The Galapagos Islands are a group of islands off the coast of Ecuador. They are famous for their many endemic species that helped inspire Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882) to develop the theory of evolution. The islands are home to both the Galapagos Marine Reserve and the Galapagos National Park. Not surprisingly, they are a popular tourist destination.
The Galapagos Islands are considered part of Ecuador, so Ecuador law applies. You will need a passport to get in, and you will also need a visa if you plan on staying for longer than 90 days.
Check the US State Department’s website for any travel advisories or warnings. For example, the volcano Sierra Negra, located on Isabela Island, erupted on June 26. People living in the area were evacuated, and the authorities have advised tourists to stay out of the area.
Like the rest of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands use the US Dollar as their main currency.
Spanish is the official language of the Galapagos Islands.
When to Go
The Galapagos Islands enjoy a mild temperature year-round. Similarly, the animals are active throughout the year, and only a few species migrate. The islands have two seasons: cool and dry (June – November) and warm and wet (December – June). Most tourists prefer to visit during the warm season to take advantage of the calmer and warmer seas with their superior underwater visibility.
If you’re hoping to see a specific animal, you need to consider and research its habits. For example, green turtles mate and lay their eggs in January. Many other animals also mate and breed during the warm season.
The humpback whale, one of the few migratory species, visits the islands from June to September. Sea lions are born in August and start learning to swim in November. If you want more information, contact a Galapagos Island tour agency.
What to Wear
Sturdy, protective footgear is a must. The Galapagos Islands are volcanic, so a lot of the ground is hardened lava or rock. Hiking boots, tennis shoes, and even walking sandals can all protect your feet. One authority even recommends sandals like those made by Teva over the other options, because they will let your feet remain cool. Whatever you pick will need thick and strong bottoms.
The Galapagos are tropical islands, and you should pack accordingly. During the day, you will want shorts, short-sleeved shirts, and a broad-brimmed hat. You may want clothes with long sleeves for the nights, so you can admire the spectacular night sky. Some ships do have a dinner dress code, so you will need one or two outfits that meet the requirements.
Other Things to Take
You will also need sunscreen. Equatorial sun is notoriously strong, and you can burn very quickly, especially if you have fair skin. Get sunscreen that is at least 45 SPF and make sure you apply it everywhere – including places like the tops of your feet. There are few things that can ruin a vacation like a bad sunburn.
If you plan to do a lot of hiking, consider the Seventy2 survival kit to make sure you have plenty of supplies.
Dramamine is helpful if you’re susceptible to seasickness. If that’s a major problem for you, you can also ask your doctor to prescribe a motion sickness patch that you can wear behind your ear.
Between the animals and the landscape, you are going to want a camera. If you snorkel or go scuba diving, you will probably want an underwater camera, and some companies do make disposable models. If you don’t want to buy the camera, visit lensprotogo.com to rent it and any other any other gear.
The company offers both new and used equipment. A camera with a zoom lens will be particularly useful, for it will let you take pictures from a variety of distances without your bringing a lot of equipment along.