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Conditions for Traveling to Galapagos in the coming months

This week was an exciting one for CNH Tours.   We sent our first guests since March 2020 to Galapagos.   As travellers become vaccinated and gain confidence, tourism to Galapagos is slowly rebounding.  At CNH Tours, we sent our first guest to Galapagos this week (all from the USA, except for one guest from Spain).   They boarded the Samba this past Tuesday and today, they are snorkeling at Marchena Island.  Of the 65 ships in Galapagos, only the Samba visits this small, remote island.   The undersea wildlife our guests are snorkeling with sees only a maximum of 14 humans, once every two weeks - that's as unspoiled as it gets.    

While many people remain understandably wary of international travel, or live in countries making it difficult (imposition of quarantine measures on their return), over the past 2-3 months, we have seen a significant increase in bookings for trips to Galapagos.   People are getting vaccinated and feel increasingly confident.   Their confidence is further boosted by the knowledge that most of the Galapagos adult population is fully vaccinated, or will be by the end of June.   Also, the fact that health protocols are being religiously implemented on ships and on land adds an extra layer of reassurance.  

At CNH Tours, though we are very keen to help you plan and embark on your trip of a lifetime, we want to be absolutely sure that you are doing it with your eyes wide open to current conditions.   At the end of the day, only you can decide if it’s a good time to go.   If you are keen, and know the conditions, they we’ll be glad to help. 

For this reason, we provide below an update on the travel requirements to, and conditions in Galapagos for prospective travellers.

“DO NOT TRAVEL” Advisory

It’s important to note that on April 20,2021, the US State Department listed Ecuador (along with most other nations, including Canada) as a Level 4: Do Not Travel destination, while the Canada government retains an Avoid All Non-Essential Travel advisory for Ecuador. These advisories are meant to guide prospective travellers in their decision-making.   You will find that many travel insurance companies will take their cue from these advisories in deciding if the will offer coverage.   You will need to check on this issue before deciding to travel.

POSSIBLE DISRUPTIONS TO TRAVEL:  

While unexpected disruptions to travel can happen at anytime and for all kinds of reasons, during a pandemic, the risk is bigger.   Disruptions may come in many forms, such as:

  • Changes to in-country movement at short notice / imposition of curfews;
  • The imposition of quarantine measures with a little or no notice, in Ecuador or in your home country;
  • Limitations to the availability of medical attention;
  • Cancellation / rescheduling of national / international flights;
  • The closing of international borders with little or no notice (stranding travelers abroad).

Only you can assess your risk tolerance and make a final deciion on wether to travel or not. For those who would be more comfortable travelling outside of pandemic conditions, now is a great time to reserve your Galapagos cruise for 2022, or even 2023. We do anticipate quite a rush in the coming months and it may be that 2022 will be fully booked sooner than expected. 

MORE LENIENT CANCELLATION POLICIES: 

Ship owners understand that there are added risks traveling in this pandemic times.  In response, most ships in Galapagos are offering more lenient cancellation policies.  These come in a variety of forms, but they are all designed to reduce your financial risk when booking and making a deposit.  Please contact us for more information. 

If you are determined to travel under the conditions noted above, we present below the latest entry requirements for Ecuador and Galapagos (please note, Galapagos has stricter requirements).

ENTRY INTO ECUADOR – ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS DURING COVID TIMES

While the usual passport, and (for a few countries) VISA requirements remain in place, a few additional requirements have been imposed in response to COVID-19:

1)           Possess both Medical and Emergency Evacuation insurance.  Technically, this requirement was in place a few years prior to the pandemic and of course, we stronly recommend that you be adequately insured prior to travel.   We do note thatt, to our knowledge, no-one has ever been asked to show proof of insurance on arrival into the country.  

2)           Complete a Traveller Health Declaration form: Prior to your arrival into Ecuador, you will be asked to confirm your health status, including arrival and personal details and all countries you have visited in the past 21 days. You will also be asked to note your planned whereabouts in Ecuador for the first 21 days of your stay. Finally, you will be asked to declare if you have any symptoms of COVID-19. You will need to carry this form with you at all times while in Ecuador.

3)           Provide proof of one of the following COVID-19 to enter Ecuador:

  • A COVID-19 antigen test - obtained within 72 hours of travel – OR -
  • A COVID-19 PCR test (with a negative test result) - obtained within 72 hours of travel – OR-
  • Proof of having been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 vaccine (NOTE: Proof of vaccionation is NOT accepted for entry into Galapagos)

        NOTE:  You are only considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after your second shot in a 2-dose series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-shot vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine

(The rollout of COVID-19 vaccine to the continental population of Ecuador may take some time. For this reason, we are not actively encouraging our guests to travel on the continent for the time being.)

 

ENTRY INTO GALAPAGOS – ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS DURING COVID TIMES

These are the same as the requirements for entering Ecuador, with the significant exceptions below: 

  1. Proof of COVID vaccination is NOT ACCEPTED for entry into Galapagos, nor is an antigen test. You MUST show printed evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test obtained within 96 hours of entry to Galapagos: You may bring you test result from home, or you may procure your test from an Ecuadorian government authorized lab on the continent. If you choose the latter, you will need to reserve your test a minimum of 24 hours before you plan to take it. Turnaround time for your result is currently 24 hours. MUST BE PRINTED and brought with you to the airport on the morning of your flight to Galapagos.
  1. Safe Passage document (Salvoconducto): Issued by your ship, tour operator or hotel, notes where you will be staying for the initial portion of your time in Galapagos. MUST BE PRINTED and brought with you to the airport on the morning of your flight to Galapagos.

For official and updated recommendations and requirements emitted by the USA Center for Disease Control, including requirements for returning to the USA, see:   https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/covid-4/coronavirus-ecuador#vax

JOIN OUR GALAPAGOS SEMINAR: Origins and Conservation Challenges

One of our founders, Marc Patry, is giving a 45 minute presentation on Friday 15 March, 5PM EST ("Happy Hour" in Montreal, New York, Miami time).

If you're curious about WHY Galapagos is a globally iconic wildlife destination, how such an eclectic collection of odd animals arose there, and what the current challenges are to their conservation, this event is a good place to start finding some answers.  Interesting, dynamic and interactive - limited to 12 participants so that you have a chance to ask questions. 

Marc worked for the Charles Darwin Research Station in collaboration with the Galapagos National Park Service from 1998-2002 and is an elected member to the Charles Darwin Foundation's General Assembly. He was also the United Nations' point person overseeing the state of conservation of Galapagos under the World Heritage Convention, from 2003 - 2012.  Marc is an experienced public speaker and presenter.

Price is US$20.  Book your spot here:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/galapagos-history-and-conservation-challenges-tickets-142338074011

My husband joins the CNH Tours team!

I’m very pleased to announce that as of today, my dear husband, Marc Patry, will be joining me at CNH Tours.   After over 12 years working with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and seeing how I’m getting too busy to cope with all the work,  he decided to make the switch.  

 

Marc was actually the one who started CNH Tours, having organized trips to the Yucatan, Patagonia and to the Monarch Butterfly reserves of Mexico while working for an international community forestry NGO.   When we moved to the Galapagos, he decided to strike out on his own, and as a side activity, he organized a first cruise there for friends, and another for those who had joined him on earlier trips.  His main job was with the Charles Darwin Research Station, where he helped develop and start up the largest ever conservation project in the islands - the eradication of goats from Isabela Island. He worked closely with the Galapagos National Park Service as well.   Marc was also involved in managing several other conservation projects, and helped with the management of the Research Station.

 

We left Galapagos for Paris (UNESCO headquarters) where Marc was given the responsibility for natural World Heritage sites in Latin America and the Caribbean - which included the Galapagos Islands.  At that point, he had to hand over CNH Tours to me.  For over 10 years, Marc closely monitored the conservation status of the islands, and engaged with senior government officials, conservation organizations, the tourism industry, local politicians and other stakeholders in so doing. He has had several meetings with various ministers of the environment, and he once even had a private meeting with the president of Ecuador to discuss World Heritage issues.

 

Marc’s position allowed him to travel to Galapagos on several occasions and to be taken around the islands as the United Nations representative for monitoring the islands’ state of conservation.  He was also responsible for reporting in person to the intergovernmental World Heritage Committee on what he saw.

This has given Marc a unique perspective and access to a wide variety of sources regarding the on-going efforts at addressing conservation challenges.  He has frequently been asked to speak to the media, from The Economist, to Al Jazeera, on matters relating to Galapagos. 

Update:  As of 2019, Marc sits on the following boards of directors:

  • The International Galapagos Tour Operators' Association
  • The Travel Industry Council of Ontario
  • The Charles Darwin Foundation (as a governing member of the General Assembly)


With Marc at my side, I’ll be able to breathe a bit easier, and we hope to provide even better service than we have so far. 

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