Galapagos & Ecuador Travel Guide
Plan your trip to the wildlife-lover's paradise
More about the Galapagos Islands & Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands remain a top destination for those who appreciate wildlife and the natural world, while Ecuador often acts as a stepping stone or gateway onto the archipelago it enjoys rich culture and a unique history of its own. Explore Quito or even Guayaquil before or after you traverse the archipelago in search of rare sea birds, reptiles such as the giant tortoise or marine iguana, and even frolicking sea lions.
While a good standard of hotel properties and accommodations on the islands of the Galapagos do exist, most visitors navigate their travel dreams of exotic animals on board a dedicated expedition or luxury cruise ship such as the National Geographic Islander or the purpose built mega yacht, Celebrity Flora. Seasonal availability also comes in luxury cruise itineraries from Silversea or Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Visas & travel documents
We recommend everyone planning a trip visits their government travel site for the latest information relevant to their trip:
Remember that this information can change at any time.
Please note that government guidelines may not represent the additional requirements of your airline or cruise transportation. If your passport is due to expire in the 6 months following your intended return home you risk being denied boarding / embarkation.
For visitors to Ecuador holding a US or Canadian passport, a tourist visa is generally not required for visits of up to 90 days. For Canadian passport holders, this is a cumulative 90 days during any rolling 365 day period. Visiting the Galapagos Islands requires an additional permit, typically included in your cruise or expedition fare, but you should confirm this with the provider in advance of arrival. For those arriving independently onto Baltra or San Cristobal, expect a US$100 fee for adults and those over the age of 12, US$50 for children. Fees are payable in cash only.
The Galapagos Islands are a year round destination, with plenty of local and migratory wildlife to be seen throughout the archipelago. You may only have to decide which creatures you most wish to see, such as nesting of the waved albatross. Both the islands and the mainland experience a warm season and a dry season, although slightly different for each locale. Many visitors enjoy the dry season for its clearer blue skies and reduced rainfall. Dry season falls June through September for the mainland and June through December for the Galapagos Islands. There are seasonal changes throughout each month of the islands, as is expected of island weather! Check with your travel advisor for specific needs or desires in viewing wildlife.
When to visit
There is no facility for renting a vehicle on the islands of the Galapagos. Taxi, pre-arranged tours, and other such transportation options are the best way to get around, with the most enterprising of drivers offering a custom day use of their services. Arrange anything last-minute through your accommodation. For those looking to drive in Ecuador, we recommend strong consideration toward simply arranging necessary transportation in advance. Road maintenance, driving standards, and local enforcement might vary wildly and stray far, far from the comfort zones of most visitors. Both the US and Canadian travel authorities caution against cross-border travel via land through many locations. If you are desperate to drive, limited consideration for use of a foreign license may be available, but expect varying standards in renting a car.
Arrival into Ecuador is often achieved from international destinations through either of Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) or Guayaquil's Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport (GYE). Air service onto the Galapagos Islands themselves is achieved through the historic air base on the north side of the central island at Seymour Airport (GPS).
At this time it there are a number of strong recommendations against travel into Ecuador from neighbouring countries including Colombia and Peru. Violent crime, criminal organizations, and even legacy minefields make for an unsafe journey.
Sea travel onto the Galapagos Islands is perhaps the preferred means for a comfortable, reliable journey time. Passengers of various vessels and cruise ships arrive onto Baltra or Puerto Ayora before bounding off to more remote island destinations throughout the archipelago.
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Content is intended for information and planning purposes only. While we try our best to deliver accurate and current information, some items may not be as described. Please contact your Odyssean Travel advisor for further details.