What to pack for your trip to the Galapagos Islands

Sea lions 5The fascinating archipelago of volcanic islands known as the Galapagos sits either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, 575 miles west of mainland Ecuador.  The Galapagos Islands and their surrounding waters, made famous by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, form an Ecuadorian province, a biological marine reserve, and a national park, all of which attracts thousands of tourists each year.

The Galapagos Islands benefit from great weather all year round due to their equatorial location.  However, June to December is known as the “dry season” which consists of blue skies and midday showers, accompanied by cooler trade winds blowing up from the south.  It is during the dry season that the sea mammals and land birds are most active.  December to May is considered the “warm season”, with daily tropical rain showers and cloudier skies. The water is warmer so it’s perfect for snorkelling and swimming.

Whatever time of year you go, you can expect warm weather and rain, so it’s important to pack accordingly.  We’ve put together a short guide to help you plan what to take on your trip to the Galapagos Islands:
• Clothing: Daytime in the Galapagos Islands is warm so shorts and a loose t-shirt or vest top are ideal. A wide brimmed hat and sunglasses are essential for protecting the face, eyes, neck and ears from the strong equatorial sun.  Most boats don’t have a dress code for evenings but check before you travel in case you are required to dress for dinner.  One or two pairs of light trousers and a light sweatshirt will keep you warm on deck at night, and a waterproof jacket is ideal to keep you warm and dry as you pass through mountainous Quito.  It’s also a good idea to pack a swimsuit or two for swimming, snorkelling or just lounging on deck.
• Footwear: A pair of hiking sandals is the ideal footwear to protect your feet from the harsh, volcanic landscape as they can be worn in both wet and dry conditions. If you feel you need the protection that trainers offer then it’s advisable to take an old pair that you don’t mind being damaged by saltwater, rock and sand.
• Accessories: Ensure that you pack plenty of sun cream with a high SPF to avoid burning in the scorching equatorial sun.  Of course you’re going to be taking your camera, but make sure you pack plenty of spare batteries or the charge cable, as well as enough memory cards to store all of the amazing shots you’ll be getting.  A pair of binoculars is also a good idea to enable you to do some distant bird watching as you cruise around.
• Money: The official currency of the Galapagos Islands is the US Dollar and it’s recommended that you carry some cash on you for purchases on board the cruise ship.  There are ATMs in places like Quito and Puerto Ayora where you can withdraw money. Make sure that any cash you have on you is carried close to your body in a money pouch to keep it safe.
• Medication: If you take any regular medication it’s important to remember to take it with you as the Galapagos Islands are miles away from the mainland and medical assistance is a little harder to come by.  Don’t forget things like motion sickness tablets in case you don’t get your sea legs quickly when on board the boat.  Also when you’re in Quito you may experience altitude sickness since it sits at 3,000m above sea level so it’s important to be prepared and carry aspirin and bottled water with you.

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