Galápagos procedure changes

This item appears on page 33 of the June 2008 issue.

When Karen Scott and I went on our annual catch-and-release striped marlin sports fishing trip to the Galápagos, Feb. 26-29, 2008, we found some changes in procedures that we think ITN readers will want to know about.

At the Guayaquil, Ecuador, airport, before you get your boarding pass you need to get into line to get a Galápagos travel card. The line is slow. They take your passport, then type your name, passport number, date of birth, date of entry into the Galápagos Islands and the date you’ll exit, then print you a plastic, credit-card-sized card. The cost is $10. You take that card to the line to get your boarding pass.

At your port of entry into the Galápagos, there is a $100-per-person national park entrance fee for foreigners ($6 for locals).

On our last night in San Cristobal, in order to use a credit card (American Express cards often are not welcome) we had to have an additional 20% added to the check to the inn where we stayed.

The next morning while checking out from our hotel, using a credit card would have incurred an additional charge of 12%. The manager seemed a little sad when we paid cash.

If this is a trend in the Galápagos and you travel there on your own — which is fun, adventuresome and very safe to do — we recommend that you take cash to pay. You’ll save a lot of money!

In 2007 we sat around the airport for a couple of hours before we flew home, so this year we sat around the hotel. But when we got to the TAME airlines counter with one hour and 10 minutes to go, the flight had been closed. They got Karen on the flight, but I was going to be put on a flight to Quito and back to Guayaquil; fortunately, someone didn’t show, so I made the same flight. I didn’t mind being 20 seats behind my partner!

The moral of this episode is go to the airport for domestic flights in Ecuador two hours early!

The departure tax from Guayaquil is $27 per person. They take cash only. From Quito, it is $40. The line through Customs is very slow; you will need the two hours recommended.

We totally love the Galápagos and recommend that you go. The Four Points Sheraton (Av. Constitucion, Plaza del Sol, Frente Al Mall del Sol, Guayaquil, Ecuador; phone [593] 4 2691888, in Guayaquil is four blocks from the airport. Rates run $100-$200, and the staff is very accommodating.

Across the street is one of the finest shopping centers we have seen. Excellent leather goods and great prices abound. We paid $35 and $70 for two leather purses and $16 and $25 for two leather belts.

In the Galápagos (and online) you’ll see ads for 4-day tours with a naturalist. These are fantastic.

There is one American captain who has a fishing boat there. If you want to fish, you can e-mail him at We paid $1,500 a day for striped marlin and the occasional blue marlin, with all tackle, lunch and two mates included. We saw whales, sea lions, dolphins and frigate birds on every trip.

The diving, I am told by many Americans who travel there just to dive, is terrific.


Byers, CO