Backpack the Galapagos? Yes You Can!

My friend and I went on a vacation to Ecuador in November. Initially, we hadn’t even considered going to Galapagos, as it seemed pretty unobtainable due to its location and pricey reputation. After some extensive research, however, we concluded Galapagos was much more feasible than we thought. We were INCREDIBLY happy with our choice to visit this magical place; our only regret was not staying for longer! Here are a few myths we “debunked” through our travels:


You have to purchase an expensive cruise to see Galapagos.

Our Experience

It’s an easy flight to the islands, and fairly easy to get from one to the other. We saved a lot of money by planning the trip ourselves.

Here’s what our flight/travel logistics looked like:
Day 1: We flew from Guayaquil (GYE) to San Cristobal (SCY), arrived around noon, and spent the rest of the day and the following day (Day 2) in San Cristobal.
Day 3: We took a ferry to Santa Cruz from 7-9:30am for $30. You can buy tickets very easily from one of the many tour agencies or the pier. We bought our tickets on our snorkel tour the previous day.
Day 4: We explored Santa Cruz, and booked a day trip for Day 5, when we went to Isla Isabela as part of the tour.
Day 6: Flew back to the mainland from Isla Baltra (GPS) to Quito (UIO). To get to Baltra to Puerto Ayora, we took a 45-minute taxi ride (cost $18) to the ferry, then got on the free airport bus (about a 10 minute ride) to the Baltra airport.

Expenses: The flights (GYE –> SCY; GPS –> UIO) cost $335.60, and the taxi + ferries were $48. Overall we spent $383 on travel to and between the islands (not including our day trip to Isabela).

More information on the islands in my other post How to Travel the Galapagos.


A cruise would be a better way to see the Galapagos.

Our Experience

While taking a cruise would definitely have its perks, we were very satisfied with our decision to stay on the mainland. First of all, it gave us the opportunity to really experience the Galapagos culture and cuisine (and be more like “travelers” and less like “tourists”). We met locals easily; they were very friendly, helpful, and enthusiastic about giving advice for sights, adventures, and places to eat.

A cute restaurant in San Cristobal that we would've missed on a cruise
A cute restaurant in San Cristobal that we would’ve missed on a cruise

We stayed with a very sweet woman in an Air B&B (Casa Mabell: $40 per night). We’d recommend booking with her or any of the many inexpensive hostels when you arrive at the island.

Additionally, we got to customize our trip and see the things we wanted to see, as opposed to being stuck on someone else’s timeline. Other travelers we met on day trips were jealous of this freedom.

Our first sea lion spotting!
Our first sea lion spotting! San Cristobal

We also saved a lot of money by planning ourselves. Many travelers on cruises asked us how much we paid for everything, and they were shocked (and sometimes upset) when they learned how much less we paid.

Enjoying our day tour
Enjoying our day tour

That being said, if you have the money and time to take a cruise, we would probably recommend doing it. Cruises are a great way to see more of the islands, and you don’t have to deal with the hassle of planning everything (if you don’t love it like we do 🙂

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Backpack the Galapagos

I hope we’ve convinced you to visit the Galapagos! Feel free to ask any questions below.

4 Comment

  1. thomas temperley says: Reply

    Good for you, your grandmother would have been proud you undertook such a trip.

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      Thank you Tom!

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  3. Brittany says: Reply

    Thank you both! I really appreciate the feedback and will continue to do my best to produce quality material 🙂

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