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.
Last updated: Tuesday 23rd May 2023
Travel Health & Safety
What measures have been taken to ensure safe travel in Ecuador and the Galapagos islands?
The really good news is that Ecuador is 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.
Daily life in Ecuador has returned completely to normal. Lockdowns, social distancing and masks are, not surprisingly, now a thing of the past. On October 19, 2022, the national government officially announced that the pandemic was over in Ecuador.
What is Happy Gringo doing to ensure travel safety for our clients?
First and foremost, we are also delighted to report that Happy Gringo have been awarded the Safe Travels stamp in recognition of our hard work to ensure client and worker safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is an official international stamp of approval to demonstrate that we are working to the highest possible standards to keep you safe during your time in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
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.
Entry requirements for Ecuador, Galapagos & Peru
What are the entry requirements to Ecuador for international tourists at this time?
Ecuador's airports are open to international flights. There are no Ecuador travel or entry restrictions in place right now.
We do, however, recommend that tourists still carry their proof of covid vaccination, just in case future entry restrictions are required.
The only current COVID entry requirement to Ecuador, only for passengers experiencing symptoms or general malaise, is to complete and print out a copy of the Travellers Health Declaration Form found online.
For clients travelling to PERU, please check Peru Covid guidelines here.
Galapagos Covid: What are the requirements to travel to Galapagos at this time?
Galapagos National Park successfully re-opened to visitors on 1st July 2020, and all tours/cruises are now operating.
In line with Ecuador mainland entry regulations, no COVID documentation is required to travel to the Galapagos Islands at this time. We do, however, recommend that tourists travel with their proof of vaccination, just in case rules change.
In other positive news, 100% of the adult Galapagos population have been vaccinated, confirming the Galapagos Islands as a Covid-safe destination.
Status of Ecuador's tourist destinations
The good news is that tourism is fully reactivated.
National parks, Reserves and tourist destinations are officially operational again, including: Cotopaxi, Illinizas, Cayambe-Coca, Pasachoa, Pululahua, El Cajas, Antisana, Cotachachi-Cayapas, Churute, Sangay, Yasuni National Park, Limoncocha, Chimborazo, Mitad del mundo equator monument & inti ñan museum, Papallacta hot-springs, Quito teleférico, Quilotoa Lake, Ingapirca ruins, Mojanda & San Pablo Lakes, Otavalo markets and Peguche waterfall.
Ecuador & Galapagos COVID-19 cases
At present, the Ministry of Health has reported 871,000 confirmed cases of the virus in Ecuador, with 35,598 deaths know to be caused by the virus.
Currently over 82% of the overall population have been fully vaccinated with two doses, putting Ecuador inside the Top 10 countries in the world for vaccine coverage. Vaccination focus was placed on the Galapagos islands, where 100% of the adult population are fully vaccinated.
Practical Tips for Travellers
What if Covid returns in Ecuador?
The good news is that Ecuador has one of the highest vaccine rates in the world, with over 80% of the mainland population fully vaccinated, and 100% of Galapagos residents. Ecuadorians are also accustomed to wearing masks in public places, and performing temperature checks. These measures have been very successful in restricting the spread of Covid-19. So, Ecuador & Galapagos are in fact one of the safest travel destinations on the planet right now.
Of course, it is possible that there will be future outbreaks, and this could impact travel in the country. But, Ecuador ended quarantine back in September 2020, and since then our clients have been traveling without any negative impact from the pandemic. The government is also dedicated to keeping the country open for safe tourism. So, we do not anticipate that the pandemic will have any more significant effects on travel here.
What if my cruise or tour can´t operate?
When you book through Happy Gringo you are always covered. We’ll take care of you in the case that a Galapagos yacht is unable to operate, and make sure that a change of cruise date, or comparable alternative cruise is offered. If that is not possible then a full refund will be negotiated with the cruise operator for you.
What if there are more travel restrictions?
If you can prove that it is impossible to travel due to restrictions, either in Ecuador or your home country, then in most cases yacht operators will let you postpone to a future date of travel. But, please bear in mind that this only applies with official travel restrictions, not travel advice from home governments.
What happens in the case I test positive before my trip?
It is really important to take extra care in the weeks before your trip, so that you are not exposed to Covid-19. That way your trip should not be impacted in any way.
In the case that you do test positive, and are unable to travel, then in most cases you will unfortunately lose your cruise spaces. Cruise operators are usually not providing refunds or postponements, although of course we are happy to try our best to negotiate with them to try to find a solution for you.
In Quito and Guayaquil, Covid quarantine hotels are available for different budgets. As well as hotel bookings, Happy Gringo can also help you to organise Covid tests directly in your hotel.
Here’s our top advice for everyone though … more than ever, it is highly recommended that all passengers buy trip insurance providing cover for loss of a tour in the case of a positive Covid test. That way you can enjoy a stress free trip, and will be fully covered even in the worst case.
PCR and antigen tests in Ecuador
Happy Gringo are here to help with organizing any Covid tests that you may need while traveling in Ecuador.
- We can arrange for a nurse from a reputed clinic to visit your hotel to take tests.
- We recommend that you allow sufficient time in one of Ecuador’s major cities (Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca) for testing, including buffer time in case results are slower than expected.
- We DO NOT charge anything extra for this service (unlike many other agencies who add up to 50% extra onto the test price). We are happy to do the extra logistical work that is involved for FREE for all of our clients.
- If you prefer, you can also make your own private testing arrangements.
IMPORTANT – Happy Gringo cannot be held responsible for:
• The result (positive or negative) of your test. Of course, it is possible for false positive results to occur. If your antigen test does come back positive, then we suggest either repeating the test, or taking a PCR test to be 100% sure.
• The time taken for test results to come back to you. Ecuadorian clinics do usually comply with the timeframe of service that they promise, but in periods of high demand this may not be possible.
If you are unsatisfied with the service of the clinic then do let us know, but please also remember that this is a FREE service that Happy Gringo are providing, and we cannot be responsible for the level of service provided by private clinics.
Happy Gringo work procedures
Is Happy Gringo still open for business and reservations?
Our office in Quito is open, business as usual, Monday to Friday 09:00 to 18:00. As always, though, it is not neccessary 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.
How are Happy Gringo handling tour cancellations?
Fortunately we were able to assist most clients in postponing trips to a later date, so you have something nice waiting for you in the future!
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, the Covid years were extremely challenging times for everybody. Fortunately, the world is a different place again now, making travel easier and safer for all. 🙂
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 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.