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GALAPAGOS ISLANDS Some 600 miles west off of the coast of Ecuador (South America) are some of the most untouched unique islands in the world, the Galapagos! The Galapagos are made up of 13 large and small islands, as well as scattered islets. Whether you are topside or bottom, the Galapagos Islands will amaze you with colors and life. The Pacific Ocean is an enticing turquoise blue, and is met at the water's edge with beaches covered in sands of white, pink, and volcanic black. Beneath the surface, the waters surrounding the Galapagos hold a wonderful secret; this is where two ocean currents (warm and cold) meet. The currents intertwine to create a perfect climate for a broad range of both warm and cold water marine life such as: penguins, seals, sea lions, angelfish, moorish idols, red-lipped batfish, frog fish, rays (eagle, manta and marble), and at certain times of the year, you will have the chance to see migrating whales (sperm, orcas and humpbacks), and whale sharks. The national language of the Galapagos Islands is Spanish, although English is spoken in most major hotels and liveaboard dive boats. The Galapagos is on Central Standard Time (CST), however, does not observe daylight savings time, as in the US.

Click here for a map of the Galapagos

Click here to see descriptions of available accommodations/liveaboards in the Galapagos Islands


Seasons/ Weather/Climate/Water Conditions
Dry Season (cooler): July - November (air 70s/water upper 60s)
Rainy Season (warmer): December - June (air 80s/warmer water/calmer seas)
Peak/High Season: June 15 - September 15 and December 15 - January 15

Due to the Galapagos Islands lying just about the Equator, the humidity is relatively low, and the climate is pleasant year round. Light and casual clothing is suggested, however since the evenings tend to cool down, you may want to bring a windbreaker or light sweater.

Average water temperatures range from the upper 60s (dry season) to the lower 80s (rainy season), and water visibility ranging from 40 to 100 ft.

Transportation When traveling to the Galapagos Islands, you will fly into one of the following cities in Ecuador:
* Quito - Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO)
* Guayaquil - Simon Bolivar International Airport (GYE) (Recommended, only 1.5 hours to the Islands)

The following airlines provide flight service to Ecuador from the United States:
* American Airlines has service to (UIO) out of Miami (MIA) and Boston (BOS), and service to (GYE) out of Miami (MIA) and New York (JFK).
* Continental Airlines has service to both (UIO) and (GYE) out of Houston (IAH) and Newark Liberty (EWR).
* Copa Airlines has service to (GYE) out of Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), and Orlando (MCO).
* Lan Ecuador Airlines has service to both (UIO) and (GYE) departing from the US by partnership with American Airlines out of Miami (MIA) and New York (JFK).
* TACA Airlines has service to both (UIO) and (GYE) out of Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), San Francisco (SFO).

After arriving in Ecuador, you will fly into one of the following islands of the Galapagos:
* Santa Cruz (Baltra)
* San Cristobal (Puerto Baquerizo Moreno)

The following airlines provide flight service to the Galapagos Islands from Ecuador:
* Aerogal Airlines has weekly flights to San Cristobal
* TAME Airlines has daily flights to Baltra, and weekly flights to San Cristobal

Due to plane size servicing the Galapagos, there is a weight restriction on luggage and quantity: one checked bag (44 lbs.) and one carry-on.

Taxis and buses are available at the airports for transportation; rental cars are available at some.

Entry and Exit Requirements
When entering/exiting Ecuador, all visitors are required to present a passport (except Colombian Nationals), valid photo id (i.e. driver's license), and a return ticket. Passports should be carried at all times, as there are checkpoints throughout the country. Visitors from other countries do require passports and roundtrip tickets.

Nationals of France, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, as well as Indian and Pakistani Nationals of the Sikh religion require Visas. A Visa is also required when a National wishes to stay in Ecuador for three to six months on business. The visa will cost $50.00 U.S..

Beginning December 31, 2005, the United States will require a valid passport or other secure/accepted documents (Border Crossing Card, SENTRI, NEXUS or FAST cards) for re-entry of either U.S. Citizens, or legitimate foreign visitors/nationals. For more information and any updates on these new regulations visit http://travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html.

The Galapagos Islands are located in a National Park, and there is an entrance fee of $100.00 (U.S.) required by all non-Ecuadorians entering into the Galapagos.

Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands utilize a local currency of the US Dollar.

While in Ecuador, the best place to exchange money or travelers' checks, is in a bank or casas de cambio (currency exchange house).

Major credit cards are widely accepted in most tourist areas and larger hotels, though merchants may add a surcharge of 6% to 8%. Note that many cheaper hotels, restaurants and stores will not accept credit cards.

The Galapagos Islands have only one bank, El Banco del Pacifico, which is located in Puerto Avora. The bank has the following operating hours:
Monday through Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

There is an ATM at this bank that only accepts cards associated with Cirrus or Mastercard, and has operating hours of:
7:00 a.m. - 11: 30 p.m.

There is a departure tax of $25.00 U.S., which must be paid in cash at the airport, so make sure to put it aside.

Telephone/Cell Phone While traveling in the Galapagos, telephones are only located on the islands of Santa Cruz (Puerto Avora), and San Crisobal (Puerto Baquerizo). Phone calls in the Islands are much more costly than those made from the mainland of Ecuador. The international country code for Ecuador is (593), with an outgoing code of 00.

While staying in Ecuador you may utilize the following emergency numbers:
Police: 101
Ambulance: 131

Electricity The Galapagos Islands' boats and hotels operate on 110 volts, 60 cycles.

Medical Information
There are no required immunizations needed to enter the Galapagos Islands. However, if you are planning on spending a prolonged period of time in Ecuador, immunizations are recommended. Possible known health risks while traveling in Ecuador are: dengue fever, hepatitis, malaria, typhoid, rabies, diptheria, and cholera. For more information on traveling abroad, contact the Center for Disease Control in the US, http://www.cdc.gov/, or The World Health Organization, http://www.who.int.

The Galapagos Islands have a small hospital in Puerto Avora, located on the island of Santa Cruz, and is capable of handling basic health care as well as medical stabilization in case an emergency; however, no intensive medical care is available in the Galapagos. Severe medical emergencies will be flown to the mainland Ecuador where fully equipped hospitals are located.

For your safety, there is a 24 hour hyperbaric facility located on the island of Santa Cruz in the Galapagos:
Camara Hyperbarica
18 de febrero and R. Lara Street
Puerto Ayora - Santa Cruz Island
Galapagos - Ecuador
Phone: (593) 5-526-911

Personal Safety Information
It is considered high risk for visitors to travel to the border Colombia through Ecuador, as well as the Panecillo Hill area of Quito, due to local disputes. Tourist muggings do occur in Ecuador, therefore, take all necessary precautions to avoid confrontation. We do recommend that if you are staying in Ecuador, that you register with the Embassy on arrival.

Due to recent volcanic activity (Guagua Pichincha) Quito stays on yellow alert.

Shopping in Ecuador and the Galapagos Most stores are open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Hours will vary from store to store.