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by on December 9, 2019

What to Bring to Galapagos and Ecuador? Packing List 2020

Make sure you don't forget anything when you pack for your Galapagos adventure. GreenGo has you covered with our Galapagos packing list.

Before you excitedly launch items into your suitcase for your Ecuador or Galapagos trip, take a moment to read our Galapagos and Ecuador packing list and Galapagos packing tips to ensure you don’t miss anything important nor break any rules. Your upcoming trip to the Galapagos Islands is bound to be one of the best vacations of your life. These far-flung lands never fail to impress, and constantly leave a lasting impression on anyone fortunate enough to visit. Make sure you have the highest quality Galapagos and Ecuador what to bring packing list!

TLDR; What to bring to GALAPAGOS and Ecuador Packing List:

  1. N95 or Cloth Mask – Mandatory these days. The N95 is way more comfortable if you can get your hands on one because of the extra breathing room
  2. Motion/Sea-sickness medicine and preventatives – Better safe than sorry!
  3. Don’t forget all your meds – Although your blood pressure will be at all-time low, we don’t want you to take any risks!
  4. Passport – You won’t get far without this one
  5. Cash – Small bills only 1, 5, 10, 20s. Good luck getting change for a 50 or 100 in Ecuador or Galapagos. Also important, my tipping guide for Ecuador and Galapagos
  6. Lightweight, quick-dry backpack – To carry your essentials, items, snacks, camera during day trips
  7. Reef safe sunscreen – Please, the lotion kind to avoid contaminating environments with spray
  8. Bora Bora Booney Sun hat – A quality, quick-dry, wide brim sun hat with a drawstring for the wind.
  9. 2 pairs of sunglasses – Trust me, bring polarized. It cuts through the water and you can see marine life better. The second pair is for when the first pair falls off your face in the ocean or you forget them in the hotel!
  10. 2-3 bathing suits – Nobody likes getting into a wet cold bathing suit!
  11. One T-shirt per day of travel – I like the quick-dry kind, but cotton will do just fine
  12. Bring a sweater or hoodie – It gets surprisingly chilly and windy at night in Ecuador and the Galapagos. You’ll want it for stargazing too.
  13. Raincoat or poncho – There is a rainy season in Ecuador and the Galapagos, and it always rains in the jungle.
  14. 2-3 pairs of hiking pants – Consider zip-off, for both style and comfort 😉
  15. Smart wool socks – 1  pair for each intensive trekking day. For the blister prone, bring silk sock liners as well to reduce friction
  16. Lightweight hiking shoes or boots – Always pack extra laces just in case. Break them in for at least a week before your trip.
  17. Trash bag – For your dirty laundry. I don’t like dirty socks next to my clean clothes!
  18. Blister prevention and blister patches – Just in case. Moleskin works wonders
  19. Trekking poles – Not absolutely necessary, but they are helpful especially for 50+ or that one person that always trips on his own feet
  20. Refillable water bottle – Note, most cruises actually provide these. Especially at elevation, stay hydrated folks
  21. Binoculars – It can never hurt to bring. There are hundreds of exotic birds, whales, dolphins, and stars that you’ll want a good look at!
  22. Headphones – For flights. relaxing in your downtime, and tuning out your kids.
  23. Bug spray – Again, no aerosols. Don’t contaminate the pristine forests and aquatic ecosystems. Consider deet-free alternatives
  24. Camera with extra SD cards – Don’t worry about charging, there are plenty of spots to charge during the journey. See my city safety guide so you don’t get your camera stolen in Ecuador
  25. Phone floaty,  wrist strap, or floating case – Wish I had this advice before I went, as my previous smartphone is sitting at the bottom of the Galapagos ocean right now. Phones are great for getting pictures in the Galapagos and Ecuador, unfortunately, my bathing suit pockets aren’t very deep.

Dress Ettiquete in the Highlands (Quito and Cuenca)

If you are spending some time in Quito or Cuenca, you may feel a little out of place wearing shorts or baggy clothing, and open-toed sandals.  Typically, the locals wear darker colored pants and closed-toed shoes. One reason for this is the quick onset of rain showers. For this reason, it’s smart to carry an umbrella or rain jacket. You can typically find an umbrella on the streets for 5 dollars or so, so no need to bring one from home. Additionally, it does get chilly at night. Remember, the elevation of these cities is 9,000+. This offsets the heat of being on the equator. As for jewelry, don’t strut your expensive items or you could be a target for theft.  Look at my safety guide for more information.

1. Reef safe Sunscreen – Galapagos Packing List

Galapagos-Packing-List-Girl-with-sunscreen-on-her-back-shaped-like-a-sun
Don't end up a lobster, bring sunscreen
A burnt tourist is not a happy tourist, so this is number one on our Galapagos packing list. Remember to pack it in a checked bag the entire way, or it will be taken away by airport security. We advise guests to bring the lotion style sunscreens. Aerosols typically don’t hit their target (Your skin) 100 percent, so the residue can stick to surfaces. When you are in the Amazon rainforest, this can impact the pristine forest and aquatic habitats.  If you do bring an Aerosol, make an effort to spray it into your hand first so it offsets any collateral damage! Additionally, make sure it has a top and lock setting or it may spray everywhere and create a sticky mess.

Don’t let your holiday be ruined by failing to apply your sunscreen. Sunburn is absolutely crucial in your Ecuador and the Galapago packing checklist. The country is situated right on the Equator, and the sun’s rays are unforgiving. Apply high SPF sunscreen at least three times a day and always before and after swimming. If you can, bring Reef Safe Sunscreen to protect the unique flora and fauna of the island.

A friend of mine spent a day in bed after getting badly burnt and missed out on swimming with Galapagos Penguins (his No. 1 thing to do). Don’t let something similar happen to you.

Please note that the sunscreen here is expensive (around $20 for a small bottle), so it is best to bring your own before arriving. Moreover, bring sunhats, a shawl, and breathable lightweight shirts in the case that you feel yourself burning up. Remember when you are packing your bag, put the sunscreen in the checked bag or they may throw it out!

2. What to bring to the Galapagos – Clothing

The Galapagos has two seasons: the ‘dry’, warmer season (between December and June) and the ‘wet’, colder season (between July and November). For the ‘dry’ season, make sure you bring lightweight, breathable clothes such as safari shirts, t-shirts, shorts, and summer dresses. For the ‘wet’ season, you definitely need to bring a raincoat, a jacket, a jumper, and jeans or sports joggers. On day tours, it is normal to walk up to two to three hours each day, so ensure that include comfortable footwear such as trainers or hiking boots in your Galapagos packing list. Blisters and sores are no fun, so bring good decent socks too.

During your cruise, you will hear the term ‘wet landing’. This means that in contrast to a ‘dry’ landing, you will disembark from the zodiac right into the water (usually ankle-deep). For such landings, water shoes are ideal. Don’t forget your swimming outfit either.

3. Camera (plus chargers, SD cards, and waterproof cases)!

Galapagos-Packing-List-Man-holding-Camera
You'll get the best shots in the Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands are a photographer’s paradise. It is one of the only places on earth where you can get up close and personal to the wildlife. Some of the animals are what naturalists call “ecologically naïve”. This means that as they evolved in habitats free from predators, the presence of other animals (including us) does not faze them as they never had a reason to be afraid. They are so tame that you could go over to them and pick them up (although this is forbidden due to Park Rules). This phenomenon is best demonstrated by the Flightless Cormorant, a bird who lost its ability to fly.

So, get ready to snap away at your heart’s content. For those who do not have a waterproof camera and use their iPhone instead, I highly recommend purchasing a ‘Sea Wag’ to include in your Galapagos packing list.

4. Polarized Sun Glasses – Galapagos Packing List

When I first tried wearing polarised glasses, I was genuinely amazed by their effectiveness. At the time, I was on a zodiac off the coast of Cerro Dragon (Isla Santa Cruz), and the glasses enabled me to spot marine life such as sharks, turtles, and stingrays far more easily. Unfortunately, as I only tried these glasses four days into my cruise, I felt like I had been missing out on seeing more. All in all, they are definitely worth including on the Galapagos packing list, even if just used for this one trip.

5. Sports Water Bottle – What to bring to the Galapagos Islands

Girl tying her shoe next to a reusable water bottle
Respect the environment and bring a reusable
A thirsty tourist is also not a happy tourist! When you find yourself adventuring through awesome terrain and having the time of your life – remember that there will not be a shop in sight! There will be nowhere to cool off and buy a refreshing Coca-Cola.  So, in order to avoid becoming dehydrated, bring your own refillable bottle and fill it up on the cruise ship prior to heading out on your day tour. Besides, you will be contributing to saving the oceans by not using a plastic water bottle (a dreaded single-use plastic).

6. A Backpack – Galapagos Packing Tips

During day trips, it’s a good idea to bring a light travel backpack with you. Keep this light, and only include essentials such as your water bottle, sunscreen, and camera. A waterproof backpack is best as you will be traveling from the boat to shore on a Zodiac. Foldable hiking sticks can be helpful for the slightly older traveler.

  • Top Waterproof Backpacks

7. Medicine

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If your meds are important, pack them first!
If you need to bring medicine – bring it.

In the Galapagos, only very basic healthcare will be available should you fall ill.

For the majority of your trip, you will be in very remote locations and hours away from the nearest hospital, so never take any chances with your health.

Those with hay fever, make sure that you stack up on the Piriton.

We stress highly to put your medicine in your luggage first in a spot that you know you will find it.

Don’ take any chances that would ruin an amazing Galapagos trip.

8. Music player and headphones – Galapagos packing checklist

An absolutely essential item on your Galapagos packing list. Your music is needed for the time you just want to sit back, relax in your cabin or go on deck to sunbathe or gaze out into the ocean as you listen to your favorite songs. It is also nice to have them on airplanes. They do pass them out on airplanes internationally, but they are never great quality.

9. Tablets for seasickness – What to bring to the Galapagos and Ecuador

In case you are prone to becoming seasick, be prepared! If you do not like taking tablets, there are some excellent remedies out there such as wristbands and ear patches.

10. Passport/Credit Cards/Cash

A no brainer, of course. However, do make sure you bring some cash with you (at least a few hundred dollars to be secure). Smaller bills are better. Upon arrival to the Galapagos, you will need to pay the $100 entrance fee and $10 INGALA control card. Do not lose this card as you will need to present it at passport control when you leave the Islands.

Furthermore, you need to be aware that on Isla Isabella, there are no ATM machines that cater to foreign cards and you will be required to pay a $10 entrance fee. These facts are not advertised and many a traveler – including myself – have run out of money on Isabella. So, be prepared!

GreenGo Travel can help you plan the perfect Ecuador & Galapagos experience from start to finish! Contact us and receive our free travel planning service with no commitment or initial payment involved. Our Galapagos & Ecuador experts are waiting to help you today!

What not to bring to the Galapagos and Ecuador?

Avoid bringing aerosol bug spray and sunscreen. There are hundreds of thousands of visitors heading the Galapagos and the Amazon rainforest annually. Bug spray can severely impact the migration routes of almost every insect species in the rainforest. The guides will remind you not to use it in the forest, but the lotion kind is okay as you really can’t miss.

Most cruises have snorkel equipment, and they are good quality too. If you are doing a DIY trip, than bring your own. Otherwise, check with our travel expert and the cruise page to see if the equipment is included. It’s a big hassle to carry or check that equipment in my opinion

Don’t bring too much clothing and shoes to the Galapagos and Ecuador as well. Try to keep your packing list relatively simple and lightweight. Additionally, keep in mind 20 pounds is the limit per person for island hopping planes.

Definitely do not bring any seeds, plants, or animals to the Galapagos or Ecuador without a license. As for the Galapagos, don’t pack food from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos


About Keenan Ennis

Keenan Ennis studied Conservation and wildlife biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This eventually lead him to a program in Ecuador studying hummingbirds and their keystone nutritional species in the Jama-Coaque Ecological Reserve. Since, he has worked with the critically endangered Bandurria Andina, or black-faced Ibis of the Andean Páramo. Through his ecological background, he provides an in depth insight into the conservation processes of the Galapagos Islands.

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