Traveling to Ecuador and the Galapagos: New Airport to Open in Quito

June 13th, 2012 by

Starting this fall, arriving into Quito, Ecuador, will get a little bit more interesting. Currently, if you fly into Quito (airport code UIO) like most of our travelers, you’ll land right in the middle of the city, making access to most hotels in town an easy 15- to 20-minute drive away. The new airport, scheduled to open in October or November, will be located about 45 to 60 minutes (possibly as much as 90 minutes during heavy traffic) outside the city in a more rural setting. Since most flights from the USA arrive after 8 pm, this may mean rethinking your options. Here are a few ideas:

Book earlier flights into Quito. If possible, try to fly into Quito as early as possible. Although you might have to leave home earlier in the morning than you usually prefer, you’ll be happier to settle into your hotel room at a reasonable hour.

Go straight to Otavalo instead. This is a great alternative if you are arriving a few days before your cruise departs. What used to take two hours (from the old airport to the world-famous Otavalo Market) will now take about 75 to 90 minutes.

What about Guayaquil? Flying into this tropical coastal city would mean missing out on the Andes, but it’s a warmer option than Quito, at a much lower elevation. All flights departing from Quito to the Galapagos automatically stop over in Guayaquil anyway, so you’ll eliminate one leg of the journey to the islands.
Quito’s new airport has been a long time in the works. When UIO was built, it was located to the north of Quito, but the city has long since grown to surround the airport. As a result, there is no room for expansion to accommodate increased air traffic or larger aircraft. In addition, the high altitude and mountainous terrain make the present airport riskier to operate than the new one, which will be located at a lower elevation and in more open terrain.

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