Do you think you have ready for your trip to the Galapagos Islands?
Even if you already have the dates, flight, accommodation and itinerary ready, it may be that you are forgetting to consider something very important that could prevent you from accessing the Enchanted Islands.
As the Galapagos Islands are a protected Natural Park, the Government of Ecuador takes the protection of this natural area very seriously, and for this it has established a series of rules to follow and entry procedures, which it is very important that you know in order to do them as quickly as possible, and avoid starting your vacation with stress.
1. Flights and accommodation in the Galapagos Islands
As a first requirement, you will need to have an accommodation reservation for every day that you are going to be on the island. You can do it through Booking or with an email from a hostel or hotel will be enough. You will also need to have a round trip ticket to and from the Galapagos Islands. There are many other things you can improvise during your trip to Galapagos on your own, but do not do it with accommodation or flights or you will not be allowed to enter.
2. Valid passport
Entry to the Galapagos Islands does not require obtaining a visa, unless you belong to a very small list of countries. You will only need your passport, which must be valid for at least six months from the date of your entry. For this reason, it is important that you verify that your passport is not about to expire before traveling to Galapagos. If you are a resident in Ecuador, it is enough to identify yourself with the identity card.
In the case of belonging to the reduced list of countries in which it is necessary to have a visa to enter Ecuador, you will not have to pay the entrance fee for foreigners to the Galapagos National Park, which is currently $100, therefore you save that money.
3. Pre-registration form
This form is very similar to the one requested at the entrance of other countries, and is necessary to obtain your transit control card, which is mandatory to travel to Galapagos. It requests the reason for the trip, length of stay and where you are going to stay. To avoid unnecessary waiting, you can complete the form through the following link: //siiws.gobiernogalapagos.gob.ec/siicgg_web/
The web sometimes gives problems and in some internet browsers it is not possible to access it. In case you cannot do it online, do not worry, since you can do it at the airport during the check-in process and inspection of the luggage that you will go through at the airport.
4. Ingala tourism card | TCT Transit Control Card
Before taking your flight to the Galapagos Islands, either from Quito or Guayaquil, you must go to the offices of the Government Council of the Galapagos Special Regime located at the departure airports to obtain the Transit Card. In these offices they will check that you have completed the prior registration form (and if you have not done so, they will make you fill it out at the time) and they will check your luggage to verify that you are not carrying any of the restricted products. This control of your luggage is carried out BEFORE sending it to the hold, that is, before you deliver it to the counter of your flight. Do not worry, since at the airport they know very well that you have to do this before you can board, so the stewardesses of your airline will tell you where you should do the procedure before they start their procedure. That is why we recommend going with a good margin of time even if it is a domestic flight.
5. Entrance fee to the National Park
You’re almost there! You land at Seymour Airport on Baltra Island next to Santa Cruz or San Cristobal, pick up your bags, go to passport control, and we still have to pay the Galapagos National Park fee, which is its main source of financing for maintenance of this fantastic natural area. The rates that apply are the following, depending on age and nationality and country of residence:
How much does the entrance to the Galapagos Islands cost?
• Foreign tourists not resident in Ecuador over 12 years old: $100 USD
• Foreign tourists not resident in Ecuador under 12 years of age $50
• Foreign tourists not resident in Ecuador, over 12 years of age, nationals of one of the countries belonging to the Andean Community of Nations or Mercosur *$50
• Tourists, foreign students not resident in Ecuador who are enrolled in national educational institutions $25
• Foreign tourists not resident in Ecuador under 12 years of age, nationals of one of the countries belonging to the Andean Community of Nations or Mercosur *$25
• National or foreign tourists residing in Ecuador, over 12 years old $6
• National or foreign tourists residing in Ecuador, under 12 years of age $3
Is Travel Insurance to the Galapagos Islands mandatory?
You will find a lot of different information about whether travel insurance is mandatory to travel to the Galapagos Islands. During 2019, the Governing Council proposed taking this measure, given the high cost to the National Park of transferring injured people from remote islands to a hospital. Finally, after analyzing the situation, the Governing Council of the Galapagos Special Regime postponed this measure and determined that it was not a mandatory requirement to carry insurance.
What should I bring and what can I NOT bring in my suitcase?
As we mentioned before, the Government of Galapagos takes several additional measures to those normally taken by any airport. One of them, and the one that most attracts the attention of tourists, is that the entire cabin of the plane is always disinfected with the passengers inside. This is one of the many measures to prevent insects from entering. Another measure is to make a special inspection of tourists’ luggage. This inspection, as mentioned before, is carried out before checking in the bags and entering the waiting room. In this review they mainly look for animal products, seeds and certain foods. You can find the complete list of permitted and restricted products at the following link: //bioseguridadgalapagos.gob.ec/lista-de-productos/
What to bring to the Galapagos Islands?
We have already talked about what you cannot take, but here we also have some essential recommendations to have in your suitcase when traveling to the islands:
• Sunscreen and hat: In Ecuador the sun hits very hard, so a high-factor sunscreen is necessary to use daily and prevent the sun from ruining our vacations.
• Sports shoes: Although we usually associate the beach with the classic Hawaiian sandals, in Galapagos it is better to have sports shoes since most of the ground and paths have rocks. Some waterproof sandals or sandals to wear in the sea could also be very useful.
• Cash: There are not many ATMs on the islands (especially on Isabela). Carry enough cash with you and, if possible, book tours and accommodation in Galapagos Low Cost in advance.
• Mosquito repellent, Ecuador is a tropical country and mosquitoes abound so bites could make your day bitter. Avoid it with a good mosquito repellent.
• Snacks and thermos of water: If you can bring snacks such as protein bars or cereals, tuna and other snacks from the mainland, almost better, since in Galapagos, since everything is imported, certain products are more expensive.
Another good option that is practical and friendly to the environment is this stainless steel bottle with which you will avoid the unnecessary use of plastic and you will also always be hydrated in remote places (remember that many of the Galapagos islands are deserted). of hotels and hostels make you refill drinking water at no cost.
• Your own snorkel mask: This is optional but will make your trip to Galapagos much more enjoyable (and save much more). There are many places where you can snorkel for free and swim and see wonderful marine species without paying anything: turtles, sharks, sea lions. For this reason, always carry your own snorkeling mask, also if you have yours you will avoid wearing masks used by hundreds of thousands of tourists when doing the tours. On the internet there are several snorkel kits of different prices.
Can I take a “souvenir” of the Islands in my luggage?
If you mean souvenirs such as magnets, a t-shirt, craft beer or anything you can buy in an authorized store, the answer is YES.
Now, under no circumstances can you take sand, rocks, animals, shells or anything that could affect the ecosystem from the island as a souvenir. Galapagos receives more than 300,000 tourists a year, so if each one of them takes a bit of sand, rocks or any souvenir, the sum of all that could cause a serious effect on the natural balance of the islands. Carrying this in your suitcase can incur heavy fines and in serious cases can even lead to jail time. Doing this is punishable by law and can mean large fines and in some cases imprisonment, so we recommend that you review all Galapagos rules and regulations before visiting the islands.