CNH Tours - Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours Galapagos
Saturday March 14, 2020
Galapagos: Closed until further notice
This afternoon, the vice-president of Ecuador announced a series of measures with the objective of slowing down the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Though there are fewer than 30 cases in the country, he has indicated that it would be better to apply these heavy-handed measures now to avoid greater disruptions later.
As of midnight, Sunday night (15 March), foreigners will no longer be permitted entry into the country (even Ecuadorian nationals have until midnight on the 16th of March to return!). Should any arrive after that date, they will be forced to purchase an air ticket on the spot and return to whence they came.
All ships operating in Galapagos are closing shop. One large ship operated by National Geographic turned away several dozen passengers just as they were arriving in Galapagos today. They had to turn around and head right back home.
Countries are urging their citizens to head back home as soon as possible before it becomes very nearly impossible to do so: Commercial airlines, faced with a dramatic drop in passengers, are cancelling many flights and some routes may no longer have service.
Over the past several weeks, we have tried hard to keep abreast of the developments. It seemed that each day brought a new policy decision on the part of Galapagos authorities, Ecuadorian authorities, the World Health Organization, various governments. It has been very hard to try to get clarity at times, and to translate that into practical, accionable advice for our guests.
As of this morning, we had 4 determined guests from Canada - willing to embark on a ship this coming Tuesday. Despite our warnings that things could change, they were keen. They were already in Ecuador and would have been eligible to fly to Galapagos. But sadly, by this afternoon, everything changed (once again) and now, instead of swimming with penguins, they will be on a flight home this Thursday.
It's not clear how long these measures will be in place. Some ships in Galapagos have the temerity to declare that they will be resuming operations in 1 month. But frankly, I don't know the basis on which they make these decisions. It could be much longer.
In the days and weeks ahead, we will monitor the situation. We have many friends in Galapagos who keep us posted on conditions there (it won't be easy, as most people there make a living from tourism and already, I have reports that it's a ghost town in Puerto Ayora). We'll be posting updates here if there are any developments of substance to report.
In the meantime, hang on to your dream. Perhaps giving Galapagos a little breather might be a good thing for the wildlife and the visitor experience when things get going again.
In the meantime, for the keeners out there, CNH Tours is offering some very favourable booking conditions to those who are keen on booking something now for a future date. We'll offer a discount, and we'll let you change the date of your sailing should COVID-19 remain an issue at that time. Contact us for details.