Yes, Galapagos is expensive
Some say it is the worlds most beautiful place on earth. Those who deny that, have probably not visited the Galapagos yet. The Galapagos is a group of islands west from Ecuador, it takes about 2hours flight to reach the island from either Quito or Guayaquil. At the airport check in we had to pay a 20 dollar declaration fee and as soon as you ll land on the island another 100 dollar cash is need to be payed, just to enter the island. In fact this states pretty good what you can expect from a visit to the Galapagos. Everything you’ll do will cost you money! And although my five day visit to the islands almost took about 10% of my 6 month travelling budget, I can only recommend you to do the same thing. But don't do it if you're on a shoestring budget, unless offcourse your really really want to see the magic of the Galapagos Islands.
Backpackers advice for the Galapagos
My Lonely planet guide said you can only experience the true beauty of the Galapagos when going on a cruise. Because day trips from one of the three main islands, Santa Cruz, San Cristobal or Isabella, will never take you to the more remote little islands with their specific fauna and flora. But those guys from the Lonely planet probably had a bit more cash stacked up then I had, as a cruise is fucking expensive. For a 4 day cruise you’ll easily pay 1,400 dollar. Oh yes, and by the way, 4 days, means, the first day boarding in the afternoon and the last day landing somewhere at 11 in the morning. So in fact you only spent 2 full days on the cruise. But hey, that’s when you book your cruise up front and probably with an agencie abroad. When you are planning to visit the Galapagos anywhere in December and January (specialy during the holidays) or during the European summer months in July or August, you might want to consider an upfront booking as the Island, and the cruises, might be fully booked. Don't go in this period unless this is your only option. It's high season and everything will cost more..
Go sea the island in the low season, i assure you the wildlife will still be there and the sunsets too. But, prices will be significantly lower. Hostels and hotels will make special deals, make sure to always check some online booking sites and show them those prices, or tell them another hotel was cheaper. Good chances you might get lower fares as they prefer to get there rooms full.
Same goes for the tours and even cruises. I didnt have time for a cruise, but if you got some time and you are willing to bargain, go hard. Go see different agencies (there are plenty) and tell them all you have a better price at an other place. They will always try to beat it. Sometimes you can score last minute cruises for half the price. If you could score a cruise.. don't hesitate. This could be a once in a lifetime.
We had the option to go on a 4 day cruise for 800 dollar. Sadly the boat would return the day after our return flight. So we had to stick to day trips. But hey, nothing wrong with that. In the next posts I will tell you all about them. Including some amazing free spots and off course some wonderful photos of our adventure. Our ? yes, my girlfriend came over for a visit! Sadly she had only one week of, resulting in an only 5 day stay at the Galapagos. And if I may advise you… that is too damn short. If your budget allows you, make sure you spent at least 2 weeks on these beautiful islands! There are plenty of beautiful beaches where you can easily lose yourself for a whole day!