Charles Darwin isn’t only responsible for coming up with the theory of evolution: The 19th century naturalist, whose observations of the endemic species of the Galápagos Islands were the basis of his writings, can be credited for drawing attention to the incredibly unique natural wonders of this archipelago off the coast of Ecuador.
Board flights to the Galápagos Islands and step in the footsteps of Darwin to experience the awesome natural wonders of the islands. Known for its endemic species, the Galápagos Islands are home to creatures you won’t see anywhere else in the world, including black iguanas and the humongous tortoises for which the islands are named (galápago is the Spanish word for “tortoise”).
In 1959, the islands were declared an official nature reserve primarily for the animals’ protection. Today, hordes of photographers, nature buffs and animal lovers are booking flights to the Galápagos Islands for a chance to check out the massive sea turtles and other creatures that live here. No matter what time of year you visit, a Galápagos Island flight is sure to transport you to another world where surreal volcanic rock formations provide an otherworldly backdrop for an intimate interaction with nature you’ll never forget.
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The Galápagos Islands, though situated quite close to the equator, experience an unusual climate due to the fact that it’s situated smack in the middle of three ocean currents. The temperature fluctuates between 60 and 80 degrees F over the course of a year, so packing for comfortable, warm weather is a given regardless of when you plan your flight to the Galápagos Islands. The Galápagos Islands do experience two distinct seasons: The wet season, which is the warmer season, lasts from December to May; the cooler dry season is brought about by southern trade winds from June until the beginning of December.
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Whether you’re snorkeling under the sea alongside sharks and sea turtles during the wet season or admiring the stunning cactus forests in the dry season, there’s no wrong time to book a Galápagos Islands flight.
The busiest time to book flights to the Galápagos Islands is during the dry season, when the sun is out and the temperatures rest at a comfortable 72 degrees F, on average. Colder southern currents keep the vegetation of the volcanic islands lush, providing stunning backdrops for the fascinating wildlife that make the archipelago famous.
Cheap flights to the Galápagos Islands are plentiful during the islands’ wet season due to the heavy precipitation, but it’s actually the best time of year for checking out the wildlife that live in the surrounding waters. A flight to the Galapagos Islands between the months of December and May ensures excellent conditions for diving and snorkeling.
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Due to the fact that there are no direct flights to the Galápagos Islands from the United States or Europe, a layover in either Quito or Guayaquil is required when it comes to planning your Galápagos travel itinerary.
From Quito and Guayaquil Galápagos flights are operated by two airlines, TAME and Aerogal. From Quito, TAME has two flights to the Galápagos Islands scheduled each morning, while Aerogal operates three Galápagos Islands flights daily from Guayaquil. Once your flight to the Galapagos Islands reaches its final destination, the best way to get around the islands is by guided boat tour.
If the first leg of your Galapagos trip starts in Santa Cruz, buses and taxis are available to get your around the city, and most guided tours of the Galapagos Islands offer various options for getting around, including bike, boat and bus travel.
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- Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution was a direct result of his scientific expedition to the Galapagos Islands in the 1830s. It was after observing the plethora of endemic species that live on the Galapagos Islands that the "survival of the fittest" notion was born. The famed Galápagos tortoises, blue-footed boobies and black iguanas spotted by Darwin have curious visitors booking Galápagos flights by the thousands. Get up close and personal with the notoriously friendly Galápagos sea lions or island feathered friends.
- Though the wildlife is arguably the driving motivation pushing tourists to book flights to the Galápagos Islands, the plant life and volcanic formations of the islands are breathtaking and worth a closer look. Isla Santa Cruz is home to massive cactus forests that tower over you at 30 feet high. The twisting hardened lava flows and beautiful island beaches make for fantastic photo ops with their varying black, white and red sands.
- Isla Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the archipelago after Isabella and is where flights to the Galapagos Islands touch down at Baltra Airport. Puerto Ayora, the busiest town and most tourist-friendly town in the islands, is an ideal locale for socializing on the beach or in the dance clubs of the city, especially if you spent the day gawking at awkward Galápagos penguins and you’re eager to interact with your own species.
- The required stopover in Quito or Guayaquil on your flight to the Galápagos Islands gives you an excellent opportunity to check out two of the most thriving cities in Ecuador, so why not take an extra day to make the most of your time in between destinations? Ecuador’s capital high up in the Andes, Quito, is a bustling city that boasts an incredible collection of museums and churches in its Old Town district. Guayaquil is the largest port city in Western South America, and is more of a center of commerce or a jumping off point for international travel than a vacation destination.
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There are no direct flights to the Galápagos Islands, though connecting flights leave from Quito and Guayaquil several times daily for Baltra or San Cristobal, the two airports of the Galápagos Islands.
José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE): The most direct route for flights to the Galápagos Islands is through Guayaqil’s international airport, as most flights from Quito connect in Guayaquil before ultimately touching down in the Galápagos Islands.
Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO): Most international Galápagos Islands flights land in Quito at Mariscal Sucre International Airport before heading straight to the islands on another domestic flight. The airport is located 5 miles north of the city center.
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