly enough. In addition to all the above, Galakiwi offers a land based tour so you sleep in a hotel every night and not on a boat. What could be better?
    Family Tour - 2023
  • Michele Lemay - Galapagos Private Customized Tour - Feb 2023
    Galakiwi provided our 7-person group with outstanding, professional services throughout the 13-day customized tour. From the expert advice during the pre-trip planning to the booking experience, the efficient on-site logistics, the exceptional, highly knowledgeable guides, and the excellent family-run quality hotels, everything was perfect. It was the experience of a lifetime that our group had dreamed of. Galakiwi is a superb team all around.
    Michele Lemay
    Galapagos Private Customized Tour - Feb 2023
  • Kurtis Siegle - 10 day Galapagos Adventure Tour - May 2023
    I learned so much and had so much fun! It was an adventure I will never forget!
    Kurtis Siegle
    10 day Galapagos Adventure Tour - May 2023
  • Alex W - Customized Family Tour 2023
    This was absolutely the trip of a lifetime! We booked a private tour with Galakiwi for our family of 6 - mom, dad, grandma, and three kids ages 7, 10 and 12. From the moment we arrived we were completely taken care of. With three kids we didn't have to worry about getting from one point to another. But more importantly, we were shown the most extraordinary places and wildlife. We hiked a volcano, surfed, and snorkeled with sharks and giant sea turtles and sea lions! Our guide Pablo was so caring and related to everyone in our group so well. He made changes as needed in the itinerary to give us the best experience every day. And he taught us so much. He truly loves these islands and the plants and animals who live there, and his enthusiasm and curiosity were infectious. We felt like we were being let into a secret garden that only Pablo knew about. Our only regret is that we didn't stay longer! There is so much to see and do.
    Alex W
    Customized Family Tour 2023
  • Heidi - 10 day Galapagos Adventure Tour - 2023
    Galakiwi is the way to Go-lapagos! Super organized, anticipating every move and connection in a well choreographed professional manner. Great gear was at our disposal, excellent food served by all of their partner restaurants and caterers. Pepo and Paulo were excellent local guides that we all felt lucky to have lead our adventure, They provided clear insight on the fragile ecosystems that are the gems of the Galapagos and explained Ecuador's cautious development of sustainable tourism in the region. Special visits to the Tree House, meeting their moms and Tim's kids on the last day made it a truly special visit.
    10 day Galapagos Adventure Tour - 2023
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