The 15 facts you have to know about the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands, famous for inspiring Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, is an ecological wonderland filled with a treasure trove of endemic species. Before you take off on your dream trip to the enchanted islands, here’s some Galapagos Islands information you need to know.
1. Entrance Fees:
There are two fees to be paid in cash at the airports.
- Transit Control Card Fee: $20 (paid prior to departure from Quito or Guayaquil)
- National Park Entrance Fee: $100 (paid on arrival at Baltra or San Cristobal)
2. Money & ATMs:
Currency: US Dollars
Most businesses in Galapagos don’t accept credit cards, so bring plenty of cash. There are two ATMs in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz, and one in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal. Isabela has no ATMs. Note: most places do not accept $100 bills.
3. Distance from the mainland:
The archipelago is 1,000 kilometers (560 miles) west of the Ecuadorian coast.
4. Time Zone:
Galapagos is 6 hours behind GMT (equivalent to USA Central Standard Time)
5. Transfers from airports:
Baltra airport is 47.5km (29.5 miles) from Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz. The journey takes approximately 1hr 8min. San Cristóbal airport is 1.2km (0.75 miles) from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and Aeropuerto de General Villamil on Isabela is 2km (1.24 miles) from Puerto Villamil.
6. Getting around:
Taxis will take you around the main tourist hubs for $1.
Inter-island travel is easy by boat. The trip takes 2.5-3hrs. Tickets cost $25-$35 one way. From Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz) to Puerto Villamil, (Isabela), boats depart daily at 7am and 2pm from Puerto Ayora, and leave Isabela daily at 6am and 3pm. Boats to San Cristóbal depart Puerto Ayora at 7am and 2pm, and leave San Cristóbal at 7am and 3pm daily.
Emetebe flies regularly between Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristóbal. Cost: approx $180 one way.
More Galapagos Islands information is available from your hotel manager and tour operators.
7. Is Galapagos Safe?
Short answer: Yes. Of course, like most popular tourist destinations, common sense and street smarts come into play while you are out and about but, for the most part, the Galapagos Islands are safe for tourists.
8. Does the equatorial line cross the Galapagos Islands?
The equatorial line passes slightly north of Isla Santiago.
The official language of Ecuador is Spanish, but most restaurant and hotel staff, tour operators, and Galapagos Islands information centers speak English.
10. Internet Accessibility:
On land, wifi is available in most places, however, connections can be slow. On cruises, internet service is rarely available.
11. Packing Essentials:
Light clothing, sunscreen, hat, underwater camera/camera with zoom lens, swimsuit/swim shirt, sandals/flip flops, windbreaker, waterproof bag, reusable water bottle, motion sickness pills/seasickness wristband, first aid kit, padlock, and binoculars.
12. How is the food?
Galapagos is famous for its delicious fresh seafood dishes, but you can also find wonderful vegetarian, meat and chicken dishes at most restaurants.
13. What kind of animals can we expect to see?
Galapagos is teeming with wildlife that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, including Galapagos fur seals, Galapagos land iguanas, Galapagos sea lions, giant tortoises, and marine iguanas, as well as blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, hammerhead sharks, manta rays and flamingos. Galapagos is the only place on earth with penguins on the equator. Please remember to respect and protect the ecosystems, and don’t touch any animals.
14. Cruises, Tours and Day Trips:
There is so much on offer from island-hopping cruises to 4-8 day cruises on a range of boats from budget to luxury, as well as plenty of land tours and day trips to choose from. Depending on your schedule and budget, your tour operator will have more Galapagos Islands information. Check out our A itinerary on board of Sea Star Journey Cruise
15. Types of accommodation available:
Hotels in Galapagos range from budget backpacker hostels to luxury five star accommodations and everything in between. In Galapagos, there is somewhere for everyone to lay their head.
The Galapagos Islands information centers will also be able to help you with maps, tour schedules, bus timetables and anything else you need to know during your visit to the islands. Enjoy your stay!
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