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Galapagos Islands – A Safe Haven in South America 

The Galapagos Islands are a rare opportunity for travelers to experience nature at its purest in a completely safe environment. Its unique biodiversity and pristine landscapes make the archipelago a one-of-a-kind destination for kids, multigenerational families, couples, and solo travelers.

This blog will discuss why the Galapagos Islands are the safest destination in South America and inspire you to book your client’s next grand vacation!

Why is Galapagos a safe destination in South America?

The Galapagos Islands’ remote location and strict regulations make it a safe haven in South America. The archipelago’s isolation lets visitors explore the islands with peace of mind, focusing on learning about wildlife and marveling at breathtaking landscapes.

Limited Access and Conservation Efforts

Limited access points and controlled archipelago access are critical to preserving the islands’ delicate ecosystems. As a result, the Galapagos National Park and the Ecuadorian government implement strict regulations to protect the archipelago’s fragile environment, contributing to the safety and wellbeing of its many species. Only 3% of the Galapagos National Park area is accessible to visitors.

The number of passengers that can sail on live-aboard cruises around the islands annually is limited, making this UNESCO World Heritage Site an exclusive travel destination. Therefore, Metropolitan Touring’s destination experts carefully create itineraries that include Galapagos’ top visitor sites and locations where travelers can spot the most iconic and unique species, known as the BIG15.

Understanding Safety in Galapagos: Tips and Tricks

Isolation and serenity set apart the Galapagos. The distance from the mainland contributes to its seclusion, far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Visiting the Galapagos is an opportunity to take a break from the chaos of modern cities.

Flying to Ecuador: Gateway to the Galapagos

Getting to the Galapagos Islands is easy. Flights from the Ecuadorian mainland to the Galapagos are the primary mode of transportation to access the archipelago as there are no direct international flights to the Galapagos Islands.

Travelers must fly to one of two major international airports on Ecuador’s mainland: Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) or Guayaquil’s José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE). These airports offer daily, early-hour domestic flights to the Galapagos Islands. Flights arrive at Seymour Galapagos Ecological Airport (GPS) on Baltra Island or the San Cristóbal Airport (SCY) on San Cristobal Island.

If Quito is your clients’ mainland destination to connect to Galapagos, we recommend they spend at least one night in Old Town Quito—another beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site. The award-winning Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel is a standout when it comes to accommodation. Nestled in the heart of Quito’s Historic Center, Casa Gangotena allows guests to explore the city’s timeworn cobblestone streets and get a sense of the colorful and flavorful Ecuadorian culture.

Are there entry requirements to the archipelago?

Yes. Upon arrival to the Galapagos Islands, planes go through a cabin-disinfection process. Then, travelers go through customs and security procedures. At Seymour Airport or San Cristobal Airport, travelers must present their passport and Galapagos Transit Control Card (TCT). Also, visitors are required to pay for the Galapagos National Park fee.

All baggage is scanned, including carry-on luggage. This inspection is carried out to ensure that prohibited items are not allowed into the islands. Restricted items include:

  • Plants and animals
  • Seeds and soil
  • Foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and animal products.
  • Fishing equipment
  • Drugs and narcotics
  • Firearms and ammunition

What are the health and safety precautions visitors must take?

When visiting the Galapagos Islands, we recommend that your clients be mindful of health and safety precautions in a remote destination.

Stay Hydrated

Galapagos has a warm and humid climate. Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water throughout the day is crucial, especially while enjoying outdoor activities.

Use Sun Protection

Sun protection is vital, given the islands’ proximity to the equator. Visitors should use sunscreen with a high SPF and wear a hat, sunglasses, and lightweight clothing to shield themselves from the sun’s intense rays.

Medical Considerations

Metropolitan Touring’s expedition cruises have a doctor aboard, available 24/7. However, if your clients have specific medical conditions or require medication, they should have an ample supply for their stay.

Protection During Sea-based Activities

When swimming or snorkeling in the waters around

the archipelago, visitors must be cautious of strong currents and marine life. Follow the safety guidelines provided by our naturalist guides to avoid disturbing marine creatures.

Respect Wildlife: Guidelines for Responsible Interaction

Crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches interspersed with lava-rock landscapes where marine iguanas bask under the sun. Boobies waddle while male frigatebirds inflate their bright-red gular sacs (throats pouches) to attract females in an elaborate courtship display, and sea lions relaxingly grunt while enjoying themselves on the beach. All this awaits travelers wishing to explore one of the most biologically diverse regions of the planet.

Visitors must adhere to Galapagos National Park regulations, which include maintaining a safe distance from wildlife, refraining from feeding animals, and respecting their natural behaviors.

Maintaining a Safe Distance

10 feet (about three meters) is a respectful distance when observing wildlife in the Galapagos Islands. This way, travelers can avoid disturbing or causing stress to the animals. Maintaining a safe distance ensures the well-being of the land and marine wildlife.

Feeding the Animals is Prohibited

Visitors must refrain from feeding wildlife. It can disrupt their natural behavior, diet, and interactions with other species. Feeding animals may also make them dependent on human food, leading to long-term negative consequences.

No Touching or Disturbing Wildlife Interactions

Sea lion pups are adorable. They are playful and curious, always keen to explore their surroundings. They have large, expressive eyes and endearing expressions. Even though they are irresistibly cute to observe, travelers—especially kids—shouldn’t try to touch or interact with them. Keeping a hands-off approach with marine creatures, birds, reptiles, and mammals ensures their well-being and your client’s safety.

Staying on Designated Trails

At visitor sites, trails are visible. Trails play a crucial role in protecting fragile ecosystems and ensuring the safety of visitors and wildlife. Thanks to the fact that all visitors must be accompanied by a park-certified naturalist guide, visitors stay on these paths, thereby reducing perturbances to wildlife and avoiding any damage to delicate habitats.

Why is choosing a reputable tour operator the best idea?

Selecting a reputable tour operator in South America can make or break the experience. When picking the best tour operator, you must consider their expertise, network and connections, and local industry knowledge. An expert local operator has well-established connections with providers, guides, and accommodations.

With 70 years of experience, Metropolitan Touring is South America’s leading Destination Management Company (DMC). We have a strong network in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru. The ideal partner for an adventure to the archipelago should provide access to the best services and deals, including a variety of experiences catered to your clients’ interests. Also, working with a reputable tour operator ensures a safe experience for your clients.

The Galapagos Islands are a safe haven in South America. Visitors observe nature’s beauty while prioritizing safety and conservation. By following guidelines, choosing a reputable tour operator, and respecting the environment, travelers can experience the Galapagos’ unparalleled serenity and enjoy this unique refuge.

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