US dollar ($)
Budget: Less than $40
- Budget guesthouses: $10–20 per person
- Set lunches: $2.50–3.50
- One-day bike rental for trip from Baños to Puyo: $10
- Double room in midrange hotel: $40–90
- Dinner for two in a good restaurant: $20–30
- Climbing, cycling and bird-watching tours: $60–80
- Jungle lodges: from $175 for four days
Top end: More than $100
- Galápagos tour: from $300
- Top Amazon lodges: around $400
- Haciendas on Cotopaxi: from $100
Bargaining at outdoor markets is standard practice; at shops where prices are marked, this is not the case, although you may be able to make a deal when buying multiple items. Prices for long-distance taxis and independently hired canoes are negotiable. In all cases, friendly and polite negotiation is key (but you knew that).
Compared to the mainland, you get much less bang for your buck in the Gálapagos. Cash is preferred for most transactions – many restaurants and shops don't accept cards and some accommodations may not either.
- Bring cash with you from the mainland in case your credit card isn’t accepted or the ATMs run out of bills.
- ATMs can be found in Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno only – make withdrawals before heading to Isabela or Floreana.
- Small bills are best – $5s and $10s are ideal; most places won't take any over $20.
- MasterCard and Visa are the most accepted credit cards, few businesses take American Express; note that some establishments may charge a 5% to 10% fee.
- Traveler's checks aren't widely accepted, so stick to cash and credit cards.
Fees & Taxes
The Galápagos national park fee is $100. It must be paid in cash at one of the airports after you arrive, or in advance through a prebooked tour. You will not be allowed to leave the airport until you pay. In addition, a transit control fee of $20 must be paid at the Instituto Nacional Galápagos window next to the ticket counter in either the Quito or Guayaquil airports; the charge is already included in the price of many prearranged boat tours. When flying to Isla Isabela, tourists must pay a $10 fee on arrival.
On cruises, it’s customary to tip the crew and guide at the end of the trip. Some tour operators advise a 50-50 split; others give more to the crew than to the guide. How much to tip is very much a personal decision, but here are some general guidelines:
For basic and superior class cruises, $14 to $20 per passenger per day is about the norm; on first-class and luxury boats, $18 to $28 per passenger per day is fairly standard. The total amount per passenger per day should be split between guide and crew.