Step 1: Take an international flight to EcuadorWhen flying into the country of Ecuador, you can choose to arrive either to the Andean capital city of QUITO or to the costal city of GUAYAQUIL.
QUITO is Ecuador’s capital, a city of just over 2 million people located in the Andes Mountain Range at 2,800 meters / 9,180 ft. above sea level. Quito’s “old” town is one of the most beautiful colonial centers of any Latin American city and is nearby several Andean indigenous markets like Otavalo and Cotacachi. If you will be extending your trip to Galapagos with a trip in Mainland Ecuador, we recommend you arrive to Quito rather than Guayaquil.
GUAYAQUIL is located in the coast of Ecuador at sea level and is the country’s largest city with a population of 2.5 million. It is a modern city and Ecuador’s largest port. For those who are sensitive to altitude, or who will not be doing any tours in Mainland Ecuador in addition to their Galapagos trip, we recommend to fly into the city of Guayaquil.
There are direct non-stop flights from several U.S cities like Houston, New York and Miami, as well as from European cities like Madrid.
For anyone traveling to Galapagos we recommend you arrive at least 2 days before your scheduled Galapagos travel dates in case there are flight delays or cancellations. We have had several occasions where guests missed their activities and excursions because of flight delays.
Step 2: Take a domestic flight to the Galapagos IslandsOnce in Ecuador, take a flight from the country’s capital, Quito, which stops in the coastal city of Guayaquil on its way to one of the two Galapagos Islands airports, Baltra (if you’re heading to Santa Cruz) and San Cristobal.
If you are arranging flights yourself there are a few things you should know. As you would expect flight times vary depending on the airline, schedule and day of the week, and are typically in high demand. Three airlines go to the islands: TAME, LATAM and AVIANCA.
Flights from Guayaquil are a bit cheaper than from Quito. Also, flying in to San Cristobal Island is less expensive than to Baltra Island (serving Santa Cruz Island). Keep in mind, though, that there is a GPS ferry service that runs between the two islands, if you are planning to visit both. You may also wish to consider the inter island airline called EMETEBE Airlines to save time and avoid a rough 3 hour ferry ride.
Be aware that, for non-Ecuadorians, flight prices are generally fixed between about $500-600 round trip. Prices are lower for Ecuadorian citizens. So, if you buy your flight directly from the airline or on-line, check that you’re buying a flight for a non-Ecuadorian; otherwise, as some unwitting travelers have found, you will be forced to pay the difference at the airport or be refused boarding!
Whether departing from Quito or from Guayaquil, be sure to give yourself at least two hours for check-in. You will have to first queue up to purchase the Galapagos Transit Control card, and then go through a special customs check (to assure you aren’t bringing in anything that might endanger Galapagos’ sensitive flora and fauna). Then you can hit your airline’s ticket counter to check in your luggage and receive your boarding pass.