Flights to & from the
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
to the Galapagos
is the only legal way to get there without your own
yacht (for which you would be charged huge fees).
Passenger travel to the Galapagos Islands on the cargo boats
is strictly forbidden, so
your Galapagos travel experience will almost certainly start with a
flight to either Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal
island or Baltra, just off Santa Cruz island. Galapagos
flights should be booked well in advance especially at peak tourist
season (e.g. Christmas and New Year, and late June to August).
in the early morning, returning from the islands to the mainland in the
Most of the flights from Quito stop
at Guayaquil to pick up more passengers. If you are visiting
just the Galapagos Islands and not the rest of Ecuador, it makes more
sense to fly into and out of Guayaquil, rather than Quito.
are no direct international flights into Galapagos, only Ecuador
airlines are authorized for the routes to the islands, though you do
have a choice between Aerogal, LAN and TAME.
you will be diving in the Islands, or climbing mountains back
the mainland, you might like to note that
Guayaquil is at sealevel, while Quito is around 2800m higher, and plan
your Galapagos flights accordingly.
cruise operators have a reserved quota of flights to connect with their
schedule, i.e. if you book a cruise, they will have flights available
for you, assuming you fly on the start and end dates of
the cruise. If you want time to travel in the Galapagos
before or after your cruise, or if you prefer to travel independently,
volunteer, or take a land tour of the islands, booking flights well in
advance is strongly recommended as availability is limited.
Having said that, IF the cruise operators find that they have
cruise spaces unsold just before the start date, they might release
their unused flight quota, meaning last-minute Galapagos flights could
be available. If this happens, it really is last minute, so
a) you'd probably need to be hanging around at the airport to take
advantage of the opportunity, and b) you're likely to be lower down the
list than Galapagos residents, who usually have good connections with
the flight agents. So, while you can ask a travel agent about
standby availability, don't count on flying to the
Galapagos at short notice, and certainly don't expect a discount -
there is likely to be stiff competition for any available seats.
Because of the high demand, the airlines will cancel your
reservation if you do not check in on time, and offer the seats on
standby. It's worth reconfirming your flights a day or two
before, if you have booked independently. Do not try to fly
the islands without having either a hotel or a cruise booked.
Galapagos Islands have two airports
receiving passenger flights from the mainland: Baltra Airport
(Galapagos airport code: GPS), right off Santa Cruz Island, and Puerto
Baquerizo Moreno (Galapagos airport code: SCY) on San
Cristóbal Island. If you are booking your flights
independently, rather than taking a flight / cruise / hotel package,
make sure your Galapagos flight is going to the correct island to meet
your cruise boat. Flights from the mainland go to either
Baltra or San Cristóbal, not both, and there is no quick or
even same-day transfer between the two if you get it wrong.
prices to the
flight prices are controlled by the government, to a certain extent, so
there is not much leeway for discounts or cheap flights.
Expect to pay between around $425 (from Guayaquil, low season) to $510
(from Quito, high season). Some luxury Galapagos cruise
operators may include "free" Galapagos flights in the cruise package,
though of course you will be paying for them through the cruise price -
there is no such thing as cheap Galapagos travel!
Whether you fly to Baltra or San Cristóbal makes
no difference to the flight price. Flying from Guayaquil
rather than Quito is a little cheaper (perhaps $30 to $50 difference
- probably not enough to make it worth the 10 hour, $10 bus
journey from Quito to Guayaquil just for the discount). It
may be possible to fly from Guayaquil but return to Quito, or vice
versa, so talk to your travel agency or tour operator
about possible flight itineraries.
flights are the only realistic, legal way to get to the islands,
they do carry
a heavy environmental cost, so you might want to consider
reducing your carbon footprint by compensating for the carbon emissions
flight with one of the various offset schemes available.
You need to get your luggage checked
approved by the Inspection and Quarantine System for the Galapagos
Islands (SESA-SICGAL) BEFORE
you check in for your flight
- get to the airport in plenty of time and ask where the queue is.
Your bags will be searched to ensure you are not carrying
nuts or anything that could be a threat to the Galapagos ecosystem, and
then tagged when approved. You will probably also have to
INGALA desk, where you fill in a form, show your passport and flight
tickets and pay $10 (cash) for a Transit Card (TCT) - if you are with a
Galapagos tour group or cruise, your representative may deal with this,
otherwise your travel agent may be able to supply the relevant form to
complete when you buy your flight. Either way, ask about the
TCT when you book your
trip. Only after these two tasks are done should you
queue at the airline desk for check-in, where you will need to show
your TCT and SESA-SICGAL tags.
Departure Tax -
Check with your flight ticket booking
agent or Galapagos tour operator to make sure any domestic departure
included in the price of your Galapagos flights.
Flights to and from the Galapagos Islands, air routes and airline
Note that no responsibility can be taken for the content of
external links or for reliance on any of the suggestions on this site.
For the sake of the islands' environment, please consider the
carbon footprint from your Galapagos
flights and take some personal action to neutralise the carbon
emissions caused by your Galapagos travel.