Aeroplane at Baltra airport - galapagos islands

How to get to the galapagos islands

The Galapagos Islands are 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador and to get there you need to fly out from the mainland.

There are two airports on the Galapagos that have flights from the mainland. The cruise boats coordinate with these so it’s important you fly to the right one and different Galapagos yachts start from different places on different days of the week. You either need to fly into Baltra which is a small island just off Santa Cruz or to San Cristobal.

There are three airlines that operate these flights; TAME, AEROGAL and LAN. Flights go every day from Quito, Ecuador’s capital, and from Guayaquil, a large coastal town. Some of the flights go direct from Quito to the Galapagos but most stop at Guayaquil en route.

If you are doing a cruise the boat operator or their agent will book the flights for you. The flight schedules change frequently, even after you have bought tickets. So the Galapagos boat operators like to know when everyone is arriving for the cruise and meet the flight with all the joining passengers. Staff from the cruise company will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the boat. If you are doing a land based itinerary you will need a transfer from the airport to your hotel in Puerto Ayora or San Cristobal.

At Baltra there is a bay where the Galapagos yachts can moor so it is just a very short transfer from the airport by bus down to the waterside where the yacht’s tender will take you out to the boat. If you are going down to Puerto Ayora then there is a free bus from the airport for the five minute drive to the Itabaca Channel where you take very short ferry crossing to hop over to Santa Cruz before you continue your 45 minute road journey.

Some cruises start in Puerto Ayora and so on your first day you may stop in the highlands en route from the airport to get your first experience of the Galapagos flora and fauna before boarding the Galapagos cruise down in the port at Puerto Ayora.

At San Cristobal the transfer from the airport to the harbour or to your hotel is just a short drive.

INGALA

This is the local immigration card that is needed by all foreigners visiting the islands. The card only costs $10 US dollars and has to be issued at Quito or Guayaquil airport before you board your flight. We normally arrange this in advance and pre-pay this along with your flights, so that all you have to do is pick it up rather than join the long queue at the airport to register and pay for it.

Galapagos National Park fee

This is currently $100 US dollars and you have to pay this in cash when you arrive at the airport in the Galapagos.

How to get to the galapagos islands from the UK

There is a good range of international flights to Ecuador although there are no direct flights from the UK. The most popular airlines are KLM via Amsterdam and Iberia or LAN via Madrid. The total flying time is about 14 hours and the flights have a route that takes in both Quito and Guayaquil. You don’t have to stop in Quito if you don’t want to, but most people like to see something of mainland Ecuador as well as going to the Galapagos. There are KLM flights from several UK regional airports to Amsterdam that connect with the flight to Ecuador. The Iberia and LAN flights connect with the morning flight from Heathrow to Madrid. There are also options via the USA with several airlines such as American Airlines, United and Delta but these are less popular as the immigration procedures in the USA, even for transit passengers, means you need to have a long connection time between the flight to the USA and the onward flight to Ecuador.

How to get to the galapagos islands from the USA

There are good connections from the USA to Guayaquil and Quito with daily direct flights from several cities. Currently there are flights to Quito from Miami, Houston and Atlanta and flights to Guayaquil from New York and Miami. There is also a wide choice of single stop or multi stop flights if you don’t mind not going direct.

How to get to the galapagos islands from Peru

If you’re thinking of combining the Galapagos with the wonderful sites in Peru such as Machu Picchu then this is quite easy to do. There are daily flights with LAN from Lima in Peru through to Quito and several also to Guayaquil.