Planning smartly can make many things in life possible, and a trip to the Galapagos Islands on a budget is one of them. Many people dream of the fearless and tranquil wildlife that can be found just off the country of Ecuador, but not enough actually take the plunge and go. Don’t be discourage by people saying that it is difficult and expensive, start planning now and you can see the marvels of natural beauty and evolution. boat things
This remote archipelago of 13 large and 6 small islands became famous when Charles Darwin celebrated its pristine ecosystems and bountiful wildlife found, literally, nowhere else on earth. Since becoming a National Park of Ecuador in 1978, its appeal has only increased for visitors who wish to relax and explore this paradise, both underwater and on land. As usual, visiting during low seasons — from late April to June and early September through November will save you money on flights, boats and lodging.
All travelers to the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador will fly into the main airport in Quito, which is also one of the two ports with flights to the islands themselves. Aside from getting there on a private boat, flying is how people get to the Galapagos – from either Guayaquil or Quito. You must show proof of transport back to the mainland though it is fairly easy to extend dates of roundtrip flights should you decide to stay longer. You can actually get what is called an “open jaw” flight that would fly out of Guayaquil and return to Quito, or vice versa. Prices are slightly cheaper when flying from Guayaquil, but as international flights only arrive into Quito most travelers will save money connecting from there. Airfare from either city currently hovers around $340-$440 depending on the season.
Since there are only 1 or 2 flights to the islands daily, both departing in the morning, you will generally be forced to stay overnight wherever you are flying from. One benefit that many people take advantage of is to spend a little time in Guayaquil or Quito ahead of departure and find any last minute flights and cruises deals by visiting travel agencies in person. Avenida Amazonas, in Quito, is where the majority of agencies are based.
Planes arrive at either Isla San Cristobal or Isla Baltra with similar fares. Again, it is possible to fly into one island and out another to suit your plans. Tours launch out of both of these ports, or nearby, so make sure you are landing in the correct place if you have made advance reservations for cruising in the islands.
Seeing the Islands
Since the entire Galapagos archipelago is a protected park with regulations on entry all visitors must pay a $100 US dollar entry fee. Travel around the islands by boat or over land requires a registered naturalist guide except when inside town limits, which usually means joining a tour. Most visitors to this beautiful place take multiple day tours on boats that include lodging and meals on the boat. Still, there are some options for a land-based trip which can be easier on the budget.