It might be tempting to pack everything but the kitchen sink when preparing for the exotic delights of your safari holiday. But with luggage restrictions of 20kg per person (and sometimes less for inter-island flights), it’s worth knowing what you really need (and what you really don’t), in order to make the shrewdest choices.
Here’s our list of the must-packs to help you streamline your suitcase.
Due to the warm weather and energetic activities on offer on the islands, most people opt for shorts and a t-shirt on their Galapagos tours. More sensible are light-weight, long-sleeved cotton shirts and long cargo pants to protect against the sun, insects and scratchy plants. Whichever you opt for, avoid tight fits, uncomfortable seams and jeans – there’s nothing quite as unpleasant as damp denim.
Though some of the Galapagos National Park has paved paths or wooden decking, much of it is uneven volcanic terrain – spectacular to look at but tricky to walk on if you’re wearing flip-flops. Rather than heavy hiking boots, opt for Teva or Chaco-style sports sandals. Quick drying, they’re ideal for the wet landings and gentle hikes of Galapagos tours.
It’s almost impossible to go a day during a Galapagos safari holiday without dipping into the brilliant blue ocean. Bring a couple of swim suits as well as long-sleeved protective swimwear to shield your back and shoulders while snorkeling (a notorious time for burning). There’s no need to bring a wetsuit: Galapagos Safari Camp and their partners will provide you with one during snorkeling and diving trips.
Paradise islands though they are, the Galapagos also has a cold, or garúa, season. From around July to December temperatures dip and come nightfall it can get a little chilly, especially the highlands of Santa Cruz where Galapagos Safari Camp is located.
For evenings and speedboat trips it’s a good idea to have a warm fleece and/or a windbreaker. And whatever time of year you go on your Galapagos tour, bring a light waterproof jacket or poncho for unexpected showers.
The dress code for Galapagos Safari Camp is casual and guests on safari holidays generally choose loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothes, and a light jumper or fleece for the slightly chilly evenings (particularly in the Cooler Season). Don’t be tempted to bring sky-high heels or your grandmother’s jewels: everyone is too busy admiring the gorgeous scenery to pay attention.
The Galapagos sun is strong. Seriously strong. Located on the equator, the islands are incredibly close the sun and feel the full force of its rays. What’s more, during Galapagos tours to other islands there is sometimes little or no shade. So don’t hold back on the sun protection: super-strength sunscreen, high-quality sunglasses and a good sun hat are a must.
The best way to protect yourself from horsefly and (non-malaria) mosquito bites is to wear long sleeves and full-length pants. However, there are some moments on safaris when this is not possible, so pack a small, eco-friendly insect repellent that does not contain DEET.
Galapagos Safari Camp truly is a camp – rooms are in fact tents privately located via outdoor paths away from the main building. To find your way safely back to your tent at night, you may like to carry a small flashlight or headlamp (although these are also available on request at camp). Or, simply walk by the light of the moon.
Those prone to sea sickness may find water crossings during the garúa months of July to December demanding. Even if you don’t normally suffer, it’s a good idea to have motion sickness tablets on hand to ensure that every crossing and boat trip is as comfortable as possible during your Galapagos tour.
It goes without saying that you’ll need a camera, to capture the beautiful memories that await around each bend. Close encounters with blue-footed boobies and sea lions, staggering lunar landscapes and marine adventures with the ones you love are moments to be cherished. The best thing is that you don’t even need a great camera, or be a skilled photographer, to take wonderful wildlife photos here: animals are so fearless that you can snap away from just a few feet.
Due to the strenuous efforts of the Galapagos National Park to rid islands of introduced species, stringent rules are in place about what things, especially foods, can be brought on Galapagos tours from the mainland. Fruits like kiwis and papayas are strictly off limits as are some seeds and nuts. Suitcases are routinely checked by park officials and very little slips through the net, so it’s wise to avoid bringing any foodstuffs altogether. But fear not, Galapagos Safari Camp ensures that all your snack and mealtime needs are more than met, all with foods that do not threaten the Galapagos ecosystem.
Plan your Galapagos Vacation
See our Safari Holidays for our suggested Galapagos itineraries and recommended activities.