Friday, August 31, 2012

How Affordable is the Galapagos Islands?

  In January of this year, my husband and I visited Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.  Most people that visit the Galapagos Islands take a boat cruise but we decided to do the land route.  We based ourselves out of Santa Cruz Island and visited a couple of other islands by speedboat.  We also spent 3 nights in Guayaquil, Ecuador and 1 night in Panama City.  Our night in Panama City is a choice we made while booking our flight.  With Copa Airlines, we had a stopover in Panama City and we had the choice of deciding how long we wanted our stopover to be.  We ended up deciding to do an overnight stopover since it was our first time in Panama City and we wanted to do a little sight-seeing.
  In future posts I will delve more into our Ecuador trip but in this post I wanted to focus on financial information.  I also want to share how we came up with our trip and how we were able to financially make it happen.  For the longest time it had been my dream to visit the Galapagos Islands but I really never thought it would become a reality.  For some reason I had it in my head that the Galapagos were extremely expensive to visit.  I believed that airfare would be thousands of dollars and that the only way to see the Islands was by boat which would also be thousands of dollars.  The latter is is expensive to see the Islands by boat. 
  Now originally my husband and I had our sights set on visiting Buenos Aires in January 2012.  I saw that flights out of Chicago wavered around $1,500-2,000 for January.  Spending $3,000 alone on transportation was not in our budget so I began researching other options in South America.  Brazil and and Chile both had similar price ranges as Buenos Aires.  Then one day I stumbled upon Guayaquil, Ecuador.  We booked our roundtrip flights from Chicago to Guayaquil (with an overnight stop in Panama City) for $597 a person. Then we booked our roundtrip flights from Guayaquil to Isla Baltra, Galapagos for $302 a person.  We were getting two flights each for $1,000 a person compared to Buenos Aires flights that were over $1,500 a person.
  I have seen many Galapagos packages that travel companies have put together.  I have nothing against these packages but sometimes I wonder how they calculate the costs per person.  One recent package I saw was $2,500 per person for airfare out of Miami, 3 nights in Quito, and 3 nights on a boat in the Galapagos.  I'm sure this is a perfectly nice package but it would have been too expensive for my husband and I.  Plus, our trip was 9 nights instead of 6 nights.  Moving forward with our partial trip breakdown....there are 2 additional fees that foreign visitors have to pay when they go to the Galapagos.  The first fee is a $10 visitor fee and the second fee is a $100 park entrance fee.  All of our hotels had hot, running water, air conditioning and private bathrooms.  Our 9 nights of hotels totaled about $580.  Granted it does cost more to stay on a boat in the Galapagos.
  The total that we paid per person for 2 airfares, hotel costs (divided by two), and entrance fees was about $1,300.  This does not include food, drinks, and activities.
  Hopefully this post has put a little perspective on the costs to visit the Galapagos.  Does it seem a little more affordable for interested visitors?  Are you interested in visiting the Galapagos?

     A view from the shore of Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

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