The Galapagos Islands in Ecuador is definitely one of the world’s most unique destinations. When I first went there, I was completely astounded by the beauty of that place and everything it had to offer. It was my first ever adventure trip, too: I snorkeled, explored wildlife, swam with sea lions, kayaked, hiked, ate ceviche every day, and felt like I was living in a paradise.
But as much as I enjoyed my time in the Galapagos, there are few things that I wish I had known before I went there. So, to make YOUR trip better, I want to share with you some pieces of wisdom that I learnt from my own mistakes. Here’s 7 useful things to know before going to the Galapagos:
1. Know what you want.
The biggest mistake you can ever make when travelling to the Galapagos (or anywhere) is not knowing what you want. You should decide in advance what kind of activities you want to do there. Snorkeling? Biking? Camping? Going on tours? Do you want to get a PADI certificate for scuba diving? Maybe travel around the islands? Think it all through very carefully, because the Galapagos Islands have so much to offer that you will get lost in the abundance of options if you’re not prepared beforehand. And lose your precious time!
2. Don’t travel with kids.
Now, I know that travelling around the islands on a boat sounds like a real adventure. And it is! The problem starts when you are travelling with little kids and suddenly realize that the last thing you want to do as a responsible parent/guide is spend 2-3 hours on a tiny shaking boat in the middle of the ocean. Travelling with kids is definitely not an easy task wherever you go. It limits your capabilities and put a lot of restrictions on your choice of activities: you can’t go anywhere you want and you can’t do anything your heart desires. So maybe the best solution would be to wait a couple of years until your children are big enough to undertake the adventurous trip to the Galapagos. Because you want to enjoy it too, don’t you?
3. Know how to deal with seasickness.
Since we’ve started talking about boats, here’s what you need to know: nearly every third person in the world suffers from motion sickness. And it doesn’t get better in the open ocean! When I was in Galapagos, I experienced all the misfortunes of seasickness: dizziness, weakness, vomiting – you name it. But it was my fault, really, because I didn’t follow these very simple rules:
– Eat super lightly before the boat trip (e.g. a croissant);
– Don’t walk around the boat (will cause severe dizziness);
– Fix your eyes on a piece of land when you’re in the ocean (because land never moves);
– Don’t look down when you feel sick (it actually makes it worse);
– Take a pill (it really helps).
4. Be aware of the weather changes.
You might be surprised, but it’s not always burning hot on the Galapagos. If you hike up the hills, it gets rainy, windy, and cold. Well, not too cold, but cold enough for you to get goose bumps. So bring some light sweaters that you can easily take on/off as soon as you need to!
5. Protect yourself from the sun.
Before my trip, everybody was telling me that I would need to apply TONS of sunscreen with A LOT of SPF. I was honestly following their advice, but apparently that wasn’t enough. I still burnt my skin, and the peeling-off process looked anything but pretty. So apart from using sunscreen, wear a hat with the widest brims you can find and cover your skin as much as possible. And don’t be afraid to return home as pale as you left – you’ll get tanned anyway.
6. Understand that it’s not a spa resort.
This is probably the biggest lesson I learnt from my trip. Before I arrived at the Galapagos, I thought I was going to some kind of spa. I imagined I’ll be lying on the beach, sipping cocktails, looking fancy, be all fabulous… Forget it. You’ll be hiking, climbing, elbowing your way through woods, and constantly trying not to step on something alive. So don’t even think about bringing heels – even sandals are a bad idea. Instead, choose comfortable sneakers and running shoes, your best friends during the whole trip.
7. Don’t forget to bring cash.
Even though Galapagos is a very touristic place, paying with a credit card might be problematic. They don’t accept it absolutely everywhere, as you might expect e.g small restaurants or some travel agencies, let alone taxi drivers, tour guides, or entrance fees. And sometimes, if they do, you actually have to pay 20% extra in order to use your card due to some kind of regulation in Ecuador that I don’t remember of but my pocket still does.
Have you been to the Galapagos? If so, your best tip in the comment below!
PS. You might also like: Exploring Marine Life In The Galapagos