Paul Schicke
Written by Paul Schicke Senior Expedition Designer

Published: May 16, 2024

  • Twitter
Galapagos Blue-footed Booby

Planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands, a haven of unique wildlife and stunning vistas, begins with a flight into Ecuador. Here's an insider’s guide to navigate your adventure from mainland Ecuador to the enchanting shores of the Galapagos.

Arrival in Ecuador: Gateway to the Galapagos

Your adventure starts with your arrival in Ecuador, landing in either the city of Quito or Guayaquil. Both serve as the main hubs for your subsequent flight to the Galapagos but are also worth exploring. Quito, Ecuador's capital, boasts a historic center that has earned UNESCO World Heritage status, offering travelers a blend of colonial history and vibrant local culture. Meanwhile, Guayaquil provides a lively introduction to the coastal landscapes of Ecuador with its bustling waterfront and modern amenities.

It's wise to spend at least the first night in your city of arrival to mitigate any travel delays and adjust to the local environment, which is particularly helpful in Quito due to its higher altitude.

Arriving in Quito, Ecuador

Flight to the Galapagos

The next leg of your journey is the flight from Quito or Guayaquil to the Galapagos Islands. Early morning flights are common, so be prepared for an early start. You'll have the option to fly into either Seymour Airport on Baltra Island or San Cristobal Airport on San Cristobal Island, depending on where your hotel is located or where your cruise around the Island begins. If looking to stay on Isabela Island, you’ll want to fly into Baltra Island airport.

Flights from Guayaquil to the Galapagos are typically around 1 hour 30 minutes long and they are direct. While there are also direct flights to the Galapagos from the city of Quito, these are slightly longer (15 additional minutes) and a lot less frequent with only 1 or 2 direct flights per day. Most flights from Quito to the Galapagos stop over in Guayaquil to pick up more passengers before continuing on to the Islands.

Flying over Ecuador to Galapagos

Booking your flight well in advance is crucial, especially during the peak tourist seasons, to secure a seat at a decent price on one of these highly coveted flights.

Navigating Airport Logistics

Prior to boarding your flight in Ecuador, you’ll need to obtain a Transit Control Card (TCT) for $20, essential for anyone who wants to visit the Galapagos. You can obtain this card at the airport. Upon landing, a further payment of a $100 entry fee (goes up to $200 at the end of August 2024) to the National Park is required, which goes towards preserving the islands’ unique ecosystem. These fees are crucial for the conservation efforts in the Galapagos and must be paid in cash upon arrival. No credit cards accepted for entree fee payments.

Sally Lightfoot Crab Close-up

Exploring the Galapagos by Cruise

Opting for a Galapagos luxury cruise is an excellent way to immerse yourself fully in the natural beauty and tranquility of the islands. Cruises offer a seamless blend of exploration and comfort, allowing you to visit multiple islands and remote locations that are often inaccessible on day trips from the main islands. We highly recommend a cruise vs a hotel stay in Galapagos for anyone looking to see the best that the Galapagos have to offer.

Exploring Galapagos by a Cruise

Choosing the Right Cruise

Galapagos cruises vary in length from short 4-day jaunts to extensive 15-day expeditions, accommodating anywhere from 12 to 100 passengers. These floating adventures are categorized into service levels from economy to luxury, catering to a wide range of preferences and budgets. Whether you prefer a more intimate setting with a luxury yacht or a larger vessel with more extensive facilities, there's a cruise option to suit your needs.

Galapagos Giant Tortoise with Quasar guests

Benefits of a Cruise Experience

One of the major advantages of choosing a cruise is the ability to cover more ground—or water, in this case. Nightly navigation means you’ll wake up ready to explore a new corner of the archipelago each morning, without the lost time of daytime sailing. Additionally, all meals and excursions are typically included, simplifying your travel planning and budgeting. The guidance of experienced naturalist guides enhances the experience, providing insightful commentary and ensuring you adhere to the park’s conservation regulations.

Cruises also offer exclusive access to specific visitor sites and the luxury of unpacking just once while enjoying varied islands and habitats that the Galapagos offers. From snorkeling with sea lions to watching blue-footed boobies, each day promises a new adventure.

Snorkeling during a Galapagos cruise


Whether you choose the independence of island-hopping or the all-inclusive ease of a cruise, traveling from Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands is an easy ordeal that just requires 1 flight. By planning ahead and understanding the logistical requirements, you’re set for a smooth journey to one of the most extraordinary destinations on Earth. Enjoy the magic of the Galapagos, where wildlife and wilderness reign supreme.

Learn more - How to get to the Galapagos Islands?

Sea Lion on a Galapagos beach
Paul Schicke
By Paul Schicke
Senior Expedition Designer

Hello! My name is Paul. I am a photographer, traveler, teacher and writer. I have extensive experience in travel to Galapagos, Peru, Patagonia and the western seaboard of South America specializing in ways travelers can experience these once-in-a-life destinations like locals on the road. Lover of wine, chocolate, travel, coffee, and helping others plan vacations of a lifetime!

Schedule a Call with Me