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Going to Galapagos: the Quito Airport

Because Galápagos is a very special destination, it’s necessary to do a couple more steps in the airport than you would normally need. Quito’s domestic airport has a relatively small lobby, and it can get pretty full, so it’s a bit of a chaotic scene. Naturally, be aware of pickpockets whenever you’re in a place where you can get jostled, but once you’re past security you should be fine. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to get from your hotel in Quito to the islands:

Tell the taxi you want to go to the “aeropuerto,” more specifically, “salidas nacionales” (“domestic departures”). The international departures area is separate, and unless you specify, he may assume that’s where you’re going.

  1. The taxi will drop you off on a crowded curb. If you have loads of luggage, there should be a fellow nearby with a cart. Go to the right of the main doors, where you will see some metal railings and a door.
  2. Just to the right of the main entrance is a Galápagos luggage inspection area. Walk through with your stuff and they’ll x-ray it and might open it. They’re looking for fruit, vegetables, seeds and other things forbidden in Galápagos. They’ll put a little tag on your luggage that says it has been
  3. Once your luggage has been inspected, take a hard right into the INGALA office. Here you must purchase your $10 tourism card. If you’re on a fancy cruise, they will probably have already done this for you, so check with a representative.
  4. Pass through security (it’s just a bored guard at a gap in the metal railing right inside the airport). Show your boarding pass and they’ll let you  through.
  5. Okay, NOW go to the airline counter and check in. If you’re on a cruise, there will probably be someone there to help you.
  6. Pass through security and into the waiting area. There are screens with flight information and your flight will be announced.
  7. Once you arrive in Galapagos, you must first pass through a migration checkpoint. There are usually three lines: foreigners, Ecuadorians and Galapagueños. Foreigners will have their papers checked and must pay their $100 park fee here. Remember, cash only, and have it handy!
  8. If you’re with a tour, they’ll probably pick up your luggage for you. If you’re by yourself, you’ll have to wait at the little counter until they bring the luggage in. It can get hectic, but there’s no real rush, so just be patient and you will get your bags. Stealing luggage in either airport is unheard of, so don’t worry about pushing your way to the front of the line. 


More useful information:

At the Quito airport, there is an ATM just outside the domestic lounge. It’s not far from where the taxis drop you off. There are no ATM’s at the airports in Baltra and San Cristobal, so make sure to have your $110 for park fees and tourism cards with you!

There are a couple of small shops in the airport lobby outside of security, selling snacks, magazines, etc.

Inside the waiting area, there is a small café which sells sandwiches, coffee and other snacks.

The same restrictions apply on Galapagos flight as any other in terms of what you can have in your carry-on: so pack away the liquids, nail clippers, scissors and other forbidden stuff in your check through luggage.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to The Galápagos Islands: White-Tail Damselfish, Galápagos Health & Safety, Stone Scorpionfish, Galápagos Adventure Tours, Galapágos Penguin, Recommended Reading List, Galápagos Giant Tortoise, Flightless Cormorant, Herons and Egrets in the Galapagos and Mammals - Galapagos.

By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
05 Apr 2011

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