Galapagos low cost: Complete Guide to Traveling by your own on a low Budget

Galapagos Low Cost 【2019】: A Complete Guide to Traveling on your own on a low budget

As an Ecuadorian blogger, I wrote this travel guide about the Galapagos Islands, to help those who don’t want to travel on expensive tours offered by regular agencies. With this guide, you will save both time and money while traveling on your own. I recommend that you set up your itinerary, so that you can see most of the islands in Galapagos according to your budget and days.

What you’ll find in this Galapagos Low Cost guide:

  1. What are the requirements to enter the Galapagos?
  2. How do I get to the Galapagos Islands? which island should I land on?
  3. How do I travel between the Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal Islands?
  4. How much money do I need? Can I use credit cards in the Islands?
  5. What to do on my own in Santa Cruz Island?
  6. Day trips departing from Santa Cruz Island
  7. Hotel recommendations on Santa Cruz Island
  8. What to do on my own in Isabela Island?
  9. Day trips departing from Isabela Island
  10. Hotel recommendations on Isabela Island
  11. What to do on my own on San Cristobal Island?
  12. Day trips departing from San Cristobal Island
  13. Hotel recommendations in San Cristobal Island
  14. What is the best time to travel to the Islands?
  15. What should I take in my backpack? what items can I enter to the Galapagos?
  16. The Galapagos Time Zone
  17. Best Galapagos cruise
  18. The video that will make you fall in love with Galapagos

 

🇪🇨 HABLAS ESPAÑOL: GUÍA COMPLETA PARA VIAJAR POR CUENTA PROPIA EN LAS ISLAS GALÁPAGOS

 
 

What are the requirements to enter the Galapagos?

The requirements to travel to the Islands are: Show the return flight tickets to and from the islands, with the traveler’s documentation, passport or identity card. A “transit control card” or “Tarjeta de Control de Tránsito” (TCT) which costs $20 and can be obtained at the immigration office of Galapagos, Quito and Guayaquil airports.

 
 

How do I get to the Galapagos Islands?

There are two airports in the Galapagos: one is on San Cristobal Island (SCY Airport Code), and the other is on Baltra Island (GPS Airport Code), the last one is near of Santa Cruz Island. Both airports receive flights every day from Guayaquil and Quito.

The best way to visit the Galapagos is by entering an island and hopping to a different one, in this case: landing at Baltra airport and departing from San Cristóbal airport, only if you stay more than 7 days. If you’re planning to stay just a few days, it’s best to stay on the island that you are going to land on, discover its surroundings and take the day trips that leave from that port.

The airlines that offer flights to the Islands are: LATAM, AVIANCA and TAME. (Keep in mind that all airlines can have delays or flight cancellation at any time and your travel or cruise itinerary may thus be affected)

If you have problems with your flight in Ecuador, either by cancellation or flight delay, check your rights here: Problems with your Flight in Ecuador

 
 

How do I travel between the Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal Islands?

Transport between islands: Transfers in speedboats (Ferry or Cabotage) and flights between islands. The islands in Galapagos that are habitable and you can stay are Santa Cruz, Isabela, San Cristóbal and Floreana.

The speedboats taking you from Santa Cruz to San Cristóbal, San Cristóbal to Santa Cruz and from Santa Cruz to Isabela. There is no way to do San Cristóbal to Isabela or viceversa.

Schedules and prices of the speedboats (Ferries or Cabotage):
USD 30 – Only one way / from one island to another with 2 hours of navigation. (You must have an extra USD 1.50 to pay for crossing into the speedboat from the dock).

IMPORTANT: Take pills for seasickness and try to sit in the rear side. The boats go fast, and the trip may get tiring. For this reason, some people rather end up cancelling the island tours that they have for the same day of arrival.

These are the only times that speedboats (Ferry or Cabotage) leave from one island to another and you must be 45 minutes in time before departure times in each dock: Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island), Puerto Villamil (Isla Isabela) and Puerto Baquerizo (San Cristóbal Island).

 

  • Santa Cruz – Isabela: 07h30 and 14h00
  • Santa Cruz – San Cristóbal: 07h00 and 14:00 PM
  • Isabela – Santa Cruz: 06h00 and 15h00
  • San Cristóbal – Santa Cruz: 07h00 and 15h00
  •  

    Book your speed boat from Santa Cruz to Isabela or San Cristóbal Island or a round trip.

    Those who are willing to travel to the Galapagos Islands by boat from Guayaquil should know that this 3-day-long trip is only dedicated to commercial purposes, and therefore not available for tourists.

    Domestic flights in the Galapagos Islands
    There are currently two airlines offering flights between the islands. Such airlines are: Fly Galápagos and Emetebe. You must keep in mind that your flight may get cancelled in case the aircraft lacks gasoline, so you are encouraged to check this with your airline beforehand.

     
     

    How much money do I need, and can I use credit cards to the Galapagos?

    The travel budget to the Galapagos will depend on which island you stay on, which day trip you take, how much you will spend on food, accommodation, etc,. I recommend that you bring 20, 10, 5, 1 dollar bills. Most establishment do not accept 100 or 50 dollar bills. Ecuador is a dollarized country, all cashiers will give you dollars.

    Budget for flights, taxes and transfers in the Galapagos:
    How much does the ticket cost to go to the Galapagos?
    USD 250 to 350 Airplane ticket for Ecuadorians (Round Trip) Airlines: LATAM – Avianca – TAME
    USD 350 to 500 Airplane ticket for Foreigners (Round Trip) Airlines: LATAM – Avianca – TAME

    How much do I have to pay in taxes to enter the Galapagos?
    USD 20 Migration Card / This must be paid at the airport in Guayaquil or Quito before checking in at the airline desk.
    USD 6 Entrance fee to the Galapagos National Park for Ecuadorians (This payment is made upon arrival at the Baltra or San Cristobal airports)
    USD 50 Entrance fee to the Galapagos National Park for those of the Mercosur or the Andean Community (Also paid upon arrival)
    USD 100 Entrance fee to the National Park for Foreigners Tourists (Also paid upon arrival)
    *Minors from 0 to 2 years old do not pay, and those aged 2 to 12 pay half the entrance fee to the National Park.
    USD 5 Income tax if you travel to the Isabela for Ecuadorians.
    USD 10 Income tax if you travel to the Isabela for foreigners.

    How much does it cost to get from the airports to the hotel?
    USD 5 Bus from the airport in Baltra to the dock / The buses are located outside the airport and they take you from the airport to the border cross to Santa Cruz.
    USD 1 Barge / You cross from Baltra dock to Santa Cruz. Once on the boat, try to seat towards the rear rows, so as to exit first.
    USD 5 Bus from the dock in Santa Cruz to Puerto Ayora / This bus takes about 45 minutes. On the way back, you must take the bus at the bus terminal which is near the town of Puerto Ayora. The buses leave at 7am, 7:40am, 8am and 8:40am
    USD 25 Taxi from the Itabaca port in Santa Cruz to your hotel in Puerto Ayora. (You can share with other 4 more people)
    USD 2 Taxi from the airport in San Cristóbal to your hotel in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

     

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    Budget for food and hotels in Galapagos
    USD 25 Food / Breakfast USD 5 – Lunch USD 5 – Dinner USD 15 (Most times, you won’t need to spend on lunch food as it is included in the tour fee)
    USD 25 Lodging / You can find hotels and hostels in Galapagos for about $ 25 per night, if you ask for a standard room. Please know that although you may be offered a more pricey room with a/c, we recommend that you go for the standard one, as a/c is only necessary between December and May, when heat is most unbearable.

    *It’s advisable to bring cash (dollars), because many tourist establishments do not accept credit card payments. ATMs are only available from in the Pacifico, Bolivariano and Pichincha banks, in the islands of Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal. Isabela has a Banecuador ATM, but it does not work always.

    IMPORTANT: If you take a lot of money and credit cards, ask at the hotel reception to keep your documents and money in a safe place. There have been some cases of theft and impersonation of credit cards that are still investigated as they were done. This doesn’t mean that the Islands are insecure, on the contrary, it’s the safest place in all of Ecuador.

     
     

    What to do on your own and which day trips leave from Santa Cruz Island?

    We recommend that you stay on Santa Cruz Island for about 5 days. See this Santa Cruz Island travel guide

    $50 USD – Taxi to the Upper (high) part of the Island
    The tour to the upper part is offered by taxis (white trucks) and they already know the route to go to Los Gemelos, Lava tunnels and Rancho El Escoito or Chato where the giant tortoises live. You can make this trip in about 2 or 3 hours and if you are accompanied, you can share the total cost of the taxi trip. The entrance fee to the Chato costs USD 5.

    $40 USD – Taxi to Playa Garrapatero (round trip – half day)
    This is a beach where you can do camping. You can take a taxi or rent a bicycle to get there. It’s about 25 KM from Puerto Ayora.

    This beautiful bay also has an area to do a B.B.Q as long as everything is left clean. You are recommended to be careful with certain bugs that may bother you, even when you’re in the sea, also depending on the season. Bring a good repellent.

    $45 USD – Bay tour
    A trip by boat to the surroundings of Santa Cruz Island, visiting La playa de los perros and Las grietas del amor, where you can do snorkeling or diving at the end of the walk. The water here is not as cold as in the rest of the island.

    FOR FREE – Playa Tortuga Bay
    This is one of the best beaches in all the Galapagos. There is a path that will take you to a 45 minute stroll. When you arrive at a beach of fine white sand, you must turn to the right, walking along the beach for about 10 minutes. Finally you will find a small path among mangroves, where Tortuga bay is. The water is calm, transparent, and not deep, so it’s ideal for visiting with children and for relaxing. Just be careful, the bay closes at 5pm.

    FREE – Playa de los Alemanes + Las grietas
    Las grietas are part of a volcanic fracture. To get there, you must take a water taxi at Puerto Ayora for $0.50 ctv and they will take you to the dock of Playa de los Alemanes. You can also enjoy this beach before going or after going to Las Grietas. Check if the tide is low, to make the most of your visit to this beach.

    The path to Las grietas is between rocks, as the roads of Galápagos used to be. The path passes through habited areas, where the first settlers of Santa Cruz live. It borders the salinas, remembering the traditional use of salt and reaching the impressive crack of crystalline waters.

     
     

    The best day trips from Santa Cruz Island:

    I will help you to find for availability in the following day trips that depart from Santa Cruz Island and you booking in advance in any of them:

    Tour to Santa Fe Island

    Santa Fe Island Galapagos

    Tour to Bartolome Island

    Bartolome Island Galapagos

    Tour to North Seymour Island

    North Seymour Island Galapagos

     

    Tour to Pinzon Island

    Pinzon Island Galapagos

    Tour South Plazas Island

    South Plazas Island Galapagos

    Tour Floreana Island

    Floreana Island Galapagos

     

    Santa Fe Island Galapagos
    This is one of our favourite islands! If you’re lucky enough, you may have the chance to swim near the sea lions.

    Bartolome Island Galapagos
    If you are in the Galapagos, you shouldn’t miss a trip to Bartolomé Island. In this place, with its incredible landscapes, you will have the feeling of being on another planet.

    Pinzon Island Galapagos
    Snorkeling here is done among sea lions, reef sharks known as blue sharks, manta rays and sometimes with Galapagos Penguins.

    North Seymour Island Galapagos
    A wonderful walk on a trail full of blue-footed boobies, frigates, land iguanas and sea lions.

    South Plazas Island Galapagos
    On this land you will walk and observe an outstanding diversity of birds, sea lions and iguanas. You can snorkel in Punta Carrión in turquoise waters and if you are lucky, you will see sharks and tropical fish.

    Floreana Island Galapagos
    This is the island that has the most stories of all, and also one of the two islands with their own freshwater slope. It has a galapaguera where you can be very close to giant tortoises. You can do snorkelling and even see the penguins, rays and sea lions swimming nearby.

    Daphne Major Island Galapagos
    Combine the adrenaline of experiential fishing with many hours of snorkeling in different places. The tour includes a visit to Borrero Bay, where you can do snorkelling or just relax on the sand.

    Chinese Hat Island Galapagos
    It’s an islet that has the shape of a Chinese hat. Its geological formation gives it a unique landscape with a great contrast of black lava and beaches of white sand and blue sea. Here you will see marine iguanas and sea lions. In the Snorkel in the Sullivan Bay you will have the opportunity to see penguins, sharks and a variety of tropical fish.

     
     

    Hotels on Santa Cruz Island

    I give to you a list of accommodation that I recommend, based on the data of travelers who we’ve helped to book the tours.

    Hostel Seymour

    Hostel Seymour

    Hotel Fiesta

    Hotel Fiesta

    Hotel España

    Hotel España

     

    Hostel Crossman

    Hostel Crossman

    Hotel Ninfa

    Hotel Ninfa

    Hostel Gardner

    Hostel Gardner

     

    Hotel La Isla

    Hotel La Isla

    Hostel Galapagos Morning Glory

    Hostel Galapagos Morning Glory

    Hostel Vista al Mar

    Hostel Vista al Mar

     
    More hotels in Santa Cruz: Here

     
     

    What to do on your own and which day trips leave from Isabela Island?

    I recommend staying at Isabela Island for about 3 days. See this Isabela Island travel guide

    USD 20 – Bicycle (full day)
    Get ready to explore Isabela Island on your own. You can rent a bicycle for the whole day and take a ride through the Wetlands: La Playita, Playa del Amor, El estero, Mirador and Muro de las Lágrimas. Later, you can chill a bit on the beach and grab a bite in the center. Also you can see the Turtle breeding center, which is open until 5pm and, a few meters away, is La laguna de los Flamingos.

    USD 60 – Tour to the Tintoreras
    This is a short tour (2 hours). Start the tour to an islet where you will see marine iguanas, sea lions and sharks, also dive with them.

    FOR FREE – Concha de Perla
    A place in Isabela where you can snorkel with a variety of fishes around and sea lions nearby. The water is very clear, so you can bring your own snorkel or rent it.

     
     

    The best day trips from Isabela Island:

    We will help you by checking availability in the following day trips that leave from Isabela Island and booking any of them in advance:

    Tour to Cabo Rosa Tunnels

    Tunnels Cabo Rosa Galapagos

    Tour to Sierra Negra Volcano

    Sierra Negra Volcano Galapagos

     

    Cabo Rosa Tunnels Galapagos
    This tour is great as you first go to a rock called ‘El cruce’, where you can see blue-footed birds, then you walk into to the tunnels for a few minutes and finish with a refreshing snorkelling through them. If you’re lucky, you may also see sharks.

    Sierra Negra Volcano Galapagos
    This is one of the few trekkings you can do in the Galapagos. A 5-hour hike to the second largest volcano on the islands, and part of the route will take you to reach the small volcano where you will feel as if out of this planet. Would you like to know more about this Tour to Sierra Negra Volcano.

     
     

    Hotels on Isabela Island

    I give to you a list of accommodation that I recommend, based on the data of travelers who we’ve helped to book the tours.

    Hostel Cerro Azul

    Hostel Cerro Azul

    Hostel Insular

    Hostel Insular

    Hostel Galapagos

    Hostel Galapagos

     

    The Wooden House Hotel

    The Wooden House Hotel

    Hospedaje Casa Soleil

    Hospedaje Casa Soleil

    Bed & breakfast Drake Inn

    Bed & breakfast Drake Inn

     

    Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel

    Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel

    Cormorant Beach House

    Cormorant Beach House

    Hotel Volcano

    Hotel Volcano

    More hotels in Isabela Island:here

     
     

    What to do by your own and which day trips leave from San Cristobal Island?

    We recommend staying at San Cristobal Island for about 4 days. See this San Cristobal Island travel guide

    FREE – Interpretation Center, Cerro Tijeretas, Playa Mann and Playa Punta Carola
    The route along the path starts when you cross the Interpretation Center (a place to learn about the history of the formation of the islands). On the same path you will also visit the Cerro Tijeretas, Mann beach and Punta Carola beach.

    FREE – Playa de la Loberia
    You must take a taxi that costs USD 3. It’s recommended that you reach an agreement with the taxi driver to pick you up and pay at the end (that agreement will set you at USD 10). You can also get back on foot, but it will take you around 45 minutes walking in the sun.

    USD 60 – Taxi (half day)
    It’s a half-day tour to go to the upper part of the island on your own. On this tour you can also visit: La casa del Ceibo, El Lago Junco, La Galapaguera and Playa Puerto Chino.
    * It’s recommended to hire a naturalist guide for the whole day to do this tour, who will take you to several places around.

     
     

    The best day trips that depart from San Cristobal Island:

    We will help you by checking availability for the following day trips that depart from San Cristóbal Island and booking any of them in advance:

    Tour to Kicker Rock

    Kicker Rock Galapagos

    Tour to Española Island

    Española Island Galapagos

     

    Click here - Tour to Punta Pitt

    Punta Pitt Galapagos

    360 Tour Galapagos

    360 Tour Galapagos

     

    Espanola Island Galapagos
    It’s the place where most of the 12,000 pairs of albatrosses in the world reproduce. Due to its aridity and lack of fresh water sources, it’s a paradise for seabirds.

    Punta Pitt Galapagos
    It’s located on the eastern edge of San Cristobal Island as a set of eroded volcanic cones and sparsely populated by endemic vegetation of the Islands. It’s the ideal place to a variety of marine birds nest lives, such as blue-footed boobies, masked, red-footed boobies, frigate birds and others.

    Kicker Rock Galapagos + One Optional Beach: Manglecito, Tortuga, Cerro brujo o Puerto grande
    Roca León Dormido or by its English name «Kicker Rock» is an uninhabited island located 30 minutes away from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno as a refuge for many seabirds as blue-footed boobies, as well as for sea lions. See more information about the trip to the León Dormido – Kicker Rock

    360 Tour San Cristobal Galapagos
    This tour involves the complete return to San Cristobal Island. Disembark from the Laguna de Rosa Blanca, then go fishing in Punta Pitt. After lunch, you will disembark in Sardina Bay where you can photograph the Cerro Brujo and end up doing snorkelling in the canal of León Dormido. See more trip information 360 ° Tour.

     
     

    Hotels on San Cristobal Island

    I give to you a list of accommodation that I recommend, based on the data of travelers who we’ve helped to book the tours.

    Casa Opuntia

    Casa Opuntia

    Dolphin House

    Dolphin House

    La Zayapa

    La Zayapa

     

    Hostel Gosén

    Hostel Gosén

    Hostel Tongo Reef

    Hostel Tongo Reef

    Galapagos Sunset Hotel

    Galapagos Sunset Hotel

     

    Arena Blanca Eco Hotel

    Arena Blanca Eco Hotel

    Galápagos Eco Friendly

    Galápagos Eco Friendly

    Casa de Jeimy

    Casa de Jeimy

    More hotels in San Cristobal:Here

     
     

    What is the best time to travel to the Galapagos Islands?

    The Galapagos are accessible all year round. The weather varies depending on the months. From November to June it’s very sunny, and from February to May it’s the rainy season, although the sun almost always comes out. July to October are the coldest months. September is the worst month of all, as the weather is cold with drizzle and it’s considered low season in the Galapagos. But in spite of the weather, life always goes on in the islands.

     

    BEST GALAPAGOS TRAVEL: ITINERARY AND BUDGET FOR SEEING THE BEST OF THE GALAPAGOS

     

     
     

    What should I bring in my backpag and what items can I enter to Galapagos?

    Consider the possibility of going on long walks, swimming, wet / dry areas and other physical activities. We recommend that you bring the following luggage list: comfortable walking shoes, sandals, light and short pants, t-shirts and long-sleeved shirts, jacket or lightweight waterproof, night sweater, small bag or backpack for walking (waterproof), swimsuit, socks, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, binoculars, camera and video, medication for dizziness (optional).

    Most of the operators take pictures with their own cameras in the day trips and you will need a pen drive to keep those photos or videos. The internet is terrible in the islands, so it will be difficult to receive the photos or videos in your email, wetransfer, google drive, etc.

    I made a list of some important things that you can buy in Amazon for your trip in Galapagos:

  • Snorkel Mask, buy traditional masks, because the fashion ones get away quickly and lose visibility..
  • Quick drying towels, the importance of having one of these towels because of its weight and how quickly it dries anywhere you shop.
  • Floating waterproof backpack and protector for your cell phone, that else you will use in a suitcase to carry things and case, so you can use your cellphone under the sea and make videos of the marine life of the Islands.
  • Thermal bottle, which will help you keep the water fresh for 24 hours and most hotels offer you free bottled water.
  •  

    It’s forbidden to bring animals, seeds, drone. To see the complete list Download Image 12

     
     

    Time zone in the Galapagos Islands

    It’s very important that you know the time difference you have between where you live and the Galapagos Islands GMT-6, so you can program your watch and cell phone while you’re traveling.

     
     

    ¡BEST GALAPAGOS CRUISE!

    If you are looking for a cruise that departs from Santa Cruz Island, we can help you check for availability for the dates you plan to go. We work directly with the cruise providers: Archipel I, Odyssey, Solaris, Seaman, The Beagle, Samba and Golondrina.

    Last minute Galapagos cruise prices can vary between USD 1300 to USD 3000; everything will depend on the number of days you want to take, the itinerary and the category of the cruise.

    Check Availability

     
     

    The video that will make you fall in love with Galapagos


     

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    Galapagos Travel Guide: Cruise, Tours, Last minute deals

    @ChokoEc

    @ChokoEc

    My name is Christian but you came call me Choko. Together with my wife we have created this blog to help all travelers going to Galapagos 🐢🦀🐧🐬 🐦🦎 I am from Ecuador, born in Guayaquil. Passionate about traveling and everything related to social media. In my free time I travel the americas. I have given conferences and workshops revolving around my work and tourism 2.0 // WRITE ME USING WHATSAPP: +593978990910 - 🇪🇨 BLOG IN SPANISH chokotrip.info

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