Expenses in the Galapagos Islands (23 days of travel)

We travelled in the Galapagos Islands between the 29th of August and the 20th of September 2017. In total we spend 23 days travelling WITHOUT our two motorcycles visiting Isla Santa Cruz, Isla Isabela and Isla San Christobal. All our expenses are included in the overview in this post. Every penny we have spend together or for personal use are included except my (Camilla) birthday present. We are aware that we might have forgotten to add few expenses during our travel – nobody is perfect. We didn’t have a budget on Galapagos, but was still trying to live cheap, and spend money on nature and activities, which we knew would be expensive.

In total we spend 5,995.16 USD on Galapagos, which calculates into 260.66 USD per day. We spend 2400 USD on a PADI Open Water and PADI Open Water Advanced course. If you don’t include the diving course, we spend 3,595.16 USD, which calculates into 156,3 USD per day. We use an app called TOSHL FINANCE (https://toshl.com), which we could customize to our travel expenses. We decided to buy TOSHL PRO for 19.99 USD (https://toshl.com/pricing/) which gives us access to an online account where all the pictures are from.

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Overview for our stay on the Galapagos – Major expenses for transport, accommodation and activities are marked with red

Day 1: Arrived on the 29th of August at Baltra airport from Quito (878 USD for a return ticket for the both of us). Bus to Puerto Ayora (2 USD per person), check in at Galapagos Best Hostel (6 nights for 144 USD found it on Airbnb). Had some drinks in town. Taxi to the airport in Quito 20 USD. At Baltra Airport we paid 20 USD per person in immigration and 100 USD per person for entry fee at Galapagos National Park.Day 2 (30/8): Rented bicycles (12 UDS per bicycle per day) and rode all the way to Chato Ranch, saw giant tortoises and walked through the 400 meter long lava tunnel (free). Dinner at Los Kiosko with friends.Day 3 (31/8): Snorkel tour to Santa Fee (100 USD per person): swam with sea lions and were lucky to see a humpback whale on the way back.Day 4 (1/9): Camilla’s birthday, went shopping for a birthday present, visiting the Darwin Research Center (free) and had all you can eat sushi at Midori with friends.Day 5 (2/9): Rebooked our planetickets (in total 56 USD) and booked PADI diving course (1200 USD per person). Made postcards to family and friends.Day 6 (3/9): Hike to Las Grietas with friends (free + 1 USD per person for boat transfer). Went to Tourtuga bay and rented kayaks (10 USD per person). Saw many turtles and took pictures of stingrays but didn’t see them while snorkeling.Day 7 (4/9): Transport by boat to Isabela (30 USD per persons). Walked to breeding center and saw a few flamingos on our way (free). 4 nights at a hotel including breakfast 180 USD.Day 8 (5/9): Rented bicycles (15 USD per person per day) and rode to “The wall of tears” (free). Lunch with marine Iguanas and took many pictures.Day 9 (6/9): Snorkeling at Las Tuneles (115 USD per person).Day 10 (7/9): Hiking trip to Sierra Negra (35 USD per person).Day 11 (8/9): Tzunami warning in the middle of the night. Flew to San Cristobal (120 USD per person). Camilla did not get sick. Grocery shopping and meeting out host Dario, were we would stay the next 4 days (4 night for 96 USD found it on Airbnb).Day 12 (9/9): Reading all morning for PADI Open Water course. Walking around town (free). Visited the Interpretative Center at San Christobal (free). Watching sealions at playa Mann (free). Meeting up with two travelers (Kathlyn and Domique) exchanging travel information for Columbia and Peru.Day 13 (10/9): Reading all morning for PADI Open Water course. Bicycle (half day 7,5 USD per person) trip to Casa de Tarzan in El Progreso.Day 14 (11/9): Reading all morning for PADI Open Water course. Walking to the beaches north of San Christobal: Playa Mann, Playa Punta Carola and Bahia Tijeretas, we went snorkeling a little bit, because the water was really could (free). Watching sealions at playa Mann (free).Day 15 (12/9): Reading all morning for PADI Open Water course. Boat to Santa Cruz (30 USD per person). 8 nights at Galapagos Best Hostel for 192 USD – negotiated the price with the owner, before we left to Isla Isabela.Day 16 (13/9): Theory (watching videos for the PADI Open Water) and diving in pool.Day 17 (14/9): Diving at Seymour Fonodeadero and Mosqueras.Day 18 (15/9): Day of and we spend it on reading and a small theory class for dive times a different depths.Day 19 (16/9): Diving at Seymour La Punta and El Canal. A small theory class for deep diving.Day 20 (17/9): Diving at Gordon Rocks, deep water diving, A small theory class for navigation underwater.Day 21 (18/9): Diving at Seymour La Punta, Daphne Menor and a training dive with navigation. Dinner: eating empanadas with Karen from England.Day 22 (19/9): Relaxing and walking around Puerto Ayora.Day 23 (20/9): flying back to Quito in the morning. Taxi from the airport to Quito 25 USD.

We travelled by boat from Santa Cruz to Isabela and by airplane from Isabela to San Christobal

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Trying not to over expend we have tried to follow these basic rules (The Galapagos edition)

  1. Travel in the Galapagos in low season. Finding cheaper accommodation on Airbnb. Because it is low season some hostels or hotels put rooms up for sale on Airbnb to rent them out. The room we rented at Galapagos Best Hostel was a private room with private bathroom, king size bed, a refrigerator and a small kitchen. Usually the price is 56 USD per night, but we got it for 24 USD a night. This time we used Airbnb.com a lot. On Isla Isabela we booked a hotel in advanced, but we think that due to low season, we could just have walked around and asked for a good deal at the many accommodations that were half empty. A lot of places on Airbnb have discounts if you stay 7 nights or more, so remember to check that out.
    Airbnb on San Christobal:

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  • Going on tours. We always asked for 5-10 USD discount when booking a tour, sometimes you can save money by booking the night before if there is available seats. When you go on a tour make sure that they have gear in your size (I am small and on one of our tours, they didn’t have fins in mine or Esbens size) and try the wetsuit before, it has to be tight! We preferred the long 5 mm wetsuits. We had borrowed snorkeling gear from our friends in Quito, which is great because we didn’t had to spend money on renting the gear. At this time of year the water around the Galapagos is cold (16-21 Celsius), so snorkeling for more than 15-20 minutes at a time was not possible for us.
  • Cook our own food. It is cheap to eat at the small food stands (one empanada 1 USD) by the road, but it is still cheaper if you cook your own meals and hopefully more healthy. Everything is expensive in the Galapagos, but buy local produce. Fish is cheap and we ate a lot of fresh tuna. When you buy a snack, just buy one and share (do you really need one each?), you never know if it is good, and you can always buy another one after the first one. When you have the opportunity to cook fresh produce the cheapest place the go grocery shopping is at the local markets (Mercado), where you can by pretty much everything. Meat is more expensive, so buy 100-125 grams per person per meal. You can also replace meat with eggs or cheese (the local fresh cheese), which is cheaper. Tuna steak:

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  • Pick the right activities and tours. Pick the ones which are the most important for you. Depending on the season, when you are traveling on the Galapagos, you will see different things. It is really important that you read about the wildlife before booking a tour, because the agencies will not tell you the truth. The agencies will say “YES” to anything you ask them. We try to explore areas by hiking and renting bicycles on Galapagos, bringing our own lunch, because is it way cheaper than going on a day tour. A lot of places on the Galapagos you have to hire a guide. Explore the towns and cities by walking around, and don’t spend money on expensive tours fx segway tours. A taxi inside the city limit is only 1,5 USD one way.
  • Tour to “Los Tuneles” including all gear. Dinner: homemade tuna burger 

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    Categories for the expensesOverview of how we have spend the 5,995.16 USD on Galapagos. We have used the same categories for Galapagos as in Columbia, Central America and Mexico. Our expenses have been allocated into 12 categories, using a few extra categories “Clothing and Footwear” and “Gifts” which includes a new cap for Esben and a gift to some friends. We had 22 night in the Galapagos spending 28 USD per night in average on accommodation, which is really good. Transport is a big part of the expenses, but we had to get out there. If you are lucky you can find an airplane return ticket for 300 USD (we paid 440 USD). The airplane tickets were expensive, and we chose to fly from Isla Isabela to Isla San Cristobal spending 240 USD for the both of us, instead of using the hole day doing two boat rides in high sea (120 USD for the both of us). The PADI scuba diving course 2400 USD for the both of us. Spending 24 USD per day on food and drink including restaurants, alcohol, snack etc. Everything (almost) is paid in cash on the Galapagos, so getting cash from the ATM cost us 117 USD in fees.

    Galapagos for 260.66 USD per day

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    All the categories have subcategories (called Tags), which makes it possible for us to get a more detailed overview of the expenses within the different categories. In the top each picture you have the total amount of expenses in the category, and underneath you have the amount of expenses allocated into the subcategories.

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    In total we are satisfied of how we spend our money on the Galapagos. The diving was a late minute decision, but we wouldn’t have been without it – it was amazing. In general diving in the Galapagos is expensive, and we only had to spend a little bit extra to get the PADI certificate instead of spending money on “discovery dives” (non-certified diving). It is all about keeping track for your expenses so you don’t overspend and spend money on the things that are important to you. If you have any question, we will be happy to answer.By the way… next time we visit the Galapagos (we hope that we will get the change to go back) we will choose a different season, when the sea is not rough and we can enjoy a cruise without I am being seasick all the time. December and May should be good month for both a cruise and diving. We had an amazing trip, and still got the see the Galapagos by Island jumping.


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