The Galapagos Islands are found in one of the most remote parts of the world which allows for such incredibly unique wildlife to thrive.
However, venturing to such a remote part of the world raises many questions for those traveling there. At Ecoventura we’ve seen certain questions raised more often than others, so we decided to take the time to answer some of those frequently asked questions regarding your Galapagos cruise today… Enjoy!
1) Can we book our own flights to the Galapagos Islands?
The answer is yes. However, we highly recommend that you allow us to confirm your seats through our allotment with Avianca Airlines for your own convenience. If you book our recommended flights arriving to San Cristobal (SCY) on Sunday ( AV1636/ AV1637) either through us or another vendor, you will receive additional services for example:
You will be able to pre-pay the park entrance fee and INGALA card (TCT) and avoid having to bring $120 in cash USD. Also, we handle all your paper work and you avoid having to stand in line with INGALA. Our representative is there to assist you with check-in in Quito or Guayaquil and accompanies our guests on the flight to Galapagos. Upon arrival, you will be met at the airport by our guides and crew who will transport you and your luggage to the main dock and then to the yacht by zodiac.
If you book any other flight to Galapagos on Sunday, make sure you are flying to San Cristobal (SCY) and not Baltra (GPS) as all our yachts operate from San Cristobal. You should also note that our representative will not be available for check in at the airports and you will not be met at the airport in the Galapagos. You will need to claim your luggage and take a taxi to the main dock in town and wait for our Zodiac to pick you up. Plan to be at the main dock in front of the Hotel Casablanca on Sunday at 12:00 PM. Look for our guides who will arrive from the airport by bus with our guests. If you arrive late, you may miss lunch served on board, the welcome briefing and our safety drill. If your flight is delayed or canceled, you risk missing the boat! So do consider this and decide if you really want to book a different flight than the one we recommend. If you do arrive in Baltra prior to the cruise, you will need to get yourself to San Cristobal by ferry, speedboat, or small plane before noon on Sunday for embarkation.
2) Should we stay overnight in Quito or Guayaquil before the cruise?
For short stays of one night, we recommend guests overnight in Guayaquil (GYE) to avoid the longer travel time from the airport to the city of Quito (45-60 minutes). Also, Guayaquil is at sea level and the flight departs GYE at 10:30 (9 AM from Quito), so you will sleep better and longer.
There are more flights into Quito’s Mariscal Sucre Airport so if you do book your international flights to Quito (UIO) for just one night we suggest you stay at the Wyndham Grand Condor Airport that is conveniently located next to the airport. The Wyndham also provides their guests with a complimentary airport shuttle service.
If you have time to stay two or more nights, it is worthwhile to venture into Quito and stay in either the historical part of downtown at the Hotel Patio Andaluz or in the area of La Floresta at Hotel Le Parc, conveniently located near the best restaurants in town. Two nights is always recommended for tight connections or when traveling long distance.
3) Is Wi-Fi available on the Ecoventura yachts?
The Eric and Letty yachts do not offer Wi-Fi. We always suggest that guests bring their smartphones activated for international service. AT&T and Verizon work fairly well in Ecuador, whereas with other major providers, you may experience service interruptions or complications.
You should be able to pick up a signal most days during your cruise, except when we are out of range — for example on Tower, Fernandina or Western Isabela. This means on Itinerary A you’ll tend to have a signal more days than you would on Itinerary B. You should be able to send and receive phone calls, text, and emails, but the bandwidth is small, so dont expect to download photos to social media until you are in one of the two port towns. Whats App works well and is used by most of our guides in Galapagos.
The MV ORIGIN does offer satellite communication and Wi-Fi service is available to our guests for an additional charge. There are some limitations such as one device per cabin. Full details on Origin’s WIFI can be found here.
4. Can we use the kayaks during the cruise? Are stand up paddle boards (SUPs) available?
The Eric and Letty yachts each have two double and one single kayak on board. Due to more storage room, the ORIGIN is able to house five doubles and one single. The park allows us to use the kayaks in calm bays at designated sites such as Cerro Brujo and Gardner Bay on Itinerary A as well as Darwin Bay and Tagus Cove on Itinerary B.
There are also two stand-up paddle boards available on board each yacht that can be used in the same designated areas that we can use the kayaks.
5) How often can we snorkel during the cruise? Do we need to reserve wetsuits in advance or bring our own snorkeling equipment?
Photo credit: @dovearoundtheworld
Snorkeling is offered as an optional activity during your Galapagos cruise either before or after the guided shore excursion. Snorkelers can enter from the beach or in deeper water depending on their comfort and experience level. Some days we offer snorkeling twice in one day so we suggest you bring two bathing suits if you want to take advantage of every opportunity (we highly recommend that you do).
Ecoventura provides all their guests with a sufficient inventory of Scuba Pro brand masks, snorkels, and fins. However, if you own a mask and snorkel and you plan to take full advantage of the snorkeling opportunities (sometimes twice a day), we suggest you pack them.
All yachts have a large inventory of various sizes of Scuba Pro 3mm full wet suits available for guests to use on a first-come basis. There are “shorty” wet suit available in child sizes too. Although it is really not necessary to reserve them in advance, this is a service that we offer FOC on ORIGIN or for a fee of $25 per wet suit on the Eric or Letty. You may want to pack a rash guard or skin. They do not take up much room and are perfect to wear instead of a wet suit when waters temps are warmer (late December – April), or to wear underneath the wet suit!
Hopefully, we’ve answered all of the questions you have about your Galapagos cruise, but if any remain, please feel free to contact us at any time!