Travelers in the Galapagos Islands, Coronavirus tips travel

7 tips for booking your trip in times of uncertainty

User Avatar Author: Isabel  Espinoza
6 months ago
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Why today may be an excellent opportunity to start planning your vacation!

This post was last updated on August 18th, 2020

Traveling is one of the most enriching activities humans can embark on. Nevertheless, oftentimes travelers can meet speedbumps on the way. The world has faced many virus outbreaks throughout its history: Mers, Sars, AH1N1, and now COVID-19. Still, humanity has endured. We’re pretty sure that, with the right mindset and caution, this too shall pass! Soon, we will find ourselves exploring the most breathtaking corners of our planet again.

Now, as we all do our best to weather the measures enacted to cope with the Coronavirus, it’s important to look ahead to better times and learn a little about the importance of living life to the fullest. It’ll help you with the stress you’re going through, and it’ll make you a more confident traveler.

First and foremost, plan safely! Keep the following tips in mind and plan intelligently. Thinking about the future is essential; life endures, and keeping your mind focused on better times will do wonders for your mental health.

Travel requirements for Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

New Protocol for International Arrivals by Air

The most salient points in the new protocol for entry to Ecuador are as follows:

  • All arrivals must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 10 days before entering the country. As long as they don’t present symptoms of COVID, they do not need to fulfil a mandatory preventive quarantine period.
  • Travelers without an international PCR test must undertake, at their own expense, a PCR test upon arrival (or at their accommodation) and then proceed to quarantine in temporary accommodation to await the results. With a negative test result, they may continue their journeys.
  • Travelers who present symptoms of COVID upon arrival in Ecuador are required to perform a PCR test at their own expense and proceed to quarantine even if they present a negative PCR test at the airport of entry.
  • All travelers fill out a Health Status Declaration form, hand it in upon arrival to Ministry of Health workers, who will also check symptoms.
  • Inbound travelers who test positive will be required to complete 10 days of mandatory preventive quarantine at their accommodation and be asymptomatic before leaving their accommodation.
  • The protocols apply to citizens from any country and from flights from any destination.
  • Travelers under 18 are considered a priority group and are not required to show negative PCR tests.

Onward Travel to the Galapagos Islands

The above protocol means that for onward travel to the Galapagos, the rules for entry are as follows:

  • Travel insurance certificate with medical coverage.
  • A certificate of a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of their Galapagos flight.
  • A safe passage (salvoconducto) document, issued at least 24 hours before by the tour operator or hotel.
  • The Galapagos Transit Control Card, filled out online at least 24 hours before the flight.
  • A digital boarding pass.

Travelers can use their international certificate of a negative PCR test for travel to the islands, provided it is issued 96 hours prior to entry.

Please note that while travelers under 18 are not required to have PCR test for entry to Ecuador, the rule is under 12 for entry to the Galapagos.

When flying to the Galapagos, all travelers pass through temperature checks, disinfection matts, have to clean their hands with sanitizers, and wear facemasks at all times. Luggage is sanitized before and after its inspection by the Galapagos biosecurity and quarantine control agency.

Commercial flights connecting the islands resumed on August 3rd and have carried our first guests to the reopened Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and aboard Yacht La Pinta.

Please let your Destination Expert know if you have any doubts or questions, or to request our complete biosecurity protocols and measures.

Choose the right destination for your trip! coronavirus tip 1 travel and coronavirus

Tip #1: Choose the right destination! Avoid overcrowded places.

Mass tourism is the number one enemy of a perfect vacation. Apart from the overall impact it causes on the destination itself, your experience can be tarnished by unruly crowds, rush, and general insecurity -especially when the world is recovering from a highly contagious pandemic!

What’s our advice? When you choose where you’re going to spend your upcoming vacation, be on the lookout for places that have fallen off the grid! The world has plenty of exciting places that are yet to be discovered. Visiting them will allow you to get the experience you’ve always dreamt of –at your own pace and according to your personal preference!

You’ll not only be able to connect with like-minded travelers that share similar interests as you, but you’ll be able to reconnect with nature in its most pristine state.

The Galapagos Islands has been limiting the number of visitors to its National Park for a long time!

This archipelago, located 605 miles (973 km) off the coast of Ecuador, is one of the last remaining spots of pristine nature on the planet. Thanks to its strict visitation rules – some of which limit the number of guests per year – Galapagos’ endemic fauna can roam freely on the islands without a care in the world!

Interested? Find out more!

Download our Galapagos Basics e-book!

Choose a hotel or vessel that offers you access to a doctor or paramedic! coronavirus tip 2 travel and coronavirus

Tip #2: Safety first! Look for a hotel or vessel that provides you with access to a Health Professional.

When traveling abroad, it’s always wise to purchase travel insurance in advance of your trip. That said, this is not the only thing you should consider. You should also consider booking hotels and vessels that offer immediate access to a medical professional.

Travel insurance can cover things like reimbursements for a lost piece of luggage, or a canceled flight, but what do you do if you suffer a scraped knee, a mild case of nausea, or a little heat exhaustion? Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable knowing that there is a doctor on board or on site?

This is why it is so crucial that you book hotels and vessels with immediate 24-hour medical assistance. Think of it as a more complete travel service experience. You get peace of mind knowing that if you have any issues – no matter how great or small – there is a medical professional right there, ready to assist you.

Don't waste your time or money! coronavirus tip 3 travel and coronavirus

Tip #3: Don’t waste time or money! Channel all your booking through one expedition company that has flexible policies

Because there are plenty of offers out there and because you want to cover all angles of a new destination you wish to explore, you might be tempted to book each service separately. It usually works better for your budget if the individual bits of the process are selected out of a pool of options so that you land the best deal for each one.

The final result might look like it was the right path to take, but when it’s to time to begin your trip, you may find that you’ve been left with a bunch of disconnected providers with whom you’ll have to be checking each aspect continuously and separately.

We have an offer just for you!

Having multiple providers extends the planning process and takes up a lot of your time. Besides, if adjustments need to be made –which they probably will− and if providers need to outsource services, this can add unplanned expenses to the cost of your trip. You may end up spending more money than you initially thought. Another thing to consider is that individual services usually don’t come with the possibility of canceling or rescheduling your trip, especially when they’re booked as part of a promotion or sale.

It’s much more comfortable and much more rewarding to book everything for your whole trip with one single provider, preferably an expedition company that lets you tweak arrangements as you’re planning, given that they have the resources. This way, your trip can remain fluid.

Don't book with non-reliable companies! coronavirus tip 4 travel and coronavirus

Tip #4: Don’t book with non-reliable companies! Look for a trustworthy expedition company.

Sadly, some companies may be looking to cash in on all the fear and anxiety. Do your best to stick with reputable companies that won’t enact desperate strategies to get the best of you. Be demanding, ask to talk to someone with knowledge of the destination, this is your time to unwind and be free, and it is too important to leave to chance.

Look for companies native to the country you’re traveling to, with a long, upstanding trajectory. They’ll have firsthand knowledge of where you are headed. You’ll feel more at ease when the person on the other end of the conversation is actually in the place that you’re thinking of traveling to, instead of a person who hasn’t been there. If you’re sourcing locally, ask your travel advisor to look for providers based in your destination, with as much experience as possible in managing travelers.

Flexibility is key! coronavirus tip 5 travel and coronavirus

Tip #5: Flexibility is key! Choose an expedition company that offers you the chance to reschedule easily.

Another great benefit of having a reliable person on the other end of the phone is being able to arrange your travel plans easily. Due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, thousands of travelers had to go through the nightmare of trying to locate someone that could help them reschedule or cancel their hotel reservation, flights, etc. A lot of them lost money due to inflexible policies that didn’t align with the situation the world was facing.

That’s why we recommend you ask your designated destination expert if their company offers flexible rescheduling policies before booking! Knowing this will provide you with peace of mind in case anything happens. The right company, and the right destination expert, will always make sure you get to travel when you feel safe, comfortable, and ready to do so without making you lose your mind or your money.

Look for knowledgeable guidance! coronavirus tip 6 travel and coronavirus

Tip #6: Look for knowledgeable guidance! Make sure you have a reliable Destination Expert to help you.

When it comes to choosing the perfect destination for your upcoming vacation, communicating with someone who has actual travel experience in that location is key to understanding all the details involved. It’s even better when that person is from the region and works for a company that is locally based. This is where having a destination expert really makes a difference. They can help arrange all the tiny but important details involved in your travel plans.

A seasoned destination expert can also provide you with these types of details in addition to answering any questions you may have, like, where to travel if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path vacation. They can give you the lay of the land and provide you with a sense of what to expect. It is a much more comprehensive approach than your standard travel agency experience.

Working with a destination expert while making the arrangements for your trip doesn’t mean that they won’t be around should you need them in situ. Keep in mind that a destination expert is in touch with your hotel or vessel, as well as a vast operations team, and they can help arrange other details for you during your visit. This is the knowledgeable guidance you need and service that follows you all the way through the process – from planning your visit to returning from your destination!

Working with a Destination Expert makes a difference!

If you’re planning to travel to the Galapagos Islands, for instance, a destination expert makes sure you know that there is mandatory Galapagos National Park entrance fee that everyone needs to pay when they arrive in the archipelago and that there is also an INGALA Transit Control Card that you need to obtain before boarding your flight to the Islands. There are several travelers who book their own trips to the archipelago without understanding these crucial details.

Don't miss a great opportunity! coronavirus tip 7 travel and coronavirus

Tip #7: Don’t miss a great opportunity! Seize the RIGHT deals and discounts to travel before prices go up.

In times of uncertainty, sales tend to plummet, and now with the plunge of the stock market, everyone is trying to draw in potential buyers. Ergo, prices are the lowest they’ve been in a while, everywhere. Because people aren’t spending, businesses are trying to catch consumers’ attention. Supply outweighs demand: special deals and offers abound. This is where tapping into a seasoned group of experts, from a company with vast experience, really becomes an essential piece of your decision-making process.

Most travel offers made during crises often lack the quality of a real special deal. In essence, anything can change at any moment without prior notice, there’s usually no guarantee of someone being there to assist you, and you can’t always count on having people with enough experience to guide you. Still, you will find discounts that are rarely offered, because, in times like these, everything goes on sale. Once the crisis begins to subside, prices tend to increase steadily. If you find the right deal and the right provider, it’s a brilliant time to invest in your vacation.

Look for an expedition company you can trust to provide you with the best experience available through assurance. If they can provide you with the utmost safety, expert guidance, and timely assistance, you know the deal you get is one worthwhile. This way, you will be able to take advantage of this emerging sales season the smart way. Make the most of this time by making informed choices!

Why visit Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with us?

We strive to be the perfect example of what to look for in a travel operator. We have over 65 years of experience in the industry and were the ones to pioneer sustainable tourism in the Galapagos Islands, one of the most incredible and remote destinations on the planet. The complexities that emerge from managing such a special place has given us a wealth of expertise and insights. When traveling with Metrojourneys, you’re traveling with the foremost experts in expedition travel.

We employ local destination experts that live in Ecuador and have intimate knowledge of this fascinating country. These experts will always be there for you and will be able to provide timely assistance and information. They can give you a true sense of what to expect as you embark on your journey.

Another advantage of planning your trip with us is that we own and operate our own products. It is our operation from top to bottom. Your accommodations and the planning of your trip are managed in-house by a highly-skilled, highly motivated crew of experts. We stand by our products and by the teams that operate and maintain them, so when we give you a guarantee, it comes from the very people handling every detail of your trip, from beginning to end.

Our Expedition Vessels in the Galapagos Islands

Our fleet -which includes the wonderful Santa Cruz II, Yacht La Pinta, and Yacht Isabela II- offers guests a remarkable experience in every single aspect.

Metrojourneys: Our fleet

Ideal Capacity

Our ships range in capacity from 40 to 90 passengers. These expedition vessels deliver intimacy and comfort through their ample social areas and stylish cabins. Following an exciting bit of island exploration, you may choose to share with your fellow travelers at the bar or relax in the hot tub by yourself. The choice is entirely up to you.

Did you know?

Even though we often use the word cruise when we talk about our expedition vessels, according to definitions provided by CLIA, Cruise Critic, and the CDC based on gross tonnage and number of passengers aboard, these are the boats that actually sail in the Galapagos Islands:

Type of vessel (According to definitions used by the CDC and CLIA)

Gross registered tonnage (GRT)

Number of passengers

Super Mega Cruise Ships

(Can’t sail in the Galapagos Islands)

More than 140,000 Approximately 5,000
Large Ships

(Can’t sail in the Galapagos Islands)

More than 60,000 Approximately 3,000
Medium Ships

(Can’t sail in the Galapagos Islands)

Less than 30,000  Approximately 500
Extra Small Ships

(Sail in the Galapagos Islands!)

Less than 3,000  Approximately 100
Intimate Ships

(Sail in the Galapagos Islands!)

Less than 1,000  Approximately 40

 

Onboard Medical Officers

Your safety has always been our priority; that’s why we have an onboard medical officer (doctor) on every expedition vessel. No matter the issue, our doctors and infirmaries are ready to attend to your needs, 24/7!

Multi-guided Experiences

While sailing across the Galapagos National Park, visitors must be accompanied by a park-certified guide at all times; this ultimately means that you must stick to your group regardless of what you want to do.

However, fear not! Each of our vessels has multiple park-certified guides that also happen to speak your language! Having a higher number of guides allows us to offer more personalized experiences to smaller expedition groups. So, if you wish to snorkel rather than practice your kayaking skills, you can do it in the company of a knowledgeable guide!

Our Expedition Hotels Mashpi Lodge and the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel

If you’re looking for some destination gems. Ecuador has two of the most renowned lodges in the region, each one in a remote location. They are, in fact, two National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World™: Mashpi Lodge, in the Andean Choco bioregion, and the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, in a pedestrian-only area of Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos.

Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and Mashpi Lodge

Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and Mashpi Lodge

Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel

Similarly, the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is home to one of the most ecologically sustainable places in the entire Galapagos region. This airy and elegant hotel is the only one on Santa Cruz island with direct access to the beach. Imagine being intimately connected with this remarkable archipelago, in a place that blends in with its surroundings, situated just minutes away from the town of Puerto Ayora.

Known for its remarkable gastronomy, the Finch Bay features its own expedition leader, who can help you arrange day tours and activities that take you around the island or into the Galapagos National Park aboard the hotel’s very own Sea Lion Yacht via excursions to nearby, uninhabited islands. Guests who embark on these daily tours can observe a number of the most iconic species of the Galapagos in their very own habitats.

The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is a great spot to relax before or after embarking on an expedition cruise through the other regions of the archipelago. It’s also an ideal place to visit if you simply want to get away and enjoy the Galapagos in a comfortable, relaxing spot with great food, a terrific atmosphere, a state-of-the-art Spa, and access to the Galapagos National Park and all of its wonders!

Mashpi Lodge

Within the Metropolitan District of Quito, there is a place that is both secluded and genuinely distinct. This region, northwest of the capital city of Ecuador, hovers around an elevation of 3,117 ft (950 m), where cloud and rainforest meet. Here, ecosystems flourish like nowhere else on the planet. The vast forests that make up this hotspot of biological diversity are home to hundreds of incredible species and the renowned Mashpi Lodge.

Guests of Mashpi Lodge are treated to some of the most incredible forest exploration experiences, complemented by an incredibly modern and stylish hotel, miles away from civilization. Mashpi is equipped with numerous installations (none of which required the felling of a single tree), as well as a team of researchers and naturalist guides with in-depth knowledge and training in the destination. Part of which comes from studying the forest.

These wonderful guides take you on adventures like you wouldn’t believe; across rivers and streams that interconnect along the forest floor, as well as high above, aboard the Skybike and the Dragonfly gondola, which take you through the unbelievable forest canopy. It is an experience like no other.

Back at the lodge, guests are treated to first-rate accommodations and dining, along with a full array of signature spa services. A visit to Mashpi Lodge is invigorating and relaxing. It may just be the place you’re looking for if you really want to connect with the planet and take a breather from the buzz of activity that dominates so many parts of the world.

Where Expedition and Safety go Hand-in-hand

Both Mashpi Lodge and the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel have Expedition Leaders. In addition to these helpful folks, Mashpi Lodge, which is situated in a remote part of the country, has a 24/7 paramedic, while the Finch Bay is a two-minute dinghy ride away from the mainland (about 400 yds or 366 m). This populated area has several doctors and medical facilities.


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