Passport & Visa Requirements
In order to enter Ecuador (and Peru on the extension), U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
About your Galápagos Cruise
Your Galápagos cruise offers the latest in cruise comfort while also providing an intimate and environmentally safe look at the Galápagos Islands. The yacht features an outdoor pool, observation decks, solarium, library, bar and large restaurant. Choose from a wide variety of activities in your free time—everything from snorkeling to stargazing. Please note: Due to the ship’s itinerary, the order of days in Quito before and after the cruise could change.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
Clothing and Packing Tips
For your Galápagos cruise, casual dress is appropriate; however, shorts and sandals aren’t allowed in the dining room during dinner. Waterproof shoes or sandals, a bathing suit, sunscreen and insect repellent are essential for your visit to the Galápagos. On land, you’ll want to dress in light, loose-fitting clothing suitable for exploring the sights and pack a sun hat, sunglasses, sturdy pair of walking shoes and rain gear. If you plan to visit an elegant restaurant, you’ll probably feel more comfortable with something more formal to wear. Also, remember that it’s preferable not to visit churches or other religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (and entrance may be denied on this basis).
Travelers to Ecuador should be comfortable in high-altitude conditions. Elevation throughout the country varies widely. The altitude of Quito is close to 10,000 feet (Cuzco on extension is 11,000 feet). Travelers, especially those with heart or lung conditions, should consult with their personal healthcare providers before undertaking high-altitude travel.
Important Health Tips
In order for you to stay healthy throughout your tour, we recommend the following:
* Drink bottled water. Refrain from drinking tap water, including when brushing teeth.
* Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless they are cooked or washed in clean water and peeled.
* Bring a small first-aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication and any prescription medications.
Food in Ecuador relies heavily on locally grown fruits and vegetables, along with regional seafood and game. You’re likely to find local dishes featuring potatoes, yucca root, bananas and plantains. Seafood, including bass, trout and catfish, is also prevalent and served grilled, fried or marinated as ceviche. Ecuador’s tropical fruit is delicious—specialties include melons, papayas, passion fruit and tamarinds.
Round-trip flights arrive in and depart from Quito (or Lima on the extension). The tour also includes a flight to and from the Galápagos Islands and the four-night island cruise. The extension includes internal flights from Quito to Cuzco and from Cuzco to Lima. Most destinations on tour are walkable, including Quito, although local buses are available as well.
Ecuador uses 110 volts, the same as in the U.S.
Ecuador falls on a similar time zone to Eastern Standard Time, except it does not observe daylight saving time. Ecuador has the same time as New York from October to April, and is one hour behind New York from April to October.
The U.S. dollar (USD) is the currency you’ll use in Ecuador. On land, you’ll find that ATMS are widely available. During your cruise, any onboard charges can be billed to your credit card. Please note that U.S. bank notes with denominations higher than $20 may not be accepted in some areas of Ecuador. If you’re joining the tour extension to Peru, you’ll also use the Peruvian sol. Better rates of exchange are usually available in Peru, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
On your cruise, tipping your waiter, busser and cabin steward is customary if you’re pleased with the
service. Gratuities are generally given at the end of the voyage. We recommend $15 per traveler per day, to be divided among your waiter, busser and cabin steward. Separate tips are recommended for the
naturalist guides. We recommend $8 per person per day. All cruise tipping can be handled by cash or by credit card. At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director.
MAKE AN IMPACT
Get to know some of the conservation areas helping to preserve nature and wildlife in Ecuador.
On the shores of the Galápagos Islands, you’ll find giant tortoises roaming, iguanas sunbathing and Sally Lightfoot crabs sidling along just as they have for centuries. Consisting of 13 main islands and three smaller islets, the “Insulae de los Galopegos” (Islands of the Tortoises) were formed around 8 million years ago, and have spent the majority of their existence in complete isolation. The archipelago is one of the only places on
earth without an indigenous population, which is why its ecosystem remains one of the world’s most unique and untainted. The islands and their endemic wildlife gained much of their notoriety from their starring role in Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, in which he introduced his evolutionary theory. In 1959, 100 years after Darwin’s work was published, 97.5 percent of the archipelago’s land area was declared a national park. In the same year, the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) was founded. In its early years, the CDF initiated the conservation programs now carried out by the National Park Service, such as reproduction, breeding and monitoring initiatives for the islands’ native and endangered species. Today, the national park is committed to educating visitors about the ecology of Ecuador’s only UNESCO World Heritage site by providing opportunities to explore 70 terrestrial sites and 75 marine sites with more than 320 naturalist guides qualified
by the Directorate of the Galápagos National Park.
COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK
Towering almost 20,000 feet above sea level, Cotopaxi Volcano is the centerpiece of this vast protected area. As one of Ecuador’s most active and destructive volcanoes, the magnificent peak has long been a source of wonder and fear, inspiring indigenous peoples to worship the volcano as a deity. The mighty mountain has been relatively quiet in the past century, but that does not make her perfect snow-covered cone any less impressive. The peak is often hidden by cloud cover, but every year, thousands of intrepid hikers climb through the clouds to reach the summit. In addition to Cotopaxi itself, the national park contains three other volcanoes, putting the park at the center of Ecuador’s so-called “Avenue of Volcanoes.” On their slopes, the humid mountain forest and rainy Andean tundra contain many species of flora and fauna that are unique to
these altitudes, including Paramo grasses and mosses. In the past, these ecosystems have been impacted by human encroachment, especially due to burning and grazing. Fortunately, the establishment of the national park has slowed this destruction, at the same time allowing visitors to marvel at the striking landscapes and their illusive inhabitants.