FAQs

Q?

When is the best time to go to Ecuador?

A.

All trips run year-round, but a few trekking or wildlife-specific itineraries are better during some months than others. Peak tourism season in Ecuador, Galapagos and Peru corresponds with North American and European vacation periods over the summer and the winter holidays, rather than the weather. Nevertheless, 2 seasons are most common - dry and wet. In the Andean region (Ecuadorian and Peruvian mainland, Inca trail) the wet season run from November to Aril, but the rains are common mostly in the afternoons. Dry season run from June to September with more clear days but colder air temperatures. Inca trail in Peru is closed in February every year.
If you are planning to visit Galapagos at the time holiday season, be sure to book in advance. December to May are the warmest months in the Galápagos, with the wind dropping for calmer seas. June to October is drier but chillier – with poor visibility for divers. Wildlife is visible and active throughout the year in the Galápagos, although certain species and activities (such as turtles laying eggs and sea lions being born) are restricted to specific times – let me know if you have particular interests.

Q?

Is it safe to travel in Ecuador and Peru?

A.

Ecuador and Peru are considered to be the most safe and traveler-friendly countries in South America. In Lima and Quito as in any big city in the world I would suggest to keep an eye on your personal belongings like cameras, purses, avoid using unofficial or unmarked taxis during the night or walking at night in unlit neighborhoods. Rural areas and Galapagos islands are absolutely nothing to be concerned about.

Q?

Do you use the service of certified guides?

A.

Guides and representatives in each destination have been carefully selected for their knowledge, professionalism, experience and ability to manage travelers with effective and friendly manner. In Galapagos and Amazon rainforest I partner with local guides who are native to the destination and are licensed in accordance with National Park official regulations. All guides are fluent in Spanish and English. Most of them have advanced degrees in tourism, biology, native culture or other related field. All field personnel is experienced in the outdoors activities and most  trained in basic first aid.

Q?

Do I need a tourist visa to visit Ecuador and Peru?

A.

Citizens of the United States, European countries, Russia and Ukraine do not need a visa for visiting Ecuador and Peru with tourist purposes for a stay up to 90 days.  Your international passport will be stamped on arrival. Your passport must be valid no less than 6 months from the day of your departure from the country of your travel.

Please see the recent visa regulations of Peru and Ecuador

Q?

How much time do I need to visit Ecuador, Galapagos and Peru?

A.

For visiting Galapagos islands consider 4 days (3 nights) as a minimum stay.  Group tours to Galapagos start from  5 days (4 nights). Amazon rainforest tours start from 4 days (3 nights) and operated only on the certain days of the week.  For the Ecuadorian mainland I would suggest 3 days as a minimum for Quito and surroundings, but I can customize an extension for you if you are interested to stay longer. Ecuador can offer a lot of impressions!

For Peru allow 4 full days to visit Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu and the main historic Inca sights in Sacred Valley. If you are planning to continue your trip to Lake Titicaca or have a flight over Nazca lines, add 2-3 additional days to your trip.

Q?

Do your tours include airfare? Are there direct flights from United States to Ecuador, Peru or Galapagos?

A.

For your convenience, international and domestic flights are quoted separately from base trip costs, as the tariffs are always changing. I will be happy to assist you with finding the best possible rates for your flights and if you need, I will book it for you and include it pricing in your trip quote.

Direct flights to Lima (Peru) and Quito (Ecuador) are operated mostly from Miami and New York. Direct flights to Galapagos Islands are operated only from Ecuadorian mainland - cities of Quito and Guayaquil. The flight takes approx 2-2.5h one way. If you are planning to visit Galapagos from any other country, plan an overnight stopover in Quito or Guayaquil before you proceed to the islands. Flights to/from Galapagos depart mostly in the morning time.

Q?

What does the typical day of itinerary look like?

A.

A typical day will vary from tour to tour, but generally, you can expect to start your excursions right after breakfast around 9:00 am (8:00 am in Amazon and Galapagos) with a full day of scheduled wildlife-watching activities or sightseeing. A lunch break is included and you’ll come back to your hotel in the late afternoon with evenings free. Be ready to go places and change hotels accommodations almost every day, take 2 or more local flights (depending on itinerary), plenty of swimming and snorkeling in the ocean every day at Galapagos, easy hikes total duration 2-3h normally. More adventurous activities such as kayaking, canyoning, rafting, zipline and horse-back riding are optional according to your adventure expectations and are possible on request. I have a personal experience with all places and activities and I will help you decide whether a trip is right for you!

Q?

What is the weather like?

A.

The weather  is pleasant year-round. There is a wet season and a dry season, but this varies depending on elevation and region. Even in the wet season, you will experience plenty of clear, sunny days. The Andean Highlands are a great place to visit year-round with temperatures 55-70F during the day. Occasional light showers can happen anytime, but heavy afternoon rains are common here in November and April. You have the best odds for clear views of the mountains and volcanoes in the months from mid May to September, but you will often have guaranteed clear views in the morning throughout the year. The Amazon region is hot, humid and wet throughout the year (80-85F), with the wettest months being from April to June. Galapagos are visited year round for its pleasant climate (around 70F) and abundant wildlife. The warmest ocean is between November and May.

Q?

What should I pack for my trip?

A.

Andean region (Ecuadorian/Peruvian mainland, Quito, Cusco, Machu Picchu)

  • Day-pack (~20L) for day-tours
  • Light windbreaker jacket (waterproof preferably, with hood)
  • Fleece jacket for chilly evenings
  • Long hiking windproof pants
  • Sunhat
  • Tennis shoes or light hiking shoes
  • Sunscreen (40+)
  • Sunglasses (UVF300>)

Amazon rainforest and cloud-forest

  • Light breathable hiking pants (or long shirts/ yoga pants)
  • 2-3 T-shirts
  • 1 long sleeved shirt (cotton/ light fabric)
  • Light hiking pants
  • Swimming suite
  • Change of  tall socks (to wear with rubber boots), and light underwear
  • Sunhat (with a string) or bandana
  • Lightweight windbreaker jacket (for early morning and late evening canoe rides)
  • Quick-dry sandals or tennis shoes
  • Flip-flops (to wear in the lodge, optional)
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Sunscreen (40+)
  • Sunglasses
  • Mosquito repellent

Note: Raincoats and rubber boots will be provided in the lodge during your jungle tour

Galapagos Islands:

  • Small backpack for day-excursions
  • Bermudas or light hiking pants
  • 2-3 T-shirts
  • 1 long sleeved shirt (light fabric or cotton)
  • Swimming suite
  • Sunhat
  • Lightweight windbreaker/waterproof jacket (for speedboat rides)
  • Quick-dry sandals or tennis shoes
  • Flip-flops
  • Sunscreen (40+)
  • Sunglasses
  • Mosquito repellent

Note: On day-tours in Galapagos the snorkeling gear will be provided. But if you feel more comfortable with your own equipment just take it with you 🙂

Dont' forget:

  • Your travel document (passport)
  • For residents: a proof of residency (green-card)
  • Printed copy of your flight tickets international and domestic
  • Credit cards & cash in USD for your pocket expenses
  • Printed travel insurance certificate
  • Personal first aid kit (personal medication, headache pills, Imodium, motion sickness pills, band aids, wet wipes, lip balm, eye drops)
  • Camera + charger/batteries + extra memory cards (if you run out of memory space, getting a new one can be expensive and difficult to find)
  • Cellular phone

Q?

How many people are usually on your group tours?

A.

Galapagos customized tours: Airport transfers are private. Day-tours can be private, others not.  Every day you join a shared tour with other travelers led by different guides assigned by National Park. In the morning you will be picked up from your hotel for excursion and in the end of the day you are taken back to your hotel. Commuting between the islands are made by regular speedboats.

For Galapagos Island Hopping group tours: expect traveling in a group of up to 16 english-speaking travelers from European countries, United States and Canada. You will stick together as one group for all excursions and activities for the whole trip, assisted by the same local naturalist guide along the way.

Amazon rainforest: Tours and activities are provided by eco-lodge in groups, assisted by local english-speaking naturalist guide. Expect traveling in a group up to 10 people, this number of people fits in one motorized canoe.

Ecuador and Peru mainland: Tours are mostly run privately, you are assisted by the local guide with a private vehicle.

Q?

Can I order a customized tour (or extensions to existing tours)? What is the min group for a private tour?

A.

Yes! I will be happy to put together a custom itinerary if existing itineraries are not exactly what you are looking for. If you order a fully customized tour, normally a non-rufundable $350 deposit is required before I start designing an itinerary for you. Extensions to existing trips are always possible too. Please contact  me for recommendations.

Q?

What is recommended age fro kids ? Any discounts for families with kids?

A.

I would recommend a minimum age for kids is 8 y.o. and older to travel to Ecuador, Peru and Galapagos. As you will be traveling back and forth using different means of transport (flights, land transportation, speedboats, trains) and the frequent commuting, long walks, loading and unloading would be exhausting for small kids and toddlers. Also, remember you cannot bring any of your own food or drink on the Galapagos islands. I suggest you save this trip till the time when your kids can enjoy it and learn from it.

Kids up to 12 y.o  have ~15% discount on the local flights in Ecuador and Peru, and 50% discount for admission ticket to Galapagos National Park. I offer a 10-15% discount for a kid lodging in same room with their parents on a tour to Ecuador and Galapagos.

Q?

What kind of accommodations can I expect?

A.

In major cities like Lima, Quito, Cusco I offer a variety of hotels including several boutique properties. Throughout the rest of mainland Ecuador and Peru I work with of historic haciendas (villas), traditional guest-houses and eco-lodges.  The majority of the properties are family-run or locally owned where you can experience the special ambience of the region. I offer basic or luxury accommodation options in Ecuador, Peru and Galapagos depending on your taste and budget expectations. No matter what hotel category you choose, all accommodations are safe, clean, comfortable, all rooms with private bathrooms, hot shower and hearty breakfast included.

Q?

How can I acclimatize? What average altitudes to expect during the trip?

A.

Quito, Cusco and Machu Picchu elevation is about 9000-9500' (2500-2850m). Some people experience the symptoms of altitude sickness, hard breathing and migraines. For a good acclimatization it is advisable to have good rest on arrival, drink enough warm water and herbal teas. 2L daily is very advisable to drink to stay hydrated. The consumption of alcohol drinks must be minimized. People with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems as well as pregnant women are strongly recommended to consult a therapist before having a high altitude trip. Always travel with all prescription medicines that you may need (most drugs in Ecuador are sold only by prescription). Take all medicines that you can’t do without.  As for Galapagos Islands, Lima and Amazon rainforest , these regions are located at the sea level or relatively low altitudes 0-1800' (0-900m).

Q?

How physically fit I have to be to enjoy a trip to Ecuador Peru Galapagos?

A.

Trips and itineraries are different by the level and type of activities. But most of itineraries to Ecuador, Peru and Galapagos are easy to moderate level of fitness and don't require to be an experienced hiker (unless you are planning to hike the Inca trail or join any other trekking expedition in Peru or Ecuador, so that the hiking time, level of fitness and elevation gain will be adjusted to each day of your trip). Overall, you have to be active lifestyle person in a relatively good health.

Q?

Do I need vaccination for traveling in Peru/Ecuador/Galapagos?

A.

Vaccination against yellow fever is not required, unless you are visiting the remote areas in Amazon rainforest. If you decide to protect yourself against the yellow fever anyway, the immunization has to be done as a minimum 10 days prior to the date of your travel. Zika virus was not confirmed neither in Ecuador, Galapagos or Peru, so there is no reason for any concerns.

Q?

Do I need a travel insurance for my trip?

A.

Yes. Every traveller is required to have a valid travel insurance certificate.
In several cases it would be advisable to have a trip cancellation insurance as well in case of any unforeseen personal circumstances that can affect your plans prior to your trip. Travel insurance is not included in the cost of your trip.

Q?

How far in advance should I book?

A.

I recommend to book your trip at least 2-3 month in advance. For the groups over 6 people  I would advise to book 6 months in advance. For holiday season like Christmas/New Year or Carnaval more advance planning is ideal, as it's harder to get available rooms in hotels and flights.

Q?

I paid for my trip. What is next?

A.

After booking you will receive a document (travel kit) that includes all of the need-to-know information that is specific to your itinerary: what to bring /packing list, weather, estimated pocket expenses, currency information, contacts etc.  You get a day-by-day confirmed itinerary with all necessary contacts of my local representatives.

Q?

What if I have to cancel my trip after I paid?

A.

You may cancel your booking or reschedule your tour by sending an email. Cancellation fees, if any, will be applied with the reference to the date on which the notice of cancellation is received expressed as a percentage of the total price paid for the cancelled Tour, product or service (excluding any insurance products and airfare). My cancellation policy  is based on the policy of domestic flight carriers, hotels and local service providers. Any international flight cancellation depends on air carrier refund policy and the category of your ticket.
If you cancel your tour:
- 60 or more calendar days before the fist travel service provided, you get a full refund of your trip except a deposit of $350
- 59 to 30 calendar days prior to the first service , 50% of your trip cost will be refunded    
- 29 calendar days or less before the first service provided  - no refund.

I suggest to protect your travel plans purchasing insurance certificate covering any unpredicted changes in your personal plans.