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How to get to Galapagos Islands?

The best way to get around the Galápagos Islands is by boat. The Galápagos archipelago is composed of more than 60 islands and islets, only 19 of which are large enough to warrant a place on a map. You'll want to arrange an organized multi-day cruise or boat tour several months in advance; that said, sea journeys aboard luxury liners are often attached to a lofty price tag, especially during high season. If you wish to steer clear of the water altogether, you can fly from Baltra (a small island north of Santa Cruz Island) to San Cristóbal Island or Isabela Island.

You can fly to the Galápagos from Guayaquil's José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE), located in mainland Ecuador. If you would prefer to fly to the Galápagos from Quito, plan to stopover in Guayaquil and tack an additional hour on to your flight time. Airlines TAME and Aerogal offer flights to Baltra Airport (GPS) or Puerto Baquerizo Moreno Airport (SCY) on San Cristóbal Island. Most cruise operators will arrange to meet you at either airport and transport you to your ship. If you're planning on visiting the islands without a tour guide, it's easy to navigate your way from Baltra to Santa Cruz Island. To reach Puerto Ayora, take the public bus labeled "Muelle" for a 10-minute ride to a ferry that shuttles passengers to Santa Cruz Island. Upon arriving in Santa Cruz, hop on one of the island's public buses for a 45-minute ride south to Puerto Ayora.

Boat

Boat tours are the most extensive mode of transportation in the Galápagos, but you'll need to make reservations at least several months before your trip. A variety of vessels featuring three-, four-, seven- and eight-night expeditions can be arranged from agencies operating out of Quito and Guayaquil on the mainland as well as from Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. Ecoventura in Quito and Moonrise Travel Agency in Puerto Ayora offer excellent last-minute expeditions from their respective ports of call. Prices vary by tour length and package type. Top-tier ships, such as National Geographic Endeavour and National Geographic Islander, offer 10-day excursions operating out of Guayaquil to Santa Cruz Island, Isabela Island and Española Island, among others. The price per person ranges from $4, 000 to $10, 500 depending on the time of year. There are also plenty of luxury outfitters that provide an intimate cruising experience with fewer passengers. Abercrombie & Kent offers 10-day packages with no more than 24 cruisers departing from Guayaquil that range from $6, 000 to $9, 000 depending on cabin class and time of departure

Ferry

Numerous inter-island ferries operate between Santa Cruz Island and San Cristóbal Island. The Ingala II, operated by INGALA (Government Ferry-Central Office), sails from Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal Island every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for roughly $50 per trip. For current information, call the central office at 1-877-986-6435. Numerous private boat companies based in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal Island offer daytrips to surrounding islands. Prices and travel times vary depending on the season and company.

Airplane

Compared to boating, flying is a faster (albeit more expensive) way to explore the Galápagos' main islands. EMETEBE, a reputable inter-island carrier, offers service between Baltra, San Cristóbal and Puerto Villamil (Isabela Island) two or three times a week. The cost to fly in one of these five-person propeller planes is approximately $100 to $150 each way. Luggage restrictions apply here: Bags must weigh less than 13 kilograms (roughly 28 pounds).

Taxi

If you're staying in Puerto Ayora, you can easily get around by taxi for approximately $1 to $2. Cab rides outside of Puerto Ayora to destinations such as Santa Rosa cost around $15. To minimize your total taxi fare cost, consider hiring a driver for around $10 an hour. You'll also find water taxis docked at the southern end of Charles Darwin Avenue.

If you choose San Cristóbal Island as your base for exploration, you'll be happy to note taxis are easy to flag and can take you across Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (the island's main town) for approximately $1.

On Foot & By Bike

Biking and walking are easy and affordable means of getting around tourist areas like Puerto Ayora. Renting a bike in Puerto Ayora will set you back about $10 a day. Meanwhile, walking is the best mode of transportation for getting around San Cristóbal's main seafront promenade (Puerto Baquerizo Moreno's Malecón). Hotel concierges and tour operators can help you reserve a mountain bike should you wish to explore less-traveled bike paths on San Cristóbal.

Source: travel.usnews.com
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