Guest bloggers Illia and Nastia from Crazzzy Travel share their best Galapagos travel tips for saving money on food, accommodations, and tours on the beautiful islands.
Note from Vanessa: Hi everyone! We're so proud to feature this guest blog post from our friends Illia and Nastia. We haven't been to this part of the world but we know that many of you are dreaming about it (as are we!) We're so happy we can share these Galapagos travel tips from some real travel pros so we can all get a grasp on what to expect in terms of Galapagos travel cost predictions. Happy planning and dreaming!
There is a common misconception that Galapagos Islands are an extremely expensive place to go. To a certain degree it is true. However, you can considerably cut your costs on accommodation, food, and tours. Galapagos budget travel IS possible! Here are some tips which will help you to save big and go to Galapagos Islands on your next vacation.
Galapagos Budget Accommodations
Accommodations are a major factor in any Galapagos travel cost estimate. Hotels and guest houses are pretty expensive. The cost varies from $50 to $200, depending on the number of stars. Nevertheless, you can stay in a very decent place for no more than $25, if you rent an apartment. The only short term rental service functioning on Galapagos Islands is Airbnb. (Note from Vanessa: It's well worth investing in a copy of Lonely Planet's Galapagos' guidebook to get the full run down on the pros and cons of each budget hotel)
For $20-$25 per night you can stay in an apartment with a double bed, well-equipped kitchen, small patio, living room, and dining area. Towns are really small on Galapagos islands, so no matter where your apartment is located the beach is within the walking distance. Avoiding Galapagos hotel beach locations is a great way to save money because truly nothing is that far away.
It is worth mentioning that apartment rentals are available only on developed islands, such as Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isabela. If you want to stay overnight on scarcely populated island, such as Floreana, you will have to stay in local family-run guesthouses, a night in which cost $35-$50.
Inside the Galapagos Food Scene
The majority of tourists eat in harbor area restaurants, which is a huge mistake, since food there is both expensive and not fresh. For true Galapagos food specialties, we highly recommend restaurants for locals. These restaurants are usually located around stadiums and vegetable markets.
They are open from 11 am to 3 pm for lunch and after 7 pm for dinner. Lunch (almuerzo) costs $4-$5 and consists of a soup, a glass of juice, rice, beans, ceviche, fish or meat, and some vegetables. The portions are large, so we usually took one almuerzo for two of us. We highly recommend trying ceviche on Isabela island: it is prepared from locally caught octopuses.
For dinner try crayfish, also at a restaurant for locals. Depending on a specific dish, the price should vary from $8 to $12, also quite a reasonable price for such exotic food. Complete your dinner with a coconut milk, bought for $1 from a cart on your way home.
Note from Vanessa: To save money - and the environment - we recommend traveling with a LifeStraw water bottle. Ours looks just like this one. It naturally filters 99.99% of waterborne bacteria.
Touring For Less: Seeing the Galapagos without a tour group
Of all our Galapagos travel tips, our best is to see things as independently as possible. If you want to travel from island to island (so-called island hopping), take a ferry. Galapagos ferries operate on a flat rate basis, $30 to travel in one direction from island to island. An average trip takes around 2 hours. Ferry rides are extremely bumpy, so make sure to take “marea” pills with you!
Once you are on an island, just walk around to ask drivers if they can take you to the destination you want (for example, to the giant turtle farm or a famous volcano). We had an excellent tour by a taxi driver around all Santa Cruz for just $35 (we bargained hard). On Isabella you can walk yourself to flamingo lake, turtle farm, and all major surfing points, so there is little merit to hire a driver unless you want to go to the volcanos. If you want to save even more, it makes sense to join the tourist groups by just asking the bus driver to let you sit next to him (tip of $2-$5 is always welcomed).
Note from Vanessa: You can see a great list of the top Galapagos attractions here.
Next time you travel to Galapagos islands, do not overpay! Remember you can get cozy lodging, delicious food, and breathtaking tours for quite a reasonable price!
Illia and Nastia are passionate about each other, traveling around the world and sharing their experiences at crazzzytravel.com, a blog where you can find plenty of budget travel tips as well as practical information about numerous destinations. They have already been to 42 countries on 5 continents and ain’t no stopping. Visit their website to learn more about backpacking in the US or check their latest story about how they chased the Argentinian clown (who stole their iPhone in Bolivia) with the help of Peruvian police
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