Because Quito is well above 9,000 feet some passengers traveling from lower elevations may experience symptoms of altitude sickness, known within the Andes as Soroche. This typically results in shortness of breath, nausea and headaches. In most cases the symptoms will gradually lessen and pass as ones body adjusts to the altitude, so its a good idea to plan to take it easy for the first day. Resting helps as does taking over-the-counter analgesics. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water or tea also seems to lessen symptoms for some.
Persistent high altitude sickness symptoms can worsen quickly signaling danger and the need to get to a lower elevation with more oxygen immediately. If you have high blood pressure, heart trouble or had issues with altitude sickness in the past please consult your physician before traveling to Quito.
Below you will find information to help assist you with medical preparations for your trip as well as providing tips on how to stay healthy during your travels. Keep in mind that neither we nor anyone making your trip arrangements is a medical authority. You should consult with your physician, local health officials or the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA.
Much of the information below comes directly off the CDC website. The CDC offers an excellent section for travelers. You can access the site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel For travel to Ecuador and Peru access the region know as Tropical South America or go directly to http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/regions/tropical-south-america.aspx
The CDC also has a dial up number (888) 232-3299 where you can request a fax by following a series of prompts. Voice messages for specific disease outbreaks are available by calling (888) 232-3228.
Please make sure to let us know of any special medical conditions or dietary needs before your trip.
Strictly speaking no inoculations are required for entry into Ecuador or Peru, though a yellow fever certificate is recommended for entry into the eastern part of the country, i.e. the Amazon Basin.
The standard immunizations recommended at this time include:
For detailed up to date information on immunizations for this region on the web visit the CDC site at:http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/regions/tropical-south-america.aspx
IMPORTANT: passengers that visit Peru and then go to Brazil must have a yellow fever vaccination certificate or will not be allowed to board the international flight (Brazilian regulations
The CDC reports that there is no risk for Malaria in Quito, Guayaquil, the Ecuadorian central highland tourist areas, Peruvian Andes area and the Galápagos. If you plan to visit the Amazon or travel to other regions of Ecuador or Peru not mentioned that are below 5,000 feet Malaria will be a hazard and you will want to take necessary precautions to guard against it. Specific medical approaches should be decided upon by your physician based on your medical history and travel plans.
A key means to prevention is to reduce your risk of being bitten by mosquitoes. These methods include wearing light long sleeve shirts and pants that will make it harder for a mosquito to bite you. Wearing a hat and making sure your feet and ankles are also covered will reduce your risk. Using insect repellent is also very important.
Avoiding areas that are highly infested and avoiding being out at the times of dayusually at dawn or duskwhen mosquitoes are out will also help. By reducing the number of mosquito bites you directly lower your odds of being bitten by an infected mosquito.
The CDC recommends using insect repellents with DEET following these precautions:
For more details and updates on malaria on the CDC website go to: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/regions/tropical-south-america.aspx
The CDC also recommends that travelers planning to visit areas at risk for malaria in Ecuador or Peru should take a malaria prophylaxis drug. This again is a decision for you and your physician based on your travel plans and medical history including allergies. Make sure you explore the side effects of each drug with your physician. Expect to begin taking these drugs in advance of your trip to build up tolerance to the disease in your system. Therefore it is important not to wait until the last minute before seeing your doctor for a prescription.
The Galápagos Islands are ideal for healthy active people of all ages looking to get out there and enjoy nature up close. While a trip to the islands can be fairly easy when it comes to activity, a basic level of fitness is in order. Even though our hikes are evenly paced in gorgeous settings, you can expect some long walks in hot weather. Quito stands at roughly 9,500 feet above sea level so a stroll along the cobblestones of its colonial sector can cause shortness of breath. In short, the better shape you are in the more you will enjoy your trip. Once you arrive in the islands you will have plenty of opportunity to participate in such activities as hiking, swimming, snorkeling and sea kayaking. Its really up to you how much or little you want to participate in activities vs. relaxing. Taking up a moderate exercise program well before your trip will help insure you get the most out of your vacation. Always be sure to check with your physician when embarking on an exercise program.
Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers, according to the CDC. Following the precautions above will insure that you do not get that most common affliction: travelers diarrhea. Even when you are in your hotel and especially when you are on your own avoid tap water for brushing your teeth, instead use purified or the bottled water which will be provided and always avoid ice except when on our yachts.
As back up you may want to talk to your physician to see if they can prescribe an antibiotic that is targeted at travelers diarrhea. There are also over the counter drugs that can help.
Once again, consult your physician.
Some people worry about sea sickness on vacation cruises or seminar cruises, but you dont need to be concerned.
Some of our cruise seminar customers assume they will be sea sick because they were sick on a previous boating excursion. Remember that the bigger the boat, the smoother the ride. Not only does it only occur on the few days you will be on board that have high winds and seas, but the more you sail, the less you will be bothered. Many people get their sea legs in just a day or two.
If you do begin to feel sea sick, do not start at fixed points on the ship or the horizon. Also, do not look through binoculars as this can cause the problem. Dont stare at fixed items or stare down long corridors. The more you look around, the better you will feel. Eat light and non greasy foods.
There are many things you can do to cure sea sickness if it occurs. Ask any bar tender on board, they all have their favorite cures. Eating ginger will help. You can ask for ginger. There are also ginger pills you can take. There are elastic bands that cure sea sickness. They gently press a plastic dome into your wrist. It is an acupressure cure and it works well with some people. These Sea Bands are available in the ship gift shop and at drugs stores in most areas.
There are over the counter remedies that work well such as Bonine or Dramamine. I take half a pill when I need it and it cure my sea sickness without making me too drowsy. There are also prescription patches that fit behind the ear that cure sea sickness.
Dont let a fear of sea sickness keep you from enjoying your cruise. You probably wont have it and if you do, there are lots of ways to cure or minimize it.
You will find that we run a very clean ship in the Galápagos. The food and drinks are clean and safe as is the ice we serve. During your stay we ask that you use the bottled water provided for brushing your teeth rather than brushing with tap water.
You may, however, be exposed to other service providers and environs making it a good idea to follow the advice of the CDC for staying healthy in the region.
If you plan to visit the Ecuadorian or Peruvian Amazon including to a jungle lodge in the Amazon Basin this is highly recommended that you get a yellow fever vaccine. For details on yellow fever please visit the CDC website.
IMPORTANT: passengers that visit Ecuador or Peru and then go to Brazil must have a yellow fever vaccination certificate or will not be allowed to board the international flight (Brazilian regulations)
We urge you to bring your own personal first aid kit including any prescriptions medications, vitamins or over the counter drugs you may require. Fill prescriptions BEFORE you leave the US.