- Can I travel to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands?
- What are the current travel restrictions for entry to Ecuador and Galapagos?
- What do I need to travel back to the US?
- How do we approach your safety?
- Specific Safety Information Regarding Galápagos
- Safety in Motion
- Safety at Sea
- Safety at Rest
- Safety while Touring Visitor Sites and Attractions
- In conclusion…
This post was last updated on July 6th, 2022
How do we approach your safety?
By focusing our preparation, protocols, and procedures on the traveler experience, we can prioritize your safety and wellbeing throughout your time with us. A solid, capable, and proven staff handle everyday safety checks of our hotels, expedition vessels, and transportation vehicles), while our well-connected operations team coordinates details at every turn.
Keeping in mind that the world is a magical place, we acknowledge that these are uncertain times for travel. That being the case, tourism and travel experts, like us, are adapting to today’s challenges and preparing for potential eventualities, however improbable. Our greatest asset is our team, and our go-to tools are knowledge, experience, and a solid network of thoroughly vetted partners and service providers.
Additionally, our team is constantly improving via trainings, seminars, and the daily practice that comes with welcoming travelers from all over the world! Let’s take a look at some more specifics.
This is what we are about. Our implementation of up-to-date safety measures in all our products and experiences goes hand in hand with routine maintenance and care for our vehicles, vessels, and properties. This is just one piece of the puzzle.
Staff training, drills, and firsthand knowledge of critical actions and operations are another important component. In the past, we’ve had to deal with unforeseen issues that have at times impacted our operations. Each of these has been a solid learning experience and an opportunity to hone our skills and strengthen our resilience. It’s what gives us the confidence to guarantee your safety and wellbeing.
Approaching your safety responsibly, with professionalism, seriousness, and compassion, means maintaining our transportation and accommodation spaces pristine and disinfected; keeping our public areas safe, clean, and clutter-free, and making sure our facilities are neat and tidy at all times.
Medical Expertise at the Ready
We take it one step further than just about all our competitors by having a medical officer available 24/7 aboard each of our Galapagos expedition vessels; professional guides with emergency medical training ready to respond to any emergency, big or small, no matter the hour, at our Mashpi Lodge; and nearby medical professionals that can arrive in an instant at our Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel in Quito, Ecuador and our Finch Bay Hotel in Galapagos.
Similarly, our teams in Peru and Colombia work with trusted providers. Their protocols and procedures have been thoroughly vetted; these include emergency protocols that we have carefully reviewed and that we trust.
Specific Safety Information Regarding Galápagos
The Galapagos Islands are an incredible destination. The archipelago is a remote, serene, and secluded destination. Here, safety is important for travelers, staff, and of course, the destination and its unique inhabitants—native and endemic species.
In Galapagos, physical distancing from the animals throughout the Islands is a key rule since 97% of this location is the Galapagos National Park (GNP). Authorities established park rules many decades ago. These are committed to memory by everyone who works and lives in the Enchanted Isles. One example: people must maintain a safe distance of about 6 feet (2 meters) from curious species, like sea lions, birds, turtles, and iguanas, at all times. If you’re getting ready for a trip to the Galapagos, it is a great idea to check out the GNP rules ahead of time.
Aboard Our Expedition Vessels
In recent years, we’ve remodeled our vessels to provide even more ample spaces. Our standard cleaning procedures include the latest outcome-based technology and know-how while maintaining our commitment to environmental responsibility—for instance, sanitization based on UV filters, the use of ozone-cleaning systems, and so forth.
We conduct health screenings prior to departure to ensure that passengers have the required clearance to travel between destinations. We also work with partner hotels, restaurants, ground transportation services, airlines, and airports to stay up to date with and standardize health and safety protocols (to the degree possible), including any necessary distancing measures. It also allows us to observe, recommend, and implement environmentally friendly processes, whenever possible.
For the GNP to continue monitoring the Galapagos Marine Reserve, sponsoring various scientific research projects, eradicating invasive species, and restoring the populations of endangered fauna, they need the resources and funds raised via tourism and travel. Given this, everyone involved is working to rebuild travelers’ confidence and sense of security in sanctuary destinations like the Galapagos Islands.
We believe in our model of sustainable tourism: minimizing and offsetting the carbon footprint of our operations and that of our guests’ travel withing Ecuador and the region. We recognize and embrace the power of travel and its ability to inspire people, from all over the world. Therefore, we are committed to contributing actively to the conservation of the destination.
Safety in Motion
Domestic Flights and Ground Transportation
Electronic, contact-free procedures are beginning to replace the more traditional or formal check-in procedures. Don’t be surprised if the next time you travel you notice personal interactions limited when strictly necessary. To guarantee physical distance, waiting areas, counters, and screening points are undergoing some pretty cool changes, too. These vary from airport to airport, and terminal to terminal. It’s an exciting time to be traveling!
On the ground, our vehicles, and personnel (including guides, luggage-handling staff, and drivers) follow a set of protocols that includes readily available hand sanitizer, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) when necessary, ample spaces and spacing when recommended, and so on. Additionally, our team takes part in regular health screening via checkups, and vehicles undergo regular, rigorous disinfection and cleaning. Sometimes, luggage is handled or transported separately by a support team.
Many of our transfer vehicles—that pick you up or drop you off at the airport—already have limited or low capacity so as to give our guests a little more personal space.
Safety at Sea
We’ve already covered some of our most important safety measures regarding the Galapagos, where we have our three awarding winning expedition vessels ready to welcome you aboard. Here is a quick recap of what we’re doing to keep you safe at sea.
- Onboard medical officer available 24/7, with a dedicated medical treatment and consultation area.
- Crew member and passenger health screenings prior to boarding.
- Latest technology (like UV filters and ozone cleaning systems) aboard each vessel.
- Increased personal space for guests and crew, including modified public areas.
- Excellent guest-space ratios that average well above the recommended 28.26 square feet per guest in cabin, dining, and social areas.
- Small expedition groups led by Park-certified Naturalist Guides. We operate with at most, 11 or 12 guests per guide, far fewer than the GNP-stipulated maximum of 16 guests per guide.
Safety at Rest
The numerous team members at eachof our hotels (Casa Gangotena, Mashpi Lodge, and the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel) participate in a routine health screenings at each location. Each hotel’s dining and bar areas are disinfected and cleaned throughout the day. Also, our products have always been geared towards boutique, non-massive facilities; ample spaces are guaranteed, and ventilation systems incorporate ultraviolet filters and ozone-based cleaning equipment.
It is important to note that each of our essential processes carries the environmental seal of approval for use in natural settings that are highly sensitive, like the Chocó Bioregion and the Galapagos Islands.
Our Restaurants and Bars
À la carte meals are a safer option than buffet-style meal offerings. Room service meals are always an option should our guests want to enjoy a little more personal space while having a delicious meal. Our dining spaces are naturally designed to be and feel quite ample. Our waitstaff are considerate in their use of PPE, and things like readily available hand sanitizer and appropriate distancing are good practices that we continue to observe.
Our hotels’ dining areas provide a personal space ratio 1.8 times higher than the international suggested a minimum of 28.3 square feet per guest, often averaging above 51.4 square feet per guest.
Safety while Touring Visitor Sites and Attractions
All our visiting sites are part of well-preserved sanctuary destinations. In the Galapagos Islands, when visiting any site within the GNP, you’ll always be accompanied by a Park-certified naturalist guide, and we always observe Park rules.
Similarly, within the amazing rainforest preserve at Mashpi in the heart of the Chocó Bioregion, we will continue to operate with small groups of around four guests per guide.
Also, our land tours are designed to take you to fascinating places, avoiding tourist traps and overcrowded attractions.
We believe that enhancing the way we keep you safe, by incorporating new technology and better practices, helps us mitigate any potential risks to your wellbeing. We are committed to doing our very best to safeguard our guests’ health, safety, and wellbeing while showing them a unique and truly beautiful part of the world.
In essence, we create a sort of safety corridor, by escorting our guests along each part of their visit. Our goal is for our guests to feel safe and confident throughout their entire time with us, from the moment we greet them to the moment we drop them off on route to their next destination. This is something we know will add value to their experience, and it’s part of who we are.