Baltra (Isla Baltra or South Seymour Island) is one of Ecuador's Galapagos Islands. Located in the central part of the archipelago. Baltra is the only island that is not part of the national park. It has the highest capacity airport in the Galapagos. It's a starting point for cruises starting from the islands, or visiting the main island of Santa Cruz.
Most people arriving to the Galapagos by plane will have Baltra included on their itinerary, as Baltra is the main airport servicing the Galapagos Islands and it is also the airport serving the island of Santa Cruz.
- Seymour Airport (GPS IATA). Flights arriving daily from continental Ecuador arrive from either Quito or Guayaquil. Airlines providing service include: Avianca and LATAM. Arriving at Baltra passengers pass through the national park queue (and pay a $100 park entrance fee). You'll be given your park pass, that you must get scanned when leaving the Galapagos. Then to queue for a check of your carry-on luggage (as it was not tagged after being inspected on the mainland). There may be a delay while the checked-in luggage is checked by dogs, and the tags removed. You can then claim your luggage and exit the airport.
Inter-island flights are available from EMETEBE Airlines, which operates nine seater aircraft to transport passengers and their luggage from San Cristobal Airport to Isabela, Santa Cruz and Baltra islands. Bookings can be done directly through EMETEBE's website or a travel agent.
There are two sets of buses taking people from the airport. One set takes people who are boarding a cruise, the other takes passengers to the Itabaca channel between the island of Baltra and the island of Santa Cruz.
To go to Puerto Ayora, take the bus from your airline to the Itabaca channel (10 min - $5), then take a ferry to cross it (10 min - $1), then either take a taxi ($25) or a public bus ($5 - 45 min - drops you next to the pier, at the corner of Darwin and Baltra). For each of these rides (except taxi), you'll have to wait for the transport to fill up. (Updated in November 2022.)
The way back is the same. The first bus leaves from the Puerto Ayora terminal at 7am (but be there before time as it leaves as soon as it's full).
Land iguanas, Darwin Finch and lava lizards can potentially be seen at the airport, or between the airport and the wharf. Land iguanas are native to Baltra, but were reintroduced in 1990 as they had been nearing extinction.
Leaving the airport, you will travel by bus passing the remains of the old US Air Force base set up in World War II to protect the Panama Canal.
If you are proceeding to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz, don't forget to keep an eye out for the wild giant tortoises as you pass Santa Rosa on the main island, and you could see Blue-footed Boobies diving in the channel as you cross.
The airport offers souvenir shops, a restaurant, telephones and internet access. At least some of these shops take cards.
If you are proceeding directly to a cruise, his may be your only opportunity to purchase postcards prior to visiting the Post Barrel on Floreana
There is mobile reception around the airport. There is also a free Wi-Fi network which more or less works.
There are two ATMs at the airport (Banco Pichincha and Banco del Pacifico): one of them in the departures hall, the other one in the arrivals hall.
The closest islands to Baltra are:
- North Seymour
- Santa Cruz
But the only place you can proceed to from Baltra is Santa Cruz - either to stay on the island, board a cruise, or take a speedboat onwards to Isabela or San Cristobal.