Galapagos flights are not available directly from international destinations to the archipelago, but arriving at this popular destination in Ecuador is still relatively simple. If you’re wondering how to get to the Galapagos Islands, you'll have to travel to mainland Ecuador before continuing on one of the domestic Galapagos airlines to the islands themselves. As one of the most unique and isolated places in the world, Galapagos flights tend to be expensive; however, you can sometimes get package deals if you book your flight along with one of the cruises or tours that offer living on-board options, and traveling during the off-season can sometimes help as well.
Tourists looking for how to get to the Galapagos Islands will have to start by booking a ticket to Ecuador, as there are no direct connections between international destinations and the Galapagos. Galapagos flights leave from two hubs in Ecuador: Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito and Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaqil. There are two Galapagos airlines that fly to the islands, Aerogal and TAME, with a third, LAN, scheduled to start offering flights to the Galapagos in 2010. From Ecuador, Aerogal flies to both San Cristobal and Baltra airports in the Galapagos Islands, whereas TAME primarily flies to Baltra. Both airlines are more or less identical in price and quality, so it’s simply a matter of choosing which better suits your Galapagos vacation.
Once you have booked your domestic flight to the Galapagos Islands, you'll need to reconfirm your seat booking a day or two in advance of your flight to ensure your seat is reserved. Passengers are allowed one checked piece of luggage and one carry-on. Be sure to arrive in Quito or Guayaqil with ample advance time before your flight to the Galapagos, usually at least the day before. Once you arrive at the Galapagos Islands, you will either be picked up by your cruise or tour operators, or continue on to arrange further travel yourself.
For those who want to know how to get to the Galapagos Islands for cheap, the reality is that flights to the Galapagos are usually quite pricey, as are the boat tours when you get to the islands themselves. That being said, you can get a better value on Galapagos airfare if you are the holder of an International Student Identity Card, which allows young people to get special budget tickets on Galapagos airlines. If you are traveling in South America and are prepared to be flexible with your time, you can sometimes get considerable discounts on last-minute tickets. If you're just looking to stay in the Galapagos for a week or two, airplane tickets that are valid for only 21 days are cheaper than tickets that are open for one year. If you're traveling with a family, children or infants can also get cheaper tickets than adults.
If you are planning to join a boat cruise or tour, you may wish to look into some boat cruise packages that may offer free airfare between Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. There are also numerous travel agencies that specialize in coordinating transportation to the Galapagos Islands as well as between them, to make your trip as hassle-free as possible.
Image: Michael R Perry (flickr)