The Galapagos experience is unique in more ways than one; the Islands are different from other holiday destinations and it is important for us to set the expectation for you. We hope that the following travel tips and information about the Royal Palm will help you to prepare for your holiday so that your personal voyage of discovery in the Galápagos is everything you wished for and more.
Before You Leave
Most travellers take international flights to Quito, Ecuador for the start of the trip. This is the country’s capital situated high in the central Andes, offering plenty to do at the start and end of your trip. At 9,000 feet above sea level, some travellers elect to skip Quito altogether due to the altitude and fly in and out of the Ecuador’s largest city, the modern port of Guayaquil. Flights between Quito and the Galápagos typically stop in Guayaquil in both directions. The flight from Quito to Guayaquil takes just under 1 hour. The flight from Guayaquil to Baltra on Santa Cruz takes 2 hours.
There is a $20 TCT (Transit Control Card) fee payable in cash at Quito and Guayaquil airports upon departure to the Galapagos.
|Valid Passport||Copy of the Picture Page from Passport||Airline Tickets||Tour Confirmation Documents|
|Emergency Contact Numbers||Traveller's Cheques / $ currency||Copy of Travel Insurance|
As of August 2008 visitors to Ecuador no longer require visas
Ecuador requires travellers to carry photographic proof of identity and some form of legal identity on them at all times. You may also be asked to show your passport when making large purchases with traveller’s cheques or credit cards while in Ecuador. The Galapagos is a little more relaxed, you won’t need any official documents unless you plan to make a purchase using credit cards in one of the port towns of the Galápagos.
The US Dollar is the official currency of Ecuador. When traveling it is wise to make sure you bring a selection of small bills (for tipping). It is also a good idea to carry an amount of change with you since coins can be difficult to come by and if you do not have the coins needed the bill is frequently rounded up to the next dollar amount. We suggest:-
• Traveller's Cheques
• $100 US (cash) for Galapagos Park Fee
• $10 for the Galapagos Tourist Transit Card
• Collection of Small Bills for Tips and Miscellaneous Items
• Credit Cards
Credit Cards including American Express, Diner's Club, Visa and Master Card are widely accepted in the tourist areas. Some businesses add a surcharge from 6% - 10% for transactions paid by credit card. It is best to ask if your card is accepted and the total amount of the transaction before making a purchase. The same follows with Traveller's Checks. We strongly recommend American Express Traveller's Checks, as you will be able to cash these in most of the country; Visa Traveller's Checks are only accepted in a few locations.
While no inoculations are required for travel to the Galapagos Islands, please consult with your doctor 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to discuss health precautions you may wish to take. The Royal Palm has access to the local clinic and doctors who can assist with basic ailments. The nearest fully equipped hospital is in Guayaquil on the mainland.
Due to the high elevations if you are flying in or out of Quito (9,000 ft / 3,000 m) and have high blood pressure or a heart condition, please seek your doctor’s advice before traveling. Those who should avoid high elevations may prefer to fly in and out of the port city of Guayaquil rather than Quito.
Packing for the Galapagos
|Sun hat||Small backpack||Shorts||T-shirts or tank tops||Light pants|
|Sweater||Windbreaker||Waterproof jacket||Good walking shoes||Reef sandals or similar|
|Sunglasses||Swimwear||Camera||Binoculars||Hi-factor sun block|
Doctors, clinics and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Many hospitals do not accept credit cards. Please ensure that you are travelling with sufficient travel and medical insurance cover.
When You Arrive
The Galapagos National Parks entry fee is $100 per adult and $50 per child under 12, payable in cash upon arrival at Baltra airport.
The transfer from Baltra airport to The Royal Palm takes around 1 hour. Once you have cleared customs and collected your luggage, look out for a welcome board with your name on it. There is a 10 minute drive by bus to the Itabaca Channel which divides Baltra Airport from Santa Cruz Island. The ferry crossing takes about 10-15 minutes. The driver will meet you at the other side and will take you to the Hotel. The transfer fee is $25 per person each way, on a shared basis. Private transfers are available by prior arrangement. Please ensure that you have advised us of your arrival date, flight number & time and transfer requirements. There are no taxi ranks on Santa Cruz. A welcome drink awaits you at reception, and once you have check-in, your holiday begins!
Banking Hours & ATMs
Banking hours are from 09:00 to 18:00 Monday to Friday. ATM machines are located throughout major cities.
The official language of Ecuador is Spanish. However, English is widely spoken at hotels, restaurants and shops and we speak English at the Royal Palm. Almost everyone involved in hosting you during your stay speaks English.
Voltage: 110 volts. Sockets are a mixture of the European, two-pronged round variety and US flat-pin.
High Season: Late December to April
Mid-Season: May to August
Low Season: September to early/mid-December
The Galápagos Islands are one hour behind the mainland and 7 hours behind GMT.
Tipping & Gratuities
We are often asked what gratuity is appropriate to leave your guide and other staff while in the Galápagos. Of course the quality of service should determine the extent of any gratuity. It is customary to leave a tip of 10% on any restaurant bill and to tip taxi drivers, guides and crews as you see fit.
The water at the Royal Palm is perfectly safe as it is purified. Elsewhere on the island, it is recommended that you drink only bottled water.
Because the Galápagos is set on the equator, it is a warm place to visit year-round, with the seasonal temperatures varying only slightly. Santa Cruz is made up of multiple micro-climates and these eco systems can affect the weather very locally. When it is hot and sunny on the coast, it can be cooler, cloudy and sometimes misty where the Royal Palm sits in the Miconia Highland Forests, (which is why it is so lush and green!) The Galápagos has a subtropical climate with two main seasons:-
The “warm, wet season” runs December/January to May/June and is the hottest time of year, with air temperatures in the upper 80°s F (30°s C). There is usually plenty of blue sky and sunshine; rain showers tend to be typically tropical mainly in Jan/Feb and the water quickly drains through the porous volcanic terrain. The sun is at its most intense and the sea is at its warmest and calmest.
The cool, dry “Garua” season lasts from June/July through Nov/Dec. The Garua is a fine drizzle that often falls over the Highlands in the early mornings. Ironically, the Garua season provides more moisture at this time of year than the so-called wet season. The sun is less intense, with cloudier skies. Air temperature is lower, with highs in the mid 60°s to high 70°s F (15 - 25° C) depending on the month; September is the coolest month.
After Your Visit
Becoming a friend of the Galápagos
The fragile ecosystem of the Galapagos was finally brought under protection when the islands became part of Ecuador’s national park system in 1959. The Royal Palm Hotel is committed to preserving this unique and priceless UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Eco tourism has a pivotal role to play in preserving our islands while simultaneously providing employment and economic stability. We believe that by educating our guests and by adhering to responsible practices we can assist in the long term preservation of this unique region. We encourage you to visit the Charles Darwin Foundation which demonstrates the conservation issues and the importance of protecting the diversity of this rare ecosystem.
Many of our visitors form a strong emotional connection with the islands and its preservation and wish to continue their relationship with the Galápagos long after their visit. We encourage you to support conservation of the creatures and habitats of these magical islands by joining one of the following organizations:
11150 Fairfax Blvd, Suite 408
Fairfax, VA 22030
+ 1 703 383-0077
|Charles Darwin Foundation|
Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz
+ 593 2526-146/147
|The Nature Conservancy|
4245 North Fairfax Drive
Suite 100, Arlington
VA 22203 - 1606
+ 1 800 628-6860
|Galápagos Conservation Trust|
Charles Darwin Suite
28 Portland Place
London W1B 1LY
+ 44 (0) 207 399 7440
Suite 300, 744 Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94111
+ 1 415 834-3174
The Royal Palm Hotel thanks you for helping us preserve the Galápagos Islands!