Quito, Ecuador (UTC-5)
Ecuador & Galapagos: Paradise Awaiting To Be Explored
At the Earth Trip we have a team of professionals with considerable knowledge and first hand expertise in putting together tailor made arrangements for the places you are planning to visit.
Ecuador is a small but very diverse country with Andean scenery, famous markets, Inca ruins, an attractive coastline and pristine rainforest. A trip to the Galapagos Islands will bring you face to face with some of the most remarkable wildlife on the planet.
With a fine colonial heritage, Andean scenery and unspoiled Amazon rainforest a trip to Ecuador has all the ingredients to give you a flavour of South America, but a trip to the Galapagos Islands will bring you literally face to face with some of the planet’s most remarkable wildlife.
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
A journey to the Galapagos Islands is an extraordinary adventure which will bring you literally face to face with some of the most remarkable wildlife on the planet. The Galapagos archipelago consists of six principal islands, twelve smaller islands and over 40 islets and many of the species of fish, plants and reptiles are found nowhere else in the world. Indeed, many species have evolved into different forms on different islands, making them endemic to particular islands, famously recognized by Charles Darwin during his visit in 1835.
You should note that the Galapagos National Park authorities do not allow boats with more than 100 passengers to operate in the archipelago. All boats have to file their itineraries with the authorities, who strictly control the numbers of people arriving at any one place at any time. There are usually two or three landings per day.
We book a variety of Galapagos cruises ranging from luxury ships with a large choice of cabins and decks and which have facilities catering for up to 100 passengers to smaller yachts, catamarans and sailing ships with capacity from just 7 cabins on the smallest boats (i.e. 14 passengers) up to 24 cabins (48 passengers).
These pages are designed to help you consider what it best for you, according to style of boat, size, cabin choice, facilities and, of course, your budget. Please remember that bigger ships are inevitably more spacious with better facilities on board (such as a choice of dining facilities, range of decks) and tend to be faster in the water, perhaps reaching some of the outlying islands that smaller boats don’t visit. But with a larger number of passengers it takes longer to disembark onto smaller boats and zodiacs for landing on islands, all of which takes time. Smaller cruises make for a more intimate experience.
We recommend a seven-night Galapagos itinerary over shorter stays as this will give you the chance to visit more islands and the opportunity to see a greater variety of wildlife.
Welcome to Ecuador & Galapagos!
– Galapagos Islands:
- Galapagos cruises
- Fauna and Flora
- Wildlife tours
- Unique eco-systems
– Natural Beauty:
- Rainforest and Cloudforest
- Amazon cruises
- Avenue of the Volcanoes
- Devil’s Nose train
– Traditional Markets:
- Otavalo (daily, best on Sat)
- Latacunga (Tues/Sat)
- Saquisili (Thurs)
- Pujili (Wed/Sat)
– Colonial Heritage:
- Historic Hacienda
See below for just some of the reasons why Ecuador & Galapagos should be on your holiday ‘bucket list’.
Preparing For A Trip To Ecuador & Galapagos?
Visa Information / Entry requirements Ecuador & Galapagos
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Ecuador set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Ecuador entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
All passengers are required to complete a Health Declaration Form with their itinerary and local contact details.
As of October 2021, international cruise ship operations are authorised at the following ports: Esmeraldas, Manta, Guayaquil and Puerto Bolivar. However, there are strict guidelines and measures to comply with to obtain the relevant permissions.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms on arrival, you may be required to take a rapid antigen test. If the result is positive, you will be instructed to self-isolate for 7 days.
If you are non-residents, you will have to self-isolate in a hotel at your own expense. You will have to give the contact number and full address where you will self-isolate on your Health Status Declaration Form. Compliance with the isolation requirement and your state of health will be monitored via telephone calls.
If you are a resident, you can self-isolate at home.
The Ministry of Public Health has published more information on coronavirus protocols and direct contact options (Spanish only).
If you’re fully vaccinated
If you are fully vaccinated, you can enter Ecuador. At least 14 days must have passed since your second dose of the vaccine, and the vaccine must be approved by the World Health Organisation.
Proof of vaccination status
Ecuador will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record and proof of COVID-19 vaccination issued in the Crown Dependencies. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.
If you’re not fully vaccinated
If you are not fully vaccinated you must present a laboratory PCR or antigen test, taken up to 72 hours prior to boarding your flight, in order to enter Ecuador.
Passengers arriving from countries whose regulations state that COVID-19 vaccination is available only after 6 months of having been infected, and who are thus unable to show their full vaccination certificate, will be required to present together with their COVID-19 infection certificate, an official document proving the above dispensation and regulation (valid for 6 months).
If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year
If you are not fully vaccinated but have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last year, you can enter Ecuador. You will need to show evidence of a positive laboratory PCR test (taken more than 14 days and less than a year ago).
Visitors previously diagnosed with COVID-19 and who continue to test positive with a laboratory PCR test after a month, should present a medical certificate issued in the country of origin which indicates that they are non-infectious. This will be accepted as long as they are no longer showing symptoms.
Children and young people
Children under 3 years old do not need to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR or antigen test for entry into Ecuador.
Children between 3 and 16 years old must submit either their full COVID-19 vaccination certificate, with at least 14 days validity, or a negative laboratory PCR or antigen test taken 72 hours before the flight.
See the requirements for travelling with children.
Travel to and from the Galapagos Islands
Travellers over 3 years old must present a full COVID-19 vaccination certificate or a negative laboratory PCR or antigen test taken 72 hours before their flight to the Galapagos.
For inter-island travel, all passengers over 12 years must present their complete vaccination certificate or negative PCR or antigen test
If you’re transiting through Ecuador
If you are transiting through Ecuador, you are subject to the same COVID-19 requirements as for entering Ecuador.
Airline crew members are exempt from Ecuador’s current entry requirements.
Check your passport and travel documents before your travel
Both visitors and residents must have a minimum of 6 months’ validity on their passport from the date of entry.
This is a strict legal requirement from the Ecuadorean government. If your passport does not meet this requirement, you will be denied entry to Ecuador.
Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
If you are a British passport holder visiting Ecuador for up to 90 days in any 12 month period, you do not need a visa. If you plan to stay longer, you should consult the nearest Ecuadorean Embassy before travelling. On entry, you may be asked about your reason for travel, and asked to provide evidence of a return or onward flight/bus ticket.
You can extend your 90 days (only once) online by a further 90 days by paying a fee. If you wish to extend your stay, you must begin the extension process before the first 90 day period expires. For general immigration information, please visit the Ecuadorean Migration website. For general enquiries contact: email@example.com.
For any other lengths or types of stay, including studying or working, you should consult the nearest Ecuadorean Embassy before travelling. For further details on visa applications for Ecuador, check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
The MFA encourages customers not to approach their offices without a confirmed appointment. For general guidance contact: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Get the relevant emails for other MFA’s Coordinaciones Zonales here.
Permanent and temporary resident visas are issued electronically (digitally sent by email)
Overstaying your visa
The penalty for overstaying is a fine. As with other immigration offences, if the fine is not paid, you will not be able to return to Ecuador for one year and your name will remain on immigration records. If the fine is paid, you can return with an official visa issued by an Ecuadorean Embassy overseas.
Arriving across a land border
If you enter Ecuador via the border with Peru or Colombia, you must ensure you get an official entry stamp at the border showing the date of your arrival. There have been cases of buses not stopping at the border, which has caused great difficulties for foreign visitors for failing to comply with immigration regulations. Travellers may be requested to return to the border entry point to get the required stamp and entry registration. If there is no exit stamp from the country you are coming from, the Ecuadorean immigration officials cannot give you an entry stamp, thus you will be denied entry.
All visitors to the Galapagos Islands should be ready to provide a copy of their hotel booking, or an invitation letter from a host if staying with a resident, upon entry. National and foreign tourists must also present evidence of a return flight, as well as the Galapagos Transit Control Card, to be filled out online at least 24 hours before the flight. Travel health insurance is mandatory for foreign tourists.The maximum stay in the Galapagos Islands as a tourist is 60 days.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETD) are also accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Ecuador. Your emergency travel document must be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Ecuador.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website. Please check if you will be required to present a yellow fever certificate to travel to your next destination from Ecuador. See Health.
Travelling with children
Under Ecuadorean law, children under the age of 18 born in Ecuador are automatically considered as Ecuadorean citizens, even if travelling on a British passport (dual nationals).
They, along with British minors who have resident status in Ecuador, will need notarised written consent from the non-accompanying parent(s) to leave the country. In non-straightforward situations due to a legal dispute, the child will need judicial written permission (Autorización de Viaje Judicial) issued by a judge (Juzgado de la Niñez y Adolescencia). If one of the parents is deceased, the other parent will need to submit the death certificate to a public notary, so that an indefinite notarial permit to travel with the child is issued. The immigration authorities are responsible for checking all the above legal documents.
British children (or British-Ecuadorean dual nationals) who have tourist status in Ecuador do not need these permissions.
Minors entering Ecuador with someone other than a legal guardian(s) do not need to present written consent. The obligation to check these permissions lie with the country they departed from.
Tourism Health Information – Ecuador & Galapagos
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
Some medical prescriptions issued overseas (including from the UK) may be accepted in Ecuador. Antimicrobial prescriptions will be accepted if they are up to 3 days old, and in the case of narcotic or psychotropic prescriptions, they will be accepted up to 5 days old.
Travel can sometimes be challenging. Looking after both your mental and physical health during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
For local assistance, you should read our guidance “Ecuador: mental health support for British nationals”.
UK health authorities have classified Ecuador as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
The Ecuadorean authorities are recommending travellers to have a yellow fever vaccination if travelling to some areas in the Amazon region. A yellow fever vaccination is obligatory when entering Ecuador from endemic countries such as Brazil, Dominican Republic, Congo, Uganda, etc).
Parts of Ecuador (including Quito at 2,800m) are at high altitude. Don’t underestimate the effects of high altitude on your body. Be aware of higher exposure to UV radiation. Since January 2020, the levels of UV radiation have significantly increased throughout Ecuador. You should use a high factor sunblock, wear long sleeved clothing and keep very well hydrated. If you plan to travel to altitudes over 2,500 metres, discuss the health risks associated with travelling to high altitude with your GP before you travel. Check this factsheet for more information and advice on how to reduce the risk of altitude sickness and recognise symptoms.
If you are taking a long bus/plane journey, make sure you keep yourself well hydrated during the trip and move around regularly.
Local medical care
The Ecuadorean public healthcare system provides the same level of assistance to locals and foreigners, at no cost. However, good/specialised medical treatment may not always be available outside the main cities. Private treatment can be very expensive and private hospitals will require a credit card guarantee for admission.
You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Make sure you have adequate travel and medical insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. For life threatening emergencies, in principle every private or public health institution is obliged by law to assist patients.
There are limited facilities on the Galapagos Islands. If you travel to the Galapagos make sure your insurance includes evacuation by air ambulance. San Cristóbal island has a well-equipped public hospital, but Santa Cruz island only has a basic hospital. If you travel to the Galapagos Islands by boat, you may be asked to supply information such as your blood group and emergency contact information when you board the ship.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. Consider using the ECU 911 free smartphone application to register any medical issues and to report various types of emergencies involving yourself or others for emergency assistance.
View our hospitalisation information pack for further details on healthcare in Ecuador, including a list of hospitals.
Weather & When To Go To Ecuador & Galapagos
We will advise you on the best time of the year to travel and, just as importantly, when not to go to a particular region or place. We hope the following guidelines are useful:
The best months for the Galapagos Islands are December to March, when the seas are at their calmest. You should avoid September-October as there is a sea mist at this time.
Ecuador has a very even temperature throughout the year but the wet season runs from October to April. Whilst temperatures rise to 22oC in Quito during the day, it can get quite cool at night at altitude (2850m), colder at higher altitudes in the Andes. It is generally hottest on the coast between December and April and can get quite sticky at this time in the Amazon rainforest.
At The Earth Trip we will design and plan your personalised itinerary according to the exact requirements of your trip. Whether you prefer to be on a mountaintop or under a waterfall; wake up in the middle of a jungle or have a picnic with locals in the tea plantations – we select the accommodation and activities in order to suit not only your preferences, but also your budget.Discover Tailor-Made