Pandemic in Paradise: Traveling to the Galapagos during Coronavirus

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On Thursday March 11th I was getting ready to go out for drinks as I received a message via the Galapagos newsline, aka WhatsApp, informing us that all bars were to close at midnight that night. Yet to understand the magnitude of what was going on, I arranged to meet my friends an hour earlier and didn’t think much more of it.

The next day however the severity hit when I woke up to the news that due to
the threat of Coronavirus, Ecuador was closing its borders just three days
later.

Very quickly, all 4 inhabited islands were in strict lockdown for the following 3
and a half months. Policed curfews were put in place from 2pm and no-one
was allowed to travel in or out of the islands. If we wanted to leave the house,
COVID protocols meant we could only do so twice a week for essentials.
Even those days were assigned to us, determined by our ID number.

The authorities closed Galapagos National Park meaning all beaches and
visitor sites were closed. Masks were to be worn at all times and the rule that
we all follow for the precious wildlife, now applied to us humans too, keep a
2m distance. COVID made Galapagos a ghost town.

Although Coronavirus did reach Galapagos, we thankfully managed to keep
the numbers incredibly low at under 150 cases. Galapagos has 20 active
COVID cases at the time of writing but crisis has been avoided thanks to the
quick action taken.

The majority of people are without work and the people of the islands have
been hit hard. However, there is light and the Galapagos islands are once
again open for tourism!

So what’s the situation like now?

Galapagos is currently on ‘semáforo amarillo”, (amber traffic-light), everyone
is adapting to a new normal following official COVID protocols. Everyone is to
wear a mask at all times and continue to socially distance.

Shops and some restaurants are open and working to strict protocols to keep
everyone safe and COVID free. Locals and tourists alike can enjoy local
delicious food and of course a happy hour or two until the 11pm curfew.

The national park and public sites have reopened and all agencies, hotels,
tours and dive shops are allowed to work so they are all patiently waiting for
tourists to arrive.

Can I visit?

Yes! Commercial airlines have started to run flights to and from the cities of
Guayaquil and Quito, both which are entry points for the Galapagos.

Scenario 1: Flying directly to the Islands via Ecuador (airport only)

Take a SARS-COV 2/COVID-19 PCR test (not a rapid test) showing a
negative result within 96 hours of entering the Galapagos.

You must have proof of a registered itinerary or booking confirmations such
as an agency, cruise or a hotel.

Hold a “salvo-conducto”, a document given to you by your hotel, tour
company or whoever you have organised your trip with.

Present these three or more documents at the airport, wear a mask at all
times and expect to have your temperature taken at the airports and board
your flight! You do not need to quarantine before or on entering the
Galapagos!

Scenario 2: Spending time in Ecuador before traveling to the Galapagos

Entering Ecuador requires you to sign into and complete a 14 day quarantine
in a hotel or residence. After which you can take a test and continue to follow
the steps as above in scenario 1.

The Pandemic has been life changing for so many around the globe and it is
no different for us here in the Galapagos. The majority of the population relies
on tourism and it has been a hardship for so many. We are excited to see you
and welcome you to our enchanted islands with open arms, from a 2 meter
distance of course!

Stay safe and well and don’t hesitate to leave any questions about this
situations and visiting us in the comments below.

 

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Charli Pocok

Charli Pocok

Charli Pocock is a British Expat living in Galapagos. Charli came to Santa Cruz in 2016 for 8 weeks after giving up the hustle and bustle of 15 years in corporate sales. Enjoying the simpler life, being closer to nature and falling in love with sea lions, a local man and an abandoned puppy, those 8 weeks turned into 4 years and counting! In her time here Charli has enjoyed learning a new culture and meeting locals as well as becoming part of an art community with her upcycled crafts. She has continued her love of travel and has got to know the islands very well. Charli has visited 16 of the 19 islands and was lucky enough to dive the famous Darwin and Wolf sites where she achieved a dream of seeing a whale shark. After working as an English teacher for a couple of years Charli moved onto digital marketing and creative work giving her the freedom to work when and where she wishes. We're excited for Charli to join the Galatrails team and have her share her knowledge and skills with you all in our blog posts! Go check it out!

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