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Ecuador
   GALAPAGOS ...
Inroduction
The Islands
General information
Climate
When to go
Getting there
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ecuador
 
 GETTING THERE
Air
TAME flies from Quito to the Galapagos via Guayaquil twice every morning except Sundays in the low season. Sometimes flights are added in the high season. Flights leave Quito and stopover in Guayaquil before the 90-minute flight to the Guayaquil. TAME either flies to Baltra airport [north of Santa Cruz island], or to San Cristobal island. If youíre joining a cruise, make sure you fly to the island from which your boat will depart [Baltra for Puerto Ayora, and San Cristobal for Puerto Baquerizo Moreno].

The cost of a Quito-Galapagos-Quito ticket is US$378* [taxes inclusive]. In the low season [January 16 to June 14, and September 1 to November 30] itís US$323*. You can also fly from Guayaquil at a reduced price or depart Quito and end your journey in Guayaquil. Student discounts are available with an international Student ID card. Less expensive fares can be obtained in some countries if the Galapagos leg is added on to your ticket to Ecuador.

Flights to the islands are often overbooked, so you should arrive at the airport at least an hour before departure. Agencies often block-book seats, so even if TAME says the flight is fully booked, hunt around the agencies in Quito. The agencies often release their tickets on the day of departure, so it's still worth getting on a waiting list and trying your luck at the airport anyway. Tuesdays are said to be best for same-day ticket purchases.

If you are on a tour, your boatís representative will meet you when you arrive at Baltra. He or she will then make sure you board your boat, either at the port in Baltra or at Puerto Ayora. If you are traveling independently, immediately buy a bus ticket from the counter inside the terminal. The bus will take you to the ferry to Santa Cruz. Another bus carries you on to Puerto Ayora. The whole complicated procedure can take up to two hours. On departure, the procedure is reversed, with buses leaving Puerto Ayora or from your hotel in the morning to enable you to catch flights from Baltra that leave at about 11:30  am. Arrangements on San Cristobal are much simpler since the airport is a 10-minute walk from the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. At either place, make sure you reconfirm your return ticket at least two days ahead [most agencies do this for you]. You must bring your passport with you to enter the Galapagos. For a nice, free souvenir, ask the official to give your passport a unique " Parque Nacional Galapagos" stamp upon entry or exit.

Boat
Most believe itís not worth trying to save money buying an inexpensive passage from Guayaquil. Cargo boats, military boats and expensive cruise ships make the crossing, but never on a schedule. If you have an aversion to flying, your best plan is to check with shipping agents in Guayaquil or go to the harbor and ask the port capitano if thereís a boat about to head off to the islands.

M/V Piquero leaves on 25th of each month, or thereabouts. The crossing takes three-and-a-half days and costs US$150*, one way. Passengers are advised to bring their own rations, sleeping bags or hammock [and sea-sickness tablets!].

If you happen to own a yacht, you pay a mooring fee at the ports, and the parks entrance fee. The permit to cruise the islands costs thousands of dollars, and most people therefore join a tour arranged in Puerto Ayora.


Getting around
If you're planning on traveling the islands independently, you should pack patience along with sun-block.
Inter-island boat services are run by INGALA [05-526151 or 526199] in Puerto Ayora. You should check boat times and destinations with them, as well as asking around in the port for private yachts that might be going your way.
There is also a small seven-seater airplane operated by EMETEBE [05-526177] in Puerto Ayora, or [05-520615] in San Cristobal. Currently, they fly three times a week between Baltra and Puerto Villamil on Isabela; Baltra and San Cristobal; and San Cristobal and Puerto Villamil.
Another airline, Aerogal, might also serving the islands.

*The prices are approximately

|Article contributed by Dominic Hamilton|||
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