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 have stabilised, daily life in Ecuador has slowly adjusted to a "new normal".
The National Government announced that from this Thursday, April 28, 2022, the use of a mask in open and closed spaces is optional. However, there are exceptions to this measure, according to the latest Resolution of the National COE.
a. The use of masks in closed spaces will continue to be mandatory for the case of health centers, hospitals, and health establishments, both for the staff who work in these, as well as for patients and visitors.
b. The use of masks in closed and open spaces will be mandatory for People with respiratory symptoms.
c. It is recommended to use a mask in closed places and open to people with aggravating conditions and in conditions of vulnerability.
d. It is recommended to use a mask in closed places such as transport public, air transport, classrooms of educational establishments of all levels and work spaces.
e. The provision to present the vaccination certificate remains in force with complete scheme to access non-essential activities of in accordance with the technical standard issued by the health authority.
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.
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.
Ecuador's airports are open to international flights. There are no Ecuador travel restrictions in place right now, but travelers should be aware of special entry protocols.
BREAKING NEWS - AS OF 11th FEBRUARY 2022: All international arriving passengers over the age of 3 years must travel with proof of Covid vaccine, showing that both dosis have been administered at least 14 days prior to entering the country. Medical test results (PCR or Antigen) are NO LONGER REQUIRED :)
In the case that a traveler has NOT been vaccinated, then a negative PCR test result taken within the past 72 hours is required.
Infants under the age of 3 years do not require either vaccine or PCR test.
All passengers should also complete and print out a copy of the Travellers Health Declaration Form found online.
Galapagos National Park successfully re-opened to visitors on 1st July 2020, and many tours/cruises are now operating.
IMPORTANT BREAKING NEWS! As of 11th February 2022, all Galapagos visitors must show proof of full vaccination (at least 14 days prior to travel) to board Galapagos flights. Medical test results (PCR or Antigen) are NO LONGER REQUIRED :)
In the case that a traveler has NOT been vaccinated, then a negative PCR test result taken within the 72 hours prior to Galapagos travel is required.
Infants under the age of 3 years do not need either vaccine or PCR test.
In other positive news, 100% of the adult Galapagos population have been vaccinated, confirming the Galapagos Islands as a Covid-safe destination.
As of 15th March 2021 Peru too has reopened it's doors to international tourism. Arriving passengers should travel with a valid negative PCR Covid-19 test result taken within the past 72 hours. By presenting this document no quarantine period will be required. Airport staff will also take your temperature on arrival, perform a Covid antigen test on arrival (at the cost of the traveler), and request that you fill-out a health questionaire.
The good news is that tourism is slowly reactivating, and people are beginning to travel again.
Many 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 Lake, Ingapirca ruins, Mojanda & San Pablo Lakes, Otavalo markets and Peguche waterfall.
Yasuni National Park in the Amazon Rainforest is also open to receive tourists again, and entry requirements that required a proof of full vaccine status were lifted in April 2022.
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. On 14th December 2022 the first case of the Omicron strain was detected.
The process of vaccinating Ecuadorian citizens and residents began in late January 2021, and is advancing very well. 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 already fully vaccinated.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy Gringo are here to help with organizing any Covid tests that you may need while traveling in Ecuador.
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.
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 2022!
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.