Quito – Capital of Ecuador
Quito the capital of Ecuador (Equator) is based on the slopes of the Andes Mountains. It currently has a population approaching 2 million people and covers over 143.8 square miles (372 square kilometers). The altitude of the city is over 2.8 km above sea level.
About the Galápagos Islands
The Galápagos Islands are located approximately 1000 kilometers to the West of the Ecuadorian Mainland on the Pacific Ocean. This Ecuadorian archipelago is strategically located at the convergence point of three main oceanic currents: the Panama Current that Flows form the North, the Humboldt Current that flows from the South and the Cronwell Current that flows from the West. The nutrients brought to Galapagos by these currents throughout the year make its waters one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet. Additionally, Galapagos geographical isolation has allowed the relatively small number of species that managed to colonize to the islands to flourish, resulting in unprecedented levels of endemism. It is precisely the observation of Galapagos’ unique fauna that led British scientist Charles Darwin to publish his book “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” in 1859. In this book, Darwin probed the evolutionary theory, shifting the human understanding of the Natural World forever.
Nowadays, the Galapagos Islands and its surrounding waters constitute a province of Ecuador. There are human settlements, both urban and rural, in four of the main islands where roughly 30,000 people live as permanent residents. However, Galapagos receives over 270,000 visitors every year. It is estimated that nearly 80% of the economy depends on tourism and its supporting activities. Nonetheless, fisheries and agriculture are also important economy sectors.
National Park Warning
In order to protect Galapagos pristine ecosystem, the province is governed under a Special Regime that controls and restricts human mobility and activities. Thus, visitors must register their entrance at the counters of the Galapagos Government Council at Quito or Guayaquil Airport. This requires presenting a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test of no more than 72 hours. Then, pay the entrance fee to the Galapagos National Park and get a Transit Control Card (TCT) –this card must be presented at Galapagos airports on arrival and departure. Finally, visitors must check all their baggage at the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency (ABG) to ensure no harmful biological material enters to the islands. After these steps, visitors can proceed to check in normally. During the flight, two forms will be given to passengers: one from the Ministry of Health and one from the ABG. Both forms must be presented on arrival.
The Galapagos National Park Service has established the following rules:
- Drones and flash photography are not allowed.
- Use only authorized tour operators and/or boats.
- Do not introduce any foreign elements to the ecosystem
- Visitors must explore the Park with an authorized Naturalist Guide
- Do not feed the wildlife
- Dispose of all trash and/or recyclable waste in the designated containers
- Do not purchase products or souvenirs made from flora or fauna
- Fishing is only allowed on boats authorized by the Galapagos National Park
- Do not remove any elements from the ecosystem
- Camping is only allowed in designated areas with prior authorization
- Smoking, drinking, and fires are strictly prohibited
- Keep a distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) from the wildlife
- Motorized, aquatic recreational vehicles are not allowed
- Visitors must stay within the marked trails at all times
- Visitors with prescriptions must bring enough medicine for their entire stay as there are pharmacies in the islands are not well supplied. Also, there are not medical specialist on the islands and severe cases are evacuated to the mainland.
- It is highly recommended to only drink bottled water.
- It is highly recommended to always use sunscreen as the Galapagos Islands are on the equator and sun rays hit perpendicularly.
- Galapagos is a safe place; however, it is not recommended to leave personal belongings unattended.