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The Galapagos have come and gone

Galapagos Islands

I cannot believe it is March 5th. Where has the time gone? Our last day at our jobs was January 9th. Has it really almost been two months? Were we really in the Galapagos for a month? It’s wild, but yes. I have no idea where the time goes.  When we were two weeks into our trip on Santa Cruz we asked each other “does it feel like we have been here for 10 days?” We both answered that it did – time was moving as we expected. And then something happened. I don’t know what – but in a blink of an eye we’re back in mainland Ecuador considering where to go next after Montanita.

I was really impressed with the Galapagos. I feel there are really only a few places that live up to their expectations. And even though this destination had lofty ones it met them.

When we began booking our travel we thought that it would be best to “ease” ourselves into the nomadic lifestyle by pre-arranging where we would stay, ferries and our scuba certification. We also agreed that we could save some money by avoiding a live-aboard cruise boat and still see all the archipelago had to offer by extending our time on land. Our thought process was that we could see as much in four weeks on land that we could in two weeks via boat, and save some money.

We got some things right…and we got some things wrong. Booking accommodations in advanced isn’t a terrible idea provided you had very specific needs. Think large groups, a particular location in town or a strict budget. We didn’t exactly have any of those needs, but we did need to find a place for weeks at a time – which isn’t the norm on the island and could have proved difficult. Do I think that we could have gotten by without pre-booking lodging? Absolutely.  But I wouldn’t go as far as telling someone they absolutely should not book in advance.
What I would tell someone heading to the Galapagos is that if you don’t spend at least 5 nights on a boat you are not going to experience all that the islands have to offer. We dropped the ball on this one. Thankfully we were able to land ourselves a spot on a 2-night live aboard and get some good dives in and see a few spots not accessible without a boat. And that is the point that didn’t sink in until we got there.  That there are so many places ONLY boats go. You cannot physically get there any other way. And some are pretty far away, which is why you need to spend several nights on board —to power to and from those islands. 
The Galapagos Islands were really a treat and a great spot to transition into our new lifestyle. We picked up a few pieces of Spanish along the way, met a ton of great people doing something very similar to us and we were able to cross off several items from our “must do list” (swim with sea lions, get scuba certified and visit the Galapagos).  I just can’t believe how dang fast it went. We will miss the islands.
And what would a recap/farewell to the islands if I didn’t include some numbers and stats on our trip – specifically as it relates to our budget.  And budget is a funny word I have learned. Almost everyone travels on a budget. Often times a “budget traveler” is one that is trying to cut costs at every corner and keep the spending to a minimum. We do not have endless funds, but we’re not trying to see an entire continent in six months for less than $11/day.  That being said, we did come in UNDER budget for this leg of our trip — barely, but if you have the budget you need to spend it, right?
I did my best to record everything that we spent, every day. I no doubt missed something here or there, but for the most part this is a really accurate picture of what we spent during our month in the Galapagos.
We spent 29 nights total in the Galapagos. 16 nights on Santa Cruz, 8 nights on Isabela and 5 nights on San Cristobal. We spent a total of $7,731 or $266.58/day or $133.29/day/person. That is really not terrible considering what we did. In fact the largest portion of the budget was for activities (primarily the 2-night dive boat and scuba diving Kicker Rock, but not including scuba certification). We spent $1,794 on activities which amounts to almost a quarter of our entire budget. Here is how the entire budget broke down:
Category -Total Spent (% of Total)
Activities –   $1,794 (23.2%)
Lodging –   $1,695 (21.9%)
Food –   $1,337 (17.2%)
Scuba Certification –   $1,160 (15%)
Transportation –   $934 (12.1%)
Drinks –   $537 (6.9%)
Misc –   $274 (3.5%)
Total – $7,731 (100%)
Food includes both food from the grocery store and when we went out to restaurants. I didn’t separate drinks/booze bought from this number. The Drinks category is strictly bar tabs, no food included.
Transportation was our flights from Ecuador to the Galapagos, taxis around town and ferries between the islands.
Miscellaneous is primarily the $100/per foreigner national park entrance fee and odds and ends such as laundry, re-stocking the sunscreen and things like that.
Some random thoughts on the budget: 1. we can lower our lodging spend pretty easily. 2. even though food is cheap when you eat out almost every meal every day it adds up. 3. activities are difficult (for us) to manage because we have this mentality that we do not want to miss anything. 4. perhaps most importantly this is NOT our budget (per day) for the remainder of the trip. If that is the case we will be back before you know it!

And last, but certainly not least, here is a collection of our favorite photos from the Galapagos. This was not easy to pick, I really like them all. Never the less these pictures are a great representation of our experience on the islands.

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3 thoughts on “The Galapagos have come and gone

    1. Lindsay

      Haha…before rushing to judgement, please understand a couple of things…
      1. booze purchased in grocery stores and at restaurants while eating was bucketed into “Food”
      2. the average 12oz beer cost about $1.50 everywhere and mixed drinks were $4-$5.

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