How to Prepare Your Body and Mind for the Galapagos

The Physical Demand

mtchm / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Traveling to the Galapagos Islands cannot really be considered a vacation per se. A vacation typically implies spending long hours under the sun and enjoying some lazy time in the hotel lounge. If you want rest, pick another destination – the Galapagos is all about active adventure. There’s simply too much to see and do around here. Hiking up volcanoes, mountain biking across the landscape, patiently observing wildlife, snorkeling and scuba diving in the diverse underwater marine life. And so, so much more.

Needless to say, all these physical activities you will want to undertake are demanding. You don’t want to end up with sore muscles on your first day, do you? Whether you like to hear it or not, an  adventure trip to the Galapagos comes with some physical strings attached. If your everyday life is mostly sedentary, before you leave for the Galapagos spend some time stretching your muscles. Jogging, swimming, cycling, yoga, the gym – have your pick. There’s plenty of physical activity that can get you into shape for facing the physical demands of the Galapagos. Trust me, you will want to go for those long hikes, climb the mountains, kayak through the blue waters and snorkel in the underwater world of this majestic piece of paradise on Earth.


typical itinerary for the Galapagos Islands includes a diverse variety of exotic activities and adventurous experiences. You may feel like packing your bags and embarking on this promising adventure as soon as possible. But the truth is that the Galapagos ain’t your typical Florida beach resort. For all its beauty and biodiversity, this remarkable destination is physically demanding, especially if you’re unused to the conditions of a pristine natural landscape.

In this article, we will explore the physical demands of venturing the Galapagos Islands and give you some valuable tips on how to prepare for this once in a lifetime experience.


The Altitude

Ecuador is home to some of the highest volcanoes and mountain peaks in the world. Ecuador’s capital alone has an altitude of around 9,000 feet. If you are flying to Quito from sea level, there is an elevation change of about two miles in a matter of hours. Such a sudden change in elevation could have ill effects and provoke altitude sickness.

AlexandreMagno / Nature Photos / CC BY-NC-ND

Altitude sickness usually manifests itself in insomnia, headaches and sometimes even nausea. In order to prevent altitude sickness, or at the very least stave off some of its effects, consider an acclimatization approach to your Galapagos trip. Ascend gradually, so you can allow for your body to adjust to the change.

In case you’re flying directly to Quito, such gradual acclimatization approach will be impossible. So in case you experience altitude sickness, make sure to hydrate yourself with plenty of fluids. Don’t exert yourself by embarking on long hikes on the very first day and always have some aspirin in your pocket, in case headache hits.

One final note – use sunscreen. You may feel cool while high in the Andes but because of the high altitude, you are much closer to the sun and the risk of sunburn is greater.


The Local Cuisine

One of the many perks of traveling around the world is to get a taste of the local cuisine. And the Ecuadorian one is famed for its delicious and exotic diversity. With that said, keep in mind that as yummy as those traditional dishes may be, you won’t be able to stomach it all. Every person is adjusted to their own food regime and bombarding your digestive system with loads of unfamiliar food may result in unpleasant effects. And there’s nothing worse than being in one of the world’s most incredible destinations with a stomach ache!

Whirling Phoenix / Food Photos / CC BY-NC-ND

Relatively mild stomach and intestinal tract problems resulting from the consumption of food and fluids contaminated with bacteria, which foreign immune systems are unaccustomed to, are the most common problems while traveling abroad. While in Ecuador, eat only well-cooked food, or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Do not eat unpasteurized dairy products or food sold by street vendors.

Taste the local cuisine one dish at a time and gradually adjust to this new selection of foods.


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