Ecuador has opened its borders to travelers, and though there are some things you need to know if you plan to take advantage. As of August 6th, 2020, the US State Department has Ecuador from a Level 4: Do Not Travel to a Level 3: Reconsider Travel, due to the global COVID-19 situation. If you are healthy, have a high-risk tolerance, and feel ready to get back on a plane, travel to Ecuador and the Galapagos may be an option. Here is what you need to know if you’re thinking of taking that trip (this information is updated as of August 28th, 2020. Check the US Embassy in Ecuador website for the most current information available.):
Arrival to Ecuador
As of June 1st, international flights have been arriving in Ecuador. In order to be allowed to enter the country, you do need to show a negative COVID-19 PCR (molecular diagnostic) test within 10 days of arriving in Quito or Guayaquil. As long as you aren’t showing any COVID-19 symptoms when you arrive, you’ll be free to move around continental Ecuador, no problem. If you show any COVID-19 symptoms, you’ll be required to take the RT-PCR test at the airport at your expense, and quarantine in an authorized hotel until your test results come back.
If you show up at the airport without having a negative PCR test result, you’ll be required to take a test upon arrival, at the airport, at your own expense. You’ll then be required to quarantine in an authorized hotel until the test results come back. If the test is negative, you’ll be free to go on your merry way. If the test comes back positive, you’ll have to stay in quarantine at the hotel, and any health care you may need will be provided.
Also, you must have proof of insurance covering COVID-19 related costs. When you look for insurance, make sure to choose the ‘cancel for any reason’ option, and read the fine print to ensure COVID-19 is specifically covered. Some insurance companies get sneaky with the fine print.
If You Want to Visit the Galapagos Islands
As the Galapagos Islands are very isolated, anyone wishing to travel there has some special, additional requirements to follow. First, you must arrive in Ecuador with the negative PCR test, just as if you were traveling only into Ecuador. Then, once you arrive, you’ll need to take a second PCR test at the airport, and then quarantine at a local, authorized hotel while waiting for the test results. If you are traveling within continental Ecuador before heading to the Galapagos, you’ll need to be sure to have a PCR test within 96 hours or 4 days of travel to the archipelago. In all, you will need two negative PCR tests in order to be allowed to travel to the Galapagos – one before your arrival to Ecuador, and one before heading out to the islands.
You will also need to have an itinerary and reservations for the Galapagos in hand – this can be a cruise or island-hopping option. The Ministry of Tourism just wants to be sure everyone traveling to the Galapagos can be accounted for.
As with traveling anywhere in the world right now, including the store down the street from your house, you will want to take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of disease – wear your mask when you’re around other people, stay distant from other people whenever you can, don’t touch your face, and wash your hands often. When you return home, you will want to follow the CDC recommendations, and be extra careful when around others, especially anyone who is at higher risk. This includes staying home as often as possible for 14 days after you get back, and you may want to take one more PCR test, just in case.
If you are ready and rearing to travel now, some places are ready and rearing to welcome you. By taking the proper precautions, and respecting everyone you come across during your travels, a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos may be in the cards sooner rather than later. Hopefully, the rest of the world can follow suit, allowing us to carefully, thoughtfully, and respectfully explore our world again!