Travel to Galapagos Islands cheap
Travelling to the Galapagos Islands on a budget
Ok, so this is not so much of a question, but I just wanted to share my experiences of travelling to the Galapagos Islands. I just find is so disheartening that many people get put off from travelling to such a beautiful and special place because they believe it to be so much more expensive than it actually is. I've seen cruises on the National Geographic Endeavour starting at about US5, 000 for a 10 day tour for 1 person.
Number of days to visit:
There are many different tours for a variety of different days. we found the most economical solution is to go for a 5 day tour travelling to the islands that you can't visit on day trips as they were too far away. We ended up spending 21 days in the Galapagos in mid June with about 6 days diving (some of the most phenomenal diving in the world), 5 days on the cruise, and 10 days island hopping. Contrary to popular belief the Galapagos Islands is a really cheap place to chill. You could comfortably do a trip in 14 days though.
How much to pay for a tour:
There are many different tours and price options available online. We ended up booking direct at the Joybe Tours shop off Avenue Charles Darwin in Santa Cruz. We paid US$950 for a 5 day cruise around the belly of the sea horse of Isla Isabella from Santa Cruz. 16 people on board the cruise ship Aida Maria. meals were simple but tasty.
Park Entry fees:
Yes there is an additional $US100 per person payable upon arrival at Santa Cruise. Have this ready in cash.
Highly recommended if you dive, and great place to learn if you don't. We paid US$100 for 2 tanks (2 dives) with Sope Diving but the starting price is US$120. you can negotiate them down if you do many dives with them. Eagle Ray Diving 2 doors down is slightly more expensive at US$140, but they have better gear than Sope Diving. My boyfriend also got his PADI certification at Sope for $400. Dive instructor Jorge is extremely experienced and speaks fantastic english. We felt completely safe diving with him.
You can spend anywhere from US15 a night if you are prepared to stay in hostels or dorms. if you want a private room it can start from US20 per night. We stayed with the Trip Advisor recommended Galapagos Best Home Stay, Santa Cruz, which was very comfortable and Kevin is fantastic as a guide to show you around. His mate Che Che who is a guide here also has accommodation for US$40 per night for a 2 bedroom apartment - perfect if you have 2 couples wanting to share. Accommodation on the islands (San Cristobal and Isla Isabella) is also at a comparable price.
There are many local places to eat where you can save lots of money. There are also many touristic restaurants on the main street of Santa Cruz which range from US$10-40 for lunch/dinner. We tended to eat where the locals ate and had most meals for less than US$12. The Kioskos are also a good cheap option for dinner but locals only tend to recommend the Kiosko William as this was the only one perceived to be clean and have running water. Neptune restaurant round the corner had hearty dinner meals for about US$7. On San Cristobal we found a delightful restaurant where for breakfast lunch and dinner meals were US$3.50. It's a set menu where you can choose between 2 options for dinner and lunch where you get a drink (juice), soup and main course.
There are so many things to do that involve spending time snorkelling and swimming at popular beach spots that cost you nothing if you have your own snorkel, mask, fins and wetsuit. Snorkel, mask and fins can be rented for about US$5 a day. I'm not sure how much wetsuits cost as our agency (Joybe) was nice enough to lend us wet suits for 2 weeks at no extra charge.
Overall a budget for 2 people of about US4, 000 should be plenty to do the above activities for that duration.