National Park Fee & Transit Control Card
These are measures taken by the Galapagos National Park and the Ecuador Department of Tourism to control and monitor the number of people coming into the Galapagos Islands. As soon as you arrive at the airport in the Galapagos, you will pay a $100 National Park Entry Fee and the $20 Transit Control Card. Make sure to have this in cash for every person in your group.
If you’re willing to pay about $150/flight/person, then there are private charter flights and transfers between Santa Cruz, Isabela, and San Cristobal. In addition to providing a quick and flexible way to get between islands without worrying about public speedboats or time on the water, they offer a great way to see the enchanting Galapagos from the sky.
To book these flights, you must visit Emetebe.
There are really just two options for ground transportation: Taxis & Buses. If you’ve booked a cruise, then the only thing you have to plan for is getting from the airport to the dock where your boat is, and from there all of the transportation will be provided. If you are planning a land-based tour, you’ll have to figure out how to get to each destination on your itinerary independently (unless you are staying at one of the many hotels that helps plan your transportation into the itinerary).
Certain visitor sites, like the Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela or El Chato Tortoise Reserve in the highlands of Santa Cruz, can be reached by the public open-air buses. These depart on a set schedule various times throughout the day, so make sure to be at the station or rendezvous point in town on time.
If you want to reach a visitor site on a different schedule than the buses or prefer to take a taxi somewhere, look for the pickup trucks. Unlike most places, where taxis are the recognizable yellow cabs, in the Galapagos Islands, taxis are all (just as recognizable) pickup trucks. This is because the roads in some of the more remote areas wash out during the rainy season and can take a few months to repair, which is why trucks are the most practical taxi vehicle. Taxis can be seen cruising around each town and lined up at the most popular visitor destinations as well.
Destinations within each town cost $1-2/ person in a taxi. If you’re traveling to a site outside of town, the rates will be higher but very reasonable. If you are taking a taxi from the Baltra Ferry into Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz, the ride is about 40 minutes across the island and costs around $35, including luggage transfer (another advantage of having a pickup truck!).
There are water taxis available in all of the populated towns for local transport, and for inter-island transport, speed boat taxis can be arranged to speed you from one inhabited island to another.
Contact your Columbus Travel agent for help planning all of your transportation and logistics on the Galapagos Islands.