Before You Go
Amazon & Galápagos Islands
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water, and sometimes the weather. Please refer to your confirmation letter for the exact dates of your trip.
|MEETING PLACE:||Holiday Inn near Quito Int’l Airport|
|MEETING TIME:||The morning of day 2 (time dependent upon our flight)|
|RETURN TIME:||The afternoon of day 14 (you are free to depart this evening or anytime on day 15)|
|TRIP LENGTH:||15 days/14 nights, including arrival and departure days|
|ACTIVITIES:||Wildlife viewing, cultural exploration, hiking, and snorkeling|
Day 1 (Sunday): Arrive in Quito, Ecuador
Upon arrival at Mariscal Sucre International Airport, OARS will arrange your transfer to our hotel located near the airport, about 45 minutes outside Quito. If you’d like to explore the city of Quito or the surrounding region, you may want to spend additional nights in or around the city before or after your Amazon/Galápagos trip. OARS can arrange additional services per request.
After an early breakfast, an OARS representative will provide our group transfer back to the airport for a morning flight to Coca. We will try to arrive at least 2 hours prior to our flight to Coca, and the representative will guide you through the airport check-in process.
Our method of transportation will now be a comfortable covered canoe powered by twin outboard motors where we can enjoy a box lunch and coffee provided en route. This craft will take us downstream on the Napo River for about 2.5 hours to the Napo Wildlife Center (NWC) welcome station.
Here we will take a short break and make use of the facilities before transferring to smaller canoes that are used instead of motorized vehicles to maintain the pristine landscape and habitats. Over the next couple of hours, we will paddle you up Añangu Creek to the NWC lodge, situated on the bank of a tranquil lake amid a vast tract of primary rainforest where hunting is prohibited. On this canoe ride, you have a high chance of spotting wildlife! Various species of monkeys, as well as large birds like toucans, parrots, and even macaws, can be seen.
Refer to the trip page for a more detailed sample itinerary about your three full days of jungle explorations with naturalist guides and a visit to an indigenous Kichwa village.
Your jungle adventure comes to a close, and you return upriver to Coca for your flight back to Quito. Upon arrival, a representative will meet you and escort you to the Holiday Inn Quito Airport hotel for another brief overnight stay before heading out to Galápagos.
After an early breakfast, an OARS representative will provide our group transfer back to the airport for a morning flight to the Galápagos Islands. We will try to arrive at least 2 hours prior to our flight to Baltra (which is adjacent to Santa Cruz Island). The OARS representative will guide you through the airport check-in process.
Upon arrival to Baltra, you’ll transit through the VIP arrivals lounge, where the staff will assist you with your Galápagos National Park Entry. Our islands-based guide will meet you here and accompany the group to the Canal de Itabaca, where a short ferry ride brings us to the island of Santa Cruz.
In the afternoon, we’ll enjoy lunch in the highlands and the opportunity to search among the lush grasses for grazing giant tortoises. Continue to Puerto Ayora to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and get fitted in your wetsuit. Late afternoon, we meet our park Naturalist and board the Integrity. Once aboard, everyone will participate in a safety and life jacket drill. Afterward, you have time to settle into your stateroom before dinner is served, and we begin our travels to Floreana.
Refer to the trip page for a more detailed sample itinerary about your time aboard the yacht and exploration of the islands.
Each evening, our naturalist will host a discussion on what you saw during the day and will preview what you should anticipate for the next day.
We’ll enjoy one last breakfast aboard Integrity, then disembark at Baltra Island for our flight back to the mainland. Depending on your flight schedule, you may either connect to your international departure, have an extended day-use room for your late-night departure, or spend the night if your departing flight is the following day.
You’re free to enjoy dinner on your own at the hotel restaurant.
OARS will arrange transport to the Quito International Airport for your departing flight.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Fully crewed luxury yacht with English-speaking park naturalist
- 4 nights Amazon lodge (based on double occupancy)
- 7 nights on a deluxe yacht (based on double occupancy)
- 3 nights hotel lodging near Quito Int’l Airport (based on double occupancy)
- All meals in the Amazon and Galápagos; breakfasts in Quito
- Access to the airport VIP arrival lounge in Baltra
- Complimentary soft drinks, coffee, tea, and juice while aboard the yacht
- Two glasses of house wine served with dinner each night aboard the yacht
- All activities and equipment as outlined in the itinerary
- Snorkel gear (mask, snorkel, fins, wetsuit; you may prefer to bring your own)
- Rubber boots and rain ponchos
- Airport transfer to our hotel near Quito Int’l Airport & return transfer on itinerary days 1, 2, 6, 7, 14, and 15
- Laundry service aboard the yacht
- 27-oz Klean Kanteen water bottle
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to/from Quito, Ecuador
- Roundtrip flight from Quito to Coca (arranged by OARS)
- Roundtrip flight from Quito to Galápagos (arranged by OARS)
- Excess baggage charges
- Single supplement fee (by choice or circumstance) or any accommodation upgrades
- Transfers to or from hotels other than the Holiday Inn Quito Airport Hotel
- Galápagos Islands transit control card (arranged by OARS)
- Galápagos Nat’l Park entrance fee (arranged by OARS)
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan or mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage (must have a minimum $100,000 coverage value)
- Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks at the Amazon lodge
- Alcoholic beverages from the boat’s inventory
- Laundry at the Amazon lodge
- Pre- or post-trip accommodation and/or day tours (can be arranged by OARS upon request)
- Items of personal nature (see suggested packing list below)
- Gratuities for the park naturalist, guides, Amazon lodge staff, and yacht crew
☐ Purchase Travel Protection: In order to take part in this trip, each participant must have a minimum of Emergency Medical Evacuation coverage in place for the dates of the trip. This can be purchased as stand-alone coverage, independent of a comprehensive travel protection plan. You can learn more about the plan we highly recommend and get a quote for this type of policy by entering a Trip Cost amount of $0.
Please note: By entering a Trip Cost amount of $0, the plan will not include Trip Cancellation coverage and you may not be eligible for Emergency Medical Expense benefits relating to any pre-existing conditions.
☐ Trip Forms: Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation email for the link to the online forms. If you prefer to fill out paper forms, please let us know right away. If you are reserving within 90 days of departure, your forms must be completed immediately to ensure we can properly plan for your trip.
☐ Reserve flights, shuttles, and lodging: Verify with your adventure consultant that your trip has met minimum numbers prior to booking flights and/or reserving overnight lodging for the night before and after your trip, if applicable. It is important to make reservations early as rooms may be limited during peak travel periods.
☐ Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitations you may have as soon as possible. If you exceed 260 pounds, please give us a call. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip and can meet our Essential Eligibility Criteria.
☐ Payments: Final payment is due in our office 105 days prior to your trip (refer to your invoice for the final payment date). Please let us know if you would like us to automatically charge your credit card on file when these payments are due. For reservations with 6 or more people, a second deposit is due in our office 165 days prior to your trip.
Travelers’ Responsibility Code
1. Read the pre-trip literature and arrive at the meeting place on time.
2. Understand the risks: your safety is ultimately your responsibility.
3. Treat your fellow guests and guides with respect and courtesy; harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
4. Wear clothing and personal protective equipment suitable for the current conditions.
5. Listen to and follow the guides’ instructions.
6. Abide by the managing agency’s rules.
7. Minimize your impact on the environment.
8. Your children are your responsibility!
Essential Travel Documents
If you don’t have a passport, apply for one immediately because the process can be lengthy. If you do have a passport, find it and check the expiration date to see that it is valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended date of departure from Ecuador. Make photocopies of the photo page of your passport and carry one separately from your passport while traveling and leave a copy with your emergency contact at home. If your passport is lost or stolen, a photocopy will help the local consulate expedite authorization for replacement. We request that you send us a copy to keep on file for emergencies during your trip. Also, check your passport for blank pages. If you do not have at least two blank pages in your passport, we recommend that you apply to have extra pages added. Do not pack your passport in your checked luggage.
A visa is not required for U.S. citizens to enter Ecuador for visits of fewer than 90 days. For non-U.S. citizens, please check with the Ecuadorian Consulate or your embassy.
As a precaution, please make copies of your important documents—passport, air tickets, visas, credit cards, vaccination card, etc. and carry them separately from the originals. These copies will prove invaluable in the event that you need to replace any of these necessary items. Bring an additional ID, such as a driver’s license.
GETTING TO QUITO, ECUADOR
American Airlines and LAN Airlines offer nonstop flights from Miami; United Airlines offers nonstop flights from Houston; Delta Airlines offers nonstop flights from Atlanta. Other carriers include Copa and Avianca.
The roundtrip flights from Quito to Coca and Quito to the Galápagos Islands are not included in your trip price. Once you have confirmed your reservation, OARS will arrange these flights for you. The cost is subject to change but typically costs $840 per person. At the time of reservation, we will secure the best rate available.
Let us know if you’d like assistance with arranging your international flight logistics. Our partners at Exito Travel specialize in international destinations, and we’d be happy to obtain a quote from them on your behalf.
Please do not purchase airfare until your departure has been confirmed by the minimum number of required guests.
Please note: if your flight is delayed and you arrive after our departure to Coca the morning of itinerary day 2, we’ll do our best to get you on the next possible flight. However, you’ll be asked to pay the associated costs. It is for this reason we encourage travelers to consider arriving at least one day ahead of the scheduled OARS program.
After Your Trip
Following our nights aboard the yacht in the Galápagos Islands, we will return to our hotel near the Quito Int’l Airport, where you may choose to spend one final night (included in your trip price). The following day, itinerary day 15, you may take a departing flight home or continue your adventure in Ecuador or elsewhere. Flights departing late (after 10 PM) on itinerary day 14 are an option.
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations
This trip includes accommodation near Quito Int’l Airport for three nights (days 1, 6, and 14). If you plan to arrive early or extend your stay, please contact our office if you would like assistance in booking pre- or post-trip accommodation at the hotel we use. Accommodation elsewhere should be arranged directly with that hotel.
Day tours can be arranged for early arrivals or later departures. For day tours in and around the Quito area, ask your OARS Adventure Consultant for suggestions and rates.
Ecuador is on the Equator, so days and nights are almost equal in length year-round. The sun rises at about 6 a.m. and sets at about 6 p.m.
The Ecuadorian mainland is five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. The Galápagos Islands are one hour behind mainland Ecuador. Ecuador does not observe Daylight Savings Time. When Daylight Savings Time is in effect in the U.S., mainland Ecuador is at the same hour as Central Standard Time, and the Galápagos Islands are at the same time as Mountain Standard Time. During the rest of the year, mainland Ecuador is at the same time as Eastern Standard Time, and the Galápagos Islands are at the same as Central Standard Time.
The U.S. dollar is Ecuador’s national currency. All prices are set in U.S. dollars. Coins in the same denominations of the U.S. 50-, 25-, and 5-cent coins have been minted by Ecuador. These coins are good within Ecuador but not in the U.S. Dollar bills and dollar coins are minted in the U.S.
MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted in Ecuador and the Galápagos. American Express is often accepted at mainland hotels. Please keep in mind that intermittent internet connections at the Amazon Lodge and in the Galápagos Islands occasionally cause credit card machines to fail so some purchases may require cash.
ATMs are available at the airport and in and around Quito. ATMs are also available in Puerto Ayora; however, they’re not reliable due to their distance from the mainland.
Travelers should plan to bring enough cash to cover souvenirs, tips, and other expenses. Travel with small bills, such as $1’s, $5’s, $10’s, and $20’s.
Health & Medical Info
Currently, if you fly direct between the U.S. and Ecuador, no vaccinations are required. However, the CDC does recommend routine vaccinations for travelers visiting Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. Since regulations and recommendations change frequently, please check with your doctor and visit the CDC for up-to-date information.
If you are taking any prescription drugs, be certain that you bring a sufficient supply to last through the trip, accompanied by a doctor’s prescription, in case you lose your supply. We recommend carrying prescription drugs in their original container and traveling with them in your carry-on bag (versus a checked bag).
Taking precautionary measures against motion sickness should be an important part of your Galápagos travel planning. Motion sickness is a normal response to real, perceived, or anticipated movement. It occurs when the body, the inner ear (a tiny structure involved in hearing and balance), and the eyes send conflicting signals to the brain. Not everyone will be affected, but prevention is the key. While on the boat, prevention is best accomplished by seeking areas of lesser movement in an interior location of the boat or by facing forward and looking outside the boat. Avoid alcoholic beverages and drink plenty of water.
Several medications are available by prescription and over the counter that may prevent or limit unpleasant symptoms. As always, please consult with your doctor as to what would be best for you. If medications are necessary, they are best taken at least one hour before embarking.
Over-the-counter medications like Dramamine II or Bonine can be very effective for short trips or when symptoms occur intermittently. Past clients have found success with Meclizine, the active ingredient in both Dramamine II and Bonine. For longer relief, prescription medications in the form of a patch can be worn behind the ear. Some people have found ginger root effective for mild symptoms. Ginger candies, tea, and herbal pills are common sources.
Sometimes travelers have a passing experience with diarrhea. The major problem with diarrhea is fluid loss leading to severe dehydration. Make sure you drink plenty of liquids. Caffeine is a diuretic and should be avoided or consumed only in small amounts. The best drinks are bottled water, weak tea, and caffeine-free soft drinks. Avoid milk and dairy products. Bananas, rice, crackers, bread, or potatoes will sit well on your stomach and don’t aggravate the malady.
Some medications may help with diarrhea – please consult your doctor. Bismuth, if taken soon enough, may prevent bacteria from taking over the intestinal tract. Cipro may help counter diarrhea, as once it has set in, it is too late for Bismuth to prevent the take-over. Cipro is available over the counter in Ecuador, but you may not have time to purchase it there. Consult your doctor for their recommendations.
If you require the use of a CPAP machine and intend to bring one with you, be sure to alert your OARS Adventure Consultant prior to your trip to let us know the dimensions of the machine, description of battery(s), and any protective case(s). Travel-sized CPAPs are readily available and often come with a battery kit. You must assess the power needs of your CPAP and bring the battery(s) needed to operate it for each night of your travels. We’re typically able to accommodate the transportation of your machine and accessories on the trip; however, please understand that despite efforts to protect your equipment, we can’t guarantee your machine and accessories won’t suffer water or impact damage and, therefore, we recommend additional protective case(s) for your machine and accessories.
Traveling at High Altitude
Discuss with your doctor any medical conditions or medications that may be affected by altitude. You can familiarize yourself with symptoms, treatment, and more about altitude illness at the CDC.
Quito is 9,350 ft above sea level; some people are mildly affected by the elevation. Altitude sickness occurs when you ascend to high altitude quickly. Most travelers experience no more than shortness of breath and mild headaches; they may also become light-headed, have a shortened attention span, and experience some dehydration. Drink lots of water.
We recommend you take it easy the first day and avoid tobacco and alcohol. Eat lightly and avoid fried foods and meat-heavy meals. If you feel ill, rest, breathe deeply, drink fluids, and take a mild painkiller for headaches. If symptoms are severe, oxygen may be the only effective relief. Call the front desk of the hotel and ask for oxygen to be brought to you. If it is severe and persists, call our local emergency contact number for further assistance.
For travelers with a known altitude issue, we recommend arriving and departing from Guayaquil, located on the coast.
In hot climates, cuts and scratches can become infected and take a long time to heal. Prevent infection from coral cuts by immediately washing wounds with fresh water, then rubbing with vinegar or alcohol—painful but effective. Use an antiseptic like hydrogen peroxide and an antibacterial ointment. Prickly heat, or salt/heat rash, is a common ailment for tropical paddlers. It is caused by salt buildup in the sweat glands. The skin becomes soggy, and small red blisters appear. At first sight of the rash, wash with fresh water and apply calamine lotion, dust with talcum or medicated powder and change clothes. Until the rash improves, avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Your guide will thoroughly explain safety procedures once you are on board Integrity. Please be sure to check exactly where the life vests are located in your cabin. In the unlikely event that the alarm sounds, you will be expected to gather your personal documents, put on warm clothes, and bring your life vest to the lounge where the crew members will be waiting with further instructions.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we should consider in planning your trip. If you have additional food allergies or necessary restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. Beyond our standard menu, we can provide options for vegetarian, vegan, and many allergy-restricted diets. However, we cannot always provide the same diversity or sophistication for restricted diets, as sourcing special ingredients in the Galápagos can be challenging.
Bottled drinking water will be available at our hotel accommodations in Quito. We will provide purified water while in the Amazon and the Galápagos Islands. Do not drink water from any tap as it frequently contains bacteria that can cause stomach problems. It is crucial that you stay hydrated while in the tropics, especially when you are hiking and kayaking. Consider bringing electrolyte powders, which replace salts and minerals lost to sweating.
In the Amazon
Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are available for purchase in the Amazon. The bar tab may be settled by credit card (Visa or Mastercard only) at the end of your stay.
In the Galápagos
We offer 2 glasses of house wine at dinner. For spirits and beer, there is a fully stocked bar limited to brands available in Ecuador. We also have premium wine available for sale by the bottle, as well as a reasonably well-stocked bar for spirits available for purchase ($10-$15 per glass). Soda and juice while on board the yacht are included in the trip cost. The bar tab may be settled by credit card at the end of the week.
Although we carry a variety of wines and spirits, if you have a favorite brand or appellation, we recommend bringing it with you. While aboard the yacht, you may enjoy the alcohol you bring along with no corkage fees. Ecuador allows travelers to bring into the country certain items, including (at this writing) three liters of alcohol. Please reference the most current regulations prior to traveling.
For traveling, we strongly recommend using a bottle protector. Please note you will need to repack it in your checked bags for the flight out to Galápagos, so any bottles will contribute to your allowable weight.
Once on Santa Cruz Island, the ProInsular Market is located directly across the plaza from the municipal dock. There is a very limited choice of alcohol, mostly dictated by local tastes and whether or not the weekly supply ship arrived.
Everywhere in Ecuador, including Quito, the Amazon, and the Galápagos Islands, people are asked not to throw anything into the toilets, including toilet paper. A wastebasket is provided for toilet paper, and it is emptied often. This may seem strange to North Americans, but please obey this rule and avoid being the cause of a backed-up septic system.
Aboard the Integrity, the high-tech wastewater treatment system eliminates solids and bacteria from all wastewater before it is released into the sea. The treatment system is very sensitive and will cease to function if ANYTHING other than human waste and toilet paper enters the system. Onboard repairs in such cases are difficult, and in extreme cases, the crew may have to interrupt the cruise to fix the blockage.
We, therefore, urge you not to put ANY feminine hygienic products, paper towels, or any other solid objects or materials into the toilets or drains. If something inadvertently falls into the toilet, notify the crew immediately so it can be extracted before it enters the system.
Your stateroom will be cleaned on a daily basis. Towels are replaced as needed, while linens will be changed once in the middle of the cruise. Soap, shampoo, and a hair dryer are provided. Please do not bring any food or drinks into the cabins in order to avoid bad odors and insects.
While aboard the yacht, the crew will offer to wash and dry items for you one time during your cruise. You’ll be informed on which day this service is offered and you’ll be provided with a laundry bag. Towels are provided and will be changed for you daily. We recommend you plan for quick washes with biodegradable soap in case you need to clean an essential item outside of the one-time laundry service.
Ecuador is on the 110V AC system, as is the yacht. Sockets are the standard U.S. style, either with 2 flat prongs or 2 flat prongs and a round ground. There are sockets at the Amazon lodge and on the yacht for recharging batteries. In order to save power, please remember to switch off the light and A/C when not in your cabin.
Bringing the right camera equipment will go a long way toward determining the quality of your photographs. If you’re an avid photographer, we recommend bringing a good digital or 35mm SLR camera that can be used on land and when aboard the yacht. In addition to this, bring a smaller and less expensive salt-water-resistant camera that you can use while snorkeling with a lanyard or floating accessory.
Flash photography is not permitted when taking photos of wildlife.
Bring extra memory cards, and don’t forget to pack spare camera batteries and/or a charger. You should be ready for mostly bright sunlight, so you may want to bring a polarizing filter. Zip-lock plastic bags help protect your camera against sand and salt. You will be able to plug in to recharge your camera on the boat. We strongly recommend you take out a rider on your homeowner’s policy to cover your camera—especially if it’s fine equipment.
Electronics & Technology
The use of electronic devices, especially music players, on your trip may represent an intrusion into the wilderness experience of your fellow guests. We ask that you please be mindful of the impacts on others and respect the wilderness nature of the trip.
Many of our guests travel with their smartphones even though there is limited cell service. On a trip like this, there is always the risk of water damage to smartphones and other electronic devices. If you intend to take your phone or other electronic device with you on the water, consider investing in a small, waterproof case just for your phone.
Check with your carrier for cell phone service in Ecuador. Mainland Ecuador has decent coverage, and our hotels have free Wi-Fi (of variable strength). Galápagos, 600 miles off the coast and on the far reaches of current satellite coverage areas, has weak to no cell service. You will have some signal while near population centers and Wi-Fi is available on Santa Cruz Island (although slow and intermittent), but you will likely have no signal in the outlying islands or the Amazon Rainforest.
Satellite wifi is available at the Amazon lodge for a small fee that will ensure you are connected for your whole stay.
Aboard the Integrity, complimentary marine satellite-based internet is available to our guests. The system provides download speeds of up to 2 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 1 Mbps. You should be able to access emails and websites with relative ease, however, speeds will not be sufficient to support streaming. The Wi-Fi signal is based in the main salon and dining room.
If you have someone that needs to contact you about an emergency at home, they can call our office (800-346-6277). If possible, we will relay the message to you. Keep in mind it could be several days or longer before the message actually reaches you. For your family at home, you should define for them what you consider an emergency and provide them with instructions to call our office in the event one occurs during your vacation.
We recommend checking one week prior to your trip for an up-to-date weather forecast for Quito, Coca, and Puerto Ayora. Being properly prepared for weather variations is an important factor in fully enjoying your trip.
Average Air & Water Temperatures in the Galápagos
|Average Air Temp (F°)||Average Water Temp (F°)|
|February||75-85 ( warm to hot)||70-80|
Average Temperatures & Rainfall in Yasuni National Park (the Amazon)
|Average Air Temp (F°)||Average Precipitation (mm)|
With the highest density of biodiversity in the world, there are infinite chances for you to see an immense variety of plants, flowers, and wildlife. Typical jungle animals you can seek out on the trails are birds, such as hoatzins, macaws, toucans, parakeets, and parrots; turtles, anacondas, and other reptiles; many insects and amphibians; mammals, such as monkeys, tapirs, ocelots, and so much more!
CANOPY OBSERVATION TOWER
Get a close-up and personal view of the jungle and its diverse flora and fauna. One of the 36-meter observation towers was strategically built next to a huge tree to offer you the best view of the Amazon Rainforest. From high up in the canopy, you have a broad scope to observe the magnificent scale of the trees, flocks of colorful birds flying, troops of monkeys tussling, and an unobstructed view of miraculous Amazonia. More than 610 species of birds inventoried in Yasuni National Park offer visitors the best bird-watching experience, an unforgettable adventure in the most biodiverse place on earth.
Explore the black waters of Añangu Lake and creeks on board a paddle canoe or kayak. Motorized boats are also available to navigate the Napo River. In the Amazon jungle, you can discover hundreds of different aquatic animals, such as fish, caimans, turtles, giant otters, and other exotic creatures. Don’t forget to bring your camera and a sense of adventure!
PARROT CLAY LICKS
These are the most stunning nature spectacles to see in the Amazonia. These are natural banks containing a great amount of minerals that birds and different animals feed up with. This event starts early in the morning when hundreds of vibrantly colored birds visit the licks.
Learn about the Kichwa Anangu community traditions and culture of the Napo Wildlife Center hosts. Women of the community will welcome you with typical dances, rituals, handicrafts, food, and drinks.
Galápagos National PARK GUIDELINES
Please remember you are visiting a national park and will be expected to follow park regulations. The instructions you receive from your guide are intended for the preservation and conservation of the Galápagos.
- Stay on marked trails
- Do not touch or feed the animals
- Do not smoke on the Islands
- Clean the soles of your shoes to avoid carrying endemic seeds from one island to another
- Take only pictures (flashes are not permitted); leave only footprints
Guests will be transferred from the yacht to the islands on our two pangas (zodiacs). The landings may be wet or dry. Dry landings mean you step directly onto rock or sand, while wet landings mean you step into the water and wade to shore. Your guide will tell you ahead of time what type of landing to expect. Either way, crew members will be there to assist you.
The hikes on our excursions are moderate and allow you to get up close and personal with the magnificent wildlife on the islands. We recommend that your shoes be closed-toed, lightweight, have sturdy soles, and be broken in. If you buy new walking shoes for this trip, be sure to walk in them in advance to avoid blisters.
A mask, snorkel, fins, and flotation belt are available on the yacht, but the quality may not be equal to those that you own. We recommend you consider bringing gear that you know fits you well, especially the mask and fins.
A wetsuit will be chosen from a dive shop in Puerto Ayora prior to boarding the yacht and is included in your trip price. The water in the Galápagos Islands is cooled by cold ocean currents. We recommend you bring or plan to pick out a wetsuit. You will have the option for either a shorty or long wetsuit.
Snorkelers are asked to follow these simple instructions:
- Stay with the group; look up every few minutes to check that you are still near others in the group
- Be aware of the location of the panga
- When getting on and off the panga, stay clear of the outboard motor
- Have all your gear on before getting off the panga
- Take off only your fins before re-boarding the panga
- When diving under be sure to look up before resurfacing
- If you feel more comfortable in a life vest, you are welcome to wear one
Integrity offers tandem sit-on-top kayaks to use in locations permitted by the national park. The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two kayaks are equipped with backbands for support and comfort. Kayaking opportunities are available in between scheduled land excursions and snorkeling or at times can take the place of them. Your guide and boat crew can help you determine when the opportunity to kayak is available.
Galápagos National Park rules prohibit scuba diving from any vessel other than licensed dive boats. The only opportunity to dive is on itinerary day 3, from Puerto Ayora. Keep in mind you’ll miss the activities offered on this day. A dive must be arranged and paid for directly with a dive operator and is best done in advance of your trip. Remember to bring proof of your dive certification.
We want you to be prepared and comfortable for your trip. Below you’ll find some general tips for how to dress and what to pack and a comprehensive packing checklist. The need for warm weather or cold weather items should be based on a reliable weather forecast leading up to your trip.
Clothing for physical activity should be quick-drying and made of synthetics or merino wool. Warmth and comfort are the main objectives of this outline. Weather conditions can vary considerably. It’s important to dress in layers so that you can maintain a comfortable body temperature no matter what Mother Nature may have in store. The inner base layer should move perspiration outside, where it can evaporate. The intermediate layer should insulate, while the outside layer should act as a barrier to wind and rain.
Much of the clothing you bring should be quick-drying and breathable. During this sub-tropical adventure, you will be exposed to sun, wind, and water. Long sleeves, long pants, and wide-brimmed hats are recommended for sun protection. In general, you will need loose-fitting clothes for the hotter parts of the trip and some extra layering for evenings. Keep in mind that some of what you bring may get sweaty and wet due to the humid climate. You will encounter dust, sand, and salt. No fancy dress clothing is required.
You will want to bring slightly warmer clothing in the cooler season (June through November) and lighter clothing in the warmer season (December through May).
Start with sunscreen, shorts or lightweight pants, and a lightweight long-sleeve shirt. Then add additional layers if needed. As the day warms up, layers can be taken off and stored away.
After a long active day, you may want to refresh and change into clean, comfortable clothing. Soft, loose-fitting shorts or pants, t-shirts, etc., will allow you to truly relax in the evening. Some guests find sarongs or cotton dresses a nice change. Evenings on the boat may be cool, so additional layers and a rain/wind jacket can come in handy.
Rubber boots are provided in the Amazon for walking excursions due to the mud and to protect your feet.
When going onshore in the Galápagos during hikes, closed-toe footwear is highly encouraged. These shoes may get wet. It’s rocky on the islands, so sandals are not a good option unless they protect your toes and have hiking soles. Make sure you get good-grip, no-slip soles. Find professional-grade options made by Chaco®, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
If you buy new shoes or sandals for the trip, make sure you break them in first!
You’ll be asked to remove your outdoor footwear when coming aboard the yacht—no street shoes are to be worn onboard—therefore, you may want to bring slippers or light-soled deck shoes if you dislike going barefoot while on the boat.
A lightweight, hooded jacket is recommended. A rain jacket doubles as a warm layer and will protect you from the wind. A rain poncho is provided by the Amazon lodge for excursions.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously! In many cases, a long-sleeve shirt is the best method for preventing sunburn on your upper body. Lightweight, long pants may also be appropriate to protect your legs. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses are also a must.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Bugs and mosquitoes vary depending on location and time of year. It’s a good idea to come prepared with insect repellent. Long-sleeved shirts and pants may be desirable at times.
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. We recommend you bring some sandwich-size Ziploc™ bags. These bags can be used to store products during the day while on a hike and disposed of in the trash on the yacht. We provide some menstrual products for emergencies.
Hair dryers are available aboard the yacht. In our experience, the relaxed atmosphere on the cruise and the high humidity in the islands make hair dryers seldom used.
Equipment and Personal Items
☐ Daypack for shore visits: to fit a water bottle, camera, and rain jacket (may double as your flight carry-on bag)
☐ Water bottle: durable and reusable
☐ Polarized sunglasses with securing strap (consider bringing a spare)
☐ Toiletries (soap and shampoo are provided) and medications
☐ Sunscreen and lip protection: waterproof and SPF 30 or higher (aerosol sprays not recommended). Please consider reef-safe products that do not contain Oxybenzone, Butylparaben, Octinoxate, or 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor.
☐ Moisturizing lotion or cream
☐ Insect repellent
☐ Personal first-aid kit (sea sickness medication, stomach/diarrhea medication, Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, moleskin, eye drops, etc.)
☐ Spare pair of prescription glasses and/or contacts (sand can cause problems for contact wearers)
☐ Earplugs: we will motor into the night, and waves slapping the hull can be loud
☐ Cash for gratuities and incidentals
☐ Headlamp or small flashlight, extra batteries, and bulb. Great for the night hikes in the Amazon
☐ Athletic shoes or light hikers: closed-toe, comfortable, and with good tread (for land excursions)
☐ Amphibious shoes or sandals with a heel strap (such as those made by Chaco®).
☐ Deck shoes or slippers: the yacht does not allow street shoes to be worn onboard – they must be left at the gangway. Ideal if you prefer not to be barefoot on the yacht.
☐ Flip-flops (optional)
☐ Socks for hikes: 3 or 4 pair, light-weight
☐ Long-sleeved shirts: lightweight and light color for sun protection (old dress shirts work well)
☐ Short-sleeved shirts: T-shirts, collared, lightweight cotton or quick-drying
☐ Shorts: lightweight for hiking/walking
☐ Long pants: lightweight cotton or quick-drying and light color for sun protection
☐ Swimwear: tankinis and board shorts are a great option (1-2 sets)
☐ Warm fleece or sweater to be worn under a windbreaker (rain jacket) in the evenings (temps in Quito can be cold)
☐ Shade hat (wide brim) or visor with securing strap (and a spare)
☐ Rain gear: a lightweight, hooded jacket or poncho. Rain pants are optional.
☐ Pajamas: lightweight
☐ Casual clothes for evenings (evenings can be cool)
☐ Personal snorkel gear (mask, snorkel, fins): included, but the quality may not be equal to those that you own
☐ Wetsuit: included and arranged in Puerto Ayora, but the quality may not be equal to one that you own
☐ Camera and accessories. Consider a waterproof camera for snorkeling
☐ Dry bag, zip lock bags for carrying valuables, such as a camera
☐ Rash guard top for snorkeling
☐ Trekking poles: collapsible
☐ Sarong: useful for sun protection, evaporative cooling, changing clothes, etc.
☐ Clothes pins
☐ Collapsible umbrella
☐ Small bags: stuff sacks, zip locks, or similar for organizing items in your travel bag
☐ Sketchbook, notebook and pen, paperback book, field book, English-Spanish dictionary
☐ Spare roll-up duffel for purchases while in Ecuador (or purchase one in Ecuador)
Packing Your Gear
We recommend soft luggage for the Galápagos portion of your trip, as it can be easier to handle for the crew and may fit better in the limited space of the yacht’s staterooms. We recommend traveling as lightly as possible; excess baggage can be a burden to you and to support personnel. On an international flight, you are typically allowed 1-2 pieces of checked luggage at no additional fee, but luggage restrictions change regularly and vary according to the airline—please check with your airline to determine luggage allowance for your flights to and from Quito.
For your flights to and from the Galápagos Islands, OARS books airfare for our guests, which provides 1 free piece of checked luggage weighing no more than 50 lbs. not to exceed 62 inches (length + width + height). Upgrades to Premium Economy allow an additional checked bag (2 total).
The carry-on allowance for flights to and from the Galápagos Islands is 1 piece per person, subject to a maximum weight of 22 lbs. and a size limitation of 22 inches long x 14 inches wide x 10 inches in height. Expect your carry-on item to be weighed. One personal item is allowed, such as a purse, laptop, or camera, which must fit under the seat in front of you with a maximum dimension of 18 inches long x 14 inches wide x 10 inches in height. We suggest all documents, money, passports, medications, prescription glasses, cameras, personal electronics, binoculars, and other items of value be in your carry-on luggage.
The Galápagos National Park authorities will inspect all luggage going to the Galápagos Islands. They check for organic materials such as food, plants (including wood), and banned substances. For this reason, if you bring your own snacks, make sure they are pre-packaged and sealed.
We recommend that you leave valuables, such as jewelry, at home. Check your personal insurance policy before traveling to ensure that you are covered for theft and loss while traveling. As a safety precaution, do not travel with excessive cash or jewelry if it is not necessary.
- Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore, and 15% of your purchase helps provide under-resourced youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
- Shop for the latest in top-quality clothing, footwear, and outdoor gear at REI.
Recommended Reading: The Best Galápagos Books to Read Before You Go
The custom of tipping has served through the years to encourage and reward excellence. Gratuities must be earned. For this reason, we do not include tips for guides or crew in the trip price. To guide you on this sensitive topic, consider the following outline.
Please provide gratuities in cash (USD), as credit cards cannot be used except at restaurants. It’s not possible to cash traveler’s checks in the Amazon and Galápagos.
- Local Guides – $40 per traveler
- Naturalist Guides – $40 per traveler
- Lodge Staff tip pool – $20 per traveler
- Galápagos Naturalist – $100 – $150 per traveler
- Yacht captain and crew tip pool – $200 – $300 per traveler
- Guides (on Santa Cruz Island or the mainland) – $10 – $15 per traveler per day of service
- Transfers, drivers, porters, taxis – tips for airport transfers and Santa Cruz drivers are included in your trip price; it is not necessary to tip taxi drivers; tips are not included for hotel services (room service, porters, or other)
Restaurants – most add 12% VAT and a 10% service fee to the bill, but for exceptional service, you may want to add another 5%
In reviewing your statement, you’ll note a $50 per person donation to the Galápagos Traveler Conservation Fund, administered by the International Galápagos Tour Operators Association, a non-profit association of travel companies, conservation organizations, and other groups that are dedicated to a complete and lasting protection of the Galápagos Islands. One hundred percent of these funds go directly to conservation, research, and education in the Galápagos, and your contribution is tax-deductible. Please notify our office if you would prefer to delete the donation from your balance.
The IGTOA has produced a series of videos that are available for travelers to the islands. These videos will help you learn more about the challenges facing the Galápagos Islands and how travelers can be part of the solution by following best practices. Please watch the videos before your trip!
Reservations and Deposits
A $1400/person deposit is required at the time of reservation. For groups of 5 or more people, a second deposit of $1200/person is due 165 days before departure. Deposits may be made by check, money order, or Visa/Mastercard (American Express and Discover incur a 3% processing fee). Prices are in US Dollars, and all payments must be made in US Dollars. Payment of the deposit establishes your acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions. Individual departures and trip capacity are strictly limited by the managing agency.
Canceling your trip after your deposit is processed will incur cancellation fees because OARS has absorbed costs on your behalf and will turn others away who would like to book the spaces we’re holding for you. Final payment is due 105 days before departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 95 days before the departure date will be canceled without exception.
Cancellations and Refunds
Your deposit is fully refundable, less a 3% processing fee, for 7 days after you book when you submit a deposit 7 days or more before the final payment due date.
If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below. We regret we cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including foul weather, poor air quality, wildfire activity, acts of terrorism, civil unrest, or personal emergencies. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan.
For Reservations of Up to 4 People
|DATE OF CANCELLATION||CANCELLATION FEE|
|160 days or more before your trip||$250/person cancellation fee or payment may be transferred to a new departure date within one year of original trip date|
|159 – 106 days before your trip||Deposit is non-refundable, or payment may be transferred to a new departure date within one year of original trip date|
|105 – 70 days before your trip||Full payment is non-refundable, or payment may be transferred to a new departure date within one year of original trip date|
|69 – 0 days before your trip||100% of trip price|
For Reservations of 5 or More People
|DATE OF CANCELLATION||CANCELLATION FEE|
|160 days or more before your trip||$250/person cancellation fee or payment may be transferred to a new departure date within one year of original trip date|
|159 – 106 days before your trip||Both deposits are non-refundable, or payment may be transferred to a new departure date within one year of original trip date|
|105 – 70 days before your trip||50% of full payment is forfeited. Remaining balance is non-refundable but transferable to a new departure date within one year of original trip date|
|69 – 0 days before your trip||100% of trip price|
If we receive notification canceling your reservation at least 181 days before your planned departure, a one-time transfer of the deposit may be made to another Galápagos Origins of Species trip that departs within one year from the original departure date.
A transfer to another departure date with less than 180 days notice before departure is considered a cancellation; thus, all payments to date will be subject to the cancellation penalties outlined above.
OARS International and the outfitter INCA/Inca Floats, Inc. reserve the right to cancel any trip due to insufficient registration or other factors that make the trip impractical to operate. Do not make nonrefundable travel arrangements unless you have spoken to your Adventure Consultant regarding the status of your trip.
If a trip must be canceled or postponed due to force majeure (factors outside the control of OARS), OARS will provide full credit for payments made toward future travel or a refund less a 5% service fee plus any nonrefundable payments made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers. OARS will make good faith efforts to recover deposits made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers, however, we can’t guarantee recovery of any or all of the advance payments made. OARS is not responsible for expenses incurred by participants in preparation for a canceled trip.
Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying an OARS International trip. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
Because there are costs that you will incur if you cancel the spaces on this trip that we’re now holding for you, or in the event you need to be evacuated during the trip due to an unforeseen illness or injury, we strongly encourage our guests to purchase an optional travel protection plan. A travel protection plan may help reimburse the cost of your pre-paid, non-refundable payments in the event you are prevented from taking your trip for a covered reason. Trip participants must understand that in the event of an illness or injury on a wilderness trip, evacuation can be prolonged, difficult, and expensive. Learn more about the plan we recommend.
Please note: To be eligible for coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of your initial trip payment and you must be medically fit to travel at the time you pay for the plan.
In order to take part in this trip, each participant must have a minimum of Emergency Medical Evacuation coverage in place for the dates of the trip. This can be purchased as stand-alone coverage, independent of a comprehensive travel protection plan. You can get a quote for this type of policy by entering a Trip Cost amount of $0 when getting a quote.
Please note: By entering a Trip Cost amount of $0, the plan will not include Trip Cancellation coverage and you may not be eligible for Emergency Medical Expense benefits relating to any pre-existing conditions.
Liability Release / Assumption of Risk
Everyone is required to sign a standard liability release/assumption of risk form before the trip, confirming awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the trip. Due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with OARS International’s cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
O.A.R.S. International, Inc., INCA/Inca Floats, Inc., and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation, and/or all other related travel services and assume no responsibility, however caused, for injury, loss or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays, and expenses arising from quarantine, pandemics, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which they have no control. Reasonable changes in the itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings, and other factors. There is risk in boating and kayaking. Boats and kayaks do capsize. You could be swept overboard, and your guide will make every attempt to assist, but you must be strong and agile enough to “self-help” without further endangering yourself or others. We reserve the right not to accept guests weighing more than 260 pounds or with a waist/chest size of more than 56 inches. We may decide at any time to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to safety on our trips. We are experienced in accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. We need to discuss requirements ahead of time.
OARS trips occur in areas where unpredictable environmental conditions are to be expected. To moderate dangerous situations for our guests and guides, all travelers must obey the rules and regulations, as determined by the managing agencies and the Trip Leader, and demonstrate reasonable consideration for other guests and OARS employees. We reserve the right to remove any guest from a trip if, in our opinion, that guest’s actions or behaviors pose a threat to the safety of her/himself or others or if those actions or behaviors compromise the enjoyment of the trip for others. Should a guest be asked to leave a trip, there will be no refund for the unused portion, nor will OARS be responsible for additional expenses incurred by the guest for accommodations, return transport, change fees, etc. Prices subject to change without notice. OARS is an equal opportunity provider.
International Nature & Cultural Adventures (INCA)
INCA/Inca Floats, Inc., travel partner of O.A.R.S. International, Inc., is the operator of this trip. These staff members are the very best and will strive to ensure your complete satisfaction.