Safety in the Galapagos Islands is a topic that people often want to know more about. Galapagos safety should not be a particular area of concern for visitors to the Islands, as the vast majority of trips occur with no problems whatsoever. However, there are definitely some steps that you can take to keep your trip safer, and to ensure there are no untoward events. Here we will explain everything you need to know about safety in the Galapagos, to put your mind at ease.
Galapagos cruises are run by experienced teams. They know how to keep you safe, but you will have to help them with this by doing what they say, and having a bit of common sense too. At the start of the week, likely before you’ve even got settled into your cabin, you will have a briefing that will cover what will happen in the week ahead. This will usually include a briefing on safety. It will cover what to do in the unlikely event that there is some sort of emergency, and where you can find lifejackets. It is well worth paying attention at the briefing, and asking questions if you are not sure – just in case. All our associated cruises will be briefing passengers at their arrival and keeping your security as a priority during any trip, cruises such as the Grand Majestic Galapagos cruise and the Elite Galapagos yacht are some of the ships that have a cruise manager on board who will always be on top of every aspect ensuring guests are safe besides enjoying their trip.
Other on board safety is largely a matter of common sense. Running around on a wet, slippery deck is generally likely to be a terrible idea. So too is jumping off into the water if the boat is moving, or leaning over the railings to the point that you could slip. Likewise, if you lie in the sun on deck all day without applying sunscreen you may feel pretty sorry for yourself at the end of the day. As long as you avoid doing thoughtless things like this, you are likely to be safe on board your Galapagos cruise.
The wildlife in the Galapagos Islands is largely not dangerous. The animals and birds here are unafraid of people as they evolved for centuries without human contact. This means they can at times be close enough to touch. Please note, that does not mean you should touch them, just because you can. In fact, you must absolutely not touch the animals in the Galapagos Islands. Your guide will also advise you of this.
In general, it is best to keep a respectful distance between yourself and the wildlife. If you are wondering if you are too close, you probably are, so back off. If you are not sure, you can ask your guide – he or she will tell you anyway if you are getting too close. While the animals in the Galapagos are generally not dangerous, you will want to stay away from the large male sea lions. These big males can be quite protective of their hareems. In any case, there is no need to get that close to them, as you can get excellent photographs without doing so.
Our guidance for staying safe on your visit to the islands is to bring what you are told to, and not to wander off at any time. Your guide will advise you on whether the landing will be wet (you’ll be getting out of the dinghy in shallow water) or dry (landing on some sort of walkway or pier). They will let you know what footwear will be suitable for your landing on the island, so make sure you listen to what they say and act accordingly. Stick to the trails that you are being guided along, and do not step off them at any time, and your landing on the islands should pass off without
any issues whatsoever.
If you are snorkeling, swimming or diving, again, listen to your guide. If they say, “do not go further than that point”, then do what they say, to avoid challenging currents or potentially dangerous situations and to stay safe.
At various points throughout your Galapagos trip you might visit some of the habited Galapagos towns, such as Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island, and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island. If you are on a Galapagos land-based trip you may even be staying in one or more of these towns. In general, levels of crime are thought to be lower here than on mainland Ecuador. Visitors to the Galapagos Islands are generally told to not be concerned with crime here.
Despite this, it is worth taking some common sense measures to keep your Galapagos trip fun. Be sure to look after your belongings. Don’t leave cash or valuables lying around where others could easily see or take them, as you open yourself up to opportunists when doing so – just like anywhere else in the world. If you’re visiting a town, there is not likely to be a need to take all your valuables with you, so perhaps leave them somewhere safe on the boat, and just carry with you the things you really need for that particular visit.
It is also worth knowing that disease is also not much of a factor in the Galapagos Islands. There is no reported malaria in the Galapagos Islands, for example.
Overall, trips to the Galapagos Islands are generally very safe and most Galapagos visits pass without incident – except perhaps a little sunburn for those that haven’t covered up properly! Local people have an interest in keeping things safe for tourists in the Galapagos Islands because their livelihoods depend on it so much. We recommend you pay attention to your guide and the tips they give you for your own safety – whether this is on the boat, on the uninhabited islands, or in the local towns that you may visit. And don’t forget the sunscreen!
Contact us to find out more about safety in the Galapagos if you have a specific question that is not answered here. We can also help you find your ideal Galapagos Islands trip – get in touch to find out more!