Frequently Asked Questions - Ecuador & Galápagos

Will I suffer from altitude sickness?

Quito, Ecuador’s capital is located 2,850 metres above sea level. During our trip we may travel to areas 4,000 metres above sea level. As you will not likely be used to these levels of altitude we recommend you allow adequate time in Quito to acclimatise before the tour starts. Everyone is different and altitude will affect people differently. If you are concerned, please talk to your medical practitioner before you travel and they will be able to advise of the best medication to assist you with altitude whilst travelling.

What clothes should I take to Ecuador?

Clothing will vary from light weight in the Amazon region to polar fleece in the highlands. The closer you are to the equator the stronger the UV rays will be, so it is essential that you pack plenty of sunscreen and keep re-applying this throughout the day. For the Galápagos, shorts and t-shirts are ideal on the day-time excursions. Comfortable footwear can be worn on all excursions; however landings may be in ankle-shin depth water, therefore the water shoes for disembarking barefoot is ideal for wet landings. For the land component of this program you may wear comfortable pants such as jeans, cargo pants etc along with comfortable footwear.

What kind of footwear do I need for our shore visits?

It is most important that you bring a comfortable pair of athletic shoes or lightweight hiking boots.

How do we dry wet clothing?

Clothing dries very quickly inside your cabin. There are no passenger laundry facilities for you to do your own washing, but there is a laundry service available on-route.

How often do we get off the ship?

We aim to get off the ship in the Galápagos as much as possible, usually at least two times a day depending on weather and itinerary. Weather permitting we spend between one to four hours at each location.

Should I bring along my own walking poles?

Yes, it’s a good idea, especially if you have trouble walking over uneven ground. Some of our landings can be on slippery rocks or boulders, and we may go for extended walks to see different parts of our landing point. You can purchase these poles in most outdoor stores.

Can I swim or snorkel in the Galapagos?

Each day we will offer the snorkeling activity. Those keen can deep-sea snorkel from the panjos (zodiacs) or snorkel off from the beach. In the Galápagos we also have the opportunity to sea-kayak or register for the glass-bottom excursions.

What if I need to go to the toilet when ashore?

Our expedition team will instruct you with these types of rules on board. Generally we avoid going to the bathroom ashore, however in an emergency we ask you to find a discreet location to relieve yourself, however staying close to the marked walkways.

How fit do I need to be to travel on an Ecuador expedition?

To make the most of our voyages, you should be in good general health and able to walk reasonable distances, sometimes over uneven terrain. However, if you have problems walking on rough ground, in humid conditions, you can enjoy the scenery closer to shore or perhaps relax on board or at the lodges. Should you have any physical limitations please notify us well in advance of your departure, but this should not discourage you participating.

How many people on the tour?

Our Galapagos expedition is limited to 38 passengers. A tour guide from our operating partner, Metropolitan Touring, will lead the group and will be supported by a team of local experts.

How much room is there for luggage?

There is ample storage space in your cabin on the Isabela II. Your empty baggage can be stored safely elsewhere on the ship if need be. All suitcases can be taken to the Galápagos.

Is the ship air-conditioned?

Yes the ship will be air-conditioned.

Do the guides speak English?

Yes, all of our guides speak English, albeit, some better than others. Your tour leader is on hand to ensure you understand everything your local guides are saying.

Do you have facilities on board to download digital images from my camera?

We do not provide a computer to download your digital images. We recommended you bring a laptop computer or similar downloading device to download your images, either between landings, or in the evenings.

What is the electrical supply on board?

Ecuador uses the two parallel flat pin plugs, the same as the US. Remember to bring an adapter for your electric devices.

Is there Internet, email or telephone access on board?

There is complimentary internet access on board the ship and WiFi available in the hotels. Please note: due to the remote location of your voyage, making contact with the ship via telephone can be difficult and expensive. In case of emergency, it is recommended your family and friends contact the Aurora Expeditions’ office and we will get the message through to the ship as soon as possible.

What is not included in the price of the voyage?

In general, items that are not included in the cost of your voyage are flights to and from your voyage, pre and post accommodation, transfers, drinks from the bar (alcohol and soft drinks), gratuities, Ship Shop items, laundry costs and other items of a personal nature (unless stated in your voyage inclusions). Alcohol purchased in hotels or on-board the vessel is approximately US$10-16 per glass. Please check your specific voyage inclusions in our trip notes or call our Expedition Experts on + 61 2 9252 1033.

Do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance, including medical evacuation cover, is mandatory for all Aurora Expeditions’ voyages. We advise you have insurance for voyage cancellation to ensure you will be covered financially if you are forced to cancel your voyage due to circumstances beyond your control. It is in your best interest to read carefully the General Terms & Conditions on your booking form or on our website here.

How much should I tip?

People often ask us what they should do about tipping. Tipping is a very personal matter, however if pressed we recommend $US 10-12 per passenger, per day that you are on the ship for the dedicated naturalists and crew members. It is better if you can tip in US dollars cash (unfortunately, we are unable to provide cash advances from credit cards). In Ecuador, Naturalists and crew members receive low wages and rely on tipping as their income.

Do you cater for special meal requests?

We can cater for special meal requests for most of our trip, however during some excursions where we eat at local restaurants, options may be limited. Ecuador is not exposed the variety of dietary requirements, we will ensure that there is an alternative option for you, though there may be limited variety. Please ensure you list any dietary requirements on your personal details form.

Do you provide toiletries on board?

We provide passengers with soap, shampoo and conditioner on-board the vessel and in all hotels.

What sort of money do I take and how much?

The US dollar is now Ecuador’s only official currency, and only US dollar bills circulate. Make sure all your bills are small denominations, unmarked and undamaged.

What currency do you accept on the ship?

The Isabela II is a cashless vessel; all major credit cards are accepted. If you wish to tip the crew, we recommend tipping in US dollars cash. Please note that we are unable to provide cash advances to passengers for the tipping of crew.

Can I smoke on board?

There is a ‘No Smoking’ policy throughout the interior of our ships. Our team will advise you on designated smoking areas.

Are there hairdryers on board?

Hairdryers are provided in each cabin. Please contact the reception area for hair dryers in hotels.

Will I get sea sick?

Many people ask us if they will get seasick. It is a very difficult question to answer because it depends so much on the individual. Our experience is that a small percentage of people are seasick on any trip and most of these people are fine after a day or so at sea. If you feel that you are particularly susceptible to seasickness then it is a good idea to talk to your doctor. We advise you come armed with motion sickness tablets, and there will be a doctor on board the Isabela to assist with any bouts of seasickness.