Getting to Ecuador and the Galápagos by air
Direct flights to Ecuador’s international airports in Quito and Guayaquil depart from a relatively small number of places outside of Latin America. In the United States, regular services leave from Miami, Houston and Atlanta; in Europe, they go from Madrid and Amsterdam. Higher prices are likely in the July to September high season and during December.
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If you’re planning to include Ecuador as part of a South American tour, consider an “open-jaw” ticket, which lets you make your own way overland between your arrival and departure points. Popular combinations are Quito and Lima, or Quito and La Paz, and tickets cost about the same as a normal return.
Ecuador is too small to warrant its own airpass, but is included in larger networks, such as the LAN airlines Airpass, which links LAN destinations and offers further discounts if you have a transatlantic ticket with them.
Flights from the US and Canada
While there are few direct routes to Ecuador, it’s easy to pick up connecting flights to the main hubs. From the US, direct routes to Quito and Guayaquil are operated by American Airlines, Delta, LATAM and United from Atlanta, Houston and Miami. JetBlue and Spirit fly from Ft Lauderdale. Avianca and Copa Airlines have indirect flights via cities such as Bogotá, Panama City and San Salvador (El Salvador). There are no direct flights from Canada to Ecuador; Canadian travellers generally have to travel via the US or Mexico, with Aeroméxico.
Approximate flying times from the US to Quito without stops are around four hours from Miami, and around five hours from Houston and Atlanta. Prices are roughly $500–700 return from Miami, $600–800 from Houston and Atlanta, and CAN$700–900 from Toronto, but shop around, as prices can vary greatly.
Flights from the UK and Ireland
There are no direct flights to Ecuador from Britain and Ireland, but there are plenty of indirect flights to both Quito and Guayaquil involving a change of plane in either a European or American city. The US airlines fly via their respective hubs (see above), while Iberia routes via Madrid, and KLM via Amsterdam. Other possibilities include taking a flight to a South American hub, such as Bogotá or Lima, from where connections to Ecuador can be made.
Typical journey times are between 15 and 17 hours. You can expect to pay around £700–900 return in low season and £800–1100 in high, though prices can vary widely.
Flights from Australia and New Zealand
There are no direct flights to Ecuador from Australia or New Zealand. The most straightforward route is with Qantas/LATAM from Sydney to Quito and Guayaquil, stopping in Auckland and changing in Santiago. Alternatively, you can travel via the US, or fly to Buenos Aires with Aerolineas Argentinas and pick up a connection from there. Typical travel times are around 25 to 40 hours. Expect to pay at least around A$2000 from Australia, and NZ$2100 from New Zealand.
Flights from South Africa
To get to Ecuador from South Africa, you’re best off flying to a South American hub, such as São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Santiago or Lima, from where there are onward services to Quito. Johannesburg to São Paulo with South African Airlines is a ten-hour flight costing from ZAR6000. Brazilian airline GOL flies to São Paulo three times a week (6 hours) and is the only direct option.
Getting to Ecuador by land
It is possible to enter Ecuador by bus from Peru via Macará, Huayquillas and La Balsa, or from Colombia via Tulcán. However, the region around the border with Colombia is unsettled and may be unsafe – check the latest security situation before attempting this route. It’s also worth noting that cross-border buses are notorious hunting grounds for pickpockets and bag-snatchers; keep a very close eye on your belongings. Be aware, too, that scams are common – spurious stories along the lines of “the road is closed” or “there are protests” can be ploys to get travellers into the scammers’ vehicles or to an isolated place with the aim of robbing them.