So my name is Duncan and as you know I’m a full time magician and mind reader from the UK. In February 2017 I decided to fulfill a dream to head out to the Galapagos Islands. The last time I came near was when I visited Ecuador 5 years before and was going to pay for a cruise then but upon seeing a couple of bleached blonde haired guys (yep guys) counting out wads of dollars I decided to swerve a booking in favor of heading south to do a lost City Trek in Colombia which was incredible!
That said my heart still yearned to visit the small islands so synonymous with beauty, wildlife, Darwin and more recently David Attenborough in his exquisite Galapagos islands series.
I’m writing this now 3 days after visiting so am if you are reading this in the past tense was single, 35 and happy to do my own thing as much as anything. On looking around the internet there was very little or sparse information about booking a last minute cruise on the Galapagos islands and anything there was was not particularly coherent so I thought I’d detail my blue print for an amazing tour!
Lets start with flights:
Fly to Guayaquil. Why? Its one of the biggest hubs in central America and at some point to get to the Galapagos islands you will pass through there. Do be fooled into think you can fly to the Galapagos from Quito. You can, but will end up sitting on the plane whilst it then goes to Guayaquil.
99% of people with then fly to Baltra airport in the Galapagos islands. Its the main airport and to get to the biggest town on the Galapagos (Puerto Ayora) you have to take a free bus to a canal, then pay $1 to cross a stretch of water and then $4 on a bus into town. The last stop is the main central area. It sounds complicated but when you get there, this format just flows – because everyone does it.
So – you’ve got your flight to Guayaquil. You then need to book a flight to the Galapoags. My advice after speaking the with Consulate to confirm if its okay is to book a one-way trip to Galapagos (gives you more time to play with if you wanted to book an earlier flight dependent on the departure an arrival schedule of your cruise)
So you’re now in Puerto Ayora.
Where to stay? I pre-booked 2 nights through hostel bookers at the Galapagos Best Hones stay. It about 2km out of town but its not exactly and unpleasant walk – quite the opposite – but it is hot. (At least in Feb it is) I like to pre-book so at least I can settle down and have a base. There are loads of other hostels in town so dont be fooled into thinking there are only 3 – which there appeared to be when I looked on hosteler bookers.
So you have your accommodation, flights and made it into Puerto Ayora. I’m now going to shatter a myth…..
Wait for it.
There’s no such thing as a last minute tour. What?! Seriously?!
I am a hustler by nature and I spent 5 hours in ALL tour agencies investigating the options etc. What did I find? Despite every single tour operator saying they had last minute deals – there aren’t really so. Nonetheless – my pre planning suggested I should visit the heavy hitter islands of the Galapagos. However there is so much mis-information you may struggle to understand it yourself.
You cannot see all islands on a tour.
The most remote and therefore having the fewest tours are Fernandina, Isabela and Genovesa. These are the most untouched but as I said fewer tours and definitely more expensive. The other islands of Floreana and Espanola and San Cristobal and Santiago is often a Southern route or combination of these.
You will read in many places – more often than not there are 3 popular options to visiting the Galapagos islands.
- Do it yourself. Arrange day tours.
- Do a 5 day 4 night cruise.
- Do an 8 day 7 night cruise.
Before I go into the pro and cos of each. Let me recap me. I love to hustle the best deal. I love to travel. I know I only live once. That’s me in a nutshell. If you want to get drunk stay in a pricey hostel and eat fine food preceding your tour – these recommendations my not be as applicable to you.
My thoughts – you’ve come all this way – the experience you will have by doing day tours will be seriously poor compared to the others. Why? The boats will not go as far – by the time you get top the day trip you’ll have to turn around. You have way less time to enjoy breakfast and the sunrise etc.
5 day 4 night cruise – definitely a cheaper option than the latter, however, these days become heavily reduced in activity by the time you get picked up at midday on the first day and dropped off in the early hours on the final morning. Don’t be fooled.
The 8 day 7 night tour is definitely the pricey option but most recommended by those who really want to experience the Galapagos islands – but again the first and last day are somewhat subject to being culled for picking up and dropping off passengers….
With those thoughts in mind…the next blog post will be the actual decision I made and the tour I booked, where you can book it, prices, timings etc and other activities……