Before You Go
To fully enjoy the wildlife-viewing opportunities this exciting program offers, participants should be fit and in good health. Our yacht’s schedule includes morning and afternoon shore excursions each day. To visit the islands you will need to board Zodiacs; there will be landings directly onto the beach (wet landings) or onto a dock or rocks (dry landings). You must be able to climb easily into and out of Zodiacs and walk up to three miles at a comfortable pace over uneven terrain, with frequent stops for nature viewing.
Trip Preparation: Gear Up!
Protecting you from the occasional encounter with “stingy things” and keeping you comfortable while getting up close and personal with the Galápagos’ playful sea lions, sea turtles, rays, and penguins, this UPF 50-rated, versatile top is a must for your marine adventures in Darwin’s living laboratory.
Please pay close attention to the following sections: Passport and Visa Requirements, Health Information, and Baggage Allowance.
- Activity Level
- Arrivals & Departures
- Baggage Allowance
- Extending Your Stay
- Flight Information
- Health Information
- Important Rules of Conduct
- Inspection & Quarantine
- Internet & Phone
- Local Time
- Packing Suggestions
- Passport & Visa Requirements
- Payments & Cancellations
- With Our Compliments
To fully enjoy the wildlife-viewing opportunities this exciting program offers, participants should be fit and in good health. Our yacht’s schedule includes morning and afternoon shore excursions each day. To visit the islands you will need to board Zodiacs; there will be landings directly onto the beach (wet landings) or onto a dock or rocks (dry landings). You must be able to climb easily into and out of Zodiacs and walk up to three miles at a comfortable pace over uneven terrain, with frequent stops for nature viewing. Should you have any physical limitations, please notify us in advance of your departure.
Arrivals & Departures
Departure / Airport Check-In Procedures
Please arrive at the airport for your international flight at least two hours prior to departure and have access to your passport and airline E-Ticket confirmation. Do not pack your passport or other travel documents in your checked luggage. Be certain the check-in agent properly tags your bags through to the final destination allowed, and that you have all baggage and E-Ticket receipts.
Please contact Zegrahm at 1.800.628.8747 or 206.285.4000 should you encounter significant delays or problems en route. Proceed to your airline’s ticket counter or flight gate for immediate assistance. Advise Zegrahm of all changes to your arrival at your destination city so that we may inform our expedition staff.
Airlines change flight times frequently and if you booked your tickets through our air department, Zegrahm Expeditions will send you any updates as they are received from the carrier. Still, we recommend reconfirming the departure time of your flights with the airline directly within 24 hours of departure. This can be done easily online and will ensure you arrive at the airport with plenty of time to board your flight.
Arrival / Departure Transfers
Transfers and assistance between airports and group hotels are arranged for participants arriving and departing on group dates only. If you are arriving prior to the group day and Zegrahm Expeditions has booked additional night(s) at our group hotel, an airport transfer will be provided.
If you are handling your own travel arrangements, please forward a copy of your itinerary to Zegrahm Expeditions as well as contact information where you can be reached prior to and after the program.
Due to baggage limits on domestic flights within Ecuador, baggage on this expedition for each person is restricted to two checked bags, maximumweight 50 pounds (23 kilograms) total, plus one carry-on, maximum weight 17 pounds (8 kilograms).
PLEASE NOTE: Most airlines strictly enforce their baggage regulations. Excess baggage charges, which can be substantial, are the personal responsibility of each participant.
We recommend the use of soft-sided luggage, as it is easier to store. Your carry-on bag should include anything you may need in transit. We recommend that you carry with you essential toiletries, prescription medications, and a change of clothing appropriate for the initial activities of our itinerary, so that you will be more comfortable in the unlikely event that your baggage is delayed in transit or is slow to be delivered to your room upon arrival.
On the equator, the Galápagos Islands are in a subtropical zone with temperatures determined by the almost constant ocean currents and trade winds. Please come prepared for warm, sunny conditions, and bring adequate sun protection. In July, temperatures should be in the 70°F to 85°F range with minimal rainfall, while water temperatures will be between 70°F to 80°F.
If you wish to do your own research on the region’s climate, you may want to check local weather conditions on the Internet, the Weather Channel, or Accuweather shortly before departure.
The following are average high/low temperatures in July for selected locations on our itinerary:
|Santa Cruz Island||80º||66º|
The U.S. dollar is the standard currency used throughout Ecuador and on board the Isabela II. Your voyage includes most necessities; therefore, we strongly recommend that you carry most of your spending money in smaller denominations. When bringing U.S. currency into Ecuador, please avoid bringing bills that are torn, stained, written on, or otherwise damaged in any way. At the end of your voyage, you may settle your onboard account with your credit card. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express credit cards are accepted for payment on board the Isabela II.
Credit and debit cards are increasingly accepted at Ecuadorian ATMs in the larger cities and are a good source of obtaining funds when traveling. If you wish to obtain cash with your debit or credit card, please ensure that you have a four-digit PIN (Personal Identification Number). Major credit cards are accepted as payment in well-established shops and in the hotels we use on our expedition. They are accepted less frequently in smaller stores and with street vendors.
You will receive your Pre-Departure Packet—including a Personal Information Form that will need to be returned to Zegrahm, a complete packing list, reading list, and gift certificates—approximately five months prior to departure. Final documents—including a final itinerary, contact list, and staff biographies—will be sent approximately one month prior to your departure.
Electricity in mainland Ecuador and the Galápagos, as well as onboard the Isabela II, is 110v/60hz, the same as in the U.S. and Canada. Converters and adapter plugs are not necessary for standard North American appliances.
Extending Your Stay
Interested in extending your stay? Speak with one of our Expedition Advisors to find out how easy it is for you to stay an extra night or two. Or, our Private Travel department is available to design customized extended stays for individuals, families, and groups of friends—the same horizon-broadening adventures and life-changing experiences as our group expedition, but on a flexible, intimate, and personalized scale. Call 800.628.8747 or 206.285.4000 for more information.
Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements.
You will need to purchase airfare from your home city/Guayaquíl/Baltra and Baltra/Guayaquíl/home city. For more detailed information, please contact our in-house Air Department for fare quotes, reservations, or other air-related questions.
All gratuities for hotels, meals, baggage handling, and sightseeing, as well as for local guides and drivers associated with our group itinerary are included in the cost of your expedition. All gratuities for extra services and independent hotel nights spent outside of group arrangements will be your own responsibility.
A yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into Ecuador if arriving within six days after leaving or transiting infected or endemic areas (this includes other South American countries such as Peru). Please refer to the World Health Organization website for a list of yellow fever endemic countries.
Although Ecuador is considered a yellow fever-endemic country by the World Health Organization, those passengers who are traveling entirely within our itinerary, arriving from and returning directly to the United States, are not required to have a yellow fever vaccination. However, other countries may require that you provide an International Certificate of Vaccination when they learn you have spent an extended period of time in Ecuador. Inoculation is recommended for those traveling in Ecuador outside our itinerary. Please check with your physician to determine the health precautions appropriate for you.
Yellow fever vaccinations, valid for life, must be given at official centers designated by your state’s health departments. The International Certificate of Vaccination must be validated by the center that administers the vaccine and carried with you on your trip. Your local or state health department can provide information regarding the locations and hours of yellow fever vaccination centers if needed.
No other vaccinations are required for this expedition at this time.
In case of serious injury or illness while traveling, it is important to understand that satisfactory medical facilities may not exist nearby. Should you require emergency medical care, it may be necessary to depart the country by international medical evacuation services. The cost of your expedition includes $100,000 in emergency evacuation and $25,000 in medical expense. Details of this policy are available online at www.travelguard.com/zegrahm.
The information herein is a guideline and is subject to change without notice. Contact your physician or local health center for current and other information concerning health precautions, immunizations, and prescriptions based on your physical condition and medical history.
Important Rules of Conduct
The Galápagos National Park Service has established 13 important rules to protect the exceptional and sensitive environmental balance of the Galápagos Islands. While you are visiting this unique corner of the world, we ask that you please respect and adhere to the following rules and obey the guidelines set by your leader and guides.
- No plant, animal, or remains of such (including shells, bones, and pieces of wood), or other natural objects should be removed or disturbed.
- Be careful not to transport any live material to the islands or from island to island.
- Do not take any food to the uninhabited islands.
- Do not touch or handle the animals.
- Do not feed the animals. It can be dangerous to you, and in the long run destroy the animals’ social structure and breeding habits.
- Do not startle or chase any animal from its resting or nesting spot.
- Stay within the areas designated as visiting sites.
- Do not leave any litter on the islands or throw any off your boat.
- Do not deface the rocks.
- Do not buy souvenirs or objects made of plants or animals from the islands.
- Do not visit the islands unless accompanied by a licensed national park guide. Follow his or her instructions at all times.
- Restrict your visits to officially approved areas.
- Show your conservationist attitude.
Inspection & Quarantine
The native animals and plants of the Galápagos are highly vulnerable to pests and diseases. Because of this, the introduction of an exotic organism may put the economy, human health, and biodiversity of the Galápagos Islands at risk.
When traveling to the Galápagos Islands you should expect that a SICGAL quarantine inspector will check your luggage at the airport in Guayaquíl, as well as on your arrival to the Galápagos. You must declare any kind of organic product in your possession: fruit, vegetables, plants, food, or animal products of any type. The inspector will inform you if they are permitted in the Galápagos or not. You should also make sure that your shoes and clothes are free of soil and seeds.
Fresh and perishable food products such as fruit and meat are restricted or prohibited. In some cases official documents are required to allow their entry. These types of products must be declared and inspected. Please do not enter the Galápagos with perishable products from outside Ecuador as they are prohibited.
Animal products or those derived from animal sources may be prohibited or restricted as they could be carriers of numerous kinds of pests and diseases.
Articles manufactured from vegetable products could be carriers of transferable seeds, viruses, insects, and fungi. In all cases an inspection is required to determine the risk level.
Plants and Fresh Flowers:
Plants and fresh flowers are absolutely prohibited. Only seeds that are authorized and certified may be brought in.
Live animals may not be brought to the Galápagos Islands.
Advice for Inter-Island Trips:
When traveling between islands do not take food, plants, or animals. Make sure to clean your shoes and clothes of all soil and seeds before visiting new sites and islands.
Failure to comply with these procedures could result in confiscation of prohibited or restricted items, fines, and imprisonment of up to three months.
Internet & Phone
The Isabela II has computers with Internet access as well as Wi-Fi throughout the ship. Please note that Internet connections aboard the ship are low-bandwidth and intermittent.
All suites are equipped with a telephone. Rates will be provided onboard.
Your final documentation will include contact information for the ship, including phone and fax numbers as well as email addresses.
Mainland Ecuador operates on Eastern Standard Time but does not observe Daylight Savings Time; therefore, the time will be one hour behind the east coast of the United States during our expedition. The Galápagos Islands are on Central Standard Time, two hours behind the mainland. The ship, however, normally remains on Eastern Standard Time to simplify matters.
Following are local times that apply to this expedition when it is 5:00 a.m. on the North American west coast:
Seattle, WA (PDT)
|8:00a.m.||New York, NY (EDT)|
|6:00a.m.||The Galápagos Islands|
|7:00a.m.||Isabela II (ship stays on mainland Ecuador time)|
Should you have any dietary needs, please let us know on the Personal Information Form included with the Pre-Departure packet, and we will do our best to prepare for them. Unfortunately kosher meals cannot be accommodated.
It is essential to maximize the versatility of your travel wardrobe by packing clothing that can be layered. Wash-and-wear, lightweight, natural fabrics are recommended. As you pack, consider your own internal thermostat and personal tastes and adjust accordingly.
There are no laundry facilities on board the Isabela II, but there will be the opportunity to send laundry out (no dry cleaning) once during the trip. Rates are available onboard.
Clothing on Board
Comfortable and casual clothing, in the expedition spirit, is recommended.
Sport sandals with a sturdy sole are the best type of footwear for frequent wet landings, especially where there are rocky and/or coral covered beaches. They provide excellent protection and dry quickly. Other footwear you may wish to bring includes aqua socks and/or canvas sneakers that you don’t mind getting wet or dirty. You will want to wear pants that are easy to roll up, shorts, or a sarong for wet landings.
Sporty summer-weight clothing is a good basis for your wardrobe. Loose, lightweight, wash-and-wear slacks, skirts, shorts, blouses, shirts, and T-shirts made of natural fibers are recommended. For protection against insect bites, long pants and long-sleeved shirts are useful as well. The sun can be strong, so bring adequate sun-protective clothing and gear, wear hats, and use sun block, as we will be out in the sun for extended periods of time. Also, keep in mind that we may encounter a rain shower or two on our excursions.
Shore excursions will involve a moderate amount of walking over beaches and rough terrain. Comfortable walking shoes, preferably hiking shoes, are a must. Sturdy walking shoes with thick soles or light hiking boots are recommended. If you have weak ankles, high-top hiking boots will provide better support. Make sure your shoes or boots are well broken-in before your trip.
You will receive a complete Packing List with your Pre-Departure Packet, approximately five months prior to departure.
Passport & Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for participation in this program. It must be valid for at least six (6) months after you return home, through January 28, 2016. If you do not have a passport, or if it is not valid for the correct length of time, you should apply for one as soon as possible. You will need to have at least one blank page available for entry/exit stamps in your passport and secure additional pages if necessary. We suggest that you carry extra passport photos and a photocopy of your passport’s information page when you travel.
Visas are not required of U.S. nationals for entry into Ecuador for a maximum stay of 90 days. An Ecuadorian entry permit will be given to you upon arrival into Ecuador. Please carry it with your passport until you depart the country, at which time it will be reclaimed.
If you are traveling independently of the group or to any other countries prior to or after the voyage, check the entry and visa requirements with the local consulates of each country you plan on visiting.
PLEASE NOTE: Nationals of countries other than the U.S. should check with the nearest consulates for specific visa and entry requirements for their entire itinerary, including both the group arrangements and any travel prior to or after the program.
Payments & Cancellations
25% of the expedition fare will reserve a place for you on this Zegrahm program. The balance of the expedition fare is due 120 days prior to departure. Air fare is due at the time tickets are issued. All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars and must be paid in U.S. dollars.
Cancellation & Refund Policy
Notification of cancellation must be received in writing by Zegrahm. At the time we receive your written cancellation, the following penalties will apply:
- 180 days or more prior to departure: $750 per person
- 120-179 days prior to departure: 25% of expedition fare
- 60 through 119 days prior to departure: 50% of expedition fare
- 1 through 59 days prior to departure: 100% of expedition fare
Please note, fees associated with cancelled airline tickets are in addition to this and will be clearly outlined for you on your flight itinerary.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance
We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance to protect themselves from an unforeseen emergency that may force you to cancel or leave an expedition while it is in progress. Information describing coverage will be sent to you upon receipt of your deposit for the expedition.
Snorkeling is an integral part of the Galápagos experience, and there are many opportunities to partake on this expedition. Please note that the majority of the snorkeling will be done in open waters from our Zodiacs, with only a few opportunities for snorkeling off the beach. Masks, flippers (up to size 13), snorkels, wetsuits, and inflatable vests are available on the Isabela II, but you may wish to bring your own for best comfort and fit.
The water temperatures in the Galápagos are generally between 70 to 80°F in July. Depending on your personal sensitivity to cold, you may or may not need a wetsuit or hood. A variety of sizes of wetsuits are available on board (Small – XXL). These are 3 mm, shortie suits (cut off legs and sleeves) without hoods. However, if you are sensitive to cold, we recommend you bring a lightweight wetsuit (1 or 2 millimeters), or if you do not get cold quickly, a Lycra or PolarTec suit may be adequate.
Weights may also be desired when snorkeling with a wetsuit should you wish to free dive below water to see the fish, sea lions, etc. However, please note: we must be notified at least one month prior to departure if you need a weight belt and/or weights. They are free of charge, but we need to know prior to departure how many will be needed, so we can be sure they will be available for you on board.
Additional snorkeling information will be included with your final documents approximately one month before departure. Please do not hesitate to contact us directly should you have further questions in order to maximize your snorkeling experience.
Scuba diving is not offered on this expedition.
With Our Compliments
We are pleased to offer complimentary amenities to our explorers so they can be fully prepared before departing on one of our expeditions. Gift certificates to our Zegrahm Store and Longitude Books will offer you the opportunity to purchase items from our store along with books or maps suggested in the highly recommended titles sent. The certificates will be sent in your Pre-Departure Packet approximately five months prior to departure. Please refer to the gift certificates for more details.