How will you get to Galapagos Island?
First, you must get to mainland Ecuador by flying into either the capital city of Quito or Guayaquil. The islands are nearer to Guayaquil. If you have the option, fly here to save time since most flights from Quito have a stopover here on the way to the Galapagos.
What should you know about the Galapagos Island?
The Galapagos Islands are a bucket-list destination for good reason: Thanks to a lack of natural predators, friendly wildlife such as playful sea lions and gigantic sea tortoises let visitors get up close and personal. This archipelago of about 19 islands and many smaller islets sprinkled 620 miles off Ecuador’s coast in the Pacific Ocean is a double World Heritage site (both land and sea are protected) and served as the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Each island boasts its own unique landscape, ranging from barren black, volcanic rocks to swaths of white sand beaches melting into gemstone-blue waters.
How much will be the trip to Galapagos Island costs?
- Flight to Galapagos: Ranges from about US$325 to US$430. Higher end price is from Quito (further away) and high season. Lower end is from Guayaquil, and low season. Children under 12 pay 1/2 price. It seems Lan is offering the occasional reduced price.
- Park entrance fee: $100. 50% less for kids under 12, and other discounts if you are from Ecuador, or another Andean country. You need to buy a Transit Control Card as well - $10 (to keep track of visitors to Galapagos, ensuring they don't stay more than 3 months).
- Cruise: From about as low as US$250 per day per person, to as high as $750 (or more if you want!) per day. The lower end ships are generally "back-packer" specials. (though I didn't have that kind of money when I was backpacking through Mexico in my youth!).
- Land Based tours: About the same as the lower end cruise ships - maybe $200 per day, or more, depending on quality. May not include 3 meals a day.
- Tips: About a total of $150 per person for a 7 night cruise.
- Taxes (airport): Up to a total of $50
- So, for a 7 night cruise in Galapagos, you should be prepared to budget about, per person:
- US$2,400 for a very rock bottom trip.
- US$3,500 for a medium range trip
- US$4,500 or more for a high end trip.
- For land based, 7 nights, budget about US$2,400 or more.
You may want to add on another $150 per person for items such as taxis, occasional meals not included in the trip, etc.
Where will you stay?
Eco-friendly travelers would be wise to book a room at La Via Verde Organic Farm and B&B. Owned by 2 American expats, this demure bed-and-breakfast has 2 private rooms, or a separate bungalow guests can rent.
Enjoy watching the sunset over Concepción from your balcony’s hammock, drinking locally roasted coffee on the second-floor terrace, and indulging in the included daily breakfast that features house-made granola, yogurt and preserves.
What is the most exciting part of the trip?
Wildlife watching. Blue-footed boobies, albatross and penguins, oh my! Many species are unique to the Galapagos because of its isolation and remoteness. Tip: Ask your boat tour operator to do shore landings by 5:50 a.m. so you can beat the heat and the crowds.
• Diving. Liveaboards will take you to the best dive spots on Wolf and Darwin Islands, where you might see hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, eagle rays, large schools of jack fish and much more.
• Snorkeling. No matter which island you’re snorkeling off of, you’ll likely be swimming alongside sea lions and Pacific sea turtles. Isla Lobos and Kicker Rock off of San Cristobal are excellent spots.
• Hiking. Trek over dried lava beds along the rim of one of the archipelago’s active volcanoes or into the highlands to see a variety of vegetation. A good bet is hiking around Sierra Negra, the world’s second largest crater, on Isabela, the biggest island which also boasts 6 volcanoes.
• Kayaking. You can rent kayaks without a guide at Tortuga Bay in Santa Cruz.
• Surfing. Rent boards in port towns such as those in Santa Cruz and San Cristobal.