All flights to and from the Galápagos depart from Quito in the highlands of mainland Ecuador, and stop briefly en route at Guayaquil to refuel and pick up passengers.
There are only two commercial airports in the Galápagos: one on the small island of Baltra, north of Santa Cruz island, and the other at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal island. Your cruise may start and end at either of these airports.
Recommended stop overs
Depending on the timings of your international flights, we recommend staying at least one night in Quito before the start of your cruise. This minimises possible disruption to your itinerary due to flight delays or even cancellations en route.
On return from Galápagos, we usually recommend a night on the mainland in Guayaquil or Quito. It’s possible to connect with an international flight directly, albeit with a long wait at the airport.
From plane to boat cruise
If you fly to Baltra, depending on which boat you are on, you may board in a small anchorage close to the airport, or at Puerto Ayora, the principal town on the south coast of Santa Cruz island. This involves travelling by ferry and bus across the island, and you generally visit the highlands en route.
If you fly to Santa Cruz, you join your vessel in the nearby anchorage of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
Typical flight costs
The cost of a return flight from the mainland to Galápagos varies depending on the season of travel, but is generally between US$400 and US$500 per person and is included in your quote.
At certain times of year a high season supplement is payable to cover the higher cost of flights to and from the Galapagos.
Carefully managed island hopping
Cruising and exploring the Islands via vessel is integral to the Galapagos experience. To protect the fragile ecosystems, the itineraries of all vessels are coordinated by the national park authority to ensure that visits are spread as widely and as evenly as possible around the different sites, and that several vessels do not arrive at the same site at the same time – see itinerary length.
Choosing the right vessel for your Galapagos cruise is your single most important decision. We will guide you in that choice but do take a look at the vessels we recommend.
Which islands to see
Most one week itineraries feature either the central and southern islands or the central and western islands. Comparatively few itineraries include the more northerly islands of Darwin, Wolf, Pinta, Marchena and Genovesa.
But we can tailor your itinerary to take in exactly the islands you want to see.
Each vessel operates on a 15 day rotation, during which it may not visit the same landing site on more than one occasion (other than the two islands with airports where all trips start and end).
This 15 day rotation is generally broken down into two entirely different 8 day / 7 night itineraries that operate in strict alternation. Depending on the vessel, each of these may be further broken down into two shorter itineraries: for example, a 5 day / 4 night trip plus a 4 day / 3 night trip.
This means that trips can be combined to create itineraries of different lengths up to a maximum of 15 days. Occasionally the 15 day rotation is broken into three 6 day / 5 night itineraries.
While cruising, on most days you wake in the early morning to the noise of the anchor going down at the first landing site of the day. You generally visit two different sites per day – one in the morning and another in the afternoon – so much of daylight hours are spent ashore. In the middle of the day you may sail a short distance between landing sites over lunch.
2 types of landing
There will always be one or more sailors to give you a helping hand. In some places you land at one of the few settlements in the islands, then make your way to a site on foot or by vehicle.
In the Galapagos, all shore visits, with the exception of those to inhabited settlements, must be accompanied by a naturalist guide licensed by the national park authority.
At these landing sites you must follow your guide in a group and not stray from the marked trail. Where appropriate, at the end of a visit there is frequently an opportunity to relax on the beach and swim or snorkel – often in the company of some of the islands’ wildlife – before returning to your boat.
Because of the volcanic nature of the islands, the terrain can be rough and rugged. However you rarely have to walk more than a kilometre or two, and this is generally at a slow place because much of the time is spent looking at wildlife, scenery or geological formations.