Once you have your Galapagos Islands tour booked, packing can be an exciting way to get ready for your vacation. Since the Galapagos Islands are a unique destination, our local Galapagos experts have assembled this Galapagos packing list of the essentials. This list is not exhaustive, but it does account for the essentials.
At the end, we also have some suggestions for what to pack if you are visiting other regions of Ecuador, like the Amazon, Andes, or coast.
In your carry-on
- Important documents like your passport, tickets, and boarding passes
- Cash (including the $100 Galapagos National Park entrance fee)
- A good book
- Some simple snacks
- Ear plugs
- Comfortable cotton shirts and wicking t-shirts
- Some long-sleeved shirts for sun protection
- A few pairs of shorts
- At least one pair of fast-drying/ lightweight pants for cool evenings
- Windbreaker (in rainy season from December-May)
- Sweater or sweatshirt (for cool nights)
- Brimmed hat or cap
- Two bathing suits (use one while the other is drying)
- Teva-style sandals (for coral beaches and coastal trekking)
- A good pair of trekking shoes (for rockier hikes)
- Thin & breathable hiking socks
- Shoes or flip flops to wear on deck or around your hotel
- Basic first aid kit and any personal medications
- Motion sickness pills
- Sun block (high SPF)
- Toothbrush, toothpaste
- Personal hygiene products
- Insect repellent
- Sunglasses (preferably with UV protection & security strap)
- Battery powered alarm clock
- Water resistant daypack
- Water bottle
- Camera and/or video camera
- Charger and adaptor (for US sockets)
- Extra battery packs
- Several high capacity memory cards
- Multiple lenses (including a UV filter)
- Cleaning equipment
- Underwater camera or casing
- GoPro (to catch those adventure shots!)
*With the natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes, even a simple point-and-shoot will likely capture beautiful pictures, so how much camera equipment you bring is entirely up to you. It can take up a lot of space in a suitcase and might be fragile, but if you have a talent for photography, then it might be worth it to have your equipment with you to catch those once-in-a-lifetime photos.
- Expensive jewelry
- Anything that you would be heartbroken to lose
- Fancy/ elegant clothes (unless you know you will be attending a venue where they are required) – casual clothes are (almost) always acceptable.
- Hair-dryer (this will be provided by the boat or hotel)
- Snorkel equipment (wetsuits, masks, and flippers are provided; you’re allowed to bring this if you prefer to use your own, but it will probably just take up valuable space and weight in your suitcase)
What about my phone?
On mainland Ecuador and in the four major towns of the Galapagos, you can use an unlocked smartphone on the local cell networks (CNT, Claro, & Movistar) by purchasing a SIM chip to replace the one in your phone. However, as soon as you are out at sea, you will not have cell reception at all. Our advice? Just don’t count on using your phone while you are in the Galapagos Islands. Once you arrive, you can stow it safely in your suitcase and pull it out again once you’re back at the airport.
Packing tips and weather information for mainland Ecuador
Since Ecuador straddles the equatorial line in the dead center of the tropics and has jungle, mountains, and coast, its weather is unique. Be prepared for the region you’re traveling to with these packing tips for…
- Weather: Warm year-round, with very humid winters and possible daily downpours (January-April) and drier summers (May-December); ocean water is almost always warm.
- What to pack: Definitely warm-weather clothes, very similar to what you would pack for the Galapagos Islands. It’s a good idea to also have a light, waterproof jacket. If you’re traveling during the wet season (January-April) insect repellent is necessary to ward off the mosquitos.
- Weather: Humid, warm, and rainy – expect sun in the morning followed by afternoon showers.
- What to pack: Long pants & insect repellant are a must! You will be exploring jungle, so while it might seem hot, covering your skin is an important way to protect against bug bites. You should also have a waterproof rain jacket.
- Weather: Usually feels like spring, with dry and cool temperatures in the morning rising into the low 70s during the generally sunny days.
What to pack: You’ll want to have a couple layers that you can take off or put on as the temperature goes up or down. A t-shirt with a fleece sweater and a rain shell plus long pants and comfortable walking shoes with ankle support is a good outfit for a typical day in the highlands.
At higher altitudes, like the summits of Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Quilotoa, or other volcanoes, we recommend having very warm clothes as the chill coupled with the wind can make it seem downright cold