Galapagos Frequently Asked Questions
If you're looking for answers to some commonly asked questions about traveling with us, check out our General FAQs.
ARRIVAL / DEPARTURE
Q. Do you have specific arrival and departure guidelines I should follow when making my travel plans?
Yes! View our recommended arrival & departure times.
Q. How are the flights arranged?
International flights to/from your home city are your responsibility to book.
Your flights between the mainland of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are part of the cruise tour package. If you are booking the Machu Picchu post-cruise extension, airfare between Ecuador and Peru is included in the package.
Q. Can I fish in the Islands?
No, sport fishing is prohibited inside the Marine Reserve.
Q. How strong is the sun and what minimum SPF sunscreen should I bring?
Because of the islands’ equatorial location, reef safe sunscreen SPF15 and above is highly recommended. Sunscreen is not provided on board. We also recommend packing lightweight, long-sleeve shirts made with sun-protective (and jellyfish protective) fabric for an extra layer of protection from the sun. Please note that becasue bugs are attracted to pink, white, yellow, and orange, we recommend bringing clothing of other colors, if possible.
Q. What’s the best footwear for the Galapagos?
You should have good day hikers/walking shoes/trainers, and a pair of Teva-type sandals for beach walks.
Q. Should we wear wetsuits?
We recommend using the supplied ‘shorty’ wetsuits (adult sizes only) from May to December. When the waters in Galapagos are cooler, a ‘shorty’ wetsuit makes it more comfortable for snorkelers to remain in the water longer and they also provide additional sun protection. For guests wanting added sun protection, try wearing a long-sleeve shirt and full-length leg tights under the wetsuit (Lycra material or similar).
Q. Is the snorkeling equipment complimentary?
Yes, all snorkeling equipment (2mm shorty wetsuit, mask, snorkel, and fins) is included.
Q. How much luggage can I bring with me?
Galapagos and Peru flights follow international luggage restrictions. Check Ecuador’s guidelines for baggage allowance applicable for your route to the Galapagos.
Note Peru Extension: Machu Picchu Train — Luggage Restrictions
Luggage on the train is restricted to 1 bag or backpack per person, weighing no more than 11 lbs (5 kg). We recommend bringing items only needed for the overnight and while at Machu Picchu. Luggage not taken on the Machu Picchu overnight will be transferred to your Cusco hotel and safely stored until retrieved the following day.
Q. Will guests be supplied bottled water on island excursions?
In the interest of waste reduction and conservation, we provide you with refillable water bottles onboard. There are water stations on the ship that guests can access 24 hours a day to refill bottles with drinking water.
Q. Will I need a special converter or adapter for the electricity?
No, La Pinta has U.S. style 110-volt (2-prong) outlets.
Q. What immunizations do I need before travel to tropical destinations?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all visitors of Ecuador (including the Galapagos Islands) are up-to-date on vaccinations. You can get specific recommendations on the CDC website.
* The CDC also provides updated recommendations concerning the Zika virus in destinations around the world.
Q. Should we expect to encounter rough seas on our cruise?
Galapagos cruises operate primarily within waters protected by the outer islands. The advantage of La Pinta over other smaller vessels is size and stability. At 209 feet, La Pinta is large enough and heavy enough to be stable in most sea conditions. In the event that we do cross an open passage or expect unfavorable weather, the captain will give notice so that you can prepare accordingly. Seasickness medication (Dramamine) is available on board, but is not recommended for children. If you are prone to seasickness or traveling with children, you should consult your physician prior to your departure.
Note: Seas tend to be a bit rougher from approximately mid-August through October. If sea sickness is an issue for you, it might be best to plan your trip outside of this period.
Q. What’s all the fuss about Galapagos?
Many species are found here and nowhere else on earth. It is estimated that 26 endemic species of birds and other unique creatures have made their homes in the Galapagos. An inspiration for modern thinking, the islands’ biota inspired Charles Darwin to form his theories of evolution.
Q. Are all of the Galapagos Islands a national park?
97% of the archipelago’s islands is designated a national park. Human settlements are concentrated on the remaining 3%. There are strict rules about visiting the areas on islands that have been designated as visitor sites by the national park authorities. The Galapagos is also part of a huge Marine Reserve, which ranks among the largest in the world.
Q: Are there any special guidelines or rules I should follow while visiting the park?
Yes – the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve, like all special wilderness areas, needs help and cooperation from visitors to preserve their pristine state. At UnCruise, we are careful to leave this fragile ecosystem exactly as we found it. The park and reserve are protected by Ecuadorian law, which includes specific rules for visiting protected areas. Ecuador’s Ministry of the Environment states:
Any wrongdoing, inadequate behavior, or threat to protected habitats, as well as to their geological, biological, and/or cultural components, will be strictly observed by both Park Wardens and Naturalist Guides. Any confirmed and reported unlawful actions could lead to sanctions which may result in the interruption of original travel plans, questioning, detention, fines, or even legal action temporarily suspending the local tour operator while a proper investigation takes place. The best way to avoid difficulties with local environmental enforcement authorities is to simply follow the Galapagos National Park visitation rules.
Q: So, what are the Galapagos National Park rules?
Below are the official rules of the park. These rules will be posted on La Pinta for your reference while traveling, and any of your guides can provide additional information if questions come up while you travel. One important note: visitors cannot legally go anywhere in the Park without a licensed guide escort. Rules are enforced by naturalist guides and park officials:
1. Do not disturb or remove any native plant, rock or animal on land or in the water.
2. Be careful not to transport any live material or sand to the islands.
3. Do not take any food or drink except water to the uninhabited islands.
4. Do not touch, pet or feed the animals. Approaching them too closely or taking flash photography will disturb them.
5. Do not startle or chase any animal from its nesting place.
6. Do not leave any trash on the islands or throw any litter overboard.
7. Follow marked trails at all times and do not walk out of their limits.
8. Stay with your naturalist guide who must accompany all groups on trails.
9. Do not buy souvenirs of objects made from native Galapagos products (except for wood) especially black coral, sea lion teeth, and shells of the Galapagos tortoises.
10. Do not smoke on the islands.