The Galapagos is internationally reknowned for the unique plants and animals which evolved in complete isolation. The isolation of the islands and the need to protect the endemic animals from invasive species makes getting to the Galapagos part of the adventure.. Here we tell you what you can expect when travelling to Puerto Ayora ( Santa Cruz).
Step 1. Getting to the airport
Flights to the Galapagos originate in Guayaquil, Ecuador, or Quito, Ecuador (with a stop in Guayaquil). As of May 2014, the three carriers which fly to the Galapagos are Aerogal, Tame, and Lan.
Make sure to arrive in Guayaquil or Quito the day before your departure (in case of flight delays, lost baggage, etc).
The flight to the Galapagos is considered a domestic flight (within Ecuador) but nevertheless you want to arrive at the airport 2 hours ahead of your flight time due to the extra security checks you will pass through.
Step 2. Get your Transit Control Card
Once at the airport, before checking in, you need to get your transit control card (Tarjeta de Control de Transito in Spanish, or TCT card). This is a card which gives you permission to stay in the Galapagos without working for up to 90 days. You wait in the line marked “Consejo de Gobierno del Regimen especial de Galapagos”, fill out a form, and pay $10 (cash). They will give you a control card.
Step 3. Scan your baggage
They will ask you if you have brought any plants or animals in your checkin luggage, scan your luggage, and seal the zippers together so you can no longer put anything in your checkin lugage. This is to make sure you are not bringing in invasive animals or plants that could potentially harm the endemic animals in the Galapagos.
Hint…do not bring raw fruit and nuts, etc, in your checkin luggage.
Step 4. Check in with your airline, drop your bags, and get through security
Now, you are ready for normal airline procedures – finding your airline, checking in to get your boarding pass, dropping off your checkin luggage, and going through airport security. You can now board your flight.
Step 5. Pay National Park fees
Once you land in the Galapagos, you will need to wait in a line to pay the national park fee. There are three lines:
- “Residentes” for residents of the Galapagos
- “Nacionales” or Ecuadorean citizens and permanent residents
- “Extranjeros” or foreigners (you are most likely in this category)
As a foreigner, you will need pay $100 in cash for the national park fee. The fee goes to conservation of the islands (see more about where the park fees go here). Bring cash as credit cards are not accepted.
Step 6. Baggage claim and Carry-on luggage check
Find our luggage at the baggage claim and head toward the exit door. There will be one last line where representatives will check your hand carry-on luggage for plants and animals and then let you by.
Note: From this point the process may be stressful, that is why we highly recommend to hire our transfer service .
Step 7. Bus to the dock
Just outside there are airport buses waiting to take you from the airport to the dock. These are usually crowded but only a 10 minute ride. Put your suitcases in the bus luggage compartment (by yourself) . You will not receive a baggage ticket.
Step 8. Ferry from Baltra Island to Santa Cruz island
The airport is actually located on a different island from the main city where the hotel is, therefore, you will need to take a ferry or water taxi from the dock to get to Santa Cruz island. Ferries and taxis come frequently and take 15-20 minutes.
At the bus stop, take your luggage out from the bus and transport it to the ferry.
On the larger water taxis, you will have to put the luggage on top of the boat, (again we will not receive a luggage ticket). Passengers go inside the boat. Windows are open (no glass) which keeps the boat cooler and makes for great photos. The boats are very stable and the water is quite calm. As a result, you’ll experience a very calm and short crossing.
Step 9. Getting to Puerto Ayora by bus or taxi
When this part of the Travel finishes you will have to take your luggage and look for the different options to get the Hotel in Puerto Ayora:
Takes about 45 minutes. .
The other option is the municipal bus. The bus runs somewhat infrequently, take about 1:15 person to Puerto Ayora. Once in Puerto Ayora, you can take a taxi (hail the white trucks on the street) and ask the driver to take you to EL MANGLE.
Step 10. Relax!
Once at the hotel, and after a long day of travel, make sure to relax watching the sea lions and marine iguanas basking in the sun.