Dear clients & travelers,
Happy Gringo has set-up this blog to help keep you all informed about Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands, and how this might affect your travels plans here.
The GOOD NEWS is that Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are OPEN for business. Happy Gringo have now been receiving tourist arrivals since September 2020 during the pandemic. All of these trips have been operated with appropriate health and safety precautions in place, and have been successful & completely trouble free. While these challenging times remain across the globe, it is still possible to travel, get outdoors and enjoy your life.
We aim to keep the blog updated as far as possible with all the latest information and will re-post whenever there is a significant change to be reported.
The really good news is that Ecuador is already recognised with the WTTC Safe Travel Certificate! We were the first Andean country to be awarded this certificate. What does this mean? In simple terms, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) recognises that Ecuador has put in place the necessary protocols to ensure safety and hygiene for visiting travelers.
Since the 2020 lockdowns have been relaxed and Covid case numbers stabilised, daily life in Ecuador has slowly adjusted to a "new normal".
Mandatory Health measures that are enforced include: Obligated use of a mask in public spaces, social distancing and use of alcohol gels and sprays to enter public spaces.
Some transport controls continue in place. Public transport can operate with 50% passenger capacity, although not all routes have yet reactivated. Taxis are operating without restriction. Private cars can only circulate certain days of the week based on the number of their licence plate. Touristic Transport services are free to circulate and are following strict cleanliness protocols.
Restaurants and cafes are open with 50% passenger capacity. Tourist sites such as museums, parks and archaeological sites can open with 30% passenger capacity.
As well as the reduction in passenger capacity, Ecuador’s Tourism Ministry have implemented strict health and safety protocols and controls that apply to all establishments. Protocols include: complete disinfection of establishment, cleaning protocols to be used through the day, social distancing, use of face masks and availablity of sanitary gel or spray for staff and clients.
So tourists and travelers can rest assured that the Covid-19 risk is being taken very seriously in Ecuador and Galapagos, and protocols are in place to ensure your safe travel here.
As always the health and safety of all Happy Gringo clients and staff is paramount. We commit to the following measures to ensure complete biosecurity:
Honest communication with our clients at all times, so that possible risks are understood, and clients are aware of local regulations, restrictions and conditions.
Mitigation of risk. We guarantee that official health and safety protocols are respected by our drivers, guides, hotels, restaurants, yachts, lodges and other service providers that we use. All services must meet strict cleanliness standards, maintain disinfection protocols, have social distancing measures in place, and train staff to follow these measures.
Safe Work Place. All cleanliness and disinfection protocols are being followed to ensure a safe working environment for our staff and guests. Many of our staff continue to work from home, and we encourage clients to contact us via email, whatsapp or phone - there is no need to visit us in person.
Ecuador's airports are open to international flights. Many of the larger international airlines are already operating flights to Quito and Guayaquil again. There are no Ecuador travel restrictions in place right now, but travelers should be aware of special entry protocols.
All international arrivals should travel with a valid negative PCR Covid-19 test result taken within the past 10 days. By presenting this document no quarantine period will be required. Airport staff will also take your temperature on arrival, and request that you fill-out a health questionaire.
International tourists who arrive without a negative PCR test result are required to take a test on arrival at their own cost. Quarantine will be enforced in an approved hotel until test results are known (usually within 48 hours). If the test returns negative then no further quarantine is necessary. If the test returns positive then you must quarantine for 2 weeks or until a new test returns a negative result.
Galapagos National Park successfully re-opened to visitors on 1st July 2020, and many tours/cruises are now operating.
A negative PCR test result taken within the past 96 hours must be presented at check-in in order to travel. This means that for now international visitors will need to take a PCR test in Quito or Guayaquil in the days before you intend to travel to Galapagos. Happy Gringo have a list of medical clinics who provide a quick PCR testing service, and we are happy to help with organising this for you. It is important to use a trustworthy clinic that is officially registered to perform these tests as they will share your test result directly with the airport authorities.
The good news is that tourism is slowly reactivating, and people are beginning to travel again.
Some of the National parks, Reserves and tourist destinations that are officially operational again include: Cotopaxi, Illinizas, Cayambe-Coca, Pasachoa, Pululahua, El Cajas, Antisana, Cotachachi-Cayapas, Churute, Sangay, Limoncocha, Chimborazo, Mitad del mundo equator monument & inti ñan museum, Papallacta hot-springs, Quito teleférico, Quilotoa Lagoon, Ingapirca ruins, Mojanda & San Pablo Lakes, Otavalo markets and Peguche waterfall.
Yasuni National Park is also due to open in late January 2021, with proof of a negative PCR test required for a test taken within the previous 72 hours.
Please note: we expect this list to become longer by the week as most tourist sites are either already reopened, or planning to do so very soon.
At present, the Ministry of Health has reported 281,000 confirmed cases of the virus in Ecuador, with 10,883 deaths know to be caused by the virus.
In Quito and the province of Pichincha there have been 99,304 total cases. The province of Guayas including Guayaquil has recently reached 35,453 cases.
There have currently been 1,300 recorded Galapagos Covid cases on Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela Islands. A process of mass testing is underway for Galapagos residents to ensure proper safety for visitors and maintain Galapagos National Park open.
The process of vaccinating Ecuadorian citizens and residents began in late January 2021.
In order to avoid the unnecessary spread of Covid-19 in Quito, and to protect the health and safety of our staff and their families, most of our team continue to work from home. Our Quito office is open from Monday to Friday, but it is not neccesary for clients to visit us in person. We recommend contacting us via email, Skype Messenger, Whatsapp or phone where our sales team will be delighted to help you.
We do ask for your patience and understanding during this challenging time for us all. We are doing our very best to maintain our high levels of service, and to find satisfactory solutions for everyone.
Fortunately we were able to assist most clients in postponing trips to a later date, so you have something nice waiting for you in 2021!
Tour cancellations may still be possible, but depend on each individual case. We will work together with you and your tour operator/service provider to resolve each case in the most successful way possible. In many cases, cancellation terms will unfortunately apply, for this reason we recommend postponement of your trip where possible.
If you do choose to cancel then we are able to help with letters for insurance claims.
We continue to be open for business to help all passengers who wish to rearrange their future travel plans. Please write to your sales rep for help, or if you require emergency assistance before then call our emergency number +593 984295830.
Keeping everything in perspective, these are extremely challenging times for everybody, so please focus above all on staying safe and healthy, and we hope to be able to help you all to visit Ecuador and Galapagos at a later date, in calmer and happier circumstances 🙂
We make every effort to keep the information in this blog as up to date as possible, but due to the constantly changing nature of the virus situation & government travel restrictions, it is subject to change. The decision of whether to travel to Ecuador or the Galapagos Islands is a personal decision for each person to consider, after weighing up the facts available on the various sources of information available, such as the WHO website, and your own government’s travel advice too.
The role of Happy Gringo is to a) keep our clients as informed as possible, b) help our clients out, within our powers, in the case of problems whilst traveling, and c) assist in trip postponement or cancellation. We take this role very seriously so please contact us at any time for help and advice.