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 45 minutes. The flight from Guayaquil to Galápagos takes 1½ hours.
|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 transfer from Baltra airport to The Royal Palm takes around 1 hour. You will be met at the airport and escorted on a ten minute drive to the channel which divides Baltra from Santa Cruz Island. The channel crossing takes about 10-15 minutes and is usually aboard the Royal Palm’s boat. During the crossing you may be lucky enough to spot the Blue Footed Boobie birds and Sea Lions that love sunbathing on top of the channel buoys! You will then be met at the other side of the channel by your driver who will take you to the Hotel.
A welcome drink awaits you at reception, and once you have check-in, your holiday begins! Feel free to settle into you Villa or Casita and explore the estate. The hotel team are always available to check your itinerary and help you with any other arrangements to ensure a happy and memorable stay.
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: December - March
Shoulder Season: April - August & October - November
Low Season: September
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 transfer to the Royal Palm from the airport takes around 1 hour. You will be met at the airport and escorted to a bus which will take you to the channel. The channel crossing takes about 10-15 minutes and is usually aboard the Royal Palm’s boat. You will then be met at the other side of the channel by your driver who will take you to the Hotel. A fully escorted transfer service is available if required.
Because the Galápagos is set on the equator, it is a true year-round destination with seasonal temperatures varying only slightly. The best time to go is really up to the demands of your schedule. The Galápagos has a subtropical climate regulated by the cold Humboldt Current and the warm El Niño Current.
December through May is the warmest time of year, with air temperatures in the upper 80°s F (31° c). Although the islands receive slightly more rainfall during this time, the lower elevations typically offer blue skies and sunshine with occasional haze. The sea is at its warmest and is usually calmer during this time of year.
The drier Garua season lasts from June through November. The Garua is a cloud layer that forms over the highlands of the islands. Ironically, the Garua season provides more moisture at the upper elevations of the islands than the so-called wet season. There may be plenty of sunshine during the day, but it is less intense, with cloudier skies. Air temperature is lower, with highs in the mid 70°s to mid-80°s F (25 - 30°c). The strong Antarctic Humboldt Current, coming from the south, affects the climate at this time of year. The water temperature, therefore, is at its coolest, about 68° F (20° c).
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!