Isla Baltra Things to Do
New eco-airport at Baltra
New eco-airport at Baltra
In 2013 the new environmental-friendly airport was inaugurated on Isla Baltra. It is the world’s first eco-airport. They have solar panels and they recycle rainwater. They have a natural cooling-system were they take advantage of the breeze on the island and as operation hours are during daytime, natural light is used to illuminate the building.
It was very windy when I arrived, but the three newly built wind turbines were not moving. I asked and was told they were not working jet.
There are several souvenir stalls and two cafés in the airport (before going through security).
Update July/August 2014: The wind turbines had not been put into use yet.
Dive Dive Dive
Diving in the Galapagos is incredible. Sea "creatures" are very aproachable and allow for great photos.
Dive tour in the Galapagos. - Once you have experienced this type of diving and this trip everything else pales.....Related to:
- Whale Watching
- National/State Park
0 Hotels in Isla Baltra
Isla Baltra Transportation
Flying to Galapagos Islands
Update 2014: It is now possible to buy tickets online for all three airlines flying to Galapagos Islands; TAME, LAN and Avianca Ecuador (formerly Aero Gal). I purchased my ticket online with TAME, not very long ahead. A return ticket (Quito – Baltra) for July/August was $463.19.
I flew with the 7:10 plane which arrives at Baltra already 9:20. As there is a one hour time difference between mainland Ecuador and Galapagos the flight time is 3 hours and 10 minutes (that includes a stop in Guayaquil). I arrived at the airport in Quito before 5am and as the counter where you pay the Ingala transit control fee ($10) didn’t open until 5am, I first went to have my luggage checked and sealed.
Arriving at Baltra the National Park fee was still $100 and it still needs to be paid with cash ($100-bill notes are accepted).
2011: There are no international flight to Galapagos Islands, but you have to fly from Quito or Guayaquil. From Quito to Galapagos it takes almost 2.5 hours, and that includes a stop in Guayaquil (when I travelled this route we changed planes in Guayaquil). From Guayaquil it takes 1.5 hours.
From mainland Ecuador you can fly to Baltra Island (just off the north coast of Isla Santa Cruz) or to Isla San Cristóbal. There is also an airport on Isla Isabela, but it is only operated by small planes coming from Baltra or San Cristóbal (so far at least). There are several daily flights, all arriving to Galapagos in the morning. They then return with passengers to the mainland, and the last plane is leaving around 13.00.
A return ticket in high season cost over $400 dollars for foreigners and less than $400 in low season (2011). For Ecuadorian citizens it is cheaper and for residents of Galapagos Islands it is even cheaper. My airplane ticket was included in the price of the cruise.
The three airlines flying to Galapagos are TAME, LAN and AeroGal.
When you arrive to Galapagos Islands you have to pay the National Park fee which is $100 (June 2011). There is also an INGALA transit control fee of $10 to be paid already at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil. This INGALA-fee was included in the price of my cruise.
At the airport on Isla Baltra there is a restaurant/café and there are a few souvenir stands. If you want to have a Galapagos stamp in your passport you can get it at a counter at the airport.
Galapagos is an hour ahead of mainland Ecuador, so don’t forget to change the time on your watch.
Update 2013: Before going to Galapagos Islands in 2013 I had seen the cheapest flights on TAME and Aerogal, but they did not accept payment over Internet with foreign bankcards (I have heard that at least TAME does now). LAN had return tickets for $400 (June/July) on their website but I didn’t know if it was a ticket I could change or not. In the end I decided to go on another cruise and when I booked it I let the travel agent book a flight for me as well. I got a ticket with TAME for $525. The ticket could be changed at the airport on Baltra, at the airport on San Cristobal and at TAMEs office in Puerto Ayora without any extra cost. There was no problem to change the ticket the day before departure.
From Baltra Airport to Puerto Ayora
The first time I arrived to Baltra was with plane and I was going on a cruise. We (the people going on the cruise) were met at the airport by our guide and, as we were visiting the highlands on Santa Cruz and Charles Darwin Research Station before boarding the boat, we took a bus from the airport to Canal de Itabaca. Frequent ferries are crossing the canal, and on the other side our bus was waiting. The second time I arrived to Baltra was in the end of the cruise when we were all taken to the airport. I was not flying back to the mainland, but was going to Isla Isabela.
From Baltra Airport I took one of the free buses going to the canal. It is a short bus ride, maybe 10-15 minutes. Canal de Itabaca is the narrow canal between Isla Baltra and Isla Santa Cruz. Here you put your bags on the flat roof of the ferry, before boarding it. Tickets for the ferry is sold onboard and I paid $ 0.80 going to Santa Cruz, but only $ 0.50 going the opposite way almost a week later. At the dock on the Santa Cruz side of the canal I immediately found a bus to Puerto Ayora. My big backpack was put on the roof and I went inside to take a seat. Tickets were sold on the bus and it was $ 1.80 (July 2011). To Puerto Ayora it took less than an hour and in Puerto Ayora the bus stopped on Av Charles Darwin, just opposite the harbour. You can also take a taxi from Canal de Itabaca to Puerto Ayora and it is $15 (July 2011).
When it was time to go back to the airport I took a taxi from my hotel in Puerto Ayora to Terminal Terrestre, from where the buses leave. The taxi was $ 1.00. I arrived to the bus terminal at 8am and the next bus to Canal de Itabaca was leaving at 8.40, so they are not very frequent.
Update June/July 2013: Now I paid $0.80 each time I took the boat over the canal. The bus from the canal to Puerto Ayora was still $1.80, but they didn’t put the big luggage on the roof, but in a compartment below. There are a few buses from Puerto Ayora to the canal each morning. To take a taxi between the canal and Puerto Ayora was now $18.
Update July/August 2014: The boat over the canal was now $1 and the bus to Puerto Ayora $2. Taxis between the canal and Puerto Ayora was $18.Related to:
- Budget Travel
If your current health insurance doesn't cover you while your abroad, you should consider getting international travel insurance just in case something should go wrong.
Isla Baltra Warnings and Dangers
National Park fee and baggage check
Galapagos Islands is a fragile ecosystem, so of course you are not allowed to bring seeds and berries, and other organic items that can cause damage. Your luggage will be inspected in Quito before you check in, and one time when I arrived in Baltra no one was allowed to take their luggage before a dog had run over them sniffing.
When you arrive to Galapagos Islands you must pay the National Park fee of $100 in cash. They do accept $100-bills now.