Travel light! Our experience tells us the lighter you pack, the happier you will be. Following are some packing guidelines and a checklist to help you determine the right amount of gear to bring with you.
Simplify your packing—shop at Nat Hab’s online Gear Store for some of the key items recommended for your adventure. Look for this icon in the list below, then go to: www.nathab.com/gear-store
to start shopping.
GENERAL PACKING RECOMMENDATIONS
- Bring sturdy, soft-sided luggage, which is easier to stow throughout the adventure and to carry in our vehicles during transfers.
- Carry any necessities, including travel documents, money, medications and other vital supplies, in your carry-on bag and not in your checked luggage.
- Pack a change of clothing and any essentials (including toiletries) in a carry-on bag in the unlikely event your luggage is delayed or lost by the airlines.
- Pack only casual, weather-appropriate clothing.
- Check with the Travel Security Administration (www.tsa.gov) to determine which items are suitable for carry-on baggage, and which items should be packed in your checked luggage.
- If you plan to lock your luggage, use a TSA-approved security device.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation requires any lithium batteries packed in checked or carry-on luggage remain in the electronic device (camera, cell phone, laptop, etc.), in their original packaging, or in a separate re-sealable plastic bag.
- Leave expensive jewelry at home! A good rule of thumb: if you would be heartbroken to lose the item, then don’t bring it along. Find a cheap version to replace it during your travels.
- You and your travel partner (if applicable) may wish to temporarily combine belongings in your luggage during flights. If one set of luggage is lost or delayed by the airlines, you will each have half your gear until the lost luggage catches up with you.
- Keep cash in more than one place. Should something happen, not all will be lost.
- Check the current weather on the Weather Channel or on the Internet (www.weather.com) so you can be prepared for any unseasonable weather at our destination.
ADVENTURE-SPECIFIC PACKING TIPS
- We recommend bringing mostly clothing for warm weather, however, we have included a few items on the packing list for cool weather as well. This is due to the fact that the temperature can sometimes get a bit chilly in the evenings in Otavalo and Quito, on the boat and also while camping at NHA’s Tortoise Camp. While there is a chance you may end up not needing the warm clothes, we still recommend bringing them with you, just to be safe.
- Due to the hot and humid conditions found at sea, we highly recommend bringing clothes made of synthetic, quick drying material. If wet with rain, sea water or sweat, cotton items may not always dry completely.
- It’s best to wear neutral tones and use fragrance-free sunscreen while on the islands to avoid attracting wasps.
- Include rain gear in your carry-on bag.
- You may wish to have some nicer clothes for time spent on the mainland, or dinners on the boat, although this is completely optional.
- Storage space is limited on the boat and some ships (Letty and Origin) cannot accommodate hard-sided suitcases. Please pack your gear in a soft-sided, collapsible bag that can be easily stored away.
- Hairdryers will be available at all accommodations, including the cabins on the ship.
- Lightweight, breathable, waterproof (not water-resistant) rain jacket, with hood
- 1–2 warm fleeces or thicker layer
> For cooler nights on the boat and in Otavalo and Quito.
- Tennis shoes or lightweight hikers
> Although some people are completely comfortable with tennis shoes at all times, light-weight hiking shoes with good ankle support can be useful on the islands where we may be walking over lava rocks. Tennis shoes or other appropriate soft-soled shoes are preferred while on board the boats. You may be asked not to wear hiking shoes on board so if you need sole support at all times, please plan on having a pair of shoes for the landings and another pair for the boat.
- Sport sandals (i.e. Tevas, Chacos, Keens, etc.)
> Water-resistant sport sandals are highly recommended for getting in or out of the skiffs during wet landings. You must not go barefoot while wading in the water, as the sharp coral can cut like glass. Flip flops are NOT recommended.
- Water-resistant daypack
> To carry camera gear and other equipment during island walks.
- Sun hat, with brim
> Make sure you have something to secure your hat when it is windy, as you do not want it to get blown overboard.
- Warm sleepwear as our night at the campsite may be chilly
- 2 pairs of comfortable lightweight pants
- 1 pair of nylon, zip-off pants
> Useful for warm days and cooler mornings and evenings.
- 1 pair of jeans or heavier pants (optional)
> For cooler nights on the boat.
- 2 long-sleeved shirts
> We recommend moisture-wicking fabric
- 6–8 short-sleeved T-shirts
> You may also want to bring an extra T-shirt to wear while snorkeling if you sunburn easily.
>We recommend moisture-wicking fabric
- 3 pairs of shorts
> You may not need as many pairs of shorts if you are bringing zip-off pants.
- 2 swimsuits (for daily snorkeling excursions)
- Photography equipment and chargers (see “Photography Information & Gear List” section of this booklet for a detailed list of suggested gear)
> Disposable underwater cameras are great for snorkeling photos. GoPro cameras are also excellent for underwater photography if you want something a bit better quality and also capable of shooting video.
- Water bottle
> In our continuing effort to operate our adventures with as little impact on the environment as possible, we have enclosed a reusable water bottle for you to take with you on your adventure. We will provide safe drinking water throughout the adventure for you to refill your bottle. By doing this, you will avoid using multiple disposable plastic bottles. This bottle is made of stainless steel, and we have been assured that it meets all safety standards. Wash in warm, soapy water before using. We recommend writing your name on it in permanent marker before departing on your adventure.
> Natural Habitat is a proud supporter of Travelers Against Plastic (TAP), a campaign to spread awareness about the impacts of using disposable plastic water bottles while traveling. You can also support TAP by signing the pledge to minimize the use of plastic water bottles while traveling. To find out more about TAP (and to sign the pledge) visit their website at www.travelersagainstplastic.org.
> Pack your water bottle in your carry-on bag! We’ll have water in the van on arrival and it’s great to start hydrating when you arrive in Quito instead of having to dig around for your bottle in your checked luggage.
> With UV filter and secure strap. Polarized glasses help you to see through the reflection at the surface of the water and can be very useful while looking for marine life.
> Useful for blocking out boat noises.
> Shampoo and soap are provided at all of our accommodations if you do not wish to bring your own. The Letty, Origin, Xploration and Petrel also provide conditioner. Lotion is provided on the Xploration. the Origin and the Petrel.
- Insect repellent
> Because DEET can be harmful to humans, clothing, binoculars, camera lenses, etc., you may want to consider other alternatives. We like these brands: Sawyer (Fisherman’s Formula), Repel (Lemon Eucalyptus) and All Terrain (Herbal Armor)
- Sunscreen & lip balm (at least SPF30)
> You may want to consider reef-safe sunscreens to protect the delicate underwater environment in the Galapagos. Some brands we recommend include: Coral Safe, Badger, Raw Elements and Blue Lizard.
- Motion sickness medication
> If you are sensitive to motion sickness, we strongly recommend you come prepared. Ask your doctor about Scopolamine patches.
- Small medical kit (optional)
- Hand sanitizer
- Prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Battery-operated alarm clock or wristwatch
> Wake-up service is available on the boat.
- Headlamp/flashlight (optional)
> For our evening at NHA’s Tortoise Camp, though there are usually flashlights available.
> Washcloths are only available on the Xploration, Origin and Petrel. They are not available on the Letty.
- Dry bags or reusable waterproof bags
> Bring several sizes. They are very useful for wet or dirty clothing and for protecting camera equipment.
- Pocket-size Spanish/English dictionary
- Sewing kit
- Snorkel, mask & wetsuit
> Snorkeling gear and wetsuits will be provided during the adventure. However, we recommend bringing your own gear if you already have it to ensure a better fit. If you are at all sensitive to cooler water temperatures, you will probably want to wear a wetsuit while snorkeling regardless of the time of year. If you have had issues in the past with snorkeling masks fitting your face, we highly recommend bringing your own. Also, if you wear glasses for distance, we suggest bringing disposable soft contact lenses to wear while snorkeling, or bringing your own mask with built-in prescription lenses, as it is nearly impossible to snorkel while wearing glasses under a mask.
- A combination of short and long wetsuits will be available.
- Snorkeling Life Jacket (optional)
> If you are hesitant or new to snorkeling, you may want to bring your own snorkeling-specific life jacket. They are usually inflatable so they do not take up much space or add much weight to your luggage, and you can add as much or as little air as you wish. You may also wear a life jacket provided by the boat, although they are bulkier and some people find them uncomfortable. Keep in mind that wearing a wetsuit will also provide some buoyancy.
- Swim cap
> To protect against sunburn, or provide warmth, while snorkeling
- Extra duffel bag
> If you wish to purchase souvenirs in while in Ecuador, we suggest bringing an empty, collapsible duffel bag for your return trip. You can then fill this extra bag with your purchases. Keep in mind that you will have to pay for any excess weight over the 50-pound weight limit on the flight from the Galapagos Islands to the mainland, but excess luggage can be safely stored in Quito during our visit to the islands.
- Collapsible walking stick or hiking poles (if needed)
> As we may encounter rocky and uneven terrain at times, some travelers may find it helpful to bring a walking stick or hiking poles for use during island walks.
> If you are bringing poles, make sure they fit in your checked baggage, as you generally will not be allowed to carry them on the plane. >A limited number of walking sticks will be available on the boat.
- Valid passport
> With photocopies stored separately from original, or scanned to your email account.
- Copy of complete flight itinerary
- Copy of applicable travel and/or medical evacuation insurance
> Include your policy number and insurance contact information.
> Because medical care overseas can be expensive, you should review the coverage of your own personal health insurance policy before you go.
- Personal medical/dental insurance cards
- Credit card (optional)
> Record your card number and the international phone number to report loss or theft and keep in a separate place.
- Your Pre-Departure Briefing booklet and your itinerary
> Good to have as a reference when clearing customs (your itinerary provides information on your destinations, accommodations, length of stay, etc.), in order to check operational procedures, to take notes, or to record wildlife seen during the adventure.
> Helpful for presenting any discretionary gratuities to guides.