Suggested length of stay
The spectacular Galapagos Islands lie 2 hours’ flight off mainland Ecuador and you will need a minimum of 4 nights, preferably 7, to appreciate the rich biodiversity of the outer islands. There are 3 night cruises available as well as hotels that offer shorter stays yet visiting the islands involves good deal of travel (and cost!) and we recommend the longer itineraries. For visitors keen to scuba dive, you may need to allow additional time for acclimatisation.
Galapagos cruises and hotels: 4-7 nights
Modes of transport
The Galapagos are linked to mainland Ecuador via regular flights from Quito to the islands of Baltra and San Cristobal, the majority touching down in Guayaquil on route. Between the islands themselves, there are hopper flights linking the small fishing communities. Return flights to the mainland will be organised in conjunction with your Galapagos cruise.
The islands of San Cristobal, Santa Cruz and Isabela offer good mountain biking, an ideal way to spend a day explore isolated beaches and trails.
The Galapagos archipelago is made up of 21 volcanic islands. Each island boasts its own endemic species framed by breathtaking volcanoes and beaches and the only way to fully appreciate the magnificent biodiversity is by water. Tightly controlled by park authorities, the Galapagos offers a wide range of 3-14 night cruises on boats from large ships to small, wooden motor sailors. Daily excursions are led by expert, naturalist guides and guests have regular opportunities to swim, snorkel or kayak. At Oasis Travel, we recommend smaller 8-16 cabin boats for a more intimate experience and a minimum 4 night cruise. For more information on dates, departures and cost, please contact an Oasis Travel specialist.
Straddling the equator, the Galapagos enjoy 12 hours of light (preferably sunshine!) each day and are a year round destination whose climate is determined by the prevailing ocean currents. From December to May, temperatures reach the 30’s with short, sharp showers although the warmer waters of the Panama Current lend themselves to excellent snorkelling. This period coincides with the breeding and nesting season for a number of seabirds as well as giant tortoises, sea turtles and marine and land iguanas. April sees the mass arrival of the waved albatross which begin their eye-catching courtship displays. From June to December, the Humboldt Current dominates bringing milder temperatures (early 20’s) and cooler nutrient-rich water. The mornings are shrouded with the “garua” sea-mist that rapidly burns off in the sun. Whales, dolphins and penguins thrive in the colder water while sea-lions pup alongside migrant shorebirds. For a month-by-month wildlife calendar, please contact an Oasis Travel consultant.
1000km off the coast ringed by the sparkling waters of the Pacific, the Galapagos are a group of 21 young volcanic islands and over 107 rocks and islets which straddle the equator. Perched on the Nazca plate, the islands are moving towards mainland South America at a rate of 6cm a year and are dominated by barren smoking volcanoes, scrubby vegetation and lava flows. The islands were formed by a combination of volcanic activity and weaker “hot spots” in the earth’s crust which allowed the molten lava to burst through. As a result, the eastern islands are several million years older than the younger western islands of Isabela and Fernandina. The Galapagos sit at the crossroads of two important ocean currents, the Panama and Humboldt currents (see above) which dictate the climate and have helped foster the extraordinary abundance of marine life.
It is not advisable to drink tap water in the Galapagos. Bottled water is very cheap and widely available in the hotels and boats.
Visas are currently not required for travel to Ecuador for Australian citizens.
The local currency is the US dollar and there is an ATM in the main port Puerto Ayora (although not always in service). Credit cards are not widely accepted and we advise you bring cash to the islands. Traveller’s Cheques are still accepted although commissions vary between one agency to another and often prove more of a burden.
On arrival, you will need to pay US100 park fees in crisp notes. US100 bills are not always accepted (a spate of fraudulent notes is currently in circulation) and we recommend you pay in smaller denominations. There is also a US10 transit card charge which may be included with your Galapagos cruise, please do double check this with us.
For information regarding tipping in the Galapagos, always a contentious issue, please contact an Oasis Travel consultant.
Inoculations & health precautions
Please consult with your doctor at least 6 week before travel to the Galapagos Islands.
The standard of medical facilities and care is limited in the Galapagos. There are foreign private medical clinics yet evacuation to the mainland may be required for even relatively minor operations. Most hotels (and some boats) work with a private doctor who will visit you at your room. However, both doctors and hospitals will expect cash payment prior to providing medical services, including for emergency care.
It is vital to have good medical insurance before you travel.
Australian Embassy and Consulate-General contacts in Ecuador
Fundacion Leonidas Ortega Building
Rocafuerte 520, Second Floor
Tel : (+5934) 601 7529.
Fax : (+5934) 501 4111
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the local Canadian Embassy in Quito also provides limited consular assistance to Australians in Ecuador. The address is:
Av. Amazonas 4153y Union Nacional de Periodistas
Eurocenter Building 3rd floor (one block north of the Supreme Court Building)
Telephone (+593 2) 245 5499
Facsimile (+593 2) 227 7672
Ecuador electrical current is 110 volts at 60 cycles. Plugs are either 2 flat pins sometimes earthed. In the
Ecuador and the Galapagos are best accessed via Santiago, capital of Chile. Qantas offers a direct service from Sydney to Santiago three times a week while Latam (Lan) offers daily flights which touch down in Auckland en route. There are other routes available via the US or even on Emirates via Dubai but only one-world partners Qantas and Lan entitle you to discounted fares for the Lan dominated internal flights within South America.
Non-stop flight time Sydney - Santiago approximately 14 hours
Flight time Santiago - Quito approximately 6½ hours (via Guayaquil)
Non-stop flight time Santiago - Guayaquil approximately 5 hours
Non-stop flight time Guayaquil – the Galapagos Islands approximately 2 hours
Flight time Quito – the Galapagos Islands approximately 3½ hours (via Guayaquil)
Time difference GMT – 6 hours
Tip - Keep some local currency on departure for airport tax