Informal traveling tips, what to
●You’ll need a current passport that is valid for
six months or longer than your planned travel. If
you already have a passport, check its expiration
date. If you don’t, don’t put off applying. With
homeland security issues etc. it has become
difficult to know what to expect from the state
●Vaccinations are recommended. It’s a pretty clean
third world country, but it is a third world country
and particularly if you plan on traveling to the
mainland coastal or Amazon (orient) regions, get
your shots. The Ecuadorean authorities won’t check
your immunization record. Who will check it are many
European countries when they see on your passport
that you took a trip to Ecuador. Without the proper
vaccinations before entering Ecuador, they may not
let you into their country. Check with your doctor
and local immunization clinic.
●Water and food: Bottled water, that’s what you
drink. Do not even brush your teeth with tap water.
Generally in the Galapagos and maybe even in the
finer hotels in Quito you might be able to get away
with brushing your teeth with their water, but why
chance it? You’re on vacation. You HAVE to take care
where and what you eat. Your guide is sensitive to
this. The last thing he or she wants are any of his
charges being sick.
●Make a color photocopy of your passport and all
important documents you will have with you,
including credit cards AND the emergency number to
call if they’re lost or stolen. Keep these in a
separate place than those documents. This is just a
●Communicating with the world back home: Internet
access is readily available both in the Galapagos
and on the continent. There are many locations where
you can make international calls on land lines
fairly inexpensively. We advise that you give your
loved ones or business associates our contact
information in case of an emergency. Your guides
check in with us frequently and we communicate with
your hotel staffs as we track your where abouts.
●The currency of Ecuador is the American dollar.
Traveler’s checks are more trouble than their worth.
Few stores accept them in the Galapagos. You will
have to go to the bank to cash them. There is only
one bank and you can expect to spend an hour in
there no matter what it is you want to do. The atm
machine out front accepts cirus and plus atm cards.
Just like the US. You stick your card in the machine
and it spits cash back at you. If your atm card is
not linked to the cirus or plus system, you can take
your visa card into the bank for a cash advance. Do
not bring hundred dollar bills. The easy solution to
counterfeiting here is to issue alerts. All hundred
dollar bills that begin with the letters CB (for
example) will suddenly no longer be accepted. Also,
Ecuador is a country without change. Some stores and
restaurants just don’t have it or keep it. They
expect that if you’re trying to buy something you
will of course have brought the right change. Few
locations in the Galapagos accept credit cards and
if they do, they’ll tack on an extra ten percent.
Bring a bunch of small bills and stash them in
●Far and away the best book to
date covering the Galapagos is a BBC publication
titled, “Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the
World” by Paul D. Stewart.
●Tipping is recommended to the level you feel
served. If you are traveling with us the majority of
your services will have been paid for so a rough
guide might go something like this. Restaurants,
fifty cents to a dollar per person, boat charter
Captains for a whole day maybe twenty dollars, your
National Park guide, the cruise tours have a card
they post in the rooms of their clients that direct
them to tip the National Park Guides $10 per day per
person if they felt they were well served and if not
to complain to the management. I would complain to
the management about the card. That being said if
you’re traveling with us your guide will have been
taking care of your every need 24/7, not just being
a naturalist. They have to be psychologists,
babysitters, snorkeling instructors, life guards and
often we’ll call in an extra if someone is a weak
swimmer or there are special needs. You will likely
have met their families and friends and they will
have taken you to those secret little spots only a
local can know about. Follow your heart with regard
to tipping them.
What to Bring:
Bring your smile and someone you love.
●If you’re planning on spending some time in or
around Quito, you may want a light sweater and a
rain repellent jacket shell.
●In the Galapagos I wear shorts and t-shirts year
round, sometimes a collared shirt with my shorts,
long pants only for formal occasions. A light pair
of long pants might be good for sun protection. It
can get a little cool in the highlands, but the
clothes you wore to keep yourself comfortable on
your air conditioned international flight will
likely be warm enough. If you’re unaccustomed to
plane flights, they can be cold sometimes. When it
rains we just get wet. No one has a rain coat.
Actually I have one, but have yet to use it.
●Insects. In the hot season we do have some
mosquitoes. Bug repellent of your preference you
might want to bring. I don’t use it. I don’t like it
and the few mosquitoes we do have here are
relatively benign as opposed to the mosquitoes they
have on the continent. Here you get a bite; it
mildly itches for four hours and goes away. You will
have more problems with mosquitoes in the high
sierra mountains of California.
●Foot wear is critically important. You’ll likely be
doing a fair amount of walking often over sharp,
uneven lava rocks. I go through a good pair of
tennis shoes every six months. A good pair of flip
flops or Teva’s is also highly recommended.
●Do not forget swim wear, sunscreen.
●Snorkels and fins can be provided, but I always
like to take my own when traveling, they fit better
and are more hygienic. I also pack my own beach
towel, I have some favorites. Some people who wear
glasses may want a dive mask with their
●Hats and again, sun screen are important. We are
right on the equator.
●You will not need high heels.
●You will need sun glasses.
●Binoculars can be bulky, but very entertaining.
Your guide will have a pair to share. I like having
●Medicines you’ll need. There are drug stores, but
they won’t likely have what you need and even if
they do, it’ll have a different Spanish name and
I’ve yet to find a reliable English/Ecuadorean
Spanish medical dictionary. Allergy medicine, motion
sickness pills etc. bring your own.
●Condoms, if you use them, bring ‘em. They have them
here but they’re completely unreliable.
●If you can live without your lap top, good. They
can help with kids and long flights, but tend to get
dropped, lost, stolen and maybe it’d be good for
both of you to spend some time apart.
●You must bring a digital camera. All of the
pictures on this web site were taken by us
(ourselves, family or friends) and we are neither
good photographers nor patient nature stalkers.
You’re going to get a bunch of remarkable photos.
●You will need a small back pack/day pack.
●Do not bring jewelry unless you absolutely must.
Please leave the diamonds at home. They get lost,
attract attention, change the prices of things you
want to buy, make people envious, give people the
wrong impression… The list goes on. Buy some beaded
bracelets and necklaces when you get here. Makes for
●There are very few books in English. I may have the
largest English library on the island. I have about
a hundred and fifty books, which if you know books,
is not very many. Bring your reading material with
you. I also recommend starting every book you’ll
bring to see if you’ll want to finish it. There’s
nothing more frustrating than hauling around a bunch
of books you don’t like. You probably won’t like the
book titled “Galapagos”, by Kurt Vonnegut. There are
a number of copies of that here, left unread.
●Pack light. Think comfort and practicality over
style. We are a little remote but in a pinch, there
are stores and we can generally find what you need.
●Divers bring your prescription mask and your
favorite dive trunks. All the other equipment is
available here, wetsuits etc.
●Birders bring your cameras and stocking gear
●Surfers bring your board. Don’t worry about being
under gunned, it’s not likely and if it does happen,
we’ve got a few good boards that rarely get used.
Bring a spring suit and rash guard, wax and some
reef booties (lava rocks), stickers for the local
●Snorkelers bring your prescription mask, your
favorite fins and maybe a spring suit if you’re
arriving May through November.