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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

The Galápagos Islands

Tour Information

CANCELLATION & REFUND POLICY FOR GALAPAGOS ISLANDS CRUISE: Payment: A 10% deposit is due at time of booking.  The tour will be invoiced at 140 days and final payment is due 125 days prior to departure. Cancellation: If cancelling up to and including 140 days prior to departure the deposit – less the non-refundable amount of $200 - and any payments are refundable.  If we receive the cancellation 140 – 120 days prior to departure the deposit is not refundable but any payments against the balance of the tour price will be returned.  The full expedition fee is forfeited if your notice of cancellation is received within 120 days of your departure date. 

ENTERING & LEAVING ECUADOR: Ecuadorian authorities require a passport that is valid for at least six months after your date of arrival in Ecuador. Visas are not currently required for U.S. and Canadian citizens. Tourist cards are prepared by your arriving airline. In the recent past, there was a $40.80 departure tax in Ecuador however most major airlines now include this in the price of your international ticket. If your airlines does not include this in your ticket please be prepared to pay with cash.

Note: A certification of yellow fever vaccination is required by Ecuadorian authorities if you are entering Ecuador from a country where yellow fever is present (check with your local public health agency or the Centers for Disease Control for this list); if you are entering Ecuador from the US this is not required (but see below under HEALTH).

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/ecuador.html , and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Ecuador at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ec.html.

PACE OF THE TOUR: Participants should expect moderately early starts with a warm breakfast at 6:30 a.m., followed by a morning walk on land. Lunches and dinners will be on the yacht, while meals before and after the cruise will be in restaurants. Land-based excursions in the Galápagos are on trails, often with extremely rough footing, such as uneven rocks and sharp lava flows. A collapsible hiking stick is recommended for anyone with balance issues.

If in the course of the trip you are concerned about your ability to do any particular hike or activity, please consult the leader before you start. We have structured our itineraries in ways that permit you to skip a planned activity if you choose. Please note that the leaders have the responsibility (and the authority) to require any passenger to remain in the vehicle or on board the yacht whenever the guide believes that a passenger’s health and/or physical ability makes that activity a substantial risk to his/her well-being, or would limit the enjoyment of the activity by the other trip members.

Snorkeling will be an almost daily activity in the late morning or early afternoon for about an hour. The water is not cold, but in some places can be on the chilly side for an equatorial region, so a 3 mm “shorty” wetsuit is recommended, as is bringing your own mask and snorkel. The boat provides these as well, but bringing your own insures a better fit. Hardier souls find the water tolerable in a simple swimsuit and shirt. This activity is always conducted in the company of the local guide and with an attendant zodiac boat.

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure.

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/ecuador?s_cid=ncezid-dgmq-travel-single-001

­Yellow Fever: Certification of yellow fever vaccination is not required unless you are entering Ecuador from a country where yellow fever is present (check with your local public health agency or the Centers for Disease Control for this list); if you are entering Ecuador from the US, this is not required. The CDC, however, is currently recommending yellow fever vaccination for travelers to Ecuador who plan to be outside of urban areas.

Malaria: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend a malarial prophylaxis for the areas we will be visiting, as there have been no recent cases of the disease. You may want to consider to follow the CDC’s precautions if visiting the Amazonian region of Ecuador before or after the cruise; please remember that many anti-malarial drugs must be initiated one or more weeks before the period of exposure and continued for several weeks after it concludes; there are some potential side effects to consider.

Elevation: Quito sits at about 9,000 feet. Although most people are unaffected by this short exposure, those with a history of altitude problems should discuss this with their physician. Some participants use the diuretic drug Diamox (acetazolamide) to lessen the possibility of altitude sickness.

Sea Sickness: If you are susceptible to sea sickness or do not know if you are, please bring an ample supply of dramamine, bonine (both over-the-counter), scopolamine patches, or Phenergan (both prescription), and be prepared to take them as we depart Quito on our flight to the Galápagos.

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.

Miscellaneous: Gastrointestinal problems are always a possibility in Ecuador; you may want to bring Immodium or some other reliable anti-diarrhea medication. Finally, you may wish to bring a broad-spectrum antibiotic in case of stubborn bacterial infections. We avoid tap water and bottled water will always readily available

Insects are generally not a problem. Ticks are very occasionally encountered in the Galápagos. We recommend using insect repellents with a high concentration of DEET. Newer products containing tick- and chigger-repelling chemicals are particularly effective. Camping supply stores sell such a product containing permethrin 0.5%, which can be applied directly to your clothing. This non-staining, odorless chemical is nontoxic to humans and protective on clothing through several launderings.

CLIMATE: Quito has been called the city of eternal spring, and the climate there is crisp and cool with chilly nights and pleasantly warm days. Rain is possible, but sunburn is more likely.

While considered the dry season, June in the Galápagos can at times be surprisingly cool, with daytime highs over the ocean around 70-75°F, and in the more sheltered lowlands of the islands no higher than the low 80’s°F. The highlands are usually in the low- to mid-60’s and can be characterized by a constant mist or drizzle (garúa). A durable rain poncho or lightweight rain jacket/windbreaker is highly recommended for our two excursions into the island interiors. Nonetheless, in these equatorial latitudes, participants should always arm themselves with sunscreen.

ACCOMMODATION: All of our accommodations on this tour have private bathroom facilities and electricity; all are clean and comfortable. Please give us a call if you have specific questions about the accommodations on the tour. To review our cruise vessel, the Nemo III, please see here.

FOOD: The meals on our yacht are prepared by a trained chef and crew and are top notch. Vegetables and a meat or fish dish are served at lunch and dinner. Buffet breakfasts have many options, including cereal, fresh fruit, eggs, and bacon every morning.

Bottled Water: Bottled water is available at all our lodges and will be available on our tour vehicles.

Food Allergies / Requirements: Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should contact the WINGS office. We will make sure the Nemo III knows of yourur requirements. Meals are served at a pre-announced times but participants who need to eat according to a schedule should bring supplemental food in case of a schedule mis-match.. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

WINGS tours are all-inclusive and no refunds can be issued for any missed tour meals.

TRANSPORT: Transportation apart from the cruise will be in vans or buses. Our vessel for the cruise will be the Nemo III, a 75-foot first class sailing catamaran with 8 rooms, seven of which are for our participants. Some of the rooms are quite small but efficiently designed with private bathrooms, hot water, and, and a single outlet (though not necessarily in the bathroom). The whole boat has plenty of space for relaxing, using the hot tub, watching for water birds, or just enjoying the fresh air. Interior spaces are air conditioned, and rooms are made up each day. Drinking water is available at all times, and three delicious meals are served each day. The boat comes with a crew of six as well as locally licensed naturalist guide.

Updated: 27 June 2017