How to get to Isabela
You can fly into Quito (UIO) or Guayaquil (GYE) on several international airlines (AA, Continental, Delta, Avianca, Copa, Iberia, KLM, LAN). After spending a night you catch a morning flight (between 7.30 and 9.45) to Baltra, Galapagos on either TAME or Aerogal. The cost from Quito is approx 420$ and from Guayaquil 360$ (roundtrip).
From Quito to Baltra
When you arrive at the Domestic Departures (Salidas Domesticas) terminal in Quito airport, rather than enter the main doors, look to the right and you will see a large bright yellow sign indicating Departures to Galapagos. Enter through here.
- The first office you will pass through is the SICGAL (control of introduced organisms), you will have all of your luggage checked for organic or prohibited items (such as fresh fruits and vegetables, animal products, etc)
- Then you will pass into the Consejo de Gobierno office, when you get to the counter: present your Transeunte document which I sent you. You will still have to pay the $10, but it is important to have your special residency status registered in their system
- Then you will pass into the main airport, where you can check your luggage at the your respective airline’s counter
From Baltra to Isabela airborne:
If boating is not for you or the above option strikes you as too complicated you can take an island hopper plane with EMETEBE airlines that takes you from Baltra to Isabela in approx. 30 min at midday. The cost for non-Ecuadorian citizens is about 160$ one way and 260$ round trip.
From Baltra to Isabela by boat via Puerto Ayora:
Upon arrival in Baltra: proceed to the Foreigners line: you will have to fill out a tourism card which you will turn into the Galapagos National Park (GNP).
- The first two desks are both GNP staff: one will collect your tourism card and your transeunte document (this waives your need to pay the GNP $100 entry fee).
- Then you will move on to another SICGAL desk where your hand luggage will be checked.
- Once through, move to the right of the airport and wait to retrieve your luggage
Be sure to have your luggage ticket stubs handy, you’ll need to give them to the airport baggage personnel once you’ve collected your checked luggage
When you exit the airport, look for a bus marked “CANAL” this will take you (free of charge) to where you will make the ferry crossing, this bus ride takes about 10-20mins
At the channel, load your baggage on top of the ferry and proceed below, the ferry ($0.80) will take you across the channel from Baltra to Santa Cruz, this crossing takes about 20-25mins
- HINT: look through the wire gates to where the airport offices are located, sometimes there is a large brown land iguana hanging out!
From Puerto Ayora to Isabela:
- Once on the other side, you can try and get on one of the public buses ($2.00) or you can opt to take a cab ($10-15) taxis are typically big white pick-up trucks. Depending on what you take and how many people there are, it will take you 30-45mins to get to Puerto Ayora
- Once in Puerto Ayora, move down to the right towards the piers, you will need to go towards a large supermarket called ProInsular. Rounding the corner (look for murals of Charles Darwin with a finch) you will head to a small restaurant on the wharf. Before the restaurant there is a small office which sells boat tickets, you should check in with them and find out which of the boats you will be on. You can leave your luggage here and take the time you have before departure to explore a bit of the city.
- Make sure to be back by 1:30 to get on your boat for Isabela, you will also have to have your luggage checked again by another SICGAL person; this office is located in a small bamboo building by the grocery store.
- If you would like, and time allows, you can visit the Charles Darwin Station. It is about a 25min walk from the piers, so I would recommend grabbing a cab ($1-2) in order to maximize on time.
After a breathtaking 2 hr boat ride you’ll arrive in Isabela :-)