Is it possible to visit the Galapagos on a budget?
The answer is a resounding yes, but you have to be realistic about what to expect.
There are a lot of Galapagos budget articles online and each person had/has there own way of doing it. This is a place where you definitely need to plan ahead for your trip and set some realistic goals. Otherwise you will either waste a lot of money or you will miss out on what you really want to see or both.
My trip came about at a time when I was having one of my least fun periods travelling. I was not going to let this stop me crossing off one of the major items on my bucket list. Being in Ecuador it would have been a disaster if I didn’t make the trip and having talked to a lot of backpackers doing it, it was obviously very possible.
Lets see this Galapagos budget.
Total cost: $1200ish (USD as its the Ecuadorian currency)
Number of Days: 6
Paid excursions: 3 (Two snorkeling and one scuba )
Islands visited: 2 major and one minor
I did have a much better brake down as I wrote down my daily expenses, however, I seem to have lost this. The information is coming from memory and bank statements. If there is one thing I remember it is where my money has gone, so please trust me this is pretty accurate.
Although $200 a day seems quite steep that does include flights at $395 return. Scuba diving at $180 and then two snorkeling trips at $80 and $110 each.
Accommodation was surprisingly cheap at $15 for a private room. It also had decent Wi-Fi which I was very surprised about. The hostel was simply called Santa Cruz hostel (You might need a little Spanish to get a room here as nobody spoke a word of English).
There are a ton of travel agents and scuba diving stores located in Puerto Ayora the main town on Santa Cruz island. Look around and check what offers the best deals for what you want to see and do.
I had a list of the animals and some of the places that I really wanted to see before I arrived. I managed to see most of them and I wasn’t disappointed by any of the trips I had taken.
You cannot forget though that this is a natural wonderland and animals tend to do their own thing so sometimes it is down to luck. I was happy when I managed to spot one hammer-head shark, then an hour later another group told me they saw 30 together. It would have been a lie to say I wasn’t disappointed but what could I do.
I done my trips individually and didn’t book it all at once, this gave me some freedom on what to do in my time there and also ensured I wasn’t being ripped off. It gave me the option of going with different tour companies. I ultimately stayed going to the same guy mainly because of how nice he was in dealing with his customers and his prices were quite reasonable.
A few more things:
To save more money there are some stores which you should use to stock up on large bottles of water and some snacks. In the evening there is a street in Puerto Ayora which turns into a nice restaurant alley with reasonably priced meals that will fill you for the night.
There are also a lot of free activities and walks that you can do. On these you can stumble across seals, penguins, iguanas and a host of other animals and birds that populate the islands. Be wary of the sun as it is quite hot and it will take its toll on your skin and energy.
The Galapagos islands will definitely eat into your budget especially going solo and as a backpacker. Set money aside for what you want to do and then go and book it. You will not regret it although you will want to do more than your Galapagos budget allows.
What does your Galapagos budget look like?