In the year 1535, forty years after the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, the Bishop of Panama Frey Tomas de Berlanga became the first person to visit the Galapagos Islands. The discovery was made entirely by accident after the Bishop’s vessel had been blown vastly off course on its way to Peru.
It was another 150 years until the first map was made of the islands – a crude attempt by a buccaneer called Ambrose Cowley. Then, in 1832, Charles Darwin brought the islands to the attention of the world, after visiting them to study the natural environment, leading to the formulation and publication of his On the Origin of the Species. The voyage was so long and turbulent that it put Darwin off travel for the rest of his years, rarely leaving his house again.
The point we’re trying to make is that this small island chain found 600 miles off the Ecuadorian coast is fairly remote. It is this unique position that led to the development of its infamously unique wildlife but also meant that until relatively recently it has been off to limits to all but a select few. However, in this age of affordable air travel, better marine navigation and satellite positioning, reaching Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are finally achievable.
Most international visitors will fly into Quito or Guayaquil, as Ecuador is the starting point for almost all Galapagos travel. Mariscal Sucre International in Quito and Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International at Guayaquil receive flights from Miami and New York, as well as some major European cities. Flights from other South American destinations are common too.
From the coast, the islands are three day’s sail, meaning flying is almost always the best option. There are several flights a day from Quito and Guayaquil taking passengers to the archipelago. However, you should always purchase tickets in advance as flights can get booked up.
Planes land either at Baltra Island or in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island. TAME, AVIANCA, LAN are the three main carriers. In the past, also AEROGAL was an important airline, but he company merged with another airline a few years ago, losing its route to Galapagos. You can look at a Galapagos map in order to see where these islands are located in the chain.
Both Ecuador and the Galapagos are stunning destinations. A trip to Ecuador is rarely complete without visiting the Galapagos Islands but it would also be a shame to visit the islands without staying a few days on the mainland. It’s well worth making the most of your Ecuador and the Galapagos adventure.
1. Peru Tour: Lima and Machu Picchu Tour
2. Wildlife Tour: Amazon Wildlife spotting tour
3. Santa Cruz Island Tour: Galapagos land tour from Santa Cruz
4. Adventure Tour: Snorkeling tour in Galapagos
5. Galapagos Cruise Itinerary: High-End Vessel Exploring Genovesa and Central Islands