Do You Need A Tour In The Galapagos Islands?
There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that you will be told by everyone that in order to do the Galapagos Islands, you need to be on a tour. They will offer you the choice of a 4 day, 5 day, or 8 day tour. Galapagos Islands Tours are the most common way to do the islands, but doing so will eat up a huge chunk of your budget. There is another way.
Though I cannot personally vouch for taking a cargo boat, I had many people tell me that it is possible. It is not typically recommended, and most sites will even say that it isn’t cost efficient. The word from other travelers was that it was cheaper, your call. This site explains the options to get there.
The most common way to get there is to fly from Guayaquil. Many people fly from Quito, stopping over in Guayaquil and to be honest, that’s not a bad bet. Guayaquil is a rough, large city, where people have stories of being held up at gunpoint by taxi drivers.
You will fly into Santa Cruz. The airport is a little ways out of town (a long ways really) but don’t fret, everyone is going to the same place, so you should be able to find someone to share a ride, there may even be a bus there.
Once you get into the main town of Puerto Ayora you will be able to find a hostel. You might have to look around a bit, but even in the high season you should be able to find one for $15-$20 no problem, $10 if you look hard.
Now that you’re settled, you can wander around Santa Cruz. You can find the tortoises in the highlands (on a day tour) or in the Darwin Research Center, as well as marine iguanas, pelicans and sea lions around the island, especially if you check out the fish market. Go snorkelling at Tortuga bay beach and you’ll see sea turtles and perhapds white tip sharks, sea lions and marine iguanas in the water. Las Grietas is a really cool swimming hole that takes a bit of work to get to but is well worth the trouble.
Taking the boat to Isabela is a great way to get deeper into the Galapagos and away from the city. Isabela is much more quaint, has some surf, and a great lagoon and beaches to hang around. You’ll find tons of Marine Iguanas, lava lizards, and maybe the odd penguin, or flamingo. On Isabela no one will serve you food between breakfast and lunch, so plan accordingly and don’t go hungry around 10am (it sucks, you can’t even bribe anyone into making you food).
San Cristobal is the only other island where you can stay, and is a little further but has its own unique charm with beaches and surf as well. The Galapagan Animals are abundant here as well.
Each of the three islands will offer opportunities for day cruises to other islands. Seeing Blue Footed Boobies and Frigate birds are a must, and if you get a chance to see Flightless Cormorants and Albatrosses then hop on it.
Stay longer, and go deeper. Instead of being on a cruise where people just hop on and off islands. You can check out many things on your own, and get day cruises to many of the other islands… which will be way easier on your wallet. Furthermore, if you decide that you do want to go for a 4 day, 5 day or 8 day cruise, you easily find places available while your on the island, and they’ll be much cheaper. Be strong, and look past all the people that tell you it’s not possible… I 100% it is!
Diving in Galapagos? Check out this link:
Scuba Diving in the Galapagos Islands
Did you do the Galapagos with or without a tour? I’d love to hear your story.