The Galapagos Islands Are Back!

By Allie E. Almario

After six months in a tight lockdown due to COVID, the Galapagos Islands are back open and ready to welcome visitors. Flights to the Galapagos resumed in August 2020, and ships began to host a handful of intrepid travelers.  What did they find? An already pristine and protected archipelago which thrived during the quarantine!

The travel and health protocols provided below are current as of September 2020. Updates will be provided as needed, and we do expect changes to these requirements as quarantine rules relax throughout the world.


Effective September 10, 2020:

All arrivals to Ecuador are required to provide a negative RT-PCR test result taken up to 10 days prior to the arrival date in Ecuador. Arrivals must fill out a Traveler Health Declaration Form (one per family) that identifies the location of your stay (hotel) while in the mainland.

All visitors traveling to Galapagos must show a negative RT-PCT test result for COVID19 taken within 96 hours (4 days) before the flight to Galapagos.  The same PCR test used to enter Ecuador can be presented if taken within 96 hours.  Otherwise, you will be required to take a second RT-PCR test in Ecuador before boarding the flight to Galapagos. Some ships can arrange for a lab approved by ACESS to perform a test taken at your hotel prior to departure. The test results are usually available within a few hours.  The cost of the test is approximately $120 per person.

During the shut down, the Galapagos cruise industry took the time to carefully evaluate health and sanitary procedures to implement for arriving guests. While protocol will vary from ship to ship, here is what you can expect if you were to travel in the next month or so:


  • Prior to COVID, the standard ratio of guide to guest was usually 1 per 10-16 depending on the ship. Now that ratio may be reduced even further to 1 guide per 8-12 guests.  This ratio will vary from ship to ship.
  • Bringing your own personal wetsuit or snorkeling gear is encouraged.
  • Shoe disinfection trays are to be used upon embarkation each time you board the ship.
  • Deep cleanings will occur frequently within cabins and in public spaces.
  • Air conditioning filters will be changed more frequently.
  • Ship crew will be tested for Corona virus prior to entering the islands, and also monitored daily, including temperature checks.
  • Ship crew will be issued PPE (personal protection equipment).
  • Ship crew will be asked to maintain social distancing of three feet in closed spaces whenever possible with guests, six feet when in open areas.
  • Ship crew will carry antibacterial gel in first-aid kits.
  • Ship crew will not be allowed to disembark onto populated islands unless mandated by the captain.
  • Paper travel documents may be replaced with digital versions.
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the ship.
  • Digital screens will replace paper itineraries to update guests on timed activities.
  • Talks and presentations may be split into separate shifts for guests to reduce interaction.
  • Kayaks will only be shared by guests who inhabit the same cabin.


  • Buffet meals will be eliminated.
  • Some ships will offer more meals as outdoor dining to increase social distancing.
  • Physical menus will be replaced with digital versions.

As noted, we expect lots of changes to the above as we head into the fall. We’ll continue to keep you posted with any major updates.

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