This information was updated on 4/28/2022. Please note that Ecuador and Galapagos travel restrictions are subject to change without notice.

If you are planning travel to Galapagos or mainland Ecuador we have compiled everything you need to know about Ecuador and Galapagos travel restrictions and COVID in the Galapagos Islands. Ecuador & Galapagos travel restrictions are currently in place, but easy to navigate.

Early visitors are being rewarded with few crowds and exceptional wildlife. If you are dreaming travel to the Galapagos now, keep reading. Our experts unpack the latest Ecuador and Galapagos travel restrictions. Or learn more about what’s new in the islands for Galapagos 2022 and 2023 cruises.

IN THIS POST – Ecuador & Galapagos Travel Restrictions:
1. Can You Visit the Galapagos Islands?
2. Ecuador Travel Restrictions
3. Galapagos Entry Requirements
4. COVID Testing Options
5. Cruise & Tour Requirements
6. Departures Are Increasing
7. Flights Have Resumed
8. Bio-Security Protocols
9. Ecuador Takes COVID Seriously
10. Private Charter Options
11. Galapagos Are Perfect Destination to Restart Travel
12. Your Travel Will Have Positive Impact

Important Note: If you are an AdventureSmith booked client and you have a question please contact your Adventure Specialist for the most up-to-date and detailed information on Galapagos Travel requirements. If you interested in booking travel to the Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands please contact us. If you are seeking free advice please use the comments at the bottom of this post to ask a question.

1. Can You Visit the Galapagos Islands?

Yes, the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador are open to tourists. Cruises and tours are operating.

Ecuador is open to travel and officially resumed international flights on June 1, 2020. Entry is open to citizens of the United States, Canada, Europe and most other countries. The Galapagos Islands opened to foreign visitors on July 13, 2020, with nearly all ships and yachts now returned to service. Virtually all tourism in Ecuador is available.

Plan your Ecuador travel, Galapagos travel, find a Galapagos cruise or learn how to get to Galapagos and the best time to visit Galapagos.

2. Ecuador Travel Restrictions

In the age of COVID, specific Ecuador travel requirements have been implemented. These requirements are updated frequently and may change without notice. Ecuador reviews its entry requirements every two weeks. Ultimately it is the traveler’s responsibility to understand and meet Ecuador’s COVID travel restrictions and requirements.

Ecuador Travel Requirements

Ecuador travel restrictions were updated by the Ecuadorian government on February 11, 2022. View the press release issued by Ecuador Ministry of Tourism. All travelers 3 years of age and older entering Ecuador must present the following:  

  • Proof of completed COVID-19 vaccination
    Proof of completed COVID vaccination series. Original vaccination card is required, copies are not accepted. Learn what qualifies as fully vaccinated.
    OR
  • Negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result
    Proof of a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test performed no more than 72 hours prior to your departing flight to Ecuador. Any traveler that presents COVID symptoms upon arrival in Ecuador (despite a negative test result), must take a PCR test upon arrival and quarantine (both at own expense) for 10 days or until a negative test result.
    OR
  • Proof of COVID-19 Recovery
    Travelers entering Ecuador who were diagnosed as COVID-19 positive, and after one month continue to obtain a result from an RT-PCR test, may present a medical certificate from their country of origin attesting to their recovery, absence of symptoms, and that they are no longer contagious. 
    AND
  • Travelers Health Status Declaration Form 
    Travelers must submit a completed Traveler’s Health Declaration form prior to boarding their flight to Ecuador. The declaration is available on the Ministry of Public Health Website. If you are unable to submit this digitally, a physical form may be submitted, download it here. Travelers who fill out the digital form are no longer required to present a physical form.

Children 2 years and under are not subject to these requirements.

Additional Ecuador Travel Requirements for all travelers

  • Medical travel insurance
    This 2015 law is now being enforced. See our travel insurance page for a quote.
  • All passengers arriving at or entering an Ecuadorian airport must go through a body temperature sensor and health screening.

COVID in Ecuador

Travelers are asking us “Is it safe to travel to Ecuador?” According to Google, as of December 2, 2021 Ecuador has a fully vaccinated rate of 63.3% and 77.0% of the population has had a least one dose. For comparison the U.S.A has a fully vaccinated rate of 59.6% and 71.1% has had a least one dose. For more information visit the U.S. State Department Ecuador Advisory or www.Ecuador.travel.

We have seen with the COVID Delta and Omicron variants, Ecuador is willing to strengthen or loosen entry requirements based on the current situation. Travelers should be flexible and expect changes to entry requirements. We hope this information helps you answer the question “Is Ecuador safe to travel.”

3. Galapagos Entry Requirements

Due to their isolation and limited medical facilities, the island province has implemented its own Galapagos travel restrictions. These are in addition to Ecuador entry requirements.

Galapagos Islands Entry Requirements

In order for travelers to fly from mainland Ecuador to the islands, the following Galapagos COVID entry requirements have been implemented. These Galapagos entry requirements have been updated by the provincial government on February 11, 2022.

  • Proof of completed COVID-19 vaccination
    Proof of completed COVID vaccination series. Original vaccination card is required, copies are not accepted. Learn what qualifies as fully vaccinated.
    OR
  • Negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result
    Proof of a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test performed no more than 72 hours prior to your departing flight to Ecuador. Travelers may use the same test that they used to arrive in Ecuador, as long as it remains no more than 72 hours old when boarding the flight to Galapagos.
    OR
  • Proof of COVID-19 Recovery
    Travelers entering Ecuador who were diagnosed as COVID-19 positive, and after one month continue to obtain a result from an RT-PCR test, may present a medical certificate from their country of origin attesting to their recovery, absence of symptoms, and that they are no longer contagious. 

    Additional Galapagos Entry Requirements for all travelers:
  • Medical travel insurance
    This 2015 law is now being enforced. See our travel insurance page for a quote.
  • Galapagos Transit Control Card
    AdventureSmith can assist with this in advance.
  • Galapagos National Park entrance fee
    AdventureSmith can assist with this in advance.

COVID in the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos was hit hard early in the pandemic. Due to reliance on tourism which completely collapsed in early 2020, the local economy was devastated. As a result, and through a tremendous public and private partnership, the Galapagos Islands were the first province in Ecuador to be immunized against COVID-19. As of May 2021 nearly the entire adult population of 30,000+ have received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

4. COVID Testing Options for Galapagos Entry Requirements

For travelers who need to test, there are two ways to think about testing and your passage to the Galapagos Islands:

  1. Take a single test immediately before travel
    For instance, if you are flying to the Galapagos to begin your cruise on Monday, you must take your PCR test no later than mid-day on the previous Friday, 72 hours before your departing flight to the Galapagos. You must receive your results and plan to fly to Ecuador on Saturday or Sunday, then proceed immediately to the Galapagos on Monday. This might be a challenge and unduly stressful, but it is possible.
  1. Take your PCR test within 3 days of arrival into Ecuador and test again in Ecuador within 72 hours of your departure to the Galapagos
    Tests are available locally in Quito or Guayaquil for under $150 per person. If you are flying to the Galapagos on Monday, you can arrive Ecuador on Saturday, test at your hotel, receive the results on Sunday, then proceed to the islands on Monday.

Learn how to get a COVID test in the USA before you travel.

Covid Tests in Ecuador

PCR and rapid Antigen tests are readily available throughout Ecuador, especially in Quito and Guayaquil. The most convenient option is to schedule a test at your hotel. PCR tests cost about $150 and results are available in 24 hours. We will help arrange tests for all travelers booked with AdventureSmith.

COVID-19 tests in Quito, for travelers departing Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO), are available nearby at MedicalVip.

COVID-19 tests in Guayaquil, for travelers departing Guayaquil’s José Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport (GYE), are available at the airport or in town.

  • VERIS Medical Center laboratory provides rapid antigen testing services at the Guayaquil Airport. The location of the laboratory is on the top floor of the terminal, in the national departures area, next to the check in counters. The service process does not require a prior appointment, it is carried out according to the order of arrival. The cost of the test is $30. Hours are Monday to Saturday (except Tuesday): from 15:00 to 18:00 and Tuesday and Sunday: from 19:30 to 23:30.
  • Interlab has two locations in Guayaquil which offer PCR and Antigen testing.

Covid Tests in Galapagos

Some travelers are asking “Can I get a COVID test in the Galapagos Islands?” Currently there are no COVID testing facilities available for travelers in the Galapagos Islands. Some Galapagos Island hotels and cruise vessels may offer antigen testing for their guests. Galapagos PCR tests are not available to travelers.

The best place to complete your qualifying arrival test is in Quito or Guayaquil, before arrival into the Galapagos. Indeed, a Galapagos COVID test is required to board your flight to the islands. The best place to complete your return to U.S.A. or home country test is also in Quito or Guayaquil prior to your international flight.

U.S. Entry Requirements by Air

Currently, all travelers entering the United States by air (regardless of vaccination status or citizenship) must meet testing requirements put out by the CDC. AdventureSmith Explorations can assist our travelers with arranging for this testing. Our Adventure Specialists stay up to date so that we may provide the latest information. Read our United States Entry Requirements primer for the latest.

Many other countries, including Canada and the European Union, also have COVID entry testing requirements. Be sure to understand the requirements for your destination so you have the proper testing completed before departing Ecuador.

5. Galapagos COVID Requirements for Cruise & Tour Travelers

On 4/28/2022 some media outlets reported that the mask mandate in Ecuador has been lifted. While technically correct, there are nuances missed in this reporting. The Ecuadorian government has lifted the mask mandate as of 4/28/2022. However, the governors of each district and mayors of each city still control their own mandates. Currently masks are still required in Quito and Guayaquil. Furthermore, airlines are following the rules of their home country, so masks are still required in airports and on all flights to the Galapagos. This situation is fluid and we will do our best to keep this post updated with the latest information as it becomes available.

Some Galapagos small ship cruise and land tour operators have announced vaccination and/or COVID testing requirements in addition to those required by Ecuador and the Galapagos. With the constantly changing nature of the ongoing pandemic, there are likely to be additional changes to these operator-based requirements. The Galapagos experts at AdventureSmith Explorations strive to keep our clients well informed of the testing and vaccination requirements associated with their particular adventure.

Ecuador & Galapagos COVID Requirements for Guides & Crew

It is important to note that tourism professionals in Ecuador and the Galapagos, as frontline workers, were given priority vaccination early in the pandemic. All local staff utilized by AdventureSmith Explorations are vaccinated against COVID-19. This includes drivers, guides, hotel staff, ships crew and other hospitality personnel interacting with travelers. In addition, all crew are tested regularly.

6. Cruise Departures Are Increasing

Galapagos cruises are currently operating with nearly all ships and yachts returned to service.

Some operators are cruising once they reach a minimum threshold, which varies by ship and changes day to day. For instance, the 20-guest Origin and Theory will operate with a minimum of 6 guests. So even if you are just 2 people, contact us because others may be on a wait list. As travel resumes, minimum thresholds are becoming less of an issue.

A select few cruises currently have guaranteed departures each week. Notably the 48-guest La Pinta and 40-guest Isabela II are currently operating regular departures with as few as 2 people. These are a good bet if you want to travel soon. See all available 2022 Galapagos cruises.

7. Flights to Galapagos Have Resumed

Like cruises, flights to the Galapagos Islands have resumed, and schedules are returning to normal. LATAM has flights nearly every day, and we are seeing more flights become available as demand increases. Avianca has also resumed flights to the islands. All cruises booked through AdventureSmith Explorations will include internal flights from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands (at additional cost). Our experts will work with you to coordinate flights at the time of booking. Contact us for the latest flight options.

International flights to Ecuador have also resumed with options originating in major gateways such as Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami and New York. The international flight to Ecuador may be among the safest of your journey since everyone on board has had a recent PCR test for COVID-19 and is fully vaccinated. Last-minute flight deals are available but as demand increases and new routes are added, prices are returning to normal. Read more about how to get to Galapagos.

8. Bio Security Protocols in Ecuador & Galapagos

There are stringent new biosecurity protocols throughout Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. You will notice immediately upon arrival, while being greeted by staff in full protective gear to check your PCR rest results and conduct a health screening and temperature check. Hotels, yachts, transportation, restaurants and airports have all updated procedures to keep both visitors and locals safe and healthy.

Transportation Protocols

Drivers may not be allowed inside the airport; travelers may need to proceed to the curb to find your driver holding a sign with your name on it. Private airport transfers for AdventureSmith guests continue to be accompanied by an English-speaking guide and vehicles are subject to extensive sanitation before and after each transfer. More crowded transfers, such as from the Galapagos airport to your boat, will use larger vehicles that allow for social distancing and masks are required.

COVID-19 Protocols at Ecuador & Galapagos Hotels

Mid- to high-end hotels used by AdventureSmith have new procedures in place. Enlarged registration areas allow for social distancing, temperature checks are typical, methods for contactless payment are in place, enhanced disinfection and cleaning procedures have been implemented and personal hygiene kits are available to guests who may need a mask or sanitizer. For instance, Mashpi Lodge has implemented a walk-in ozone sanitizer tunnel, plus sanitization methods based on UV filters and other ozone cleaning systems.

Breakfast buffets have been replaced with plated meals served quickly, tables are spaced for increased distancing with tables and chairs disinfected before and after each use. Room service is typically available 24 hours a day. Hotel staff may enter rooms less frequently and porters may not handle luggage unless requested.

COVID-19 Protocols at Galapagos Airports

Upon arrival in the Galapagos, travelers will walk across a sanitizing foot bath and all luggage, including carry-on and checked baggage, will be sprayed with a disinfectant.

COVID-19 Protocols on Galapagos Ships & Trips

Biosecurity policies may vary slightly by each ship, but you can expect numerous protocols—both obvious and behind the scenes—designed to keep travelers and crew in good health. All crew, guides and hospitality staff are fully vaccinated and tested regularly.

Like hotels, ships will enforce social distancing and masks are required when social distancing cannot be observed on board. Increased sanitation procedures have been implemented throughout the ship including cabins, dining room, common areas and the galley, with special attention to high-touch areas. Dining room tables and hours are adjusted to increase social distancing. Buffets have been eliminated in favor of plated meals with the usual considerations for dietary restrictions. Snacks and appetizers are served individually.

Excursions are outdoors, in the wilderness, where social distancing is easy and you will rarely encounter other travelers. Masks must be worn while transiting in pangas and because of the stringent laws in Ecuador, masks are currently required during shore landings. Small groups are called separately to disembark for excursions and each panga will transport a limited number of passengers. Seats are disinfected between excursions. Keep sanitizer handy because it is useful to take the hand of a crew member when entering or exiting the panga.

Snorkeling equipment and wetsuits are still provided or rented to all guests at the beginning of the cruise and you will hold it until the end. All equipment undergoes a special sanitizing process. Bring your own if you are more comfortable. We have always recommended travelers bring their own mask and snorkel to ensure the best fit.

Some itineraries may eliminate visits to towns and the Charles Darwin Research Station. For cruises that do visit towns, masks must be worn at all times.

Each ship has various contingency plans should someone show symptoms while on board. In general, the trip will be interrupted and proceed to Puerto Ayora where health facilities are located. A public health official will interview all guests and crew, giving rapid tests if deemed necessary. If tests come back positive, then the traveler will be taken to the hospital for observation and the cruise will resume. Some larger ships with medical personnel on board will execute the health screening and tests on board, while affected guests are quarantined.

9. Ecuador Takes COVID-19 Seriously

Ecuador was in the news early in the pandemic and was caught off guard as cases spiked in May 2020. They implemented a very strict lockdown which has now been eased somewhat. Citizens are still required to wear a mask when outside their home and will receive a citation of $180 for not wearing a mask, even when driving alone in their car. Temperature checks have become a regular part of life.

We feel these protocols are necessary and will gain the trust of travelers who experience them. In our experience, you will encounter fewer people in one week in Ecuador than you do visiting the grocery store at home. And they will all be wearing masks.

10. Private Charter Options

We have seen a tremendous increase in interest for Galapagos yacht charters. Yachts range in size from 12 to 32 guests and a full boat charter offers many advantages over an independently booked cruise. The most obvious advantage during the time of COVID-19 is that you will know and trust all the travelers aboard and can create your own travel bubble to relax social distancing requirements. Other advantages include lower prices, exclusivity, customization and the joy of experiencing the islands with an intimate group of family and friends. Contact our experts to begin planning your Galapagos charter cruise.

11. Galapagos—The Perfect Destination to Restart Travel

There are several reasons why the Galapagos Islands are a great place for small ship cruises to restart worldwide:

Naturally Social Distanced

An archipelago of about 18 major islands located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos have been socially distanced for millions of years. Once you arrive it is a vast wilderness with less than 3% of its 3,000 square miles inhabited by people. Your time is spent in nature, not in town. Strict regulations implemented by the national park determine shore landing sites so groups rarely interact, preserving both the wilderness experience and social distance. Shore landing groups are limited to a maximum of 16 guests and some cruises are limiting capacity even further.

Exceptional Wildlife

Guides and locals report that visiting the Galapagos now is like visiting 30 years ago, before the travel boom began. The hallmark of any Galapagos small ship cruise is access to animals that evolved with no fear of humans. The pandemic has paused tourism and Galapagos wildlife has responded by taking over trails and towns. For a short time, this will make already spectacular wildlife interactions even more exceptional.

Only Small Ships

The size of small ships is relative, but in the Galapagos even the largest ships are limited to a maximum of 100 guests. The small ship model, with only 12 to 100 guests, is statistically safer than large ship cruising.

12. Your Galapagos Travel Will Have A Positive Impact

The lack of tourism since the pandemic began has had a significant financial impact on the economy and individuals in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. The vast majority of residents in the Galapagos directly or indirectly rely on tourism for their livelihoods. Your travel can have a direct impact on crew, guides, support staff and those who provide provisions. For the National Park 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 provided by tourism.

Our partners on the ground have initiated philanthropic efforts to help locals during this difficult time. The International Galapagos Tour Operators Association has launched a fundraising program to help Galapagos guides. Our partners at Ecoventura are raising funds to save education in the Galapagos.

During the pandemic lockdown, news reports surfaced of a vast armada of nearly 300 Chinese fishing vessels violating Ecuadorian sovereignty by entering Ecuador’s Exclusive Economic Zone multiple times. This massive illegal fishing threatens the Galapagos Islands and the rare endemic species that call the Galapagos Marine Reserve—a UNESCO world heritage site—home. National Park rangers aboard every Galapagos cruise, and the funding that tourism provides to the National Park, keep this type of illegal activity at bay.

Ultimately it is the resumption of the travel economy that will restore normalcy to the Galapagos, so the best thing you can do is go to the Galapagos now. Then share your experiences with others. Let folks know that Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are open and safe for the trip of a lifetime.

MORE GALAPAGOS RESOURCES:
Galapagos Trips
Galapagos Luxury Travel
Galapagos with Kids
Galapagos Diving
Galapagos Cruises
Galapagos Charters
How to Choose the Best Galapagos Cruise
Galapagos Island Hopping or Cruise?
Galapagos Tours
Best Time to Visit Galapagos
How to Get to Galapagos
Galapagos Islands Animals
Galapagos Trip Reviews
Galapagos Travel Guide
Galapagos Cruise Deals

If you have a question or are looking for advice, please use the comments below. Our experts will answer your questions to make this guide to Galapagos entry requirements even better. If you are ready to book your travel to Galapagos please contact us.