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Looking for some help in planning my Galapagos trip

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
87 posts
18 reviews
Looking for some help in planning my Galapagos trip

Hello fellow travelers,

I desperately need some help/guidance in planning a trip for my spouse and I to the Galapagos on a budget.

We are both between 30-35, experienced travelers, love wildlife and nature (in the wild), enjoy activities (light hiking, snorkeling, etc.) but also enjoy relaxing on a beach and swimming. I personally enjoy off the beaten path and exploration kind of trips where my spouse has asked for a more relaxed vacation than what we are used to so after some research I believe the Galapagos is the perfect balance between the two (not to mention I have dreamed of always travelling here). The problem I am finding in my searches for trips is the price, I completely understand why the price is so high and that if I booked the boat when I arrived or did land based travel I would save significantly but I want to do something different for this trip and book the boat in advance because we have limited time for travel and would hate to be disappointed if we couldn't find anything.

We would like to travel for up to 10 days leaving between April 13-16, 2017 to optimize on the Easter holiday (which I am sure many others are doing as well). We may or may not do some extra stays on one of the islands or back on the main land.

Main Question: Can anyone recommend a company that offers trips to the Galapagos (international flights not included) that is respectable and reasonably priced. My ideal budget is $2000 CAD a person or less (I know its low). I am not particular on what islands we visit but would like to go on a tour where we can see of the famous penguins of the area.

Thank You in advance for any guidance or help.

Los Angeles...
2 posts
1 review
1. Re: Looking for some help in planning my Galapagos trip

Just my two cents, me and my boyfriend (34 years old and seeking adventure + leisure) did the land based trip in December for 10 days (5 on Santa Cruz, 5 on Isabella) and booked all of our excursions/tours while on the island. If money is your concern, I would do a half land/half boat trip. Spend a day or so on Santa Cruz. Then sign up for a 2-3 day cruise to the surrounding islands. Our 10 days, (spent roughly $1700 on hotels and $400 on excursions), was packed full but we were still disappointed we missed out on Darwins Cove and Volcan Wolf (which is only accessible by a boat tour). We booked a tour from Pahoehoe travel agency while on Isabella island and they seemed pretty established and were recommended by other travel advisor folks. Side note: We saw penguins on Isabella Island. They were at Concha de Perla while we snorkeled. The only thing we didnt see that I desperately wanted to was the hammerhead sharks.

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
87 posts
18 reviews
2. Re: Looking for some help in planning my Galapagos trip

Thank You ArchiKaren for the travel advice, I really appreciate it, based on your advice and what I am finding online for prices I think a land/boat mix option is our best option to ensure we stay within budget. I have a few follow-up questions:

-How did you travel to the islands and between the islands?

-Where did you stay when on the islands (or do you have a trip report I could read?)

-The excursions you booked were only day excursions right? Did you notice if there was a lot of availability to book 2-3 day boat tours from the islands or main lands when you were there and how much they were? (I am concerned with not being able to get a boat tour after travelling so far considering we are travelling during the busy Easter break)

-Was the $1700 you spent USD dollars and was this per person or for both of you?

-How easy is it to get around the island and what type of activities did you do on the islands?

-What kind of excursions did you do?

-Did you fly directly to the islands or land on the mainland first and than book a flight to the island?

-Any other tips or advice?

Sorry for all the questions, I know I ask a lot but I just want to make this trip really great for my spouse and I and different from our usual backpacking trips.

-

Los Angeles...
2 posts
1 review
3. Re: Looking for some help in planning my Galapagos trip

No problem at all! Advice: Brush up on your spanish and pull lots of cash from the ATM in Santa Cruz. Hardly anyone speaks english and no one takes credit cards.

You have to fly into Guayaquil or Quito airport first. We flew into Guayaquil and then to Baltra Island. From there you take a ferry to Santa Cruz Island. (It's overwhelming but worth it. My boyfriend started humming the Jurassic Park theme song when we got on the ferry and it was very appropriate).

We stayed at Cucuve Suites in Santa Cruz and it was absolutely amazing. I highly recommend. The $1700 was total cost for 2 people. On Santa Cruz island we visited the Darwin Institute and spent a day at Tortuga Bay beach.

The day before we went to Isabella island we purchased our boat tickets from Moonrise travel. It was $30 USD per person for a 2 hour boat ride, and boats leave to and from Isabella only twice a day. Isabella island is far less developed than Santa Cruz, but our hotel (Casita de la Playa) was nice and right on the beach. Honestly, all of the hotels right on the beach looked nice so you cant lose here. If you go to Isabella be mindful that NO ONE takes credit cards and there is NO ATM on the island. Bring enough cash for your boat ride back, excursions, food, etc.

On Isabella we rented bikes and explored the highlands. We walked to the tortoise rescue where we saw pink flamingos, the manzanilla mangroves, and the iguana crossing along the way. We bought a day tour of Volcan Sierra Negra $40 per person and a snorkeling tour of Los Tunneles $95 per person where we saw white tip sharks, tortoises, blue footed boobies, penguins, and (shocker!!) two orcas. We also rented snorkeling gear and walked to Concha de Perla where we saw penguins, starfish, and sea lions.

We saw lots of places advertising day and short trips to other islands. A day trip to Tortuga Island was around $125, I think a day trip to Bartolome was $100. I didnt check prices for the 2-3 day trips. The good thing is that all of the travel agencies pretty much sell the same trips and excursions. So if you are able to book your 2-3 day trip in advance, the same company can likely book all of your excursions, hiking, snorkeling trips for you too. We went mid December and had no problem with availability, hopefully someone that's been in April can give you more input. I have a feeling we went right before the Christmas rush.

Ottawa, Canada
Destination Expert
for Galapagos Islands
Level Contributor
3,582 posts
19 reviews
4. Re: Looking for some help in planning my Galapagos trip

Dear Mallory,

don't forget to factor in the flight from the mainland (apx. US$500 / person) and the park entrance fee / transit control card (US$120 per person).

You might want to consider holding off a few years, and saving up (and waiting for the $CAD to strengthen a little?). You have to ask yourself if it's worth going all the way there to spend time on a beach, spending time in towns etc...). The TOP QUESTIONS on the upper right hand side of this page (on computer screens at least) will have a lot more info for you.

Warmest regards (from snowy / slushy Ottawa!),

Heather Blenkiron

Glasgow, United...
Level Contributor
63 posts
149 reviews
5. Re: Looking for some help in planning my Galapagos trip

I'm planning a trip in May/June and don't want to pay the price of a 5 day boat cruise. I hoped to stay between the islands and do day trips from them, but I'm concerned I will miss so much by doing this. Is it still worth seeing the islands this way or will I miss out on so much. I intend to spend about 12 days there. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

Level Contributor
9 posts
12 reviews
6. Re: Looking for some help in planning my Galapagos trip

See my post (right after yours). You and your spouse sound similar to us - but we're going in March.

Unless April is high season then if you both are flexible then by many accounts you can more-or-less wing it. I'm looking for recommendations on good, clean budget hotels. The ferries sound very difficult but flying between the islands also sounds way expensive.

Let's keep each other informed on this site of what we find. I'm going to try and find some volunteer opportunities to get close to wildlife.

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Quito, Ecuador
Level Contributor
11,342 posts
101 reviews
7. Re: Looking for some help in planning my Galapagos trip

The two of you would probably benefit from reading the Top Questions on the right. In particular, check the one titled "Should I take a cruise...?" then click on "Cheaper Options" and "A Trip Report..."

You can find discounted cruises here http://www.galapagoscruiselinks.com/

Glasgow, United...
Level Contributor
63 posts
149 reviews
8. Re: Looking for some help in planning my Galapagos trip

Sounds like a good idea, will keep in touch

Glasgow, United...
Level Contributor
63 posts
149 reviews
9. Re: Looking for some help in planning my Galapagos trip

Thanks for your reply

Glasgow, United...
Level Contributor
63 posts
149 reviews
10. Re: Looking for some help in planning my Galapagos trip

Hi, any help appreciated. It looks like I will have 14 days on the islands, hoping to stay on Santa Cruz, Isabella and San cristobel. Is it easy to get a boat to San cristobel. Also, what island should I stay longer on, what has more to offer in terms of sightseeing on island and trips from island. Thanks.

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