At present, Ecuadorian law requires no vaccination certificates. However certain precautions are advisable. On the mainland, infectious hepatitis is prevalent, so the new hepatitis ‘A’ vaccine is advisable. Typhoid is also a risk. You can get the two injections (four weeks apart), or a booster if you have had the course more than 3 years before. Cholera is also present in poor districts, but few doctors think the inoculation worthwhile. To avoid the possibility of this, we advise you not to drink the tap water in Ecuador.
These are the most relevant inoculations but you might like to get tetanus and polio boosters as well (these remain effective for about 10 years). Yellow fever vaccinations are only required if you are coming from an area where it is prevalent. Rabies is useful if you are planning walks in the Andes (around the Cusin area for those doing the extension). Do not touch dogs for obvious reasons! There have been recent cases of diphtheria, so check you were vaccinated as a youth. Pregnant women should seek advice before having inoculations.
The World Health Organization recommends malaria prophylaxis in areas below 6560ft/2000m. Quito is at 9300ft/2837m and along with the rest of your highland visits (where you will be during your entire time on mainland Ecuador), you will have no risk of malaria. There is no malaria in the Galapagos.
In the highlands, including Quito, the altitude is such that it is advisable to take it easy for the first day or two. You may feel “breathless” with slight exertion and we recommend you avoid smoking and alcohol. Eat light foods to start with as you might suffer some digestive problems due to the altitude, as well as slight dizziness and headache. Please consult your doctor and ask us if in doubt about your own abilities at this altitude. An aspirin usually helps especially at night.
As with every trip you take abroad, general good health is required. In Galapagos the walks are not too strenuous and you will be given a good description of all activities the day before in order to decide whether or not it is for you. Some walks can be rocky, wet, involve short climbs up steps, etc. The walks are not meant to be energetic but are more oriented on stopping and observing wildlife. They are typically a mile long. In most cases, you will have an easier option for any particularly strenuous activities. Though we try to avoid the hottest time of the day, you will be walking in hot weather with little or no shade.
If you are under medication be sure to bring enough of it for the length of your trip. On flights, always carry these medicines in your hand luggage. This also applies to glasses or contact lenses. If you should become ill during your visit, a representative from GE will always be available to assist you with doctors, hospitals, etc. Medical assistance abroad usually has to be paid for there and then and is reimbursed by your travel and/or health insurance upon your return home. Please advise us if you have any medical condition that may require attention so we can be prepared should an emergency arise.
A change in country and diet often results in stomach disorders, usually lasting a couple of days. There is little you can do to prevent this except only drinking bottled water, avoiding salads and unpeeled fruit. Should you become affected, it is essential to take plenty of fluids. Weak tea without milk seems to be the best way. Some travel doctors suggest that a one-shot dose of the antibiotic Ciproxin works wonders (plus a 5 day course for severe cases). Consult your physician.
Seasickness is a possibility on the Galapagos cruise although we do most of our navigation at night and any daytime traveling is usually calm at this time of the year. Over-the-counter remedies like Dramamine are effective (if you take them before the symptoms occur). Note the warnings with these for asthmatics and drowsiness is a side effect. Some people swear by acupuncture ‘sea-bands’ which have no side effects. In the USA, transderm scoop patches are another option (not available in the UK). Our advice is to lie down when seasickness begins to set in. Close your eyes, do not read, and do not concentrate. The rocking usually puts you to sleep. The importance of lying down lies in resting the vestibular system in the ear, which is confused in its quest to control your balance, seasickness being the result of this confusion.
This list is a general guide to those books we consider to be most interesting and informative. It is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you find a book that merits inclusion, please let us know so that we may add it to our list. Please note that reference books on birds, mammals and natural history are essential to the complete enjoyment of a natural history holiday to such a rich area. We recommend Subbuteo Natural History Books Ltd as one of the best natural history mail-order book services.
LONELY PLANET: ECUADOR GALAPAGOS Rachowieki pbk. The best way to use this guidebook is any way you choose.
GALAPAGOS: A NATURAL HISTORY JJackson pbk. A revised & expanded edition of this excellent introduction to the flora & fauna of the islands. Colour & b/w photos, maps, 316pp
COLLINS SAFARI GUIDES: WILDLIFE OF THE GALAPAGOS Fitter/Fitter/Hosking pbk. Photos & descriptions of over 200spp of reptiles, plants, birds, invertebrates & marine life you are likely to encounter on these remote islands. Information on the history, climate, volcanism & conservation. Colour photographs, 160pp
FLOWERING PLANTS OF THE GALAPAGOS Mcmullen pbk. Identifies 436 flowering plants including endemic, native and exotic introduced plants. Covers range, island habitat, and description with scientific, common and family names. 383 colour photographs, 41 illustrations, 370pp.
ECUADOR AND ITS GALAPAGOS ISLANDS: THE ECOTRAVELLERS’ WILDLIFE GUIDE Pearson/Beletsky pbk. Information to enable identification of over 500 of Ecuador’s most common insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds & mammals. Details of parks & reserves. Colour illustrations, 485pp
GALAPAGOS DIARY Heinzel/Hall pbk
First section is a tour around each of the islands describing in words, illustrations & photos the habitats and wildlife, highlighting some of the strange breeding strategies of the archipelago’s birds. Second section is a detailed ‘field guide’ with sketches, photographs & maps. 272pp.
A GUIDE TO THE BIRDS, MAMMALS AND REPTILES OF THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS Swash/Still pbk. Much has been written about these unique islands over the years, but this is the first guide to cover all the birds, mammals & reptiles in a single, pocket-sized book. It is the only guide that the visitor will need to identify all the higher vertebrates of the islands. 42 colour plates, maps, 168pp.
GALAPAGOS ISLAND MAP Scale 1:500,000. All the islands, locations of birds & animals, visitor information.
REEF FISH IDENTIFICATION. Paul Humann pbk. Extra book available locally in Quito or Galapagos: Essential for snorkellers!
What to bring
Here is a comprehensive list of what you could bring. It is designed to give you an idea of what is needed and should be adapted to your needs.
Towels are not needed as both the hotels and the boat provide towels. If you want to bring your own big beach towel, feel free.
There are no formal functions during the trip so casual clothes are sufficient.
Sweater, jumper, fleece or jacket: this is for cool evenings in Quito.
Long cotton trousers: best way to avoid sun burn on legs.
Light walking shoes or trainers: no strenuous walking so walking boots not necessary.
Umbrella (foldable): good option for creating shade on walks.
Shorts: main clothes for the tour.
Wind-breaker: especially if venturing to Cotopaxi volcano.
Sun hat with wide brim and strap: protect back of neck and ears.
You could buy this in Quito (Panama hats).
Teva-type Sandals: Teva’s are a brand of Velcro sandals ideal for ‘wet’ landings and then walking
Sun cream: we advise maximum factor
Day pack/knapsack: for carrying binoculars, water and cameras during the excursions
Camera, plenty of film, accessories and spare batteries: See Photography section below
Voltage converter for110V: UK uses 220V so appliances will not function in Ecuador unless converted to 110V. Shavers, battery chargers, etc.
Digital Camera, flashcards, batteries, battery charger, cables/connections to upload: See Photography section below.
First aid kit: Basic needs are on board and with GE but anything specific for your particular needs: painkillers, anti-inflammatories, plasters, antiseptic.
Duffel Bags: see Baggage section below.
Chapstick; against sun in Galapagos and dryness at altitude in highlands.
Warm Clothes and hat: possibly for Cotopaxi. If it’s windy it can be very cold.
Mosquito repellent: sometimes necessary in Galapagos.
Valid passport with more than 6 months left before renewal.
Credit cards, US$’s, travellers cheques.
Money belt/ pouch: to keep essential documents inaccessible to others while on the move.
Water proof cagoule: in case of rain in Galapagos/Quito.
Extra pair of prescription glasses.
Small water bottle: or simply use a plastic screw-on bottle to refill with water.
Sea-sick prevention: tablets, patches or wrist bands. See the Lobo del Mar section below.
Small sewing kit.
Clothes-washing soap and pegs: in case you want to wash as you go along on board. See Laundry section.
Personal hygiene products.
Universal sink plugs: sinks in Ecuador simply don’t have plugs.
Small locks for bags: see Baggage section.
Small torch: walking around on deck at night, in Puerto Ayora and in Cusin.
Wet Suit: See Snorkelling section.
Snorkelling equipment, prescription mask: See Snorkelling section.
Photocopies of international airline tickets, passport and note of travellers cheques numbers: kept separate from originals in case of loss.
Flights to Ecuador
When booking, make sure the agent gives you full instructions as to the situation with the connections. Allow three hours connection time to get through security in Miami if arriving there from outside the USA.
From the USA, Continental, American Airlines, Copa and Lan are the options. From Europe, KLM, Iberia and Lan depart from Amsterdam and Madrid. Connecting flights through these capitals are necessary if coming from elsewhere.
Travel insurance that protects you for medical necessities abroad and for cancellation during or just before the trip is compulsory and must be arranged independently. Please send us a copy of your certificate. Beware of cheaper policies that may have insufficient cancellation or medical cover.
All nationalities require a full valid passport with an expiry date at least 6 months beyond the date of departure from Quito. No Ecuadorian visa is required for Canadian, US or UK citizens. There are a few exceptions for some Asian/European countries, so please check with your nearest Ecuadorian consulate or ask our advice. Other nationalities should check with their nearest Ecuadorian Embassy to enquire whether visas are necessary.
A valid passport is required for travel to Ecuador and must accompany travelers at all times. Passports must have at least 6 months validity remaining. UK passengers flying via the US do not normally require US visas if they fill out a ‘visa waiver’ form prior to landing in the US.