Travellers Guide To Galapagos

Galapagos Islands Wikitravel

Puerto Ayora is the largest town in the Galapagos Islands. It is on the southern side of Santa Cruz island, and is connected by road and ferry to the airport on Baltra Island.

Understand[edit]

Though a small town it has the best infrastructure in the Galapagos with the largest number of hotels, restaurants and stores. Other services include grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, boat supplies, a small hospital and a hyperbaric chamber. Puerto Ayora is home to the Galapagos National Park, the Darwin Foundation and the Charles Darwin Research Station.

Due to Santa Cruz central location within the islands Puerto Ayora is the best base for those people wishing to visit the Galapagos while staying on shore.

By plane[edit]

Passengers arriving by plane fly into the Baltra Airport (GPS) on the neighboring island of Baltra.

Upon exiting the Baltra airport board a bus to the Itabaca channal. There is no charge for this trip. There you claim you luggage and proceed on a ferry ($.80) or a smaller water taxi ($1). There is no real benefit to the taxi. At the other end of the canal you can ride the bus into town ($1.80) or take a taxi ($18).

For the reverse direction, buses from Puerto Ayora to the channel only leave in the morning, with the last departure at 9:30AM (Aug 2010). If you have an afternoon flight, you'll have to take a taxi ($15) or find alternative transport.

By boat[edit]

There is public transportation via local speed boats to both San Cristobal and Puerto Villamil on Isabela daily. They leave at 2PM and the 2-hour, and tend to be rough and noisy (25U$-35U$). There are no bathrooms or other services available on these boats and passengers should carry their own water or snacks.

Private Yacht[edit]

Many people arrive annually by private yacht as part of a trip around the world. Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno are the main ports of entry in the Galapagos - however most sail boats will enter at Puerto Villamil. Boating in the Galapagos is restricted. A non-Ecuadorian vessel arriving from a non-Ecuadorian port may stay up to 20 days in a single port. Arrival fees are approximately $130 plus $3 per tonne for the vessel, plus $110 per person for the Park's pass and island immigration. National Immigration and Customs are about another $50.

A permit to visit the five ports in the Galapagos (Puerto Ayora, Baltra, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Puerto Villamil and Puerto Velasco Ibarra) can be obtained by applying in advance with a ship's agent. These permits cost $300 for the vessel, in addition to the fees above. This permit is the only way for an Ecuadorian vessel or a vessel arriving from mainland Ecuador to visit the Galapagos. Licensed Yacht Handling Agencies can assist private vessels secure cruise permits.

Get around[edit]

Puerto Ayora is small enough to explore by foot. Most tourism is concentrated along the waterfront. White pickup truck taxis operate and can provide transportation around town, into the highlands, or across the island. Water taxis are available at the main dock and can take you to either a waiting boat or the dock on the other side.

  • , Avenida Charles Darwin (Located at the end of the road on the eastern edge of town), [1]. 6AM to 6PM M-Sa. Has extensive exhibits on the natural history of the islands. The breeding programs at the station allow visitors to see many iguanas, tortoises, and other animals in various stages of their lives. The most famous resident of the station was Lonesome George, a tortoise found on Pinta island who was the last of his sub-species. George died in 2012. Free.
Tortuga Bay
  • Tortuga Bay. A beautiful white sand beach located a 30-45 minute walk from the west side of town.
  • Las Grietas
  • Bay Tour
  • Darwin Station
  • Study Spanish at the Galapagos Islands Spanish School [2] or Ailola Galapagos Spanish School. [3]

Scuba diving[edit]

Diving in the Galapagos isn't cheap - count on paying at least $150 per dive trip that consists of 2 dives. As of January 2015 most diving companies won't let 1 dive only and charge the same price.

Ecuador uses the U.S. Dollar. Bring bills in smaller denominations because it's easier to get change. ATMs give limited amounts of money, but you can get larger cash advances inside banks.

The Banco de Pacifico is on the road towards the Darwin Station. It gives cash advances, changes cash or cashes in travellers' cheques.

Banco Pichincha has recently opened a branch on the road heading towards Baltra. The lines are normally much shorter than at Banco de Pacifico making it easier to get cash advances or other transactions. Most foreign cards will be able to get up to 600 USD per transaction.

There are several ATM machines located in front of the main dock. As with some ATM's in Ecuador you are limited to a $300 per transaction limit and you may need to do several transactions in order to get the amount of money you desire.

Source: wikitravel.org
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