Is It Allowed to Use Drones in Galapagos Islands?

Using drone in the Galapagos

Unless you have a permit that authorizes you to use drones for research or commercial endeavors, using drones is prohibited in the Galapagos Islands.

Flying a drone is generally legal in Ecuador, according to the country’s national aviation regulator, the General Directorate of Civil Aviation of Ecuador (GDCAE). But, the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) has stringent guidelines for drone use and photography in the archipelago.

Camera Drones and Tourists in Galapagos

Galapagos Islands rules creative display

Camera drones are not allowed to be flown by tourists within the Galapagos Islands.

Only research and monitoring reasons, and under tight constraints, are permitted for the deployment of camera drones.

Authorities are aware that many people pass through Galapagos on their way to or from other countries. So long as the drone isn’t utilized in the air, visitors are free to bring drones into Galapagos without fear of them being seized at the airport or elsewhere.

We actually planned on bringing our camera drone during our trip to Galapagos. It is a good thing that we did our research first before our flight. While your drone wouldn’t be confiscated in the airport unless to use it, it is best not to bring it to the islands in the first place since you have no use for it. Not bringing it will also add space to your luggage.

General Drone Laws in Galapagos

When using a drone in Galapagos, operators with a permit must observe the following regulations:

  • Never fly your drone over individuals or crowds of people.
  • When flying your drone, respect people’s privacy.
  • Don’t fly your drone near airports or in other places where planes are flying.
  • You can only fly in ideal weather conditions and during the day.

The wildlife and history of the Galapagos Islands attract makers of movies and television shows as well as seasoned photographers.

A formal application must be made to the GNPD at least 15 working days before the start of any filming or professional photography project in Galapagos National Park’s protected zones. The classification of the project affects the fees.

Drone operations are only permitted with strict GNPD approval.

Bottom Line

While it is enticing to use your drone cameras in Galapagos Islands, you must be informed that tourists are not allowed to do so. Travelers should obey the GNPD’s rules and regulations including their guidelines about drones.

Drones may disturb the natural resources and wildlife in the Galapagos. Not using or bringing your camera drones to the islands is an indication of respect for GNPD’s rules and the wildlife too. However, you don’t need drones since there are so many things to do on the Galapagos Islands.

About the author

Oleg Galeev

I'm Oleg, and together with my wife, we've explored Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, journeying through more than 20 cities (Quito, Cuenca, Banos, Tena, Puyo, Guayaquil, Riobamba, Otavalo, Mindo and more) and nearly every island in the Galapagos (including iconic ones such as Bartolome Island, San Cristobal Island, Isabela Island, Santa Cruz Island and more). In this blog, I give you my real thoughts about each place we visited. This info can help anyone planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands or mainland Ecuador. I'm just a traveler, not a tour company, so I'm not trying to sell anything. That means I'll tell you the truth—both the good and the bad — about traveling in Ecuador based on what we experienced.

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