We´re a group of three 20 somethings looking to spend around 7 days in the Galapagos. We´re currently living in Quito for two months. It seems tours etc. are quite expensive, so we´re investigating alternatives.
We´re going in the first week of December. We know flights and park entrance fees are pretty much static, but any other hints and tips would be much appreciated. Secret tips for keeping costs down, if it really is just better to go with a tour (educated guides bring you to the best places etc.), what islands should be visited (considering we´ve only got a week). Anything at all really!!
you may try to get a deal on the boat,depend what type of boat you look for.
all boats have to have guides,that are the rules.
The entrance to the Galapagos is $ 100.00 pp to pay in cash only at the aireport.
yes it is not cheap,but if you go take the full trip,not only 5 days,each of the Islands is different,you wont be dissapointed.
You can't just do your own thing in the Galapogos and wander about - you have to go on an organised boat trip with an official guide, and you are counted off and counted back on the boat. When you are on the islands, you follow a set route in small groups with the guide, all done to protect the fragile ecological balance of the place. However it is worth it as you learn so much more than even if you were just allowed to go there on your own anyway. If you can go you should - it is a magical experience, butto get to the protected islands you have to buy a tour.
Its low season now, most of the americans have gone home, so shouldn´t be super crowded there. You can fly out there and take boat trips individually rather than a 5-8 day cruise, it may work out cheaper doing it this way, but if you do, it will limit the number of islands you can visit, as day trip boats can only go so far in one day.
How much are you expecting to spend? I know of an 8 day cruise for $860 plus flights and park entry. Recomended it to a few people when I was working at a hostel in quito, and had great reports back. Was the cheapest I came across in my time there for 8 days.
Thanks so much for all the replies. WE´ve booked our trip, and I can´t wait!
OK.... just got back yesterday from the Galapagos..... doing it ourselves !
We didn´t book a boat trip or anything (even Hotels)
Here´s the lo-down (big post but might help more people in the long run!)
Flights ($350 return from Quito and easy to change the return date in the Tame or Aerogal offices in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz... where you fly into)
Get the free bus to the port in Baltra.
Get the ferry across to the other side... costs 80cents each.
Get the bus into town... $1.80 one way!
On the return leg... pick up the bus on Amazonia as it saves you a taxi fare to the bus station on the North of town... well... that´s what we did anyway.
You can wander around the islands (however, within limited areas) i.e. Tortuga Bay, Darwin Centre, The Lava Tunnels (hire a bike, get a taxi up to Santa Rosa and go see the Tortoise park .... best place to see them in the wild and then ride down hill to the LAva tunnels in Bellavista... great fun and if you´re lucky the old geezer will take you on a private tour of some un-opened tunnels to the public !!! Very cool !)
Seems If you´re on a bike the locals all appreciate it a bit more than just turning up there on a day trip.
Ok... the islands
The Main port of Puerto Ayora is a great little town and easy to find a cheap hotel (for the galapagos that is) about $10 a night each. You´ll be lucky if you get hot water though... regardless of what they tell you!
We stayed at the Hotel Espana and the Hotel Gardner next door. We got the lady down to $10 per night with hot water(ish) Nice and safe hotels in the centre of town.... loads more available though and some a bit cheaper too!
There´s loads of tour agancies on the Main drag in Puerto Ayora and I´d highly recommend trying to book yourself on whatever you can get on as soon as you get there. Honestly... there´s very little last minute deals on day tours... you can barter them down a bit though!
You can organise day trips to the other islands or organise the Inter Island ferries (small boats) here also.. We bookde a three day 2 night tour of Isabella from here and it cost us $160 down from $220 as there was 6 of us.... and as it included $30 one way boat ride across to the island (2.5 hours and a bit rough) Horse riding up the Volcano, Visiting the Tortoise farm & flamingo lake, snorkelling (including gear and wet suit... VERY Important!!! the waters very cold !!!) Food, and Accomodation (at a lovely little hotel called Bristas Del Mar... $10 per night and new inc. TV and HOT WATER !!!! WOW !!!)
Isabella´s beautiful and highly recommended.... a brilliant place just to chill (or go hiking volcanoes if you want
Anyway, You can visit the Darwin Centre yourself (it´s free!!! and 10 minutes walk from Puerto Ayora)
You can visit Tortuga Bay yourself (It´s free and Beautiful!)
The Lava Tunnels are $3 each
Bike hire is $1 per hour!
We dived at Seymour Norte as the currents at Gorden Rocks were a bit too strong for our liking (we only have 15 dives each... they recommend you have at least 20)
The Currents are very, very strong and you have to grab onto rocks for dear life at points.... however... we did get to see hammerhead , white tip, Eagle rays and even a Galapagos Shark while we were there.
Dives costs between $90 and $140 however, the most important part is the gear and the wet suit.... the cold water currents are really cold and that´s what the sharks like. We had 7mm wet suits in which we were nice and cosy. 5mm may do... however... the waters warming from here on so it might not be as much of a erquirements for you... depends how much you feel the cold!
We went with Silberstein as they had new gear and 7mm wet suits.... but there are others!
You can book day trips to Floreana, Bartholomew, Seymore Norte, san Cristobel (the other large island) and Espanola.
Other than those islands... you´ll need to be on a boat trip.
However, apart from the Flightless Cormorants... we saw everything we wanted without booking a boat trip.
Of course.... a boat trip is nice.... so it´s up to you (They´re expensive after all!)
Here´s our Financial break down to give you guys an idea of costs involved.
Flights : $350
Park Entrance : $100
Hotels 5 nights : $50
3 day trip to Isabella : $160
Meals & Beers for 5 days : $60
Diving trip (2 dives) : $120
Lava Tubes : $3
Bike Hire : $6
Day Trip to Seymoure Norte / Bartolome $75 and $85 respectively.
So the total for our 7 day experience was about $1000 each !
Not Cheap, but it´ll give you some ideas of how much a self guided trip there will cost you.
We saw : Blue Footed boobies (Tortuga Bay and Isabella), Magnificent Frigate Birds (Seymoure Norte), Loads of Giant Tortoises, Dived and Snorkelled with Sealions, Sharks, Turtles etc.
The Place is brilliant and we also found out that the Entrance price may go up to $300 next year (apparently) so get there while you can!
Hope this helps a bit and apologies for the long post