Galapagos trip logistics
The flights to/from Galapagos are from either Quito (UIO) or Guayaquil (GYE), Ecuador. It is the same plane so don't worry about missing a connection. The planes depart Quito early in the AM – fly to Guayaquil – load passengers and luggage – then fly to Galapagos. Coming back they do the opposite. By routing through Guayaquil, it cuts 2 legs off these flights and reduces both your flight times and your airport hassles. However it is better to go through Quito if one of the following is true.
1 If your international flights are better through Quito
2 You want to spend more time in Ecuador (there are more tourist things in Quito)
Besides the 2 extra flights required to route through Quito there are a couple of other disadvantages. The city is about 3000 meters (9000 ft) above sea level so there is the possibility of altitude sickness and the air temperature is very cool so you will need additional clothing to accommodate for this.
In February 2013, a new airport was opened in Quito. The new airport is on the outskirts of the city and is about an hour and a half to two hours away from the center of the city where most hotels and tours activities are located. There is a shuttle bus that can transfer you from the new airport to an drop off site in the city and from there you can take a cab to your hotel. Recently a new hotel (a Windham) was opened very close to the new airport so now it is possible to stay near the airport without having to transfer all the way into the city.
Because the flights to Galapagos are in the morning, you need to be in Ecuador on or before the night before your Galapagos tour starts in order to catch the flight to Galapagos. For example, if your cruise starts on a Sunday, you need to be in Ecuador on or before Saturday night. However arriving an extra day ahead (or in the case of the example – on Friday) would be safer so you have time to deal with airline issues like flight delays/ cancellations / lost luggage. Whatever is in Ecuador on the morning of the flight is going to Galapagos. Whatever is not in Ecuador on that morning is not going to Galapagos. This statement includes you and/or your luggage. Catching a yacht/ship after it has departed port is highly unlikely so basically if you miss the flight to Galapagos, you miss the trip. Galapagos Adventures has bulk rates with several hotels in both Quito and Guayaquil and will be happy to assist you with making all of your mainland arrangements.
You will arrive back in mainland Ecuador mid to late afternoon on the last day of your cruise. Therefore departing from Ecuador anytime after the evening of that day is fine. However there are many more flights out of Ecuador in the morning so many passengers stay an extra night in Ecuador and depart the following morning. You should NOT attempt to catch an international flight out of Ecuador any earlier than 7PM on the day your cruise ends.
You should NEVER attempt to purchase airline tickets to Galapagos from mainland Ecuador on your own. Over the years it has become easier for people to purchase their own airline tickets to Galapagos. However this is not recommended because you must be in the right place at the right time at the start your tour or you could miss the entire trip. What many people do not realize is there are multiple flights per day on several different airlines to two different airports on two different islands in Galapagos. Depending on which tour you book will determine which flight/airport/airline you should be using. Using the wrong flight/airport/airline could cause you to be in the wrong place or the right place at the wrong time and thus it could cause you to miss your tour. Plus sometimes for various reasons a tour may be moved from one airport to another. Sometimes entire passenger lists from a particular yacht are moved from the one flight to another. Therefore to prevent problems and possibly missing your tour, you should ALWAYS purchase your airline ticket from the yacht/ operator that sold you the tour.