While Lisa planned to experience the Galápagos Islands from the moment she agreed to this South American adventure, Ryan’s frugal nature never let him fully commit. We heard horror stories of people having to pay $700 round trip per person for flights from the mainland, and read that the only way to secure cheaper passage was to look for last minute cruise deals or attempt to purchase a seat on a military cargo plane. Further, it was rumored that everything on the islands was astronomically expensive, since all goods had to be imported, and that lodging options were minimal, which drove prices through the roof. However, after countless hours of research and a few fated conversations with fellow travelers, we decided that if we could find reasonably priced flights, we’d attempt to thriftily navigate the famed islands.
While couchsurfing in Quito with one of our favorite hosts thus far, we were afforded the latitude to invest many hours communicating with travel agents, visiting airline sales reps at the airport, and scouring the internet for the cheapest airline prices possible. When we stumbled upon affordable airline tickets for $350 per person (get familiar with skyscanner.net), which happened to coincide with our ideal travel dates, we decided to commit to conquering the Galápagos in the most economical fashion possible.
Prior to flying from Guayaquil to Baltra on Santa Cruz island, we loaded up at a local grocery store on sunscreen, pasta and sauces, peanut butter, jelly, cheese, butter, tortillas, vanilla wafers, dulce de leche, rum, bottled water, and boxed red wine. We were fortunate enough to be staying with a couchsurfing host in Guayaquil, so we left our larger bags at their house, and maxed out our baggage allowance on the flight with food and water. After we payed $10 to register with the Galápagos Commission, we enjoyed a peaceful 2 hour flight, before we were forced to pay another $100 to enter the infamous islands. Our Galápagos on a budget itinerary started with Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, before Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island, and finally, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal Island.