A trip to the Galapagos is in every sense the journey that you do once in your life , a bit for distance , the flight can take up to 35 hours , a bit for the high costs , which make it a destination for the elite and the few , a trip to this magical archipelago is worth it all but you have to be prepared.
I spent many months in the islands giving me the opportunity to discover them all , so my point of view goes beyond the seven days on a cruise but is instead based on a deep knowledge of the area just like that of the local people.
That is why I have drawn up a series of useful information for anyone who wants to go or is thinking about going to the Galapagos but does not know where to start from .
If you are interested in organizing a trip to the Galapagos by putting your trust in the local operators, write to me ! On this page you can find more information on how I can help you .
How much does a flight to the Galapagos Islands cost ( and a simple trick to pay less )
A flight to the Galapagos Islands from Europe costs around € 1000/1300 per person round trip. I know, it’s expensive , but it’s an honest price . Just thinks that to fly to Ecuador and then from there to the islands, this domestic flight alone would cost about $ 450/470 per person.
From the States it could vary from $1000 till $1500, flying to baltra Airport.
An advice I give to those who want to visit the islands and are not interested in Ecuador is to search directly for the Galapagos Islands ( Baltra ) and not buy the two flights separately. Basing on my experience, in the end the cost is equivalent to that for Ecuador only, with the difference that there is no need to pay an additional $ 450 per person afterwards.
To check and compare prices , as always, I recommend Skyscanner : Cheap Flights to the Galapagos
Cruise VS Islands Hopping
This depends on what you want and expect from this trip . There is no better way to visit the islands , it is certainly a different way to discover the archipelago .
The pros of the cruise is that you can get to some islands that you would not otherwise be able to with the tours on land .
The pro of a Galapagos Islands Hopping stands in the total customization and the possibility to vary the attractions , which means more flexibility.
The costs are a little higher if you want to take part in a cruise , moreover in their itineraries, the days of arrival and departure , in which nothing much is done, are paid in full , therefore, in truth often a journey of five days is really only 3 days .
If you want to know more about how to organize a trip to the Galapagos Islands click here.
Is it true that you have to pay the entrance fee to the National Park ?
Yes you do and the entrance fee is $ 100 per person, children up to 12 will pay $50 and residents in Ecuador $6.
Things can change so make sure you check the galapagos National park fees on their official website before arriving to the airport.
Besides the $ 100 must be paid in cash the moment you go through passport control . There are no ATM nor any possibility to pay by credit card , so it is peremptory to have $ 100 with oneself .
At the payment of $100 the tourist label card, to be jealously treasured until the day of departure from the islands, will be issued.
Do I need to book in advance a trip the Galapagos?
It is highly recommended as it is very unwise to arrive on the islands and then try to do everything there if you only have a few days at hand. This is especially true during the high season. The Galapagos are a protected national park, this means that most of the archipelago cannot be visited independently but it is compulsory to have a guide and to take part in tours authorized by the Park.
Moreover, places on the boats are limited, there are only a few boats that can navigate in those waters therefore once the places run out, it is impossible to find alternative boats. It doesn’t exist, nor contemplated, the possibility to be accompanied by fishing boats.
About the reason for these limitations, the answer is simple. In 2007 the islands experienced a black moment in their history precisely because of unregulated tourism. The flora and fauna were dying and so, in urgency, the borders were closed and prices were raised in order to prevent the arrival of too many people and to limit the damage that man, because , it is so, does.
Since then, the Galapagos Islands have become one of the most expensive destinations in the world. But the prize that is won only once here is the uniqueness of the scenarios and above all, the animal life, in particular marine, that has no match in the world.
How early need one book for the Galapagos ?
The ideal would be at least three months before your arrival, as soon as it is the better . In last minute there is the risk of not finding any place and literally to make a wasted trip.
This applies especially if you have only a few days available and hence cannot be flexible with the dates to be able to coordinate everything in a different way . Managing on a period of 10 days is different than having to do it if one has only 5.
What is the best time to visit the Galapagos?
This is a question I’m often asked and which I find difficult to answer, for one simple reason, the islands are ideal for visiting 12 months a year. But the seasons are in any case only 2: Hot and cold.
The hot season is from December to May, the cold one from June to November.
Both have their pros.
If in fact, during the cold season and of garua (a thin rain) the sky is often overcast, temperatures are around 25 degrees, and to get into the water the wetsuit is put on, on the other hand, these marine conditions are ideal for observing marine life that thanks to the currents and to the cold water, allows the animals to stay more towards the water surface.
The hot season instead, presents a bit of drowsiness from this point of view but it is also true that the sky is always blue and the sun practically shines always.
After getting to know the islands in both the seasons the month that I really like is: April.
This month marks the end of the hot season and at the same time the water begins to warm up, but you still swim without a wetsuit.
Even the scenarios and landscapes vary greatly between the two seasons. In the cold one the scenario is almost spectral, which is well suited to the book The curse of the Giant Tortoise: Tragedies, crimes and mysteries in the Galapagos Islands (Galapagos Islands Series Book 1)
In that of the hot season instead, the nature is lush and green.
Again in this case … I like both and I find it difficult to say if one is better than the other.
How to choose the right itinerary? And how much does a trip to the Galapagos cost?
If you want to travel in a cruise, the itineraries are always the same: South, North and West.
- The itinerary South covers the following islands: San Cristobal, Santa Fe, Espanola and Floreana.
- The route North covers the following islands: Santiago, Bartolome, Rabid, North Seymour and Genovesa
- The itinerary West covers the following islands: Isabela and Fernandina
The cost of the cruise obviously depends on the type of boat, economic or luxury.
Regarding the islands hopping, things change, the plans are customizable, but in principle, a serious and well done itinerary should cover as many uninhabited islands as possible (that have incisive costs but they are those that make the Galapagos what they are) keeping in mind that each of them should let you see as many different animals as possible.
The price, in this case depends on the number of islands that you visit and of course from the hotel category (whose prices, we specify, are about 4 times higher for the same category, than those of Ecuador).
What currency has the Galapagos ? Convenient to change the euro or the pound?
The currency of Ecuador and thence of the Galapagos is the US dollar . It is not recommended to change in the islands , the exchange rate there is bad , so leave with dollars or draw money at one of the ATMs of Santa Cruz or San Cristobal . Remember that there are no ATMs nor banks on Isabela Island.
What to pack for a trip to the Galapagos ?
We’re on the equator so the temperature never falls below 20 degrees . In fact, a sweater for the evening is good to have . Here is a checklist of things to take along:
- Mask and fins ( especially if you are going to stay for quite a long time so as to avoid the rental )
- Flashlight for subterranean tunnels
- Flip flops
- Walking shoes
- Solar cream ( put it on even if the sky is overcast , because the sun beats equally)
- Comfortable trousers for walking
- Adaptor for American plug ( with the two parallel bars just to make you understand )
- Pills for seasickness
For the rest, know that Puerto Ayora , Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and Puerto Villamil are inhabited towns where you can find everything , so do not worry , there’s wifi , there are shops and supermarkets .
I travel independently taking mainly public transport. A world trip began in 2011 is not yet finished, my mission is to explore the world and write about it. Travel consultant Galapagos, Argentina, Morocco, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Namibia.