Travel to the Galápagos Islands - Corona Update

Posted by Marianne Salmans (status since 20 April 2022)

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

Many of our guests are wondering: what is the current situation with COVID-19 on the Galápagos Islands and can we visit this stunning nature destination? The answer is “yes”! 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

In Ecuador, the vaccination program against COVID-19 has been a great success, where among others residents of the Galápagos Islands were given priority. Everyone working in tourism (on expedition yachts, in hotels and restaurants) has been fully vaccinated. Almost all inhabitants of the Galápagos (5 years and older) are also fully vaccinated. A booster shot is given to anyone who received their second vaccination 6+ months ago, regardless of age or occupation.

Galápagos Islands open – safety corridor for tourism

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. The rules for entry to the archipelago have changed several times in the last few months. Please find below the latest protocols and requirements for entering the Islands that came into effect on February 11th, 2022, 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 passengers entering the Galápagos, starting at 3 years of of age must present:
    – A complete vaccination card with at least 14 days of validity after completing the vaccination scheme.
    – Negative result of an RT-PRC test performed up to 72 hours prior to departure to Galápagos.
  • Infants under 3 years old are not required to show a negative test result nor a vaccination certificate.
  • When entering the Galápagos, travelers can show the same international certificate used to enter Ecuador, as long as it has 72 hours validity. Otherwise, you will need a new one from an authorized Ecuadorian laboratory. When traveling with Aves Travels, we will organise the test for you conveniently at your accommodation before departure. This way your journey will be uninterrupted.
  • If a traveler presents COVID-19-related symptoms upon arrival to the Galápagos, he/she will be denied entry to the Galápagos and will be returned to mainland Ecuador to follow the protocols established by Ecuador’s Public Health Authorities.
  • When following above guidelines, no further quarantine is needed on the islands.
  • 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 travelers 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 yachts in Galápagos have returned back to operation already a year ago now. During this time of operation, there have been no issues nor have any cases of COVID-19 been recorded related to Galápagos expeditions.
  • 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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