Whether you are planning a land based tour of the Galápagos Islands or a cruise of the Galápagos Islands, here is a checklist to consider before you go to the Galápagos Islands.
1. Sun protection: A no brainer, I know, but you will be on the equator with less atmosphere between you and the sun, do not skimp on sunblock. Sunburn and sun poisoning are one of the most commonly treated problems in local health centers. Also, the brands available on the island may not be to your liking. I bought an extra bottle there and its scent was horrid. A wide brimmed hat would not hurt either. Bring an extra pair of sunglasses.
2. Footwear: Sandals or thongs are a must of course but so are covered shoes if you plan to do any hiking on the islands. Much of the islands are covered with sharp a’a lava and even where there is soil the vegetation often has large protective spikes. Hikers are not essential but having footwear with decent traction is important if you plan to hike up any volcanoes. The hikes are not that long but if it is rainy the trail gets pretty messy.
3. Cameras: Bring a good camera, of course, but also consider a waterproof camera. The minute you go for your first snorkel with sea lions or walk with giant land tortoises, you will regret not being able to film this. Wait and swimming with sea turtles, penguins, sharks, rays, boobies…you get what I am saying. A GoPro does a really nice job with video but photo quality is not so hot.
4. Memory stick or external hard drive: You may want to share photos with people on your tour or get some of theirs. Also, for those that plan to book tours from land it is good to have a memory stick becasue some of the tours offer photos and video taken by your guide. The best way to deal with this issue is to have a memory stick with a fair amount of memory.
5. Patience: If you have a lot you will be fine, if you don’t you may want to stock up. “Island time” is taken very seriously in the Galápagos Islands. People are friendly enough but remember you are in their home. Things work differently there.
6. ATM cards and credit cards: Santa Cruz and San Cristobal both have ATM’s. Even if you are doing a cruise you may need cash to pick up T-shirts, trinkets, cash for tips, or have a few cocktails when you are in town. Most boat cruises end in port the night before and allow guests to go ashore for these purposes.
7. Snorkel gear: BRING YOUR OWN! You are going to the Galápagos Islands and you do not need leaky, junk gear. At least bring your own mask and snorkel, you can rent fins and a wet suit on the islands for a small fortune. You will need a wet suit because the water is chilly even in their “summer” and it will help avoid savage sun burns.
Otherwise you can buy nearly everything you need in local stores and pharmacies. Certainly you will pay more than on the mainland as the archipelago is 600 miles away and everything must be shipped.
Much more Galápagos Islands travel coming here soon! Link to those posts.
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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover …” -Mark Twain