There is something unique about The Galapagos Islands that makes this destination so intriguing. Maybe it’s because of the Archipelagos remote location, the abundance of rare species that live there, or the array of colors that blend within the remarkable landscapes. It was a visit to the Galapagos Islands that inspired Charles Darwin to come up with the theory of evolution. The Galapagos Islands have got to be on almost everybody’s bucket list, and as they should be!
Unfortunately, Ecuador’s official currency is the US dollar so the cost of an excursion here can be very pricey for people traveling from countries with weaker currencies. There are a few options for the budget backpacker. You can visit the Islands without a tour guide and make day trips from some of the islands. However, if you do this, you are limited as to what you can see on your own. The other option is to take a boat excursion which is a lot more convenient but at a steeper price.
The following post will tell you what you can expect to see if you take a boat excursion. The tour that I took, Millennium Yachts, was a luxury tour. But the budget tours go to the same places in most cases. I was going to go on a budget trip, but I was offered a last-minute deal to take a luxury tour through a tour company in Quito called Gulliver Tours. The hostel that I was staying at recommended this tour company.
Cost Of A Tour
If you want to do a boat excursion, I would suggest shopping around and also checking out reviews on Tripadvisor because there are over 80 different overnight boats that take passengers to the islands. Ask your hostel for suggestions.
If you are in Quito, you can find a few tour companies that cater to budget backpackers in Plaza Foch area, where all the popular bars and restaurants are. I found the Millennium yacht tour at Gulliver Tours in Quito. The budget tours will run you around $1,500 – USD 2,000 per person, and every tour provides different services. Some tours go for five nights on a boat; some go for 8 or more nights.
I got a great deal on my tour back in 2014 when the US dollar was not so high, and although it is more expensive to go to the Galápagos now, there are still great deals to be had. The luxury trip that I was going to do ended up costing me the same as what the budget trip cost, however, the luxury trip was a couple of days less. The luxury trip had A/C, with fantastic food, and it was not overcrowded.(16 passengers)
I bought my whole excursion including return airfare from Quito to Baltra(Galápagos) for USD 1,400. I got a last minute deal from Gulliver. The regular price of the tour was USD 2,300. I believe the price of this tour is USD 2,600 now. But if you are flexible then search for some last minute deals.
Galapagós on your own
If you go on your own, you can do it for a lot cheaper, and I have heard from a lot of travelers that they have had great success in doing this. You can find a lot of blogs on this option if you have the time and want to visit the Islands this way. I cannot provide any information on this method for visiting because I went with a package tour, but I can tell you that the Galapagos Islands has two airports that serve Quito and Guayaquil; San Cristóbal Airport(Isla San Cristóbal), & Seymour Airport(Baltra).
Millenium Yacht Tour
I was pleased with the tour that I did with Millenium because everybody who worked on the boat was very professional. The food was fantastic, the guides were excellent, and the yacht was very modern and spacious. And for me, the A/C was a bonus as the temperature at the Islands can get up to 35C. During the five days/ four nights tour that I took, I got to visit Isla Baltra, Isla Seymour Norte, Isla Bartolomé, Isla Santiago, Isla Santa Cruz, Isla Santa Fé, and San Cristoóbal.
Our tour guides greeted us at the Baltra airport on the first morning of the trip. Once we all found our checked bags on the arrival carousel, the whole group hopped on a bus and headed to the Millenium Yacht to settle into our rooms.
After orientation, we sailed to North Seymour to do some diving. After that, we went for a walk on the Island and saw some Lizards, Blue Footed Boobies(Birds), and other random creatures. It was so relaxing here, and the wildlife was very passive making it easy to get some great photos!
After our walk, we went back to the Millenium for a gourmet supper. At this point, I was glad that I paid the extra money for this cruise.
We arrived at Isla Bartolomé in the morning and visited Pinnacle Rock, a very famous spot within the Galapagos Archipelago. All of the volcanic formations in this area made it feel like we were on the moon.
In the afternoon of day 2, we sailed to Sullivan Bay and did a small hike at the gigantic Lava Flow on Isla Santiago. This lava field seemed to go on forever!
On the third day, we made an early morning visit to Isla Santa Cruz so that we could see some Sea Lizards, Sea lions, and Flamingos.
The first place that we stopped at on Isla Santa Cruz was Bachas Beach. We spent the morning looking for different critters along the sand.
Isla Santa Cruz
In the afternoon we sailed over to Cerro Dragon(Dragon Hill).
On day four we sailed down to Isla South Plazas East of Santa Cruz in the morning to see some lizards and seals. In the afternoon we made a trip to Isla Santa Fe.
South Plaza Island
After lunch, we went snorkeling near Santa Fe, then explored a nearby beach to observe a Sea Lion colony.
We sailed over rough waters from Isla Santa Cruz overnight and arrived at San Cristóbal in the morning for the final excursion of the tour, a visit to the Interpretation Center.
Have you been to the Galapagos Islands? If so would you like to share some tips about your trip with us? Feel free to leave anything that would help our other readers in the comment section. Thanks for visiting us today at travelcanbecheap.com.