What to know before you travel – ECOVENTURA Pre-departure information
Entry requirements: Only a valid passport is required to enter Ecuador. However, passports must be valid for six months and a day after you plan to leave Ecuador. No Visas are required for U.S., Canadian and most European citizens. Visas are required for some Asian, Central American and Eastern European countries. It is the passenger’s responsibility to check with local immigration offices or the Ecuadorian consulate prior to sailing to determine if a visa is necessary. **Visas
Immunizations: At the time of printing, no immunizations were required for visitors to mainland Ecuador and Galapagos (excluding jungle areas). Please check with your local health office at least two weeks prior to your departure.
International Airfare to Ecuador: You will need to book your international flights to Ecuador and can arrive to either Quito (UIO) or Guayaquil (GYE) at the latest by Saturday, the day prior to the cruise. Flights to Ecuador are currently serviced by American (Miami), United (Houston, Newark), Delta (Atlanta), Jet Blue and Spirit (Fort Lauderdale), LATAM (Miami, JFK), AVIANCA (Bogota, Lima), COPA (Panama City), IBERIA (Madrid) and KLM (Amsterdam). Local customs authorities allow two suitcases with a total combined weight of 60 kilos per person. A fee of $200 is charged for a third suitcase and $400 for a fourth suitcase, excluding carry-on bags. All international tickets include the airport departure taxes.
Flight misconnection: We recommend that all passengers traveling to Galapagos consider two nights in mainland Ecuador prior to their cruise to allow for potential flight delays and misconnection. This is particularly important for passengers traveling over winter holidays when flights tend to be overbooked and/or delayed caused by poor weather conditions
Flights to Galapagos (San Cristobal): Flights to Galapagos for Ecoventura’s passengers are serviced by AVIANCA from Quito and Guayaquil. Flight reservations for confirmed passengers are made automatically by Ecoventura through our allotment of seats on Sundays to/from San Cristobal (SCY). Passengers who purchase their tickets through Ecoventura for the Avianca flights will receive assistance with the check in procedure and can chose to pre-pay the park tax and transit card. A representative from Ecoventura accompanies our passengers on this flight. The airline is required to spray inside the aircraft with a special process once doors are closed and is preparing for take-off. This is considered common procedure for flights bound to fragile island eco-systems that are susceptible to prevent any invasive species or virus being accidentally transported to the islands.
Passenger information form: Ecoventura requires that all guests complete all details requested in the passenger information form no later than 60 days prior to departure. It includes information such as passport name, passport number, expiration, nationality and date of birth, your International flight schedule, itinerary and hotel contact in Ecuador. It also includes you specify an emergency contact, medical conditions, food allergies or any special dietary requests.
Gratuities to guides & crew: We believe our crew members provide world class service and we hope you agree. We do not add an automatic service charge to your account as we prefer that guests reward our crew solely based on their performance at the end of their cruise. If you would like to do so, any amount you feel appropriate is truly appreciated. However, for guests who might wonder what the typical amount is, we suggest each of our passengers to leave in between US $250 – $300 per week which is the international standard for a First class vessel Letty and between $300 – $350 which is the international standard for a luxury vessel Origin & Theory. Cash is our suggested method of payment on board. You could also charge the gratuity to your credit card by using your Visa or MasterCard. Gratuities are distributed among all crew members including naturalist guides.
Flight check in procedure: On the day of departure, please be at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil two hours prior to departure for check-in. A card will be left at your hotel the evening prior with the exact check in time. You must first have your bags inspected by SICGAL as required to travel to Galapagos. Next, look for the Ecoventura representative at the Avianca Airline ticket counter to collect your boarding pass, transit card (if prepaid) and get assistance with check in. Do not stand in line to pay the TCT card if you have already prepaid. You will form a line to process passengers for the Park entrance fee. The park representative will have a list of our guests who have prepaid the fee. Once through, our guides will be waiting for you with signs. You will need to claim your checked bag and our crew will deliver them to your cabin. Passengers who choose to travel to Galapagos earlier or choose to purchase tickets with another carrier will not be provided with the same services.
Transportation contract: All passengers will receive a cruise ticket at the airport in Guayaquil or Quito upon check in for the flight to Galapagos. The cruise ticket contains the terms and conditions of the transportation contract. In order to review the terms before you leave home, you can view this on the company web site.
Galapagos entrance fee or “park tax”: The Islands are part of the Ecuador National Park system and the entrance fee is $100.00 per person. Children age 11 and younger get a reduced rate of $50.00. The fee is divided up among various entities including the GNPS, Marine Reserve, agriculture, municipalities, INEFAN and INGALA.
Transit card fee: All visitors to Galapagos are required to purchase a “Tarjeta de Control de Transito” or TCT card for $20.00. This card allows INGALA, the institution that controls migration to the islands tobetter regulate the flow of all arrivals and departure to Galapagos. Ecoventura will register all passengers in advance provided the fee is pre-paid and we receive the passenger information form.
Travel Insurance: We recommend guests purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy to protect you and your investment before and during your trip. Travel insurance is available through a link on our web site to www.WorldNomads.com for passengers on the Origin & Theory and the Letty.
Physical limitations: The majority of Ecoventura passengers are healthy, active and reasonably fit. Passengers able to walk a few hours a day unassisted will be able to fully enjoy Galapagos. Some of the excursions require more physical activity than others involving short steep climbs or long walks in hot weather or on uneven rocky trails. However, most excursions require moderate activity and the walks are at a leisurely pace. Entering and exiting the Zodiacs require that you need to be sure footed. If you are concerned about your ability to do any particular day hike, please consult with the naturalist before disembarkation. In order to enjoy your trip to its fullest potential, it is a good idea to do some exercise before your trip, such as walking, swimming or bicycling. Please see your doctor for a check-up before traveling to Ecuador. Any medical condition or physical disability that may require special attention or treatment must be advised to Ecoventura at the time of booking.
Motion sickness: Due to strong currents, there will be moderate movement of the vessel while navigating. Most passengers are not affected. However, if you are prone to seasickness, we strongly urge you bring some type of medication to prevent motion sickness.
Medical facilities on board: The yachts carry first aid kits and medical supplies. The Captain and guides are trained in basic First Aid procedures. All yachts have radio contact with the mainland for any medical emergencies.
Communication: Most telecommunication providers have signal in Galapagos and passengers can use their smart phones that are activated for international calling on days when the yachts are in close range to port. The Letty does not offer Wi-Fi service.
Satellite Wi-Fi is available on the Origin & Theory for an additional charge of $115 per day or $300 for the week. The charges are added to the guests on board account and cannot be prepaid in advance. Starting on September 1 2019, Wi-Fi will be included Free of charge. There will be a limit of one complimentary PIN card per cabin.
Language spoken: English is spoken aboard the vessels by guides and Captains. All crew speak Spanish.
Time zones: Ecuador is in the Eastern time zone (GMT-5 in the mainland). Daylight savings time is not observed. Galapagos is one hour behind mainland Ecuador. On board, we observe mainland Ecuador time.
Local currency: Ecuador adopted the US Dollar as their monetary unit. Languages: English and Spanish are spoken aboard the vessels by the naturalists and Captains. Be sure to bring small bills ($1, $5, $10 are best) for small purchases and can use larger bills for gratuities.
Electric current: 110/AC 60 cycle (current and plugs are the same as in the US)
Smoking policy: Smoking is prohibited in enclosed areas aboard the vessels and on the Islands. Smoking is only allowed on the outside deck in a designated smoking area.
Drinking water: Bottled water is provided in your cabin and is free of charge. Filtered drinking water is provided during meal times. We suggest you do not drink water from the tap in your cabin. Water bottles can be refilled from the water container located in the bar area.
Special Occasions: You may order a bottle of wine ($35) or birthday cake ($25) to be served at dinnertime or a fruit basket ($15) for your cabin. It is prohibited to bring flowers to Galapagos. Please advise us at least 30 days prior to departure.
Purchases on board: Every passenger has an open tab at the bar and boutique, which are paid the last day of the cruise. We accept cash (US Dollars), Master Card or VISA credit cards only.
Island visits/ Activities: Passengers will be assigned by Ecoventura to either of the identical sister yachts Eric or Letty at the company’s discretion. The vessels anchor offshore at two visitor sites or Islands per day. Passengers are ferried to the landing point in zodiac style inflatable landing craft. The landings are either wet (where one must step into water anywhere from your ankles to your knees and wade to shore) or dry (where one steps from the panga directly to the volcanic rock). Your guide and Zodiac driver will assist you with a steady hand. On the Islands, one follows marked trails set by the National Park walking at a leisurely pace together with your guide. You will spend 3-4 hours at each site allowing plenty of time to explore and photograph the wildlife. In addition to the guided land excursions, we offer deep water snorkeling, beach swim/snorkel, kayaking and zodiac (dingy) rides.
Yacht & Itinerary Stipulations – Ecoventura reserves the right at its sole option and discretion and that of the Captain of the vessel or National Park impact studies without liability for damages or refund of any kind to deviate from the vessel’s advertised or ordinary itinerary for any reason including mechanical failure. Ecoventura will not be held responsible for any refund whatsoever for changes to the printed or scheduled itinerary.
Snorkeling equipment: There are many opportunities to snorkel during the cruise, sometimes twice a day from the beach and in deep water. Masks, fins and snorkels in average sizes are available on board free of charge for use during the cruise. If you anticipate taking advantage of all snorkeling opportunities you may prefer to bring your own mask and snorkel for a proper fit.
Wet suits: Full 3mm wet suits are available for passengers to use during the cruise at no additional charge on a first come first serve basis. Wet suits are most popular from June to November when water temperatures are between 65 and 72 degrees.
Reserve a Wet suit: Passengers who would like to reserve a wet suit prior to the cruise may do so for a charge of $25.00 for the week on the Eric or Letty. The fee will be charged to onboard account and paid at the end of the cruise. Reserved wet suits will be removed from the inventory and set aside for your exclusive use during the cruise. In order to reserve a wet suit, we need to know your approximate size (size selection may vary by yacht): Men: S, M, MT, L, XL, XXL, XXXL / Women: S, M, MT, L, XL / Children: S, M, L. Size chart from Scuba Pro: https://www.scubapro.com/en-US/USA/wetsuits-size-chart.aspx
Sea Kayaks and paddleboards: The Eric and Letty each carry two tandem and one single kayaks and the ORIGIN has five tandem kayaks. Each vessel has two stand-up paddle boards (SUP). They are available at designated sites during the cruise at no charge on a first come first serve basis.
PACKING LIST – Dress is casual and comfortable, and informality is basic to all activities. Checked bags should be securely locked for your security. We recommend that you leave all valuables at home. The Eric and Letty do not have safety boxes and cabins lock from the inside only. Ecoventura supplies you with a refillable water bottle, biodegradable soap, shampoo and conditioner. Although provided, you may want to bring your own snorkeling equipment (mask and snorkel). Beach towels and hair dryers are provided and therefore it is not necessary that you bring these items. Our packing list is found here: https://www.ecoventura.com/galapagos-travel/packing-list/
The use of drones for aerial photography is strictly prohibited in Galapagos and is against park rules and you will not be permitted to use a drone while on board our vessels or in the Islands.
Ecoventura has teamed up with Pack for a Purpose, www.packforapurpose.org, a charitable organization, By packing up to 5 lbs (2.27 kgs) of supplies suggested on the web site, you can make a big impact. The program is voluntary and available to Ecoventura passengers who would like the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the children who live in Galapagos by bringing needed items with you to Galapagos. Ecoventura will collect and deliver supplies to the students at the Alejandro Alvear School.
There are many wonderful field guides and inspiring photographic books on Galapagos available at bookstores or on line. A complete list can be found on our web site: https://www.ecoventura.com/trip_details/suggested_reading.aspx