Mary Anne Cruise, Galapagos Island Sail Boat

Detailed Itinerary

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Introduction

Sail with the Mary Anne around the Galapagos Islands and enjoy one of the best trips in the archipelago.

The Mary Anne holds 34 people but sails with just 16 passengers, meaning it offers no single supplements to travellers wanting a single cabin.

This beautiful ship combines elegant design with luxury and space and offer a holiday that harks back to sailing’s golden age.

Learn nautical knots and feel like a sailor of old when when the sails are billowing – there is no engine noise, enticing dolphins and whales close.

 

More on Mary Anne Galapagos cruises

Mary Anne guides and itineraries take you to the best visitor sites in Galapagos.

Magnificent wildlife and snorkelling is guaranteed in this natural haven.

Facilities on board include a comfortable lounge done in rich, wood panelling, a cosy bar area and ample sundecks.

Cabins have private bathrooms with hot water and all are designed with one double lower berth and a single upper berth.

Trip Highlights

  • Mary Anne sails with 16 passengers but has room for 34, making it incredibly spacious.
  • Due to its steel hull, tall masts and deep draft, the Mary Anne is one of the most stable vessels in the islands.
  • Up to EIGHT single cabins available with no supplement, all cabins have private bathroom, hot/cold shower and air conditioning.
  • Navigating with full sails, enjoy travelling without the sound of engines – plus dolphins and whales are more likely to swim alongside the boat.
  • Three meals served daily, after-excursion snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Elegant, three mast barquentine that is the only of its kind in the Galapagos.

Mary Anne East Itinerary

Day 1: Fly to Baltra Island, transfer to yacht – Black Turtle Cove (L,D)

After arriving at Baltra airport we are greeted by our guides and  soon board the Mary Anne and have lunch.

After lunch, we navigate a short distance to Black Turtle Cove, a large mangrove lagoon on the north coast of Santa Cruz Island.

Pelicans and herons roost on the branches, while marine dwellers such as green sea turtle or golden ray may cruise right next to the panga as it makes its way through the mangroves.

Head to the yacht for dinner and briefing.

Day 2: Genovesa – Darwin Bay – Prince Phillip Steps (B,L,D)

Genovesa is considered to be one of the most spectacular islands in Galapagos for bird species and is home to the red-footed booby. It’s a wet landing on Darwin Bay, a coral sand beach where Swallow-tailed Gulls and Lava Gulls gather near the tide pools.

A trail leads us through red mangrove and salt bush, then we enter a forest of Opuntia cactus where colonies of Great Frigate nest. The males of this species inflate their red-throated pouches to attract females as they fly overhead. A few Nazca Boobies nest on the ground, and the trail leads along small tide pools up to a cliff with a spectacular view over the caldera.

At low tide there are thousands of Galapagos Fiddler Crabs to see on the sandy shore.

We return to the boat for lunch.

It’s a dry landing here at Prince Philip Steps, a nesting site of the Red-footed Boobies and a great place to snorkel.

You can choose to swim or snorkel from the beach with sea lions in these northern warmer waters or for those with experience, there may be the chance to snorkel in some deeper waters. Prince Philip’s Steps themselves offer an easy trail that leads first through a small nesting colony of Masked Boobies and then crosses a low and dense forest of palo santo trees. It’s here that the Red-Footed Boobies have their nests.

On both sides of the trail there is a big Nazca Booby nesting colony. In an open lava field, we find Storm Petrels in large numbers. If you are lucky, we will see the elusive Short-eared Owl.

Return to the yacht for a briefing and dinner.

Day 3: Bartholomew – Chinese Hat (B,L,D)

It’s a dry landing at Bartholomew to climb up the wooden steps and reach the summit for a most breathtaking panorama of the islands’ often photographed Pinnacle Rock, views of neighbouring Santiago and many other central islands in the distance.

We return to the yacht for lunch.

Less than a quarter of one square kilometre in size, our island gets its name from being shaped like a Chinese Hat.

The hat shape is best appreciated from the north side. Lava formations can be seen on the western side of the island, formed under the sea and raised upward and for this reason it is possible to observe coral heads on the lava. Be amazed by the landscapes covered by sea lion colonies, marine iguanas and Galapagos penguins.

Return to the yacht for a briefing and dinner.

Day 4: Rabida Island – Cerro Dragon (B,L,D)

Wet landing onto Rábida’s deep-red beaches to explore the red island’s fascinating interior and saltwater lagoon. Darwin finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, and yellow warblers feed off the vegetation; given the right time of the year brown pelicans nesting on salt bushes that fringe the beach.

Located on the northern tip of Santa Cruz is Cerro Dragon aka Dragon Hill, offering great views over the Galapagos.

Return to the yacht for lunch.

As we walk towards the viewpoint, the trail passes a saltwater lagoon replete with Pink Flamingos as well as other lagoon birds; Stilts, Pintail Ducks, Sandpipers and more. We’ll most likely see Darwin Finches, Galapagos, Flycatchers, Yellow Warblers, Audubon Shearwater and the endemic land iguanas en route too. From the top of the hill, we enjoy a majestic view of the bay island covered in Opuntia cactus, Palo Santo and Cordia Lutea (muyuyu).

Return to the yacht for a briefing and dinner.

Day 5: Santa Cruz Highlands – Tortoise Breeding Centre (B,L,D)

After a dry landing, today’s trail starts in Bellavista as we head in the Highlands.

This area, in contrast to the coastal region, has lush vegetation and forest due to the humidity of the higher regions. We visit one of the ranches of the area where it is possible to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. As these animals migrate from the coastal area to the highlands and back, the chosen ranch will depend on the presence of the tortoises, since they roam free and change locations.

This is also a good place to see the Galapagos Hawk and barn owl, and the surrounding forests are filled of birds such as the vermilion flycatcher or the yellow warbler.

We enjoy lunch at the ranch to then head back to Puerto Ayora for our second visit of the day, the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Centre.

Here, we see tortoises from different islands. The animals are found in large semi-natural pens for their protection, but also to ensure an easy view for visitors. The pens are divided according to four different stages: eggs, neo-nates, juveniles, held here until they are mature enough to be ‘reintroduced’, and adults.

Return to the yacht for a briefing and dinner.

Day 6: South Plazas – Santa Fe (B,L,D)

South Plazas is a small island, a geological uplift, and has spectacularly tall cliffs (up to 25m) that offer fantastic views on the southern side, and sea lions to the north.

During the rainy season (Jan-May) the island is an intense green, where as in the drier months the ground vegetation changes to a bright orange then purple. Throughout the island we find several hybrid iguanas, a result of crossing a male marine iguana and a female land iguana. These unique animals, recognisable at first glance by their black/grey colour, have the face and tail of the marine iguana.

It’s a dry landing on a jetty, the trail leads us through Prickly Pear or Opuntia and Sesuvium. Here we can find the Galapagos land iguana feeding on the cactus leaves.

Toward the end of the hill, we encounter a colony of bachelor sea lions. We also find Swallow-tailed Gulls, Shearwaters and Red-billed Tropicbirds who build their nests along the cliffs.

Return to the yacht for lunch.

Santa Fe is a small island of 24 km2. The visitor site Santa Fe is located on the northeast end of the island. Highlights include Santa Fe land iguanas, pelican nesting site, sea lion colony, mockingbird, and Palo Santo trees.

Return to the yacht for a briefing and dinner.

Day 7: Punta Suarez – Gardner Bay – Gardner and Osborn Islet (B,L,D)

In the morning we head to Punta Suarez (dry landing). The trail is about 4km/2.5 miles long and the walk takes about 2 hours.

A geyser near the trail sprays water some 25m/75ft into the air. This is one of the most popular landing sites in Galapagos.

Other highlights include: sea lions near our landing place, sometimes to be seen bodysurfing in the large breakers; large marine iguanas, with red-coloured males in the breeding season; Oystercatchers; Blue-footed and Nazca boobies; Galapagos Hawk; Galapagos Dove; Swallow-tailed Gull; Red-billed Tropic birds in flight; and three species endemic to Española – Waved Albatross (present only from April to December), Española Mockingbird, and Española lava lizard.

Wet landing on a wonderful, long, white beach made of coral sand at Gardner Bay (Española). For this visit you won’t even need shoes, it’s so soft underfoot, and there is no trail to follow so you can take a long walk and explore a bit. Playa Gardner is a very good place to observe finches and mockingbirds in the saltbush vegetation, and there is some great swimming and snorkelling from the beach, where curious sea lions are never far off. Some will even launch with you from the beach and into the water.

Islote Gardner and Islote Osborn are snorkelling sites where visitors will see an abundance of tropical fish, reef sharks, and turtles.

Dinner on the yacht completes your day, as we sail back towards Santa Cruz.

Day 8: Twin Craters – transfer to Baltra airport for flight out – tour ends (B)

Our last visit today!

This is our last day in the islands. After breakfast we disembark in Puerto Ayora to take our transport to the Baltra airport, making a short stop to visit the Twin Craters. The Gemelos (twins) are two deep craters located to the side of the road that leads to Puerto Ayora from the other side of the island. These huge holes were probably created in a volcanic explosion or by magma chambers underneath the island’s surface.

After this visit we transfer to the airport for your flight back to the mainland.


Mary Anne West Itinerary

Day 1: Fly to Baltra, transfer to boat – Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Centre (L,D)

After arriving at Baltra airport we are greeted by our guides and will board a bus which takes us to Puerto Ayora for the first visit on the islands: the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Centre.

Here, we see tortoises from different islands. The animals are found in large semi-natural pens for their protection, but also to ensure an easy view for tourists. The pens are divided according to four different stages: eggs, neo-nates, juveniles (held here until they are mature enough to be ‘repatriated’), and adults.

Afterwards we head back to Puerto Ayora, where we have some time to explore the town and shops by ourselves before boarding the S/S Mary Anne at around 5:00p.m.

Once on board, we are welcomed by the crew and captain, have a short security drill and enjoy dinner and a briefing for the next day’s activities.

Head to the yacht for dinner and briefing.

NOTE: Please keep in mind that our west itinerary starts right after you arrive to the islands. If possible, please wear clothes comfortable enough for a visit to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island: comfortable shoes, a hat for the sun, trousers or shorts.

Day 2: Floreana – Punta Cormorant – Devil’s Crown – Post Office Bay (B,L,D)

We awake in Floreana and motor to Punta Cormorant.

It’s a wet landing and we’ll be looking for flamingos on our way to a special beach with the finest sand you’ll set your foot on, a sea turtle nesting ground where sharks and rays also visit regularly.

From there take the dinghy to go for a snorkel at Devil’s Crown, a sunken cone with exciting snorkelling as you’re carried by the current while seeing a superb variety of marine life. This is one of the best snorkels in the Galapagos, and one of the most dramatic sites to behold.

Note: There is a current here, so you do need to be able to swim well.

Next, on to Punta Cormorant where you land on a beach with green olivine sand. Several trails allow you to explore a brackish water lagoon with a colony of flamingos who are there most of the year, and White-cheeked Pintail Ducks, Stilts, and other shorebirds feeding alongside the flamingos. The trail then goes over a hill and dunes to a stunning white beach consisting of ground coral, where green sea turtles nest.

After lunch, visit one of the most famous sites in Galapagos, Post Office Bay, where a post barrel was erected in the late 18th Century for use by British whaling vessels. Visitors are invited to leave a post card and to pick up any mail destined for their home town. There may be an opportunity to swim from the beach with sea lions.

Return to the yacht for a briefing and dinner.

Day 3: Floreana – Asilo de la Paz – whale watching sailing (B,L,D)

This morning we visit Floreana Island’s Black Beach to learn about the intriguing human history of the island and its first inhabitants.Floreana was the first island in the archipelago to be inhabited, since it has one of the very few fresh water sources. We visit this fresh water source, known as Asilo de La Paz, as well as the caves that served as hideouts for pirates.Here the first Galapegueño was born, according to the stories of Floreana, which also involve the infamous Baroness Eloise Wagner von Bousquet and her lovers who mysteriously began to disappear after settling on the island.Return to the yacht for lunch and sailing.After our visit, we have the best opportunity for a not-so-common yet well beloved activity in the archipelago, a full afternoon navigation to look for whales and dolphins.The waters of the Galapagos form the second largest marine reserve in the world very rich in wildlife. The biggest representatives of the underwater fauna are the different species of whales and dolphins found here.We navigate from Floreana to Isabela Island while looking for these fascinating creatures, which are commonly seen in this area. The afternoon is completed by the arrival at impressive landscapes of Isabella and the Cerro Azul volcano.

Day 4: Isabela – Punta Moreno – Urbina Bay (B,L,D)

We awake at Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos.

After breakfast, we step ashore at Punta Moreno (dry landing) onto a superb pahoehoe lava landscape surrounded by giant volcanoes, some still active! From here we perform a short hike to a lagoon where Flamingos are usually present.

Return to the yacht for lunch.

We disembark at Urbina Bay (wet landing) onto a black sand beach, nesting site for green sea turtles. We take a brief hike inland in search of land iguanas and giant tortoises (seasonal) that migrate to and from the highlands. At the beach, we admire the remains of a geological uplift exposing coral heads and marine fossils and if the sea conditions and time are on our side, we can also snorkel in these waters.

Return to the yacht for a briefing and dinner.

Day 5: Tagus Cove – Fernandina, Punta Espinoza (B,L,D)

Go ashore at Tagus Cove, a favourite anchorage for pirates and whalers over the centuries. Sections of the rocky cliffs are covered with graffiti dating back to the 1800s.

An uphill hike leads to a saltwater lagoon and a scenic overlook with a spectacular view of the ocean, lava fields and volcanic formations. Take advantage of the secluded cove and explore the shoreline by kayak or stand up paddle board in search of Galapagos Penguins, Boobies, Pelicans and other seabirds.

Head back to the boat for lunch.

This afternoon’s stop is at Punta Espinoza on Fernandina, the youngest and most pristine island in Galapagos, with no introduced animals. Recent lava flows formed by an active volcano stretch their way around the coast. Observe sea lion harems with resident bulls carefully guarding their territory, and hundreds of marine iguanas, the largest colony in Galapagos, basking in the sun along the rugged shoreline.

Out on the point, the Flightless Cormorants build their nests close to shore after they lost their ability to fly.

Back aboard for dinner and briefing.

Day 6: Puerto Egas – Buccaneer’s Cove – Espumilla Beach (B,L,D)

Stroll along the shoreline at Puerto Egas on Santiago (James) Island looking for octopus, starfish and other sea life caught in the tide pools.

At low tide, catch a glimpse of marine iguanas as they feed on exposed green algae. Watch for Great Blue Herons, Lava Herons, American Oystercatchers and Yellow-crowned Night Herons. The walk ends at the grottos, deep pools of clear water where we encounter fur sea lions once on the verge of extinction.

Before returning to the yacht, there is a chance to snorkel from the beach.

Return to the yacht for lunch.

At Buccaneer Cove we will take a panga ride around the beautiful coastline. This place got its name due to the fact that used to be a refuge for British Buccaneers, they would anchor here to collect supplies and clean their ships among other activities. The cove is very scenic with views of the cliffs and a dark beach. Do not forget to look for two unusual rock formations known as ‘the monk’ and ‘elephant rock’.

After exploring the fabulous western islands, we head to central Santiago to disembark at Espumilla (wet landing), onto a golden-coloured sand – Green Sea Turtle nesting site. A forest trail will take us through some of the largest specimens of Palo Santo on the islands to observe Yellow Warblers, the unbelievably tame Galapagos Flycatcher and the ever-intriguing Darwin finches.

Return to the yacht for a briefing and dinner.

Day 7: Sullivan Bay – North Seymour Island (B,L,D)

We head across to Sullivan Bay (dry landing) in Santiago to walk over a recent lava flow, including very fresh pahoehoe lava formations, lava bubbles containing crystallised minerals and pioneer plants.

Along the shoreline, we may find Galapagos penguins and herons going after small fish.

We head back to the boat for lunch.

After lunch, go ashore at North Seymour, a small geological uplift to observe Swallow-tailed Gulls, Blue-footed Boobies and endemic land iguanas. Visit the largest colony of Magnificent Frigate birds in the Galapagos, and watch for marine iguanas and sea lions body surfing the northern swells.

Back aboard for our farewell dinner!

Day 8: Mosquera Island – transfer to Baltra airport – fly out (B)

Mosquera is a small islet located between Baltra Island and North Seymour measuring about 160m across and 600m in length.

It is home to one of the Galapagos’ largest sea lion colonies and is also a haven for shorebirds. Orcas occasionally come to the islet to feed on the sea lions.

Alas, it’s time to say goodbye. Your guide accompanies you to the airport and you fly back to the continent, or stay on for more Galapagos exploration.


What's Included?

Accommodation, Programmed visits to the Islands with a certified naturalistic guide, on board accommodation, snorkel gear (mask, snorkel and flippers), kayak, all meals on board, transfers in the Islands between the airport and dock, all meals plus purified water, tea and coffee

What's Not Included?

International flights, Round trip flights to the Galapagos Islands, Galapagos National Park fee, Galapagos Ingala fee, soft and alcoholic and bottled drinks, personal items, souvenirs, tips, wetsuit hire, travel insurance, personal items, Ecuador services


Accommodation

The Mary Anne takes up to 16 passengers across its 12 double, tastefully furnished cabins.

All cabins are on the cabin deck and have private bathrooms with hot water. They all are designed with one double lower berth and a single upper berth. There are also two double cabins.

The spacious main and sun decks are comfortable places to have a drink in the lounge, read a book in the library or simply relax in a sun chair while enjoying the view.

Both decks are ideal places for wildlife observation.

Tour Staff

The crews are “Galapagueños”,  guides, captains and crew members were born and raised in the Galapagos Islands.

They know the area well and are prepared to show you the islands only like a native can do it.

The Naturalist, English-speaking guides have studied and been trained at Charles Darwin Scientific Station, and have long years of experience guiding at the Galapagos Islands.


Meals

The boat uses as much locally sourced produce as possible, including fish, coffee, eggs, fruits and meat farmed in Galapagos, to reduce carbon footprints and make sure the best ingredients are used.

The chef prepares three main meals a day, with snacks and drinks available after activities.

All dietary requirements can be catered for, vegetarians, vegans, lactose intolerant and more.

Breakfast usually features a juice, tea and coffee, toast, jams, eggs and pastries.

Lunch will include soups, then a main meal of rices, pastas, fish, omelettes and many more options, and often a small pudding.

Dinner will again be a hearty affair, with a starter, main meal and pudding, with water, teas and coffees available.

There is a bar with beers and cocktails available at extra cost.

Activity Level

Walks

Every visit to each island involves an easy or moderate walk, which can last between 2 to 3 hours, and are not considered strenuous. On these walks you will be led by an expert naturalist guides in a small group along clearly marked trails. They will explain in great detail all the wonders of each of our carefully selected itineraries. Most days there are two guided walks on a specific island where you will be able to walk and hike on beaches, lava fields, alongside cliffs and around mangrove estuaries.

 

Snorkelling

Snorkelling in the Islands is the highlight of the Galapagos cruise for many of our guests. You have the opportunity to go snorkelling almost every day – snorkelling with marine iguanas and with playful sea-lions are some of the highlights, as well as with green sea turtles, penguins and an incredible variety of colourful reef fish. On the western islands the water is a little colder but teaming with life. There are beach snorkels for beginners and deeper waters.

 

Zodiac rides

Dinghies, or “Pangas” as they are known in Galapagos, are inflatable zodiacs that serve as the main transportation method from our Galapagos yachts to the visitor sites. At several times during your week-long Galapagos travel adventure, you will have the chance to enjoy dinghy (or panga) rides in shores, mangrove estuaries, coves and caves.



Practical Information

Is this the cruise for me?

Classic sailing boat, ideal for single travellers as there are no single supplements.

Large and spacious, great for families and offers a traditional sailing-type holiday.

Introduction to Galapagos

These magical islands comprise of 50 volcanic islands of varying shapes and sizes, which lie 1,000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador.

Here, unlike anywhere else on Earth, you can enjoy a thousand close encounters with a weird and wonderful variety of ‘friendly locals’, including giant tortoises, fur seals, sea iguanas, frigate birds and blue-footed boobies.

Read our Galapagos Islands Guide and more about diving.

In 1535, Tomás de Berlanga, Bishop of Panama, floated into this archipelago and named it Galapagos after the giant tortoises he encountered. Pirates used the islands for refuge and to bury their stolen treasure after that.

The islands’ most celebrated visitor was Charles Darwin, who arrived aboard the HMS Beagle in 1835. The rare life forms he encountered helped him formulate his theory of evolution, which he published in The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.

It wasn’t until 1959 when it became part of Ecuador’s national park system that this fragile ecosystem with its rare and endemic species came under protection.

In 1979 the Galapagos archipelago was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Geography of Ecuador

Landscapes vary from the drier south to the more humid north.

The Highlands, or sierra, encompass two Andean Cordilleras (the Central and Western), which run north to south through the country. Ecuador’s largest volcano is Chimborazo (6,310m) whose summit, because of its proximity to the equator, is the closest point on earth to the sun. Several of Ecuador’s volcanoes are still active, and it’s a great area for trekking.

Descending the steep, east-facing slopes of the eastern Cordillera, one passes through a transition zone comprising dense cloud forest and humid high jungle, before entering the Amazon lowlands.

This mainly primary rainforest covers a third of the country, accounts for 5% of the population and stretches across Ecuador, from its Colombian to its Peruvian borders.

The Galapagos Islands are simply unique. Lying 600 miles off the mainland, the archipelago comprises the summits of gigantic equatorial volcanoes.

The flora and fauna of the Galapagos, long separated from their continental cousins, have evolved differently. Charles Darwin used his observations there to develop his theory of Evolution.

Weather in Galapagos

 

When to visit Galapagos Islands: weather and wildlife

There is no real ‘best’ time to visit Galapagos on holiday as there is always wonderful wildlife and weather to enjoy. Read our blog for more.

Most animals – tortoises, sharks, sea lions and boobies – are found year round and many of the species here are non-migratory.

The Galapagos Islands are located right on the equator so air and water temperatures do not vary by much.

Having said that, there are two recognised seasons, and each months brings natural marvels for the visitor to enjoy.

Below is our quick guide to the weather and wildlife you can find on the Galapagos Islands.

 

General weather information

 

The warm season (Jan-Jun)

  • Calm, clear warm waters, great for snorkelling, often without a wetsuit.
  • Great weather, with February and March being the hottest and sunniest months with blue skies and sunshine.
  • Occasional heavy bursts of rain in the afternoons.

Sea temperatures:  22-25°C / 72-77°F

Land temperatures:  21-32°C / 72-90°F

 

The dry ‘garua’ season (Jun-Dec)

  • It’s a great time for marine life in the cooler seas. Snorkellers may want a wetsuit.
  • August and September the coolest when you may need a jacket in the evenings and the sea can be choppy.
  • There can be mist on the islands in the mornings (garua) which usually burns off by midday leaving overcast skies or a sunny afternoon.

Sea temperatures:  15-22°C / 60-72°F

Land temperatures:  18-24°C / 65-75°F

 

Galapagos sea and air temperatures and rainfall month by month

Air and sea temperatures in Galapagos, month-by-month

Galapagos flights

You have to arrive in Quito or Guayaquil at least the night before your flight to the Galapagos.

Flights to Galapagos leave from from Quito or Guayaquil early in the morning on the first day of your tour, landing Galapagos around midday.

There are two intercontinental airports on the Galapagos one is on Baltra Island and the other is on San Cristobal Island and is also known as the Baquerizo Moreno Port.

Flights are usually included in your package to ensure all passengers are arriving at the same time on the same flight and into the correct airport.

On Isabela Island there is a landing area available only to inter-island flights for small planes.

Flights from the Galapagos back to Quito or Guayaquil usually leave around midday or later (depends on the vessel).

You can sometimes connect in Guayaquil with a flight home on the same day you leave Galapagos.

Please check times with us before booking any flights – you need to make sure that the Guayaquil departure is in the late evening / night. If you miss the connection in Guayaquil, your international airline may or may not switch you to the next available flight.

Galapagos park fees

Before you fly from Quito or Guayaquil airport, you need to pay USD 20pp for a transit control card. Some cruises pre-pay this and include it in your trip cost.

On arrival in the Galapagos, you will be asked by a representative of the Galapagos National Park to pay the Park fee in cash (currently US$ 100 per person, USD 50 per person for under 12s).

The dock tax is US$5 on Isabela Island, and the airport tax is US$15 for flights between islands.

All National Park fees subject to change without prior notice.

Visas for Ecuador & Galapagos

You will also need a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining validity.

British nationals do not need a visa for Ecuador.

Non UK residents please check with the Ecuadorian embassy or consulate in your country of residence.

ALL visitors to Ecuador and Galapagos must have valid health and medical insurance to cover their entire stay. Inability to show a valid policy on arrival at customs will lead to a refusal of entry.

Galapagos Park rules

ALL visitors to Ecuador and Galapagos must have valid health and medical insurance to cover their entire stay. Inability to show a valid policy on arrival at customs will lead to a refusal of entry.

 

Galapagos park rules

1. Visitors to any protected areas within the Galapagos National Park must be accompanied by a naturalist guide authorised by the GNPD.

2. Travel only with tour operators and/or boats authorised to work in the protected areas of Galapagos.

3. Remain on marked trails at visitor sites and respect signs at all times for the protection of wildlife, and for your safety.

4. Maintain a distance of at least six feet (two metres) from wildlife to avoid disturbing them, even if they approach you.

5. Never feed wildlife, as this can cause health problems.

6. Flash photography is not permitted when taking photos of wildlife. Professional photography and videos recorded for commercial purposes must be authorised by the GNPD.

7. Camping is only allowed in a few authorised areas in the Islands. Request authorisation to camp at the Galapagos National Park’s offices at least 48 hours in advance.

8. It is your responsibility not to introduce food, animals, or plants into the Archipelago. Cooperate fully with all environmental inspection and quarantine officials during your visit.

9. Do not take or buy any products or souvenirs made from banned substances, including black coral, shells, lava rock, animal parts, or any native wood or vegetation prior to leaving Galapagos. This is illegal and must be reported.

10. Practice “leave-no-trace” principles in order to maintain the beauty of the environment.

11. Pack out all trash and dispose of or recycle it in the populated areas or on your tour boat.

12. Smoking and/or campfires are strictly prohibited within the Galapagos National Park, as fires poses a serious risk to the flora and fauna of Galapagos.

13. Fishing is only permitted on recreational tour boats authorised by the GNPD.

14. Motorized aquatic sports, mini-subs, and aerial tourism activities are not permitted in the Galapagos National Park or Marine Reserve.

Fitness and experience

The Galapagos Islands are a suitable destination for most ages and fitness levels. Walks are generally short, although some volcano hikes are more challenging and may involve 2-3 hours of walking. Snorkelling is a real highlight on the Galapagos, so the ability to swim and snorkel is recommended. Snorkelling is suitable for those that have never tried before.

You need to be able to make some wet landings i.e. stepping out of a panga onto a sandy shore, and you may need to ascend or desend small ladders when getting on or off boats at docks or to snorkel.

The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy the Islands, but they really are accessible to all. You can choose to skip any activities you do not wish to partake in.

Read more in our blog about a typical day on Galapagos.

Galapagos cruise kit list

Good kit is vital for every trip.

Book with Andean Trails and get 15% off Páramo’s fantastic ethical and high performance outdoor gear.

 

Galapagos – general advice

Galapagos is warm and humid, and you will need t-shirts (moisture wick-away or breathable t-shirts can be very useful, it can get very hot in the day), shorts, lightweight skirt or trousers and bathing suits.

One or two cotton shirts can be used to protect you from sunburn, especially when snorkelling (not very elegant worn in the water over a swimsuit, but practical – and Galapagos is NOT an elegant place!).

You may want to change into different clothes for the evening, but don’t take anything dressy or smart – there really is a very relaxed atmosphere on board.

Pack something warm for going on deck in the early morning or evening a fleece, maybe, and a sweatshirt – and a waterproof for the Highlands.

Strong sandals, trainers, or light hiking boots are ideal footwear – you may like to have something suitable for easy walks and another for tougher terrain – your guide will advise you daily what the walking will be like. Most boats ask passengers not to wear heavy shoes on board.

Do take a hat!

Seasickness tablets if you think you will have problems – i.e. Sturgeon, or Mareol if you buy them in Quito. The sea can be choppy, so it is recommended to take them as a precaution.

 

Galapagos – detailed kit list

  • First aid kit – aspirin, imodium, sun tan lotion (facter 50 recommended), sunburn cream, lip salve, throat lozenges, insect repellent, etc.
  • Earplugs – the engine can be noisy, whatever the boat, wherever your cabin.
  • Sun glasses and sun hat.
  • Snorkelling equipment – the boat either provides kit for free or has a supply for hire, but it may suit you better to take equipment in your size that you know will fit you. Even if you have not snorkelled before, DO have a go – under water Galapagos is a very special experience. Try it first of all from the beach, to get the hang of breathing through gritted teeth, then take the plunge!
  • Towel, for the beach (most boats provide these, please ask).
  • Money belt.
  • Passport, with at least 6 months remaining from date of return from Ecuador.
  • US Dollars cash and mixed denomination notes, undamaged and unmarked.
  • Visa/MasterCard, Cash card.
  • Personal & Medical insurance.
  • Camera and film / memory cards (take at least twice the amount you think you will need!). You may want to take an underwater camera for snorkelling.
  • Camera charger
  • Binoculars
  • Small backpack – to keep your sun cream, water, shirt etc in when you are on shore.
  • Small plastic water bottle, 1-2 litres, depending on how much you drink.
  • Biodegradable sunblock (v. high factor, 50+ recommended) and lip salve.
  • Toiletries (featuring biodegradable soap).
  • Wet Wipes/antiseptic hand wash cream
  • Travel alarm clock.
  • Sewing kit.
  • Spanish/English phrasebook.
  • Book, e-book, mp3 player/ipod or other for free time.

 

The Galapagos Islands are a very fragile environment and the arrival of more and more inhabitants to the islands, as well as tourist have an impact.

Please try to minimise your impact by:

  • Bringing a water bottle to refill, rather than using a new bottle each time.
  • Recycling your rubbish where possible, not leaving any rubbish behind.
  • Taking batteries back home with you – they cannot be recycled properly in Ecuador.
  • Saving water where possible.
  • Leave toiletries that contain microbeads at home
  • Saving energy by switching your lights off when you leave the room. Electricity on the islands comes from a generator, fuelled by petrol. For this same reason, please think about whether you really need to use your air conditioning.

 

Quito

Pleasantly warm during the day, but can be quite chilly during the morning or at night when you might want a jacket or a fleece, plus a waterproof.

You may want to dress up a little more in the evening here, depending on where you are staying, and what sort of restaurant you like.

 

Guayaquil

Conditions here are similar to Galapagos – hot and humid. T-shirts and shorts in the day, and like Quito, something smarter for eating out in restaurants at night.

Vaccinations for Ecuador & Galapagos

We strongly suggest that everyone planning to travel to Ecuador visits their local doctor/travel clinic prior to departure for the latest vaccination information.

 

Recommended vaccinations

  • Up-to-date diphtheria and polio.
  • Tetanus or tetanus booster. (These three are effective for ten years.)
  • ‘Havrix’ for Hepatitis A. The course of two injections protects you for ten years. Gamma globulin is cheaper butless effective.
  • Typhoid vaccine is recommended by some doctors although it will not provide total protection and being careful about what you eat and drink is your best defence. It is given in two shots, four weeks apart and lasts for three years. Unless at exceptional risk, people over the age of 35 who have received four or more courses of typhoid immunisation need no more.
  • A pre-exposure rabies vaccination is worth considering if you are going to be in contact with animals or morethan 24 hours away from a reliable source of vaccine. Hikers are at some risk from rural dogs, certain of which carry rabies, and those visiting coastal or rainforest areas could be exposed to rabid bats.
  • Yellow fever. Not effective until ten days after inoculation; not recommended for pregnant women. This is also effective for ten years.

 

For people travelling to the Amazon/coast and regions below 1,500m (excluding Galapagos, which is malaria free):

  • Anti-malarial protection (if going on a jungle trip below 1,500 metres; not needed for higher altitude). Ecuador has chloroquine-resistant strains of malaria and it is important that you follow the prophylactic regime carefully. In the UK, contact the Malaria Reference Laborator. North Americans should contact the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Zika. Spread by mosquito bikes and also a risk of sexual transmission. People planning pregnancies / pregnant women are advised against all travel to areas reporting Zika. If you develop any feverish illness whilst travelling or on return medical attention must be sought quickly.
  • Dengue Fever. There is no vaccine and prevention is through avoidance of mosquito bites. The mosquito that spreads dengue bites during the day and is more common in urban areas. Symptoms include fever, headache, severe joint, bone and muscular pain – hence its other name ‘breakbone fever’.

Quick facts about Ecuador

 

Official name: Republic of Ecuador

Country population: 15,000,000

Capital city: Quito (2.51 million)

Largest cities: Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca, Machala

Languages: Spanish (official), Quechua

Latitude/Longitude: 2º S, 77º 30 W

Official currency: US dollar

Major industries: bananas, shrimp, oil, gold, roses

Time zone: GMT-5 (Galapagos GMT-6)

Flight advice

Andean Trails can book all your international and domestic flights for this trip and for UK passengers; we have full ATOL bonding and can book flights with most airlines.

International flight prices are variable and usually can only be guaranteed at the time of booking. If you would like to upgrade to business or first class, or even arrive at an earlier date/depart at a later date we can also arrange this for you.

Typically, you fly to a country’s capital city and then overnight there or make a connecting flight (if available) to your next destination.

 

Flight connections

Please contact us for flight advice especially if you do make a connection on the same day. It is important to purchase a through ticket and not separate tickets for connections, so that you are covered for any delays. Passengers with separate tickets that are delayed run the risk of having to buy an entirely new ticket to continue their journeys.

Please note all airline schedules are subject to change and are out of our control.

 

Tickets

Almost all flight tickets are now e-tickets. Any that are not will be handed to you on arrival in South America – this is most common for flights on smaller planes in Amazon areas such as Guyana/Bolivia.

The final travel instructions we send you some 2-3 weeks before departure will list the latest flight times, flight numbers etc as well as list your e-ticket numbers and booking reference code (6 characters i.e. GB75RK). This is what you will need to check in with.

 

How do I check in?

Depending on the airline, we can reserve some seats for you at the time of booking your international flights with us.

If we cannot reserve seats at the time of booking, you have to wait for online check in to open (usually 24-72 hours before departure).

To check in online you will need to go to the website of the airline you are travelling with, and have your e-ticket number/booking reference to hand. Click check in online, enter your details, and choose your seat.

Some flights will allocate seats at the check in desk at the airport and some may not allocate seats at all.

 

Help flying via the USA (ESTA form).

The United States (USA) has an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) which all travellers to and via the USA must complete BEFORE travel to/via its airports and shores.

More information can be found on their ESTA website.

Passengers who have not completed the form will be denied boarding.

Before you begin this application, make sure that you have a valid passport and credit card available.

This application will only accept the following credit cards: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover (JCB, Diners Club).

ATOL holiday protection

Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.

We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.

We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.

When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.

You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.

 

What is ATOL?

The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.

And  ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.

 

Who is covered?

To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).

If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.

If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.

Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.

For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.

 

I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?

If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.

We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.

If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.

You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.

Be safe in Ecuador

In large cities such as Quito and Guayaquil, you should guard against bag snatching, bag slashing and pick-pocketing.

Highway robbery should also be guarded against. We strongly recommend you take the following precautions:

  • Leave paper valuables in the hotel safe (caja fuerte), taking only what you need for the day.
  • Carry a copy of your passport, leaving original in safe along with your air tickets. N.B. When travelling, carry paper valuables in a money belt under clothing, not in a ‘bum-bag’.
  • Special care is needed downtown in large cities, where you should consider not taking a daypack unless accompanied. We suggest you secure this, and have your camera in the bag.
  • If alone, consider avoiding downtown Quito Old City and all city parks at night. Be very careful around the Mariscal district of the New City (where most of the hotels are) especially at night. Avoid quiet streets or streets with poor lighting. Always take a taxi to the door of your hotel at night.
  • In fact, especially if alone; it’s best to use taxis at night, wherever you are.
  • In Quito and elsewhere in Ecuador, always take special care in markets, on busy streets, in bus stations and on buses. Where possible, avoid carrying a bag or valuables in these areas, as bag snatchers and pickpockets operate.
  • Beware of the distraction techniques of con men/women, especially in crowded areas.
  • NEVER leave your bag(s) unattended, especially in airports, bus terminals and hotel lobbies.
  • Where possible, try to avoid inter-city travel by night.

Money matters

Currency & Money Exchange

Ecuador and Galapagos use the US dollar as currency.

On Galapagos, there are a few ATMs on Santa Cruz island and San Cristobal islands, although they do not always work and you may not ever go near them as part of your tour.

Galapagos park entry fees and most Galapagos boats, hotels and restaurants only accept cash payments for food, drinks, tips, kit rental etc, so you need to arrive with plenty of USD cash.

There are ATMs at Quito and Guayaquil airports that dispense USD.

Take small denomination, unmarked and undamaged bills, 1s, 5s, 10s and 20s being the best. You will find it hard to use 50s, and 100s are seldom accepted anywhere.

On the mainland in Ecuador, ATM debit/credit cards are now widely used in major restaurants, hotels and shops (with fees), and there are ATM (‘hole-in-the-wall’) machines widely available in towns and cities.

Don’t forget to read our Guide to Tipping in Ecuador, too.

 

Eating and drinking

Galapagos has a growing range of places to eat and drink. They are not cheap due to the high costs of living on the remote islands, and almost everywhere will ask for payment in cash. Some more top end places take card payments on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal.

Prices vary greatly, below is a rough guide to what you can expect to pay in Ecuador.

 

Local café/restaurant

Beer/soft drink: USD 3-4

Menu del dia: USD 8-15

Coffee: USD 2

 

Tourist style restaurant

Beer/soft drink: USD 3-5

Main dish: USD 15 upwards

Coffee: USD 3

Money tips

On cruises, you must take sufficient cash (USD) with you. You will most likely not have an opportunity to get to an ATM and most boats do NOT accept credit card payments or traveller cheques.

On board you will need to budget for drinks (soft drinks from US$1, beer from US$3), extra snacks, souvenirs. Snorkelling gear and wet suits can be hired on most boats if not included in the price, but again anything hired needs to be paid for in cash. Tips (USD 50-100pp) also payable in cash.

Tipping

Tipping is entirely voluntary and how much you give depends on how you feel about the service you have received.

This is a rough guideline – please note that all Galapagos tips must be left in USD cash.

  • Galapagos guides: USD 5-10 per person, per day.
  • Boat crew: USD 5-7 per person, per day.

 

And then throughout mainland Ecuador:

  • Airport porters: Minimum USD 1-2 per bag – compulsory.
  • Hotel staff: USD 1-2 per night, in the staff tip box.
  • Transfer drivers/taxis: Generally not expected.
  • Drivers: USD 10-25 per day total from the group.
  • Restaurants: +10% for adequate to excellent food and service.

Food and drink in Ecuador

On the coast  

Ceviche de pescado          Raw marinated fish, served with tostado (roasted maize).

Ceviche                             Popular everywhere, is best on the coast.

Ceviche de mariscos       Marinated shellfish. Most varieties of shellfish ceviche – e.g. camaron (prawn) and langostino (king prawn) – are cooked before being marinated. The exception is ceviche de conchas (clams) which is marinated raw.

Langosta                          Lobster (Increasingly endangered, but is still fished illegally).

Empanada de verde         Ground plantain pasty filled with meat, cheese or shrimp.

Sopa de bola de verde     Plantain dumpling soup

Encocadas                       Dishes prepared with coconut milk. Can be shrimp, fish etc.

Patacones                        Fried plantain chips

 

In the Highlands  

Locro de papas               Potato and cheese soup.

Mote                                Burst maize.

Caldo de patas               Cow-hoof soup (with mote).

Llapingachos                  Fried potato and cheese patties.

Empanada de morocho      Ground maize shell filled with meat.

Sancocho de yuca          Vegetable soup with manioc.

Cuy                                Guinea pig

Fritada/Chicharron       Fried pork

Hornado                        Roast pork

Humita                          Ground maize meal wrapped in maize leaf and steamed (sweet or savoury).

Quimbolito                    Similar to humita, but made from maize flour and steamed in a banana leaf (sweet or savoury).

 

Drinks  

Jugos                        Fruit juices are very good, including naranjilla, maracuya (passion fruit), tomate de arbol (tree tomato – like a sweet tomato) and piña (pineapple).

Aguardiente             Unmatured rum (Cristal is nice). Also known as paico, trago and trago de caña.

Cerveza                    Lager-type beer is very popular. Several brands, including Pilsener and Club.

Plugs and voltages

Electricity

Ecuador uses 120 volts, with a frequency of 60 Hz.

Most cameras, phones and computers are dual or multi voltage and probably won’t need a convertor – please check before leaving.

Some items you may bring, such as hairdryers, may need a convertor. They may short if you use them without the correct convertor.

 

Plugs

Ecuador and Galapagos boats mainly use two-pin, flat-pronged Type A plugs and some sockets take Type B plugs.

Type A plug

Type A plug

Type B plug

Type B plug

 

 

 

 

 

Communication

Dialling codes

The international code for Ecuador is +593.

Regions have dialling codes, with a 0 prefix – Galapagos is 05.

 

Internet

Galapagos is a very remote destination and your mobile phone will most likely be out of range.

People on cruises will almost certainly be out of contact for most of the time aboard. Some boats are starting to offer Wi-Fi at expensive rates.

People in hotels will be able to access phones and very slow internet.

 

Landlines

Ecuador’s landlines have 7 digits, and to call landline-landline in the same city, simply dial the 7 digits.

If calling landline to another regional landline/city, start with a 0 then the regional code.

If using your own mobile phone to call a landline, dial the country code, the regional/city code without the 0, and then the number, e.g. for Galapagos (code: 05), dial +593 5 1234567.

 

Mobiles

Mobiles have 8 digits, and start with 09 to make a total of 10 digits;

If you are dialling Ecuador mobile to mobile, simply dial the full number, including the 09.

If using your own mobile phone to call an Ecuadorian mobile, dial the country code, then omit the 0 of 09, then the 8 remaining digits e.g. +593  9  1234-5678.

Almost all unlocked phones will work in Ecuador with a local SIM, however – check with your provider before arrival if your phone will work.

Roaming charges may be high – again, best to check.

 

 

Post

To send postcards, you can leave them at Post Office Bay for fellow travellers to pick up and send on.

Otherwise, head to the official postal service, Correos del Ecuador, on Santa Cruz or San Cristobal.

Useful Spanish phrases

Learning a few words of Spanish can really ingratiate you with the locals you’ll encounter, adding to the enjoyment of your holiday.

Below are some basics to get you started.

 

Greetings:

Good morning                                         Buenos días

How are you?                                         ¿Cómo estás?

Good afternoon                                      Buenas tardes

Good bye                                               Adiós

 

Most frequently asked questions (theirs):

Where are you (plural) from?                   ¿De dónde eres (son)?

What time is it?                                           ¿Qué hora es?

Where have you come from?                    ¿De dónde vienes?

Give me (frequent, unwelcome question)    Dáme / regálame

 

Most frequent questions (yours):

How much is it?                                      ¿Cuánto vale?

What is this place called?                       ¿Cómo se llama este lugar?

What’s your name?                                 ¿Cómo te llamas?

Do you have a map?                                ¿Tienes un mapa?

 

In the street / places:

Where can I find a currency exchange?    ¿Dónde encuentro una casa de cambio?

Where is there a cash machine?                ¿Dónde hay un cajero automatico?

Where is the underground/subway station? ¿Dónde esta la estacion de metro/subte(Buenos Aires)?

Where can I find a taxi?                             ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un taxi?

Where can I find a Supermarket?            ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un supermercado?

Where is the hospital?                               ¿Dónde esta el hospital?

Where can I find a restaurant?               ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un restaurante?

 

In the hotel:

What floor am I on?                                   ¿En qué piso estoy?

Where are the elevators/lifts?                 ¿Dónde están los ascensores?

How do I access the Internet?                 ¿Cómo puedo acceder a Internet?

How do I call for room service?                ¿Cómo llamo para el servicio de habitación?

How do I call down to the front desk?      ¿Cómo llamo a la recepción?

 

In the restaurant:

A table for two/four please                     Una mesa para dos/cuatro, porfavor

I would like to drink…                             Me gustaria tomar….

May I see a menu?                                   Puedo ver la carta/menu?

I would like to order..                              Me gustaria pedir…

Can you bring me the check/bill please.     Me trae la cuenta por favor

 

Emergency:

I need help.                                              Necesito ayuda.

I have lost my passport.                        He perdido mi pasaporte.

Someone stole my money.                    Alguien robó mi dinero

I have been robbed.                                Me han robado

I need to call the police.                         Necesito llamar a la policía

I need to call the (country) Embassy     Necesito llamar a la embajada de (country)

Help!                                                           ¡Socorro!

 

Responsible Travel - our ethos

Andean Trails believes in Responsible Travel and actively supports several community projects.

Please see Our Advice and Our Ethos for more, and learn about the Projects We Support.

We operate the Inca Trail, our treks and tours with local firms.

We make sure that on our tours and Inca Trail we employ local staff, who are paid fair wages.

With the Inca Trail, We provide free life insurance to all of our porters. Tented accommodation and meals are provided for all trekking staff as well as foam mats, sleeping bags and rain ponchos. We have also provided the staff with trekking shoes. We ensure our porters carry a maximum of only 20kg. We offer them backpacks and they generally use back supports.

Clean burning fuel is used to cook the meals on the Inca Trail and porters carry gas stoves and butane bottles. We use biodegradable detergents when washing the cooking and eating utensils. If any part of our tour or trek is operated by another company, we try to ensure that high standards are maintained.

Our additional support helps the Huchuy Yachaq project which supports children and families in one of the poorest communities in the district of Cusco.

Responsible Travel - travel tips

Responsible Tourism – Code of Conduct:

  • Find out about your destination – take some time before you go to read about the cultural, social and political background of the place and people you are visiting.
  • Go equipped with basic words and phrases in the local language – this may open up opportunities for you to meet people who live there.
  • Buy locally-made goods and use locally-provided services wherever possible – your support is often vital to local people.
  • Pay a fair price for the goods or services you buy – if you haggle for the lowest price your bargain may be at someone else’s expense.
  • Be sensitive to the local culture – dress and act in a way that respects local beliefs and customs, particularly at religious sites.
  • Don’t undermine the local economic systems – we recommend you don’t give gifts, especially sweets as there are few dentists in the Andes. Much better to spend time chatting, playing and showing postcards of home. If you would like to donate clothes and shoes etc we are more than happy to do so through the relevant channels. Your tour leader can do this for you and some of the projects we support can be visited.
  • Ask permission before taking photographs of individuals or of people’s homes – and remember that you may be expected to pay for the privilege.
  • Avoid conspicuous displays of wealth – this can accentuate the gap between rich and poor and distance you from the cultures you came to experience.
  • Make no promises to local people that you can’t keep – be realistic about what you will do when you return home.
  • Minimise your environmental impact – keep to footpaths and marked routes, don’t remove any of the natural habitat and reduce the packaging you bring.
  • Don’t pollute local water courses- use biodegradable products, and wash basins.
  • Slow down and enjoy the differences – you’ll be back with the familiar soon enough.

Our environmental policy

All our activities are governed by our respect for the environment and the people who live in it. We aim to make a positive impact both in the UK and in the Andean countries we work in (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina).

We agree with the principals of sustainable development and specifically promote environmentally aware tourism in the Andean countries, in order to preserve the heritage of the people who live there and to help protect their environment.

In the UK we use recycled paper where possible, recycle what we can and attempt to keep waste to an absolute minimum.

Throughout South America we work together with local people, paying them a fair price, and putting money into the local economy. We do this by using local agents, local trek staff and experienced and qualified local mountain and cultural guides who have an in-depth knowledge of their own country. Our porters on the Inca Trail are fairly paid, carry a maximum load of 20kg and are supplied with tents and food. In other areas we use donkeys or horses to carry loads.

We use locally owned services such as hotels and restaurants, wherever possible. We buy fresh local produce for all of our treks from markets in each departure town. We use public transport whenever possible and feasible.

We have ongoing contact with the teams that we work with and also with local families in the areas we trek through, developing relationships with them and donating goods such as clothes and shoes to their communities, through appropriate local agencies. We also support local Peruvian charities, specifically NIÑOS in Cusco, and CARE in the Huaraz area, plus Huchuy Yachaq.

If you have any suitable (warm) clothes and shoes that you would like to donate to Peruvian children please take them with you and give them to your tour leader, who will ensure they go to a suitable organization.

When out on tour we encourage learning about the countries we travel in, the local culture of the teams we work with and the areas we pass through. Our guides hold informal talks with groups to inform about and discuss with them all aspects of local life. This helps understanding of the area and appreciation of the people who live there.

Our group sizes are kept to a maximum of 16 people, and we encourage smaller groups where possible. This minimises the negative impact we make on the local people, the wildlife and the environment, and increases the quality time spent in contact with the local people and environment.

When trekking we adhere to a responsible tourism code of practice and are also involved in ongoing training of our trek staff.

Health and Safety

A full Health and Safety document will be sent to you at the time of booking and before you travel.

You can also read it on our website, or contact us for more information.

Travel Insurance

It is a condition of booking any of our holidays that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for trip cancellation (by you), activities involved and destination. This cover should include repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue.

We work with Travel Nomads, who offer insurance solutions to people in more than 140 countries across the world.

Should you decide not to purchase this insurance, you must provide us with details of your alternative insurance with or before your final payment.

And lastly...

Many of our tours travel through remote areas.

We believe our clients should be aware that the remoteness of some of our tours so very special could also cause certain problems.

Thus, whilst we endeavour to minimise the chances of anything unexpected happening, it has to be noted that no itinerary can or should be rigidly adhered to.

This is the very nature of adventure travel and we expect our clients to be prepared for delays and slight alterations in our programmed events.

 

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