ASAN is a blog of Adrian's adventures! (Formerly a Peace Corps Blog) "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." – Mark Twain
Galapagos is an AMAZING UNFORGETTABLE ADVENTURE! it is a must for any nature and wildlife explorer backpacker’s bucketlist! I will focus on how you can go to Galapagos, Ecuador cheap the way I did and still have an incredible time.
Contrary to popular belief, Galapagos doesn’t have to be so expensive, you can go on budget for about 5 days for $600 to $900 on your own. It can be economical if you go without a tour and just see all the beautiful free things to do there like seeing all the wandering sea lions, iguanas, crabs etc everywhere and the great beaches.
You can grab one day tours for about $100 and take a $20 boat ride to close by islands. Just don’t book your tours online because there is only $2000 to $3000 tours for 4 to 10 days on yachts, they don’t show you one day cheap tours or last minute deals you can get when you are on the island because they want to fill up their boats, negotiate!
When getting a one day tour, ask them to put you in a nice boat, not all are created equally. Make sure they are going fast and are not falling part. I went on boat from Santa Cruz to Isabella going around maybe 140 km per hour (if I remember correctly but somewhere around there) and it took 2 hours, meanwhile on the way back, it was a disaster as the boat not only had very few windows for air, it was super rocky and took over 3 hours, towards 4, going only around 60 km (don´t recall exactly but it was slow) per hour! I was very sea sick after all of that, especially after being on a boat for 2 hours before on a day tour that same day. But I was okay, i took sea sea medicine to help available on both islands. The waters can be very rough out in the middle of the ocean, becareful and hold on tight on the boat. However, that was just one minor hiccup, the rest of the trip was fine.
Santa Cruz and Isabella
As far as I understand, the two main islands, depending on what you want to see, are Santa Cruz and Isabella that has plenty to see are right next to each other (you fly into Baltra which has nothing but an airport, and you take a $1 ferry of 5 minutes to Santa Cruz after). We did a $200 tour to the Tunnels of Santa Cruz which is the definite Galapagos experience, it is Galapagos. You see all the major wildlife you want to see for the most part, Blue Foot Boobies, penguins, sharks, sea turtles, sting rays, coral reefs, volcanic formations, sea horses and many other fishes.
To see the famous Galapagos Tortoises, some over 100 to 150 years old, you can see them in the wild in Santa Cruz for a about a $20-30 taxi ride or go with a tour for probably more or in Isabella you can see them at a wildlife center where they conduct research, and raise and take care of tortoises.
Also, there are cheap $25 a night or so or less hotels/hostels you can stay at and you can get a meal (outside of the main street) for $3 to $5. The atms didn’t work for my US card, although they say they take visa mastercard (there is Western Union there and most places take card actually), so bring extra cash, also you need cash at the airport to pay the $100 island entrance fee.
It is obviously the better experience to go on a yacht tour, if you can spend that money or save it before, and you wont lose time on a preplanned tour seeing everything. And especially you will get much less sea sick instead of going on a small cheap but safe boat. Either way, buy sea sick pills and brace yourself hard on the boat. But overall, you still have an amazing time if you go without a tour.
One last note, a GoPro (action sports/waterproof -you can rent one there for about $50) and a DSLR professional camera is a MUST if you can in any way, there is SOOO many beautiufl oppourtnties of the wild excoitc wildlife only found here in the world, it is almost a crime to miss out on it. At least a decent phone camera! haha
Have fun, let me know anyone any questions! I will have to go again soon.
See the pictures below of me in the Galapagos and this other helpful guide: Six Days for $900: Doing the Galapagos on a Budget