FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

We highly recommend that clients read the FAQ section carefully. These questions are designed to help avoid common confusions and misunderstandings, and help us to provide the best possible service.

Each topic has the answers to the most common questions from our past clients. If you still can't find the answer you're looking for, just ask our sales staff and they will be happy to help.

BOOKINGS

Click on the question link below to find your answer.

1. How can I make a booking?

Simply tell us which tour you would like to book, for which dates, and for how many passengers, and subject to availability we will be happy to book it for you.

Please also send us the following information for each passenger:

  • Full name (as written in passport)
  • Gender
  • Passport number
  • Date of birth
  • Marital status
  • Country of residence
  • Email address
  • Dietary requirements (normal / vegetarian / food allergies etc) For Galapagos bookings we also need to know your preferred flight route and dates.

2. How do I know that happy gringo have made a booking for me?

As soon as we receive your booking request (see question1) we will go ahead and make a reservation for you. We will then send an email confirming that your booking has been successfully made - this email acts as your initial booking confirmation.

We also send an e-receipt at time of payment which contains precise details of your booking and acts as final booking confirmation.

3. I've just booked a tour, now what should I do?

First you will receive an email from us confirming that your tour has been successfully booked. The next step is to organise payment with our sales staff (see also Payment FAQs). From there we will organise eveything required for your trip, and send out tickets and instructions at the appropriate time (see also Ticket pickup FAQs).

4. What are the terms and conditions of my booking?

Our full terms & conditions are found on our website. We strongly recommend thoroughly reading each clause. By making your payment to Happy Gringo you are accepting these terms, so if you need any further clarification, please let us know at time of booking.

5. What if I need to cancel my booking before travelling?

Your booking is completely confirmed with Happy Gringo once you send payment for your reservation. We act as a third party agency, and enter into a contract with the service provider (e.g. Galapagos boat operator) on your behalf with obligations to pay for those services.

Service providers charge penalty fees for cancellation of service - these fees apply to both Happy Gringo and out clients. For this reason tour cancellations are subject to the cancellation charges listed in our terms and conditions. In cancellation cases we represent our clients and try to recuperate funds paid to service providers, but this is not always possible. The final decision always lies with the service provider, and we are bound by that. For this reason we strongly recommend the purchase of travel insurance that covers you fully in the event of trip cancellation.

PAYMENTS

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1. Which payment methods are available, and which handling fees apply in each case?

Happy Gringo accept the following payment methods:

  • USA BANK WIRE - the most convenient method if you have a USA based bank account. We charge a $25 handling fee per transfer in order to cover our costs of transferring the money into Ecuador to pay local suppliers for your tour. Transfers usually take 2-5 working days to arrive into our acocunt.
  • CREDIT CARD - quick and easy online payments for visa and mastercard cardholders. Credit card processing fees do apply – please ask our staff for current rates.
  • ECUADOR BANK DEPOSIT OR TRANSFER - deposit cash or transfer locally into any branch of Banco Pichincha, Internacional or Produbanco. This may the best option if you are already in Ecuador.

Most importantly all of our accounts are 100% SAFE & SECURE. All payments are made in the name our company (Operadora Happy Gringo). We will never ask you to risk paying into any account registered under a personal name.

2. I am booking a last minute tour - which payment options are available?

A last minute booking is classified as a booking made less than 2 weeks before your trip departure date.

If you are in Quito then it is best to pay us in US$ cash in our office or via credit card online. If you are overseas then online payment with credit card is the only option open.

3. When can I pay just a deposit in advance, and when do i have to pay in full?

Generally speaking we require a 40% deposit at time of booking in order to confirm your reservation. Full payment is then due 3 months before your date of travel. Of course should you prefer to pay in full at time of booking then that is also no problem.

Only in the case of bookings made less than 3 months before date of travel do we immediately require full payment.

Consult our full terms and conditions for further information.

4. Why is prompt payment so important?

When you make a tour reservation with Happy Gringo, we book all of the spaces required for your trip, e.g. with hotels, cruises, lodges etc. All of these service providers require payment from Happy Gringo on your behalf to 100% guarantee the space. For this reason your prompt payment to Happy Gringo is so important. Late payment to us can in turn mean that your reservation will be cancelled by the operator.

5. Why can't I pay over the phone with credit card like I can in usa/europe?

Due to strict anti-fraud measures in Ecuador, it is not possible for us to take your credit card details over the phone. This is for protection of the consumer.

The good news is that our online card payments system is quick and easy to use, and highly secure.

6. Where can I find your bank details in order to make a transfer?

Our bank details are available upon request - tell our salesperson which bank you wish to pay into and he/she will provide full details to you.

7. How do I wire money by western union (wu)?

At this current time we are unfortunately unable to offer this payment option!!!

8. Do you accept travellers checks?

Unfortunately not at this time as travellers cheques are not wildly received in Ecuador.

9. When will happy gringo send me a receipt for payments received?

We send receipts out by email on the same day that we receive your transfer.

TICKET PICKUP

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1. Where, how and when can I collect my tour tickets?

We'll send out all tickets, vouchers and instructions electronically via email. When you travel you can either print out a physical copy to take with you, or store the documents on a celphone or tablet. Nothing could be easier!

Usually we aim to send tickets out between 1 and 2 weeks prior to your tour departure, but this depends greatly on when we receive the tickets from the yacht operating companies. If for any reason you need your tickets further in advance, then please let us know so we can try to make the necessary preparations for you.

2. I will be in quito when the happy gringo office is closed so how can I collect my tickets?

See Q1 above - this is not a problem as our regular ticket delivery method is electronically via email. No need to come in person to our office.

3. I prefer to pick-up my tickets in guayaquil, how can I do that?

Again not a problem as we will scan the tickets to you, but please bear in mind that we will not be able to send any physical documents to you in Guayaquil.

4. Once I have my tickets is there anything else that I need to worry about before travelling?

We strongly recommend that you check vaccination advice with your doctor AND check passport/visa requirements with the Ecuadorian Embassy in your country BEFORE you travel.

Currently all nationalities need at least 6 months of validity on their passport, and visa requirements vary by country of domicile. These regulations are always subject to change at short notice, for this reason Happy Gringo cannot provide direct advice to our clients on these matters, nor can we be held responsible if your personal paperwork is not in order. This information is VERY IMPORTANT to check as your airline may deny permission to board the plane if your passport / visa is not in order.

Decisions about vaccine and malaria medication are a personal choice, so it is best to directly consult a doctor to see which options are recomemended for your trip. It will also depend on which destinations you plan to visit in Ecuador. If travelling to the Amazon rainforest or coastal areas then these decisions are especially important.

In a pandemic world of course each country also has it's own entry requirements. Check out our Ecuador & Galapagos Covid blog for all the latest information.

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS FAQ

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS YACHTS / CRUISES

Click on the question link below to find your answer.

1. Which different classes of boat are available?

We divide yachts into the following 4 classes:

Note that each agency has its own system for classifying yachts; our system is unique to others because we have chosen category names that we consider describe the boats better than those traditionally used, and we classify boats based not only on on-board services offered but also on past client recommendations and feedback. As such we consider that ours is the most unbiased and informative system available today.

2. What types of cabin are available on yachts?

This varies greatly so it is best to check out individual yacht pages on our website for more information.

3. I'm travelling alone - do I have to share a room with a stranger or pay a single supplement?

Actually you can do either of the above. As long as you are willing to share your cabin with a stranger then there is no extra charge to the regular prices quoted on our website, and the boat operator will always try to match you together with somebody of the same gender (although this is not 100% guaranteed). If you do not wish to share your cabin with a stranger then you can choose to pay a single supplement to have the cabin to yourself - ask us the cost in each case as it varies by yacht but expect to pay between 60 and 100% extra.

4. What on-board services do the yachts offer?

Again this varies greatly by boat so please check the individual boat pages for more information.

5. When is the best time to book my galapagos cruise?

Galapagos cruise availabilities are limited all year round so we usually recommend to plan as far ahead as possible. This is especially true if you plan to travel July, August, Christmas, New year or Easter when spaces are often fully-booked out well in advance.

If your trip to Galapagos is intended to be a dream holiday for you and you would like a wide choice of yachts available to choose between then it is best to contact us between 3 and 12 months prior to travel.

If you have more flexibility in your plans in terms of yacht choice and travel date and are looking for a bargain then contact us 1 month or less before your date of travel and we will always try to find the best late deal available for you - discounts of 10-30% are often available at this time. Last minute deals are also sometimes available in the final week or days before travel where you might be able to save up to 50% off of the regular list prices. This approach does, however, carry with it a much greater risk - you may get lucky and hook-up an awesome late deal, or you may get unlucky and find that no good cruise options are available at such short notice.

So timing of when to book is very much a personal decision when you are planning your trip. Happy Gringo can unfortunately neither guarantee when late price deals will be available, or when certain yachts will sell out in advance. For this reason we typicially recommend to book in advance if there is a particular yacht that you really want to travel on.

6. When are last minute prices available?

Typically prices start to fall 1-2 months before departure, and if spaces are still available then rates may fall further 1 week or less before a cruise departure date.

7. Can I just head out to puerto ayora and book there?

It is possible to do this and there are agencies based at Puerto Ayora that can help you. You must be extremely flexible in your travel plans though as you will have to wait around in port until suitable cruise spaces become available - this may take only 1 day or may take over 1 week.

8. When is high season at galapagos?

High season in terms of most popular month to travel to Galapagos and the highest tourist volumes are in July, August, Easter, Christmas and New Year.

Some of the yachts also have different definitions of a high and low season with different process accordingly, while other yachts run on just one season the whole year through. Check individual boat prices for each different definition.

9. What is included / excluded in a cruise?

Tour inclusions and exclusions often vary from yacht to yacht, so it's best to check each Happy Gringo webpage of the vessels you are interested in. Here is a generalised version of inclusions that applies to most cruises: Inclusions:

  • Accommodation on twin-share basis
  • 3 meals per day from lunch on day1 to breakfast on final day
  • All excursions as listed in the itinerary
  • English-speaking naturalist guide
  • Drinking water / tea / coffee
  • Pickup and dropoff at the airport in Galapagos

Exclusions:

  • Air fare from mainland Ecuador
  • National park entrance fee
  • Transit control card
  • 12% VAT tax on cruise rate (currently does not apply to foreign tourists)
  • Tips to guide and crew
  • Drinks from the bar
  • Other personal expenses

Each yacht has it's own policy on snorkelling equipment and wetsuits, so please check individual boat pages for more information.

10. How much should I tip to the guide and crew?

Check out our blog for detailed guidelines and advice about tipping in Ecuador & Galapgos.

11. Is the drinking water aboard a yacht safe to drink?

Yes. A large dispenser of potable water is provided to refill bottles whenever you are thirsty.

12. How much do drinks cost at the yacht bar?

Prices vary by yacht and are certainly more expensive on the first and luxury cruises. As a general idea beer and soft drinks should cost approximately between $1.50 and $3 while wine and cocktails are usually a little more expensive.

13. Can I take my own food/drink aboard?

Most yachts prohibit taking your own alcoholic drinks aboard but provided that you exercise tact and caution then the crew will often turn a blind eye to it, i.e. drink your drinks privately some nights and buy drinks from the bar on other nights.

Only wrapped foods such as chocolate bars can be taken into the National Park and wrappers should always be properly disposed of after use.

14. What type of food is typically provided on a cruise?

Usually the food is varied with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, chicken and fish/seafood, rice / pasta / potatoes. Expect some typical Ecuadorian dishes too.

15. Can a yacht cater for vegetarians and/or special food requests?

Yes, provided that you let Happy Gringo know in advance then we will always communicate this to the boat operator to ensure that the yacht chef is prepared to cater for vegetarians as well as any type of food allergy.

Please remember though that South America does not typically cater very well for vegetarians, but most yacht chefs will do their best for you.

16. How do I meet the guide/yacht in galapagos?

If you are flying from mainland Ecuador on the first day of the cruise then it is really very simple - the guide will be waiting for you at the arrivals area of the airport. Just look out for the person holding a sign with the name of your yacht.

If you travel to Galapagos some days prior to the start of the cruise then we'll provise tour meeting instructions. Sometimes it's possible to meet your tour group at the docks, or sometimes  you will have to return to the airport to meet up - this depends on the actual location of the yacht.

17. Do yachts have electricity points aboard?

This depends upon which yacht you are travelling on - most of the more modern boats do have US-style 2-prong 110V electricity points in each cabin, while some of the older yachts will only have these points in the common areas.

18. What is the smoking policy on yachts?

It varies per yacht but typically smoking is prohibited in cabins and inside the yacht. In some cases passengers may be able to smoke on deck but should be respectful of other non-smoking passengers.

19. Can children/babies travel on a cruise?

Each yacht has it's own policy for children/babies - ask Happy Gringo if you are planning to travel with your young family and we will recommend a suitable yacht.

20. What happens in the case of mechanical problems during my cruise?

Mechanical problems do sometimes arise and may affect your cruise but in general this is a rare occurence. In these unlucky cases, the boat operator is responsible to find a suitable solution to minimise the impact on your trip. This will depend on the situation - a yacht swap onto a similar class of cruise is most common, or a land based tour may be offered if no alternative cruises are available. Rest assures that Happy Gringo will always represent your case for you, and work behind the scenes to ensure that the most suitable solution is provided. We'll also represent you in the case of any complaint against a tour provider.

21. I have heard that sometimes boats get swapped at the last minute - how can this happen?

Boat swaps are a very rare case too but do occasionally happen when mechanical problems are so severe that your first-choice yacht simply cannot operate.

A boat operator has the responsibility to find a yacht of either equal or better category level than your original yacht, and preferanl;y with similar dates and itinerary to the original trip. Happy Gringo always represent your case with the operators to ensure the best possible solution for you.

22. What happens in the case of a passenger becoming sick during my cruise?

If sickness is not serious (e.g. a stomach bug or sea-sickness) then the passenger can rest in their cabin whilst the rest of the group continue with the cruise activities.

In the case of serious sickness it may be necessary to return to port so that the passenger can receive hospital treatment, and this can cause loss of activities in the cruise for the other passengers aboard. Fortunately such cases are rare but can and do occasionally occur. In such cases neither the boat operator nor Happy Gringo can offer any form of refund to other passengers as such cases are outside of our hands. The boat operator will try to ensure that the negative impact to the cruise is minimal and Happy Gringo will help out with any paperwork that is neccessary for a travel insurance claim for lost activities on the trip.

We recommend that passengers travel with a basic first-aid kit and adequate travel insurance.

23. How can I avoid the problem of sea-sickness?

Sometimes the Galapagos seas can be rough and some passengers may feel a little sick aboard. As a very general guideline, Galapagos seas are typically a little rougher in August & Sept, and calmer from January to April.

The easiest solution is to use standard motion-sickness remedies - this is a must for your packing list.

It is also a good idea for passengers without sea legs to opt for more stable vessels, such as lareger cruise ships or catamarans. Land Tours are another great option - sleeping each night in the comfort of a bed on terra firma.

24. Do all yachts hold safety certification?

Yes, all Galapagos yachts hold valid safety certificates as demanded by Ecuadorian law and regulations.

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS FLIGHTS

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1. Can happy gringo organise my galapagos flight booking for me?

No problem - we always look after both the flight bookings and ticket issue for our Galapagos clients.

If you prefer to book your own flights then in most cases it is not a problem, but please do let us know first so we can inform you of which airline / flight you need to be on.

2. Why do some yachts charge a penalty fee if I don't book my flights through them?

Some Galapagos yachts obligate Happy Gringo and our passengers to book flights directly through their operating company. Although Happy Gringo do not necessarily agree with this practise, we are bound by the rules and policies of each yacht.

The reason for this policy is that the cruise operators regularly need to send supplies to the Galapagos Islands for the operation of their cruises. This is done via cargo flights from Quito to the Islands, and entails a significant cost for the cruise operator. Some yachts have therefore made deals with airlines; when they buy a certain quantity of passenger flight spaces through the airline, they also receive reduced prices for the cargo. So, to ensure that they sell enough flight seats they obligate all of their passengers to fly on that airline and book the flights through their operating company. If a passenger still chooses to book their own flights then the yacht operator will charge a penalty fee to them. The amount of the penalty varies from yacht to yacht, but is typically around $50-60 per person.

Not all yacht operators follow this strategy. Others instead include the cargo rates already into their cruise sales price, and give their passengers the freedom to purchase flights either through Happy Gringo or on their own.

So please be sure to check out website or ask your sales person at time of booking about the flights policy aboard your yacht of choice.

In the case that the flights must be bought through the operating yacht company, then Happy Gringo will help you with the direct flight booking or penalty fee with the operator.

If your yacht gives freedom in flight booking, then Happy Gringo can help with a quote for tickets, or advise you which flights to book by yourself.

3. Are there always flight spaces available that coincide with the dates of my cruise?

Yes. The cruise yachts always reserve spaces in advance for all of their cruise dates during the year, so at time of booking the yacht will release a flight space to Happy Gringo on your behalf. In this way our Galapagos clients always have 100% guaranteed spaces on a flight leaving the exact same day as their cruise. The only exception is with last minute bookings where it can be more difficult to find flight spaces.

4. Can I fly on different dates than my cruise?

Yes. you can fly out before your cruise starts and/or back after it finishes, but only subject to available space on the new date you would like to book. Happy Gringo can request the new flight date with the airline for you and usually we have no problem in acquiring it.

5. Can I reserve just a flight without a cruise?

Happy Gringo only book flights for clients who have made a cruise or tour reservation through our company. If you only wish to book flights then it's best to go direct to the airline websites.

6. Which airlines fly to galapagos?

Avianca and LATAM.

7. How many airports operate at galapagos?

Only 2 airports receive flights from mainland Ecuador : North Seymour Airport on Baltra island (close to Santa Cruz) and San Cristobal.

There is also a small airport on Isabela island in operation for occasional small plane flights from Santa Cruz.

8. How much do the flights cost?

Galapagos flight prices vary flight route and date. This table gives an idea of typical average rates:

Route Average Rate
Quito / Galapagos / Quito $500 - 550
Quito / Galapagos / Guayaquil $475 - 525
Guayaquil / Galapagos / Quito $475 - 525
Guayaquil / Galapagos / Guayaquil $450 - 475

9. Are there any discounts available?

Ecuadorian residents with a valid Cedula ID card can purchase at reduced rates - please ask our sales staff for a quote if this applies for you.

10. Can I choose which flight to use?

If you are booked onto a cruise then the answer is no because the boat operator will choose the flight for the whole group of passengers that they have. In this way all cruise passengers travel together and it is easier for the guide to meet the group at the airport. You can choose to fly with an alternative airline than that of the rest of the group but you run the risk of the guide not waiting for you in the event of flight delays so we do not recommend this.

If you are travelling independently and without a cruise then we can make the flight reservation on whichever flights you prefer (subject to availability).

11. Is it necessary to reconfirm my galapagos flight?

Reconfirmations are not required for Galapagos flights.

12. Is there a baggage weight restriction?

You may only carry baggage up to 23kg (50 pounds) in the cargo hold, as well as hand luggage of 10kg (22 pounds) plus a small additional personal item.

13. How soon before departure should I check-in?

Galapagos flights are classified as domestic departures and are therefore subject to a 2 hour check-in time. In reality many passengers choose not to respect this but we always recommend being at the airport 2 hours before your departure time because occasionally flight times can be altered last minute by the airlines - it is always better to be safe than sorry!

14. Can I change the dates of my flights if I have already issued the ticket?

Yes, date changes are possible, subject to availability.

Airlines usually charge an extra fee to make date or route changes. In the case where you are already in Galapagos it is simpler to make changes directly at the airline office in Puerto Ayora or Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

15. Is airport transfer included?

In Quito / Guayaquil airport transfers are not included, unless otherwise stated when you book your tour with us.

At Galapagos your guide will meet you at the airport and have transport waiting to take you to the yacht.

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS ITINERARIES

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1. What is a typical day on a cruise?

A typical day usually looks something like this:

  • Early start and breakfast on yacht
  • 2 - 3 hour island visit during morning
  • Return to boat for lunch and brief siesta (to avoid the strong midday sun)
  • 2 - 3 hour island visit and chance to snorkel during afternoon
  • Return to boat for dinner
  • Briefing of next day by guide
  • The boat usually cruises at night so that you wake up at a new island

Obviously this is subject to variation and should be used only to give a general idea

2. How long is spent on each island?

It depends, on the large islands you might spend the entire day and visit different landing points, while on the smaller islands you will usually just land once before cruising to visit a new island in the afternoon.

It is best to consult the individual boat itineraries to have a better idea for your particular cruise.

3. What is the timing of the first and last days?

This is a very important issue that all clients should be aware of in order to avoid disappointment:

The timings are dictated by the flight times of the arriving and departing flights (regardless of which airline and which flight you are on). On day1 the flights arrive to Galapagos mid to late morning and you will therefore have only an afternoon activity on that day.

On the final day the flights depart early to mid morning and therefore you have only an early morning island visit on that day. It is best to consult the individual boat itineraries to have a better idea for your particular cruise.

4. What is the best possible itinerary?

There really is no "best" itinerary - it all depends on what you most want to see and do during your visit to the islands. As a general guideline there are broadly speaking 6 different types of route that yachts take.

North loop - usually including islands Santiago, Bartolome, Rabida, North Seymour and occasionally Genovesa. This loop is considered best for volcanic landscapes, for the penguins on Bartolome, and for the excellent general wildlife and hammer-head sharks (for divers) of off-the-beaten-track Genovesa.

South loop - usually includes islands San Cristobal, Española, Floreana and Santa Fe. The south is generally considered better than the northern loop for variation in wildlife. Española in particular is a regular client favourite.

Complete loop - usually includes a shortened version of both the north and south loops as well as a complete circuit to the west of Isabela island and Fernandina. Only some of the Comfortable Gringo and Luxury Gringo class yachts run the complete loop itinerary which is considered to be the most complete itinerary possible in a Galapagos yacht.

Isabela West - more and more boats are taking advantage of the opportunity to visit the west side of Isabela island. This area is still considered to be off of the regular beaten tourist path, and some boats offer great adventure activities (biking, horse-riding) to the Sierra Negra volcano here.

Santa Cruz - most itineraries include at least the basic stops at Santa Cruz, that is the Charles Darwin station and the tortoise reserve on the highland part of the island. Both are great visits and always enjoyed by our clients.

Darwin and Wolf - only the specialist dive yachts head as far north as Darwin and Wolf islands. This area is considered to have some of the best dive sites in the world.

Yachts usually combine two or more of the above components together to make their full 8-day itinerary.

5. What is a "joined" itinerary and why do boats do this?

Boats often join together their 4 and 5 days itineraries to make an 8-day trip. They do this in order to offer 3 different trips within the same week (i.e. 4days, 5days, 8days).

The down-side is that passengers on an 8day tour lose some time by having to return to port to drop off passengers at the end of their 4 or 5 day cruise, as well as pick up new passengers. It is not completely lost time in this passenger switch-over day, as each yacht will organise an activity/visit whilst the passenger switch-over is happening.

6. What happens if our boat is forced to change itinerary?

Boat itineraries are always subject to change. The most common sources of such change are alterations to national park regulations / restrictions and boat mechanical issues.

Usually no more than 1 or 2% of cruises are affected and the impact of any necessary change on the passengers is always minimised wherever possible. In the extreme event that a cruise is affected Happy Gringo will always represent our clients in registering a complaint with the boat owner (when the boat owner is responsible for the change) or in preparing suitable paperwork for a personal insurance claim (in the event that the change was out of the hands of the boat owner)

7. What is the difference between wet and dry landings?

In a wet landing the panga (small landing craft) stops at the beach and lets passengers disembark in shallow (up to the knees) water. In a dry landing the panga is able to drop passengers off directly onto a small dock.

GALAPAGOS GUIDES

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1. What is a "naturalist" guide?

A guide who has been trained and licensed by the National Park Authority to lead tours, and who is a specialised in nature and biology.

2. What is the difference between guides of level i, ii and iii?

Previously there were three levels of licensed naturalist guide at Galapagos, based on differences in experience and knowledge of differente guides.Islands. These levels no longer exist.

3. Do all guides speak english?

Yes, all guides on the yachts that Happy Gringo sell are qualified to guide a tour in english. Clients should bear in mind though that the level of english between guides is very variable and that english is their second language so patience is sometimes required!

4. How do I know whether my boat will have a good guide?

Almost all guides work free-lance and frequently change between the boats, therefore a boat that may have had a great guide one week may have an average one the next - it is simply impossible to predict. Happy Gringo therefore never recommend any specific boat based on whether a certain guide will be working on it or not, because this information can change.

All guides have studied hard for their guiding badge, speak English, and are approved by the Galapagos National Park Service.

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS DIVING / SNORKELLING

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1. Which dive options are available at galapagos?

There are 2 dive options:

Specialist dive boat where the principal reason for the trip is to dive. These live aboard cruises head up to islands Darwin and Wolf - specialist dive areas.

Dive day tours can be made from Santa Cruz, San Cristobal or Isabela. Land-based dives can be booked as stand alone daytours or complete packages.

2. At which islands is it possible to dive?

Almost every island at Galapagos has dive sites. It is best to consult with our diving webpage to decide which sites are most suitable for you based upon the dive difficulty of the site and the wildlife that it is possible to see there.

3. I am not a strong swimmer, can I snorkel with a life jacket?

Every boat provides life jackets to passengers so it is no problem at all to use one whilst snorkelling.

4. Are dive sites suitable for both inexperienced and experienced divers?

Each site is unique and will be suitable for a different experience level of diver - some have strong currents and should only be attempted by experienced divers, others are calm and suitable for inexperienced divers. For the most advanced dive sites a mimimum number of previous dives may be required.

Always consult with our sales team before booking & with the dive master on board to decide whether each dive site is safe and suitable for you.

5. Is all dive equipment included?

Dive daytours and land packages include everything you will need.

Galapagos dive cruises include most of the equipment, but recommend that you travel with some dive items.

6. What information do you need from me in advance about equipment size?

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Shoe size
  • Wetsuit size (if known)
  • PADI licence number

Dive experience (number of dives previously made)

7. What is the standard of the dive equipment provided?

The standard varies by operator, but generally is in good shape and safe working order. Divers can also bring their own gear if they prefer.

8. How often is there opportunity to snorkel on a typical tour?

Usually there is at least one opportunity to snorkel each day during a regular cruise schedule.

9. Is use of snorkelling equipment included in my cruise?

It depends on which boat you are booked on - some include equipment, others charge a small rental fee. Each boat page on the Happy Gringo website details each particular boat policy with regard to snorkelling equipment.

10. What is the standard of the snorkelling equipment provided?

The standard varies by boat. Generally it is not the most modern or newest equipment but is in safe working order and suitable. Tourists are free to bring their own snorkel gear if they prefer.

11. Is a wetsuit necessary?

For diving it is always necessary to use a wetsuit.

For snorkelling it really depends - during the cold season (Aug to Nov) the sea can be chilly and it can be advisable to use a wetsuit. In the warm season (dec to June / July) it is often not necessary. It also depends upon each individual and their resistance to the cold. Check out our Galapagos weather blog for a better idea of water temperatures through the year.

Wetsuits can be rented directly from most yachts for an additional fee.

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS GENERAL INFO

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1. What are the visa entry requirements for the galapagos islands?

The main requirement is a valid Ecuadorian tourist visa stamp in your passport - this should have been issued to you upon arrival to mainland Ecuador. There is also a $20 immigration control card that is payable to INGALA at Quito (or Guayaquil) airport.

In a pandemic world there are also special entry requirements that apply. Please check our Galapagos & Ecuador covid blog for up to date info.

2. What is the best time of year to visit galapagos?

Galapagos is a great year-round travel destination.

Weather-wise there are 2 seasons:

  • Cool & dry season - July to December with generally overcast conditions and choppier waters. Temperatures between 19 and 25°C, average sea temperature 21°C.
  • Warm & wet season - January to June with sunny skies and occasionally heavy showers. Temperatures between 22 and 27°C, average sea temperature 24°C but can dip lower.

In terms of number of visitors the busiest times of year are July, August, Christmas / new year, and Easter.

Check out blog for more detailed information about Galapagos weather and wildlife activity each month.

3. What should I pack with me for my cruise to galapagos?

Check our Galapagos packing list blog for detailed information, tips and a printable pdf tickbox.

4. Should I take malaria medication at galapagos?

Galapagos is not considered to be a malarial risk travel destination.

5. Must I be of good physical condition in order to take a cruise?

A reasonable level of fitness is required for the treks and for snorkelling - most island visits involve 2 to 3 hours of gentle walking during a day so all tourists should be prepared for this.

6. Is travel insurance necessary?

Health insurance is a requirement in order to travel to the Galapagos Islands. Migration staff will often check insurance certificates at the airport, and may prevent travel if you don't hold a valid policy. Insurance could be a specific health policy, or a trip insurance policy that includes hospitalisation.

Happy Gringo always recomemend a travel insurance policy that protects in case of unforeseen events, itinerary changes, trip cancellation or curtailment and accidents.

7. How much money should I take on my cruise?

You should allow for the following expenses: park entry fee and INGALA tct card ($120), tips (depends on how many days you are cruising and on which class of yacht - see Yachts/Cruises FAQ section for more info), drinks from the boat bar and personal expenses/souvenirs.

8. Will I have access to atms and/or internet during my cruise?

There are ATMs in town at both Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz) and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal).

Internet access should work when in port if your overseas contract supports roaming, but is very sketchy on the open sea.

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9. Is it possible to surf at any of the islands?

Yes. The best surfing waves are to be found on San Cristobal island where there are also various agencies renting boards and offering surf lessons.

10. On which islands is it possible to stay overnight in a hotel?

Islands Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela all offer a range of Galapagos hotel accommodations. Floreana Island also has basic accommodation.

11. What transport is available between islands if I am not on a cruise?

The cheapest and most reliable form of transport between islands is by the speedboat ferries. There are ferries that run everyday between Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela islands - check local information in Galapagos for up-to-date timetables.

There are also occasional small aircraft flights that operate between the main islands with EMETEBE airline. Again it is best to check local information in Galapagos for up-to-date timetables.

To visit islands other than these main 3 it is possible to organise day-tours with agencies based in Puerto Ayora.

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK

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1. How much is the national park entrance fee?

Currently it costs US$100 per person to enter the national park, but this is subject to change.

At time of writing there are discounts for children under 12 years old ($50), and foreigners currently living in Ecuador with cedula ($6) but this too is subject to change.

2. Where do I pay the entrance fee?

On arrival at the airport in Galapagos as you pass through immigration.

3. What other fees must be paid to enter galapagos?

In addition to the Galapagos Park entrance fee, a US$20 migration transit control card is required to travel to Galapagos. This fee is payable at Quito (or Guayaquil) airport.

4. Can these fees be paid with credit cards or travellers cheques?

No. Only US$ cash is accepted.

5. Where does my money go?

The $100 national park fee is divided between a number of parties involved in both managing and preserving the islands. It is divided as follows: Galapagos National Park 40%, Galapagos municipal council 20%, Provincial government 10%, INEFAN 10%, Marine Reserve 5%, INGALA 5%, Provincial inspection system 5%, Ecuadorian navy 5%.

The transit control card goes to INGALA, the institution that controls migration to the islands.

6. What are the visitor guidelines of the national park?

The Galapagos National Park area is carefully protected in order to preserve the unique ecosystem that exists at the islands. Your naturalist guide should explain these rules to you, and Happy Gringo request that all of our customers take them seriously and aim to leave no trace of their visit to the islands behind.

  • No plant, animal or other natural objects (including shells, bones, pieces of wood) should be removed or disturbed.
  • Do not 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.
  • Do not startle or chase any animal from its nesting spot.
  • Stay within the marked paths and designated visitor areas.
  • Do not leave any litter on the islands or throw litter from your boat.
  • Do not deface the rocks.
  • Do not buy souvenirs made of plants or animals.
  • Do not visit the islands unless accompanied by a licensed national park guide.
  • Think about the effect that your visit is having on the islands and try to minimise any negative impact.
  • If you see other tourists disobeying any of these rules then report it immediately to your guide.

If all visitors follow these rules then the islands can be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

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