How to Book Flights for a Galapagos Trip

Giant Tortoise, Santa Cruz Highlands (Galapagos)
Blue-Footed Boobie spotted on an Odyssey Galapagos Cruise
Blue-Footed Boobie spotted on an Odyssey Galapagos Cruise

Planning your international and domestic flights for a Galapagos trip can seem complicated initially, but they’re actually quite simple to arrange.  Detour’s tips and suggestions below will help you plan exactly the flights you need without the headache.

THE BASIC ITINERARY

Your itinerary and flights will look something like this:

Day 1: Fly Home to Quito. Overnight in Quito.
Day 2: Fly Quito to Galapagos. Begin Galapagos Trip.
Day 2 – 9: Galapagos Trip (yea!)
Day 9: End Galapagos Trip. Fly Galapagos to Quito & Overnight.
Day 10: Fly Quito to Home.

You can swap Quito for Guayaquil very, very easily.  It works just as well for all Galapagos tours.

Basically, you don’t need to know much more than that, but if you have questions, we explain each piece of this in more detail below  . . .

INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS

INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS SUMMARY

You must arrive into Ecuador the day before your Galapagos tour starts.  You can depart Ecuador either the night that your Galapagos tour ends, or the next day (which is usually easier).

ARRIVING INTO ECUADOR

Plan to arrive in Ecuador either one or two days before the first day of your Galapagos trip.  You must overnight in either Quito or Guayaquil the night before your flight to the Galapagos.  On the arrival side, including a little extra time cushion (perhaps a half or full-day) in addition to the night spent in mainland Ecuador is also a good idea but not required.

Example:  
Feb. 11: Fly Denver to Quito, arriving at 3pm. Overnight in Quito.
Feb. 12: Fly to the Galapagos & begin Galapagos tour

In this example, you have the required overnight in Quito before the Galapagos trip plus a little extra time in Quito (since you arrive in the afternoon of the 11th).

Also, in this example, it’s possible to arrive in Quito much later on Feb. 11th (perhaps at 10pm).  However, it’s wise to keep in mind that if your international arrival flight is significantly delayed and you can’t make your ongoing flight to the Islands, you may miss your entire Galapagos trip.  Therefore, if you’re flying at a time when flight delays or cancellations are more frequent (i.e. over the holidays or during the winter), you’ll definitely want to include a greater time cushion in Quito or Guayaquil before your trip starts if possible.

DEPARTING ECUADOR

Most people stay the night in mainland Ecuador (again, either Quito or Guayaquil) after they fly back from the Galapagos.  This lets you rest fully after your trip and depart the next morning.

Example:
Aug. 20: End Tour. Fly Galapagos to Quito, arriving at 4pm. Overnight in Quito.
Aug. 21: Departing at 7am: Fly Quito to Denver.

Alternatively, you can also depart Ecuador the same day that your Galapagos trip ends.  This entails taking a red-eye flight from Quito or Guayaquil.  If you choose this option, make sure your international flight departs no earlier than 8 pm.

Example:
Aug. 20: End Tour.  Fly Galapagos to Quito, arriving at 4pm.  Fly Quito to Denver, departing at 9pm.
Aug. 21: Arrive in Denver at 8am.

Contest Winner - Spotted Eagle Rays, by Alice Bartlett
Spotted Eagle Rays, by Alice Bartlett


GALAPAGOS FLIGHTS

GALAPAGOS FLIGHTS SUMMARY

For 90% of Galapagos tours, the tour operator will make all the arrangements for your flights between mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos.  These are booked for you along with the trip.  You fly from Quito (or Guayaquil) on Day 1 of your trip in the morning.  You fly from Galapagos back to Quito (or Guayaquil) on the last tour day in the afternoon.

FLYING TO THE GALAPAGOS

All flights to the Galapagos will depart in the morning, between 7 and 10 am.  The flight is about 3 hours (with a time change in between).  You’ll arrive in either Baltra or San Cristobal Island around noon where you will be met by your guide and will begin your Galapagos adventure.

RETURNING FROM THE GALAPAGOS

On the last day of your tour, you will be dropped off at one of the Galapagos airport in the mid-morning and you will catch your flight back to mainland Ecuador.  Typically, you’ll arrive in Quito or Guayaquil between 3 and 5 pm.


PLEASE NOTE

It’s very difficult to arrange your own flights to the Galapagos, but if you are planning on doing this, make sure you run this by your trip operator before booking.

If you are extending your stay in the Galapagos, that’s also totally cool.  Your operator can book flights on whatever days you need.  If you’re booking a Detour trip, we can arrange the additional necessary airport transfers, Galapagos hotels, and/or extra tours you would need easily.

Quito and Guayaquil are basically interchangeable in terms of getting to from the Galapagos.  We can even mix and match your departure and return cities if you need.

Also, many cruise ships require that you arrange your Galapagos flights through them and won’t book you on their cruise if you book flights on your own.


PURCHASING YOUR FLIGHTS

As mentioned above, your domestic flights within Ecuador are usually always bundled with your trip.  This is the easiest and typically cheapest way to go.

We at Detour do not arrange any international flights.  We do however recommend our partner, Exito Travel, for great airfares and assistance in booking your flights. Please let us know if you’re interested in booking flights through Exito and we will put you in contact with a representative who can assist you.  Exito typically can offer Detour travelers exclusive prices on flights and lots of assistance during the planning process.

If you’d like to book on your own, we suggest visiting the following websites to look for good deals: kayak.com; LAN.com; or taca.com.  The first sites is a search engines for airfares; the latter 2 sites are South American airlines and can often offer good deals.

So there you go!  You’re ready to book your Galapagos trip and plan your flights for an upcoming, amazing adventure.

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Stoked to visit the Galapagos Islands? Check out all Detour’s Galapagos Tours here and let us take care of the planning.

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