Galapagos – FAQ’s – Health & Safety

Galapagos – FAQ’s – Health & Safety

Can I pick up additional prescription medicine if I need it?
There are some pharmacies on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal islands. Most common prescription medicines can be found there but most pharmacies do not accept foreign prescriptions, so it is best to bring your own medicine. This is even more important if your prescription medicine is more specialized and you are afraid you will run out. Always make sure you bring enough to last the whole trip (and extra for your flights to Ecuador and back home) and take into account the possibility of unexpected delays. A small number of vessels have a doctor on board who can prescribe or supply you with common prescription medicines.
Do I need to bring extra glasses/contact lenses? Do you carry prescription masks?
Bring your own and bring extras. You might be able to find a limited supply of reading glasses at local shops but even the locals have their glasses made on the mainland. If you use contact lenses, bring your favourite cleansing solution with you as you probably will not find it. You might also want to bring your own prescription mask for snorkelling (or use contact lenses under the normal masks provided on board).
Do I need to bring insect repellent?
We do recommend it! Especially if you have a favourite brand!
Are there any dangerous animals?
Animals in the Galapagos are known to be unafraid of human presence, making it possible for visitors to get quite close to them. Nevertheless, Galapagos National Park regulations require visitors to stay on the marked paths and within the visitor sites so as not to disturb animals and nests. Even though Galapagos animals are not dangerous, one never knows how they will react.
What is the best SPF for sun block in the Galapagos?
Anything above SPF 30 will work. Apply it regularly when exposed to the sun.
If I suffer from sleep apnea can I bring my own breathing machine?
You can bring your own breathing machine on board. Air conditioning in the rooms will ensure it is not affected by the humidity.
Is qualified medical care available?
There are two hospitals in the Galapagos Island: Republica del Ecuador Hospital in Santa Cruz and the new Oskar Jandl hospital on San Cristobal. There is also a much smaller Centro de Salud (Health Centre) on Isabela. Common treatments and procedures can be taken care of at the two main hospitals and the Centro de Salud offers more limited treatment options. For other, more complex procedures, patients will need to be transferred to the cities of Guayaquil or Quito on the mainland. A handful of ships have a medical doctor. Medical air ambulances are available from Quito and Guayaquil in case of major emergencies. Make sure you have travel insurance.
Is clean water available?
There is treated water on most of the inhabited islands, but it is not drinkable. Some hotels and most ships produce clean water through a desalinization process. Inhabitants and visitors usually drink either bottled or filtered water and use this same water to brush their teeth. Some ships will provide you with refillable water bottles in order to reduce the environmental impact of plastic bottles. Check if your service provider is environmentally friendly.
How safe is it?
The Galapagos Islands are a very safe place. The archipelago is completely free from the threat of pirates, terrorism and organized crime. Additionally, they experience virtually zero extreme weather patterns (i.e. storms, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc.). Nevertheless, when it comes to our excursions outside, precautions must always be taken to guarantee the safety of our guests. Guides are always very aware of their group, and will remind guests to stay inside the marked trails and not to touch the wildlife (as this is strictly forbidden by the Galapagos National Park). Additionally, they are always keeping an eye on guests during activities, be it in the water or on the islands. It is highly important that one never diverge from their group. When in the water and during dingy rides, you must wear your life jacket at all times.
Are there any natural hazards like earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes, and heavy storms in the Galapagos?
The Galapagos Islands experience none of these. Volcanic eruptions do occur, but only on the unpopulated islands. Tsunami drills are only done as a precautionary measure, should one ever occur (which is supremely unlikely). Ecuador, on the other hand, is part of the Avenue of the Volcanoes. Consequently, it’s not uncommon to experience small, medium and strong earthquakes. Flooding and heavy storms are also quite common during the rainy season over on the mainland, but hurricanes are non-existent.
What happens if there is an unusual weather event like a tsunami?
There is a specific protocol and there have been actual drills. Hotel operators, ship staff, park and marine authorities all know how the chain of command works and have had the opportunity to test it on several occasions over the past decades. All in all: rest assured knowing that, in the case of an emergency, there are definitive plans in place.
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