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Galapagos Islands Covid Guide – December update

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Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are open for tourism and there is a sense of normalcy now as visitors are returning. We’ve been back up and running since August and have run a number of tours over that time, including trips to the Galapagos Islands, and tours all over Ecuador. We’re excited to welcome you back and everyone is going out of their way to make sure that visitors have the best possible trip. Our visitors have taken Galapagos cruises as well as land based Galapagos trips almost every week since August, and we have enjoyed seeing satisfied and happy faces at the end of their tours.


We’ve put in place a rule for our own staff that we hope will give you more confidence to travel. All of our tour guides and staff that are in direct contact with guests are required to have a Covid-19 test 48 hours before the start date of the trip. The test results are available for our clients to see. In this way you can travel safe in the knowledge that you are protected from transmission as far as possible.

We want to make sure you are informed so you can make the best decision for you about traveling to Ecuador or the Galapagos Islands, or both (why not?) so here is the most up to date information on taking a trip to the Galapagos Islands and to the Ecuador mainland, explaining the requirements and what is open.

What are the main requirements to visit the Galapagos Islands?

Perhaps in contrast to the regulations in your country, in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands face masks are required in both public spaces and vehicles. Bring masks with you so that you can meet this requirement.

If travelling to the Galapagos Islands you’ll need to ensure that you have the results of a Covid-19 test, and specifically a PCR test that was carried out no earlier than 94 hours before arrival in the archipelago. If you want to take a tour on the Ecuador mainland first we can help you get your PCR test within the time frame before you go to the Galapagos Islands. You need a PCR test to enter Ecuador as well (more information on that below).

Bring hand sanitizer with you, though you can rest assured that it can be found almost everywhere now and is provided by most businesses.

You’ll need medical insurance and safe passage in order to visit the Galapagos Islands.



What is open in the Galapagos Islands?

The Galapagos Islands is quickly returning to a situation that might be considered normal with regard to tourism. Everything is open, and now is a great time to visit because everything and everywhere is quieter than it might usually be. We have been welcoming guests of all sizes and ages to enjoy both Galapagos land-based tours and Galapagos cruises. If you like what you see and are eager to travel in 2020, do get in touch with us and we can send you some superb options with excellent discounts too. Here’s what is open:

Cruises – earlier in the year cruises were finding it difficult to operate due to an inability to fill spots on their boats. However, this has recently changed due to an increase in the number of visitors, enabling cruises to become more economically viable for operators again. At the current point in time 12 cruises are operating. This is increasing all of the time and it is estimated that by the end of the year 18 cruises will be up and running again. All cruises are operating to strict hygiene and safety protocols to help prevent the transmission of Covid-19.

Visitor Sites – all visitor sites in the Galapagos Islands are now open, so it is possible to for cruises to stop at these for visitor enjoyment.
Beaches – Galapagos beaches are now open. However, the Galapagos National Park authority is monitoring these for capacity issues, to ensure that nowhere gets too crowded.

Hotels – most hotels are open, and there is an interval between guest stays to allow an opportunity for rooms and social areas to be properly disinfected. At this point, there are hotels open on all of the inhabited islands in the archipelago.

Restaurants – most restaurants are open for dining in and for takeout as well as delivery. This includes restaurants at hotels. Restaurants are mostly operating at 50% of their pre-Covid-19 capacity. This allows more space between customers and lowers the risk of transmission. Some of the restaurants are also open-air, which helps too.

Bars – restaurant bars are open and are seating up to 50% of their previous capacity, again to lower the chances of transmission of the virus.

Shops – shops are open, but capacity is reduced compared to pre-virus levels.

Night clubs – night clubs are not allowed to open at the moment.

Flights – at this stage airports are permitted to operate at 100% capacity. Flights are now operating daily both too and from the Galapagos. Inter-island transportation is available on set dates and schedules, and this service is not available on Sundays at the current time. Transport within each island is available, such as taxis and buses.

Please note that while earlier in the year there were curfews in place in the Galapagos Islands, there are currently no curfews.



What are the requirements for visitors to mainland Ecuador?

The situation on the Ecuadorian mainland is much the same as in the Galapagos Islands really. You can expect to wear face masks in public places and also in vehicles.

If you want to visit Ecuador you need to ensure you have a PCR test completed no more than 10 days before arrival in the country, and you’ll need to bring this with you. You must also bring medical insurance, but you do not have to show safe passage (unlike the Galapagos Islands where you do need this). As with the Galapagos Islands, you’ll find hand sanitizer pretty much everywhere across the country with most businesses providing it, but anyway you should be sure to bring your own too.




What’s open on the Ecuadorian Mainland?

It is our recommendation that because at times the situation can evolve quite quickly in your home country, you opt to take a well-organized tour with an established and reliable operator. At Ecuador and Galapagos Insiders, we are being 100% flexible with the payment of initial deposits, and our policies are set up to allow for rescheduling for any time in the future for free. It is also worth ensuring your tour operator follows safety and hygiene protocols for your own peace of mind.

In the earlier months of the pandemic, Ecuador had curfews across many cities at nighttime, but this is now not the case, and most everything is open. Here is what you will find if you visit:

Hotels – many hotels are open, and they have a cleaning regime where there is an interval between guest stays so that rooms and social areas can be thoroughly disinfected.

Restaurants – the majority of restaurants are open for dining in, takeout and delivery, including restaurants at hotels. Restaurants are running at 50% of their pre-Covid-19 capacity, to lower the risk of transmission.

Bars – bars attached to restaurants are open, at 50% capacity.

Night clubs – discos and other places where you might dance are not yet open.

Shops – all shops and malls are now open, though there is a reduced capacity.

Markets – markets are also all now open, however, only half the vendors are working at any given time.

Hot springs and pools – private pools are open but with limited capacity. Public pools are not yet working.

National parks – all national parks and natural reserves are now open and ready for visitors. Activities at national parks are also now open and operational again.

Flights – as with the Galapagos Islands, airports on the mainland are also now allowed to operate at full capacity. There are international flights daily to and fromQuito and Guayaquil, and between cities across the country.

Transportation – all forms of transport are now open across the country, and all roads are open. You can travel by taxi, Uber, bus,  omestic flight, and private transportation.

With an ear to the ground and as Ecuador experts, we are very well positioned to give you the most up to date advance and to help you plan your trip. If you want to plan or book your Ecuador tour or Galapagos Islands trip why not get in touch today?

By Ecuador & Galapagos Insiders
By Ecuador & Galapagos Insiders
Ecuador & Galapagos Insiders is a leading travel company based in Ecuador and run by local tour guides and travel specialists, we are happy to provide expert and free trip planning advice, no commitment fee involved.
Ecuador and Galapagos Insiders