TOURISM GALAPAGOS , How to go to GALAPAGOS ? We offer you two ways to visit Galapagos Islands, taking a boat cruise or staying in hotel accommodation in the islands: : Options for flying into the Galapagos is limited to two islands;San Cristobal and Baltra. Private aircraft must use Baltra as it is the airport equipped with overnight plane accommodations.
Galapagos Islands are located 600miles (1060km) west of the Ecuadorian mainland in the Pacific Ocean. To get there, we recommend all travelers must follow the indications detailed below:
1. Take an international flight to Ecuador, to arrive either at the city of Quito (in the Andes Mountain Region) or at the city of Guayaquil (in the Coast). There are direct non-stop flights from several US cities like Houston, New York and Miami, as well as from European cities like Madrid.
Important: We advise you arrive at least 2 days before your scheduled Galapagos travel dates (especially for cruises) in case there are flight delays or cancellations. We have had several occasions where guests missed their cruise because of flight delays and they had to join a couple of days later.
2. Take a domestic flight out to the Galapagos Islands, Starting from the city of Quito or the city of Guayaquil. There are two airports in Galapagos: One on Baltra Island (where you need to fly to if staying in Puerto Ayora - Santa Cruz Island) and the other in the port town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, on San Cristobal Island. Which airport you fly to will depend on where your Galapagos trip starts from. Flights departing from Quito stop in Guayaquil before continuing to the Galapagos Islands. The flight time between Quito and Guayaquil is roughly 35 minutes and from Guayaquil to Galapagos is roughly 1 hour and a half.
|Galapagos Islands Discovery Channel
Map of the Galapagos Islands
GETTING TO GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Seeing the sites and wildlife of the Galapagos is best done by boat. Most people book their place well in advance (as the boats are usually full during the high season). Booking a boat tour with a company in your home country is usually the most convenient, but is often considerably more expensive.
There are a VAST number of companies that can book accommodation on a Galapagos tour either in Puerto Ayora or from Guayaquil or Quito. While it is possible to get a last-minute deal, be aware that many budget tours may spend extra time in Puerto Ayora, might not have the best boats, and may only visit the inner islands. Last minute 4-day cruises can be organized in Puerto Ayora for around $500-600.
When looking for a tour consider the following:
- Number of passengers. The national park restricts the size of the boats allowed to cruise the islands, with some islands such as Genovesa being limited to boats with no more than forty passengers. Though the maximum size boat permitted to cruise the islands is 100 passengers, as you might imagine 100 people showing up on a beach all at the same time can be overwhelming to the local wildlife. All passengers will be divided up into a maximum group size of 16 passengers per naturalist guide. Therefore it is generally best to travel on a boat with fewer passengers (between 16 and 32 passengers is ideal).
- Itinerary. The National Park sets all of the cruise itineraries. Each itinerary is designed to have a mixture of habitats and show case the diversity of the islands by combining the SouthernEspanola and Floreana,Central,Western Fernandina, Isabela or Northern Genovesa Islands. Most boats will visit 2 or 3 of these areas during a week.
- Availability. Most of the best cruises are booked up months in advance, so best to book early.
- Level of Activity. Visits to the islands are only permitted during the twelve hours of daylight 6am to 6pm. Typically a cruise will have two excursions each day a morning and an afternoon that will be a combination of shore and water excursions. Walks are generally at a slow pace offering plenty of time for interpretation and photos. The landings may be slippery and some trails can be rocky making them difficult for older people with balance problems, but in general the walks are easy. Water excursions may include snorkeling, kayaking, panga rides (rides in local dinghies) as well as rides in a glass bottom boat depending on your cruise. Life under the water is more diverse than that on shore and snorkeling with sea lions is frequently the highlight of the trip for many visitors.
- Additional costs. Many tours do not include the $100 park entry fee or the cost of a flight from the mainland to the islands (apx. $422 from Quito) as well as a $10 INGALA Tourist Control Card. Additionally less expensive boats will charge for beverages, use of snorkel equipment, wetsuits and kayaks.
- Time spent in the islands. The cruise length includes the day you arrive and the day you depart the Galapagos. Flights typically arrive the islands around noon time or in the early afternoon and leave the islands about the same time. On your first day you will typically have 1 excursion and on the day you leave you may or may not have an excursion. In addition all 8 day cruises are required to visit the town of Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research. Many itineraries will combine this day with a visit to see the tortoises in the wild in the highlands of Santa Cruz. Shorter cruises will take advantage of the close proximity of the Baltra airport to Puerto Ayora and let passengers who boarded the cruise in San Cristobal leave the cruise in Santa Cruz or vice versa.
- Type of boat. Quality of boats varies widely. Less expensive tours use boats that may not be capable of traveling as quickly between islands, be as comfortable, or be as well-maintained.
Note that while the majority of the islands will be off-limits without a guide, it is possible to travel via speed boat between the towns on San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz and Isla Isabela; trips to Floreana can also be arranged. Speed boats cost $30 one-way, or $50 both ways with an open return date. Each of these islands offers the possibility of joining organized local daytrips or of traveling on your own while within the town limits.
Hotels and hostels are available on each of these islands from $10-$500+, while hotels along the water are generally full especially in Santa Cruz. During peak season (Christmas & Easter weeks) as well as during special events all hotels are frequently sold out well in advance. However, if you are traveling at other times of the year you may be able to find availability by just showing up.
From Santa Cruz it is possible to book day trips to the uninhabited islands of North Seymour, South Plazas, Santa Fe and Bartolome. Advance reservations are normally required, however on occasion you can find space due to a last minute cancellation the night before.
This archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, 926 km (500 nmi) west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part.
The Galapagos Islands. and its surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a biological marine reserve. The principal language on the islands is Spanish. The islands have a population of slightly over 25,000.
The islands are famed for their vast number of endemic species and were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.Galapagos Islands land based hotels are opening on the inhabited islands of San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Floreana and Isabela. By 2012, more than half the visitors to Galapagos made their tours using day boats and these small hotels. Restaurants,easy access and economy make this an attractive travel option. The cruise tours are still the best way to see all the complex environment and wildlife of the islands.
There are only 116 visitor sites in the Galapagos, these include 54 land sites and 62 SCUBA or snorkeling sites. Small groups are allowed to visit in 2-4 hour shifts only to limit impact on the area. All groups are accompanied by licensed guides arranging tour trip with a Galapagos Tour Operator.