The Galapagos Islands are a slice of paradise. This chain of islands are situated 600 miles west from the coast of Ecuador. The terrain within these islands vary greatly. You may find yourself in an area feeling almost like a dessert and then miles later you will find yourself in a lush jungle. These islands are known for their biodiversity and numerous endemic (only found in the Galapagos Islands) plants and animals. Additionally, this area is highly protected, with about 97% of islands being protected national parks.
Getting to the Galapagos
To get to the Galapagos Islands you will need to fly into Ecuador, either Quito or Guayaquil. From there you can book a flight to take you Baltra Island where the airport is located. Fun fact, this airport is considered the most environmental friendly airport in the world. It is powered by wind, sun and desalinated water.
Arriving on Baltra Island
Once you arrive on Baltra Island you will exit your plan on the tarmac and make your way to go through a somewhat intense security screening. Galapagos Islands requires a substantial amount of paperwork to enter the islands. Definitely do your research before coming to ensure you have all the required documentation.
Additionally, your bags will be screened as the islands are very strict. They do not allow any agriculture items like plants, fruits, seeds, live animals, etc. In fact, while we were there all of our bags had to remain in an area until dogs had a chance to check all of the bags – we assume for agricultural products, but this could have been for illegal drugs. When leaving the airport you will need to buy a bus pass to take you to the nearby bay to leave the island.
Fun fact: Baltra was once a United States military base during WWII. Upon arrival and when making your way to the ferry to Santa Cruz, you’ll see many dilapidated structures in a desert like landscape until you arrive at the ferry landing with seabirds and aquamarine waters in its lagoon. Additionally, there really isn’t anything else on Baltra other than the airport, rocks, and cacti so you will have to take a ferry across the bay to the next island – Santa Cruz.
Once you get to the other side of the bay you will then need to have a car or bus service arranged to take you on your way.
I cannot stress this enough, do your homework. The islands have some pretty extreme requirements even when hopping from island to island. There is a lot of documentation and paperwork required when you are on the islands – even for inter-island travel.
From Santa Cruz, this is really the jumping off point for your Galapagos adventure. There’s sights to see on Santa Cruz like geological features, flora, and plenty of fauna (you may even see your first Giant Galapagos Tortoise) along with small towns with great restaurants and a larger port town to travel to other islands from.
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