If you think the Galapagos Islands must have a typical tropical climate because they are on the Equator then think again. In fact, if you don’t like the heat at all then consider coming in August the ‘coldest’ month of the dry season in the Galapagos when temperatures can dip down to remind you of a North American Spring climate.
If you like it hot then the Galapagos Islands climate can cater to all tastes and you’ll find it more tropical between January and May during the Warm Season.
These then, are the two distinct seasons that exist due to the waxing and waning of the heavily influential Humboldt Current. Yes, the Galapagos dry season exists because of this powerful ocean current.
The Galapagos Islands is a world-famous travel destination renowned for being an isolated and pristine archipelago. Their isolation is one of the qualities that makes them so special. You may be wondering how does one arrive to the islands. Charles Darwin went to the Galapagos Islands on the Beagle, but modern day explorers arrive by jet.
There are no direct international flights to the Galapagos Islands. The only daily flights to the Galapagos Islands depart from the cities of Quito and Guayaquil on mainland Ecuador. International travelers must ensure to arrive to either city in order to start their Galapagos adventure.
From both Quito and Guayaquil, there are daily flights connecting Ecuador with cities across the Americas and in Europe. Direct flights from the US cities of Miami, Houston, Atlanta, and New York arrive every day. From Europe there are direct flights originating in both Amsterdam and Madrid.
Once on mainland Ecuador, passengers carry on to one of two major airports in the Galapagos Islands. The busiest airport in the Galapagos is on Baltra Island. The second airport is on San Cristóbal Island. Flights from Quito and Guayaquil fly there every day bringing passengers to the enchanting islands.
From the airports in the Galapagos, passengers transfer to their cruises or hotels in the port towns of the islands. When booking a cruise in the Galapagos, it is highly recommended to book your flights along with the cruise. This ensures an on-time arrival and avoids the risk of missing the cruise departure.
Our expert trip advisors can help you arrange all the details of your journey to the Galapagos Islands. Get in touch with them today to book your cruise and flights from Quito or Guayaquil. The flight from Quito to the Galapagos is approximately 2.5 hours, and it takes a little less time from Guayaquil. Once you get to the mainland, you’re only a few hours away from seeing the blue-footed boobies and tortoises and swimming with sea lions. Come to the Galapagos, and discover a world unlike any other!
Getting to the Galapagos Islands
The Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil (GYE) receives flights from U.S. cities of Miami and New York, European cities of Amsterdam and Madrid, and major cities of Central and South America.
Mariscal Sucre International Airport of Quito (UIO) receives flights from the U.S. via Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami, and New York; from Europe via Madrid and Amsterdam; and from many major cities in Central and Southern America. We recommend you to arrive in Ecuador at least two days before your Galapagos Cruise begins and catch your international flight home at least two days after your stay in the Galapagos. You can take profit of these two days by visiting Quito, Guayaquil, or their surroundings.
Once you have your flight to mainland Ecuador, getting to the Galapagos Islands is easy. Located nearly 1,000 km (600 miles) off of Ecuador’s coast, the only way to travel is by plane. Whether from Quito or Guayaquil, there are several flights daily that take passengers to the archipelago. You can land on Baltra Island or in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island. TAME, AVIANCA and LAN are the airlines that operate these routes. If you are flying from Quito, you will most likely have a short stop in Guayaquil on your way to the islands.
ARRIVING FROM THE UNITED STATES
Carriers: AMERICAN AIRLINES, UNITED/COPA, DELTA, AVIANCA, JET-BLUERoutes: Local airport-connecting flight in Atlanta, Houston, Miami, or New York-Quito. Possible stops in Central or Southern America
ARRIVING FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM
Length: 20 to 22 hours
Length: 17hrs / 20 min
Route: London-New York-Atlanta-Quito
Length: 35hrs / 12 min
Length: 23hrs / 25 min
Carrier: AMERICAN AIRLINES
Route: London-New York-Miami-Quito
Length: 33hrs / 10 min
Carrier: BRITISH AIRWAYS/LAN
Length: 17hrs / 55 min
ARRIVING FROM EUROPE
Carriers: AIR FRANCE, AMERICAN AIRLINES, AVIANCA, UNITED/COPA, DELTA, IBERIA, KLM
Routes: From local airport connecting in Madrid or Amsterdam directly or other European city connecting to the US. Possible stops in Central or Southern America
ARRIVING FROM AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND
Carriers: AIR NEW ZEALAND, AMERICAN AIRLINES, CONTINENTAL, DELTA, LAN, QANTAS, UNITED, US AIRWAYS,
Routes: From Sydney or Aukland connecting in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, or Santiago (Chile). Possible stops in Central or Southern America.
ARRIVING FROM JAPAN
Carriers: ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS, AMERICAN AIRLINES, CONTINENTAL, DELTA, KLM, JAPAN AIRLINES
Routes: From Tokyo connecting in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York, Washington, or Seoul. Possible stops in Central or Southern America.
ARRIVING FROM AFRICA
Carriers: AIR FRANCE, AMERICAN AIRLINES, DELTA, IBERIA, KENYA AIRWAYS, KLM, ROYAL AIR MAROC, SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS, TURKISH AIRLINES
Routes: From your nearby international airport connecting to a major international airport in Europe, the United States, or Brazil. Possible stops in Central or Southern America.
ARRIVING FROM INDIA OR THE MIDDLE EAST
Carriers: AIR FRANCE, AIRINDIA, ALITALIA, BRITISH AIRWAYS, BRUSSELS AIRLINES, CONTINENTAL, DELTA, EGYPTAIR, EMIRATES, GARUDA, IBERIA, JET AIRWAYS, KLM, LUFTHANSA, UNITED
Routes: From your nearby international airport connecting to a major international airport in Europe or the United States. Possible stops in Central or Southern America.
Getting around the Galapagos Islands
You have finally arrived in the Galapagos Islands, after dreaming about it for years! You just got back from an incredible time aboard and you still have one amazing week left in the islands. Where to begin? Let´s start with the ABC´s of getting around Galapagos.
Getting around town:
Most of the locals ride around on bicycles: It´s a good form of exercise, you avoid Galapagos “traffic”, and, of course, it´s better for the environment. Tourists can rent bicycles for the day ($ 15), or per hour ($3).
The Galapagos taxis aren´t the yellow cabs of the mainland. White pickup trucks with their “names” sprawled across the front windshield drive around town looking for business, often honking to attract the lost tourist´s attention. All of the taxis charge $1 to any destination in town, regardless of how many passengers clamber on board. You can flag a taxi down from the street at pretty much any time of the day, you do not need to call ahead to book one, like in big cities.
From Puerto Ayora, if you want to go to “el otro lado”, or The Other Side, (the peninsula part of Santa Cruz where the German Beach, Finch Bay Hotel, Las Grietas Crevasse swimming hole and other tourist destinations are), you will need to take a water taxi. You generally catch these from the peer in front of the main street grocery store, Proinsular, but currently you need to use the new Passenger peer, behind the children´s park along the front street. These cost 60 cents each way, and take a couple of minutes. Be careful getting off, as the rocks can be slippery.
Getting around between the Islands
There are two ways to get around between the inhabited islands: Sea, or Air.
Several speedboat companies offer inter-island shuttling. From Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) to Puerto Villamil, (Isabela Island), it takes about 2.5 to 3 hours. The cost is $25-30 one way. The boats leave at 2pm from Puerto Ayora every day, and leave Isabela at 6 am every day. Boats to San Cristobal leave Puerto Ayora at 2pm, and leave San Cristobal at 7 am daily. The cost is $25-$30 one way. The ride can be rough, depending on the weather and the boat, so if you tend to get sea sick, this is one ride you will definitely need to take a sea sickness tablet for. Be sure to bring a water proof jacket or poncho with a hood, too.
Emetebe is an inter-island flight company in the Galapagos. International tourists pay $158 dollars one way, or $260 return, and are permitted to bring 10 kilos of luggage. The schedules are as follows:
Baltra to Isabella: 12:30 pm
Baltra to San Cristobal: 10:30am
San Cristobal to Isabella: 7:30am
San Cristobal to Baltra: 8:00am
Isabella to Baltra: 8:30am
Isabella to San Cristobal: 2:00pm
No matter which form of getting around you choose, the Galapagos Islands offer the traveler a world of experiences! From fabulous Galapagos wildlife and up-close Galapagos Animal encounters to spectacular scenery and Galapagos Cruises, The Galapagos Islands are waiting for you!
Stay tuned for more information on what to do with your extra days on the islands!
Understanding what the Humboldt Current is and how it works and influences the Galapagos climate is like revealing the mechanics behind an impressive magic trick. Suddenly it all makes a lot more sense and you see the big picture.
The Humboldt Current is one of the most influential currents in the world and starts just offshore from the land of fire or Tierra del Fuego. This is the southernmost point of South America where stray icebergs are not an uncommon site. With icebergs floating around you can imagine this water is c-o-l-d! Mixed with nutrient-full Antarctic waters the Humboldt flows northward like a great river hugging the coasts of Chile and Peru.
It’s not easy to understand that parts of the ocean really are very different from each other. We understand that there are more animals in Africa than say, Canada, but usually, we don’t imagine the oceans can be like this.
But we start to get an idea when we know that 20% of the entire world’s ocean catch is pulled out of the seas crossed by the Humboldt Current. Just this one little fact can explain why just about anywhere touched by this current will be changed. And the Galapagos Islands are no exception.
After reaching Northern Peru and Southern Ecuador the current mixes with the warm Equatorial Current. The mixing causes the warm water to sink and the colder waters of the Humboldt rise bringing nutrients to the surface.
During the six months of the Galapagos dry season, while the southeasterly trade winds drive the Humboldt Current westwards, the Galapagos Islands are bathed by this cold nutrient-rich current and that has a powerful effect on the island’s climate and ecology. These nutrients are what attract so many marine animals to the Galapagos.
Temperatures fall and darker rain clouds start to scud across the skies to gather over volcanoes. Either drizzle falls or the Garua mists hang over the higher points of the islands.
Wait! Isn’t this supposed to be the Galapagos dry season? Here’s the thing. At the lower altitudes, there is virtually no rainfall, leading to arid conditions and visitors scratching their heads at the semi-desert landscapes they see because they expect to see lush tropical islands but on the coast and at lower elevations this IS the driest time of the year in what is a dry climate anyway.
We have all seen those wonderful TV documentaries about the African plains and the mass migration of the wildebeest when the rains arrive. It’s no different in the Galapagos.
The largest herbivores, the Giant Galapagos Tortoises migrate to higher elevations where the rains are falling and vegetation is growing. When you drive up to the highlands to see the Giant Tortoises you might just need a light rain jacket in the Galapagos dry season!
Because the climate is cooler during the Galapagos dry season these are the months when many animals choose to breed. Temperatures are lower and more importantly, there is a wealth of food for the new-born due to the abundance of smaller fish in the Galapagos waters.
At the start of the dry season in July, you can see Flightless Cormorants mate and nest while Boobiesand Frigate birds start hatching. Lava Lizards begin their comical push-up mating behavior and more whales and dolphins start to arrive knowing that they won’t be going hungry.
The dry season, by the way, is a great time to come scuba diving. Waters are cooler at 17-20°C with less visibility but this would be a great time to dive alongside the migratory Whale Sharks which would be an unforgettable experience for most divers. June through November are the peak months for the Whale Sharks.
In August flamingos begin mating rituals, the boobies and frigate birds are still hatching eggs and the Giant Tortoises on Santa Cruz migrate back to the highlands. Also, Galapagos Sea Lions begin to give birth, and it’s common to see the pups.
Many want to see the famous blue-footed booby courtship dance and this can happen anytime between May and September as they are opportunistic breeders meaning when food supply such as their favored anchovies are abundant then they are encouraged to breed.
In September the Galapagos Penguins begin mating on the central islands and the sea lion breeding season is now in full swing. Here’s when you can catch huge bulls fighting on land and in water to defend their harems.
In October you can spot Blue-footed Booby chicks at many sites, Lava Herons start nesting and the Galapagos Fur Sea Lion mating season begins.
In November the Brown Noddy are breeding, Storm Petrels nest for a second time, Nazca Booby chicks are common and this is a great time to see sea lion pups inshore nurseries.
By December the trade winds have died down so the Humboldt Current is not flowing with such force from the continent to the Galapagos but the waters are still cold and nutrient rich in this, the last month of the Galapagos dry season. Rainfall is still low but daily average land temperatures have just bumped up a notch to 24°C.
There’s a lot happening in December as Waved Albatross chicks try to take to the skies for the first time, Giant Tortoise eggs begin to hatch and Green Sea Turtles can often be seen mating in shallow waters. The marine iguana’s mating season begins but before that happens the males try to establish dominance by butting heads.
And then by late December, almost as suddenly as it began, Mother Nature turns the Humboldt Current ‘tap’ to the almost-off setting and the ‘Galapagos Dry Season show’ is over for another year as warmer, less nutrient-rich waters start to bathe the islands ushering in the warm season.