Galapagos is for some of us a dream we never dare to dream, for others a must see in life, a paradise, or a place so unknown and far away surrounded by myths and realities like…
- Galapagos is very expensive! You must have a lot of money to travel to Galapagos!
- It has so more animals than any other place in the world.
- If you go to Galapagos you have to do a cruise or otherwise is not worth the trip.
- It is not a place for backpackers.
How to get there:
By boat. Yes, believe it or not I met people (youngsters) who traveled by boat one week to get to Galapagos. But no, there are no commercial boats going from the mainland to the islands.
By plane. There are no international flights to the Islands in order to control the access and to protect the islands. Therefore, you can fly either from Quito or from Guayaquil. There are 3 main airlines (Avianca, TAME , LAN) which fly to the 2 airports (Balta in Santa Cruz Island and San Cristobal) of Galapagos Islands.
The cost of the flight to Galapagos varies around 450 USD for foreigners. This is what all the travel agencies tell you in Ecuador. The reality is that you can enter by yourself on Internet and buy your own ticket without them. You may not be able to buy it from the airlines directly because they may not process your foreigner credit card, but you can do it very well on Orbitz or other such websites. And depending on the time of the year, you may get your ticket as cheap as 200 USD only one week before or even one day before the flight. There is no supra tax for the flight in the airport for foreigners.
In the airports you have to pay the ticket/tax to enter to the Natural Reserve of Galapagos. For foreigners it is 20 USD paid in Quito/Guayaquil and 100 USD paid in Galapagos. There are no other taxes/costs to be paid. All the payments are maid in cash only.
There are 4 inhabited islands in Galapagos: Santa Cruz, Isabela, San Cristobal and Floreana. From Santa Cruz you can go to any of the others in just 2 hours by ferry. The ferry is actually a yacht style boat. In 2015 the cost was of 30 USD for any ferry you may take.
If you want to go the the uninhabited islands the you have to take either a day trip or a cruise. There are islands where only the cruises are allowed or others which you cannot enter at all.
Depending on your expectations and budget you have options from 15 to 400 USD/night. A simple, but very nice and comfortable accommodation will around 25-35 USD/person.
Food & drinks:
Lunch on Calle de los Quioscos is 4-5 USD for soup, main course and a drink, but dinner starts with 10 USD depending on what you want to dine. An appetizing lobster is around 20-25 USD and drinkds start with 7 USD/cocktail.
Diving: 150-170 USD per day and it includes 2 dives, snack, sandwich, soft drinks, water)
Snorkeling: 100-120 USD per day and it includes same as diving.
Renting of snorkels and fins: 3 USD only for snorkel, 5 USD for both. The company with whom you dive or snorkel will rent you the equipment for free.
Cruises: the cheapest you can get starts with 800 USD for 5 day( which is actually 3 days of tour) and 600 USD for a last minute offer. A decent price boat will start from 1200 USD for 5 days, 2000 USD/8 days.
To make a parallel with the prices from Europe, Galapagos may get as expensive as Europe, but the unique marine world you discover may be worth every penny you spend there.
Only in the inhabited islands and diving you can see almost all the animals living in Galapagos, however there are species (eg albatross) which can be seen in the uninhabited islands (eg: Espanola, Darwin and Wolf) which are further away. Only the cruise get to these islands and depending on your personal preference/time/money it may go for it or not.