Travel to the Galápagos Islands - Corona Update

Posted by Marianne Salmans (status June/July 2021)

“Are you considering a holiday to the Galápagos Islands? We are here and ready to give you advice.”

With summer arriving, so does our travel bug. Many of our guests are wondering: what is the current situation with COVID-19 on the Galápagos Islands and when can we visit this stunning nature destination again? In this blog we will keep you informed about the current situation related to the Galápagos Islands.

Also read our update on Ecuador

The Galápagos Islands belong to Ecuador and can only be reached by plane via the Ecuadorian airports of Quito and Guayaquil. For a complete picture of the current situation it is therefore also important to follow our update on Ecuador. click here

Ecuador has launched the COVID-19 vaccination program and are currently in phase 1, where among others, residents of the Galápagos Islands were given priority. Close to 100% of residents on the Galápagos Islands of 18 years and older and everyone working on the expedition yachts have now been fully vaccinated.

Galápagos Islands open again – safety corridor for tourism

Ecuador & Galápagos are listed as “essential travel only” by the Dutch government (“Reisadvies Ecuador”). Dutch residents coming back from Ecuador/Galápagos have to go into 10-days quarantine immediately upon arrival in the Netherlands. Below you will find the local rules for the Galápagos Islands.

The National Park was officially reopened on 1 July 2020, and flights from Quito and Guayaquil to the Galápagos Islands resumed on August 3rd, 2020. Please find below the latest protocols and requirements for entering the Islands, valid from July 1st, 2021, allowing a safe corridor for guests:

  • Arrival to Galápagos is only possible through the airports of Quito and Guayaquil, situated on the mainland of Ecuador. This means travelers must abide to the rules set for entry into Ecuador which can be found in our blog here.
  • All arrivals must provide either proof of a negative test or vaccination certificate.
  • Negative test: those aged 2 or older must submit a certificate of a negative result of a COVID-19 PCR-test or antigen test. The test must be taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Galápagos; this proof must be presented before boarding the aircraft. If visitors show symptoms of COVID-19 upon departure, you will not be allowed to travel.
  • Vaccination: Instead of the negative test, those aged 2 or older may also present a COVID-19 complete vaccination certificate with two weeks of validity. In case of a valid certificate, the test is no longer necessary for entry into Galápagos.
  • When following above guidelines, no further quarantine is needed on the islands.
  • Infants up to 2 years old are considered a priority group and are not required to show a negative PCR tests nor a vaccination certificate.
  • Guests must provide a Travel insurance certificate with medical coverage.
  • Payment of the Traffic Control Card (TCT), which has always been a requirement for entry to the islands, must be made in advance online. Aves Travels will also help you with this process.
  • A digital boarding pass.

When flying to the Galápagos, all travelers pass through temperature checks, disinfection matts, have to clean their hands with sanitizers, and wear facemasks at all times. Luggage is sanitized before and after its inspection by the Galápagos biosecurity and quarantine control agency.

Hotels, restaurants, expedition ships etc follow a strict protocol, so that visitors can be received in a safe manner, both to protect the visitors as well as the local inhabitants of the islands. The hotels and the expedition yachts we work with have taken important measures in the field of hygiene & disinfection, rules to keep an appropriate distance, regular testing of crews and guides, protection including the use of gloves and face masks, etc.

A cruise in times of Corona?

We think it is important to pay special attention to traveling by ship along the Galápagos Islands. Many of us will still recall pictures of travellers stuck onboard cruise ships; holiday-makers who weren’t allowed to disembark because one or many passengers had been infected by the novel coronavirus. It is important to realize that this involved ships with thousands of passengers.

  • The expedition yachts along the Galápagos Islands are small-scale. The vast majority have 16 passengers and only a handful of ships carry 100 passengers – the largest number possible.
  • In addition, activities on an expedition yacht are exclusively external, aimed at experiencing nature, such as hiking on the islands or snorkelling. In addition to visiting cities, large cruise ships outside Galápagos also emphasize internal activities such as the casino, the bar and dance evenings or theatre performances. The Galápagos yachts do not offer these activities. With an expedition yacht you will find yourself almost exclusively outdoors.
  • Because the Galápagos expedition yachts are small-scale, it is much easier to uphold solid protection measures. Aves Travels only cooperates with ships starting from the Middle Class level and upwards to luxury – these yachts and catamarans are spacious and therefore offer enough personal space to maintain an appropriate distance between fellow passengers and the crew.
  • When going on expedition, you will never come into contact with passengers from other vessels. Historically, Galápagos has had stringent regulations in place to protect the environment which will now also protect you: the small groups that visit the islands always have to keep a 10 minute distance between groups and one has to maintain 2 meters distance between visitors and wildlife – social distancing has been a way of life on Galápagos for as long as we can remember.
  • When you visit the Galápagos Islands by expedition cruise, you are almost exclusively in the National Park – this area is 97% of the Archipelago and it is completely uninhabited. The only encounters you will have are the playful sea lions, prehistoric iguana’s and all their friends.

Are you considering a holiday to the Galápagos Islands? We are here and ready to give you advice. Our friendly partners, guides and crews are eager to receive you with open arms and a big smile. Even if this will be at an appropriate distance.

Aves Travels aims to keep this page up-to-date with the latest information and requirements, but changes can occur at any time. For the most recent information, always check with your airline, the Ecuadorian consulate or the Dutch embassy for Ecuador based in Peru.

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