the uniqueness of the archipelago lies not in the geological formations, it lies in the wildlife
Believe it or not, the Galapagos can be done on a budget. Granted, it’s not a shoestring budget like US$30/day but it’s a budget nonetheless. A general misconception is that the ONLY way to do the Galapagos is to do a cruise. Yes, you do get to see more islands on a cruise ship but the uniqueness of the archipelago lies not in the geological formations, it lies in the wildlife. You don’t need to venture hours and hours away from the main settlements to see the wildlife, they’re all accessible via day trips!
The biggest costs I encountered were:
|Galapagos Park & Tourist Fee||$110|
|Isla San Cristobal Day Trip||$90|
|Isla Isabel Ferry (return) + Port Fee||$60|
|2 Tank Dive Trip with Sope Diving||$130|
|Los Tuneles Day Trip||$80|
Basic accommodation costs around $10/night, lunch and dinner were around $8/meal, and I usually made breakfast for about $3/day. Including half day trips to Las Grietas (Santa Cruz, $1.2), Las Tintoeras (Isabel, $20), a turtle sanctuary (Santa Cruz, $10), and all other costs (including a few fancy meals), I spent only about $700 (excluding my flight). Return flights from Guayaquil or Quito usually cost around $450, but prices do vary. My friends got flights for $390.
You could potentially save a bit of money by flying into San Cristobal and out from Baltra (Santa Cruz) and booking a cheap tour of the island, then getting a $30 ferry to Santa Cruz. The $90 San Cristobal day trip I did departed from and returned to Santa Cruz. So if you factor in the cost of petrol, I’m sure doing a day trip of San Cristobal will cost much less if you’re already there.
So, considering I was there for 7 full days, I averaged a bit less than $100 per day and I did something awesome on almost every single day! If you book a cruise, you’d be paying in excess of $120/day in addition to fees for diving and other activities, depending on which boat you end up on. And in the long run, what’s a few hundred dollars for a trip to one of the most unique places on the planet?
For those of you who aren’t already in Ecuador, you’ll of course need to factor in your return flights from your home country. But there are plenty of other attractions in Ecuador like Cotopaxi, Montanita, Canoa, Quilotoa, Cuenca, and Quito. Or if you’ve got a lot of time, there’s always Peru and Colombia too.